Attacks on Christians – like those on churches in Sri Lanka over Easter – demonstrate that Isis fighters are against Islam, writes Dr Azeem Ibrahim.
The Easter attacks against Christians in Sri Lanka by a group who swore allegiance to Isis were carried out in the name of Islam. This is nothing new, back when Isis was still expanding into the multi-ethnic and religiously diverse northern Iraq, not just Yazidis but also the country’s one million Christians were some of their main targets. They were asked to either convert or leave. Otherwise they would be killed. All along, churches were being bombed or burnt to the ground.
Most of the Christians who used to inhabit those areas of the Levant where Isis took control were displaced, in an act of religious/ethnic cleansing more thorough than any that Saddam Hussein ever achieved. To Isis, destroying churches and killing Christianswas secondary only to their top priority of killing other ‘apostate’ Muslims – Shia Muslims in particular.
Muslim scholars have stated that such actions are completely un-Islamic, strictly against Sharia and a blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad more serious than any they can think of from history. The Qur’an commands Muslims to follow Muhammad and his example: “O you who believe! Obey God and obey the Messenger” (4:59)
This and dozens of other verses in the Qur’an compel Muslims to obey Muhammad. And this is why Sharia law is based not just on the Qur’an, but also on the Sunnah, the words, the life and the practices of the Prophet. And the Prophet Mohammad was very clear about how Muslims should treat Christians. He entered into a treaty with them which deserves to be quoted in full here.
The Prophet issued the following declaration in 628 CE: “This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them.
“Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by God! I hold out against anything that displeases them.
“No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate.
“No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray. Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants.
“No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world).”
This Patent was given by the Prophet Muhammad in Medina to a delegation of Christian monks from St Catherine’s Monastery at Mount Sinai. The Patent was signed with the Prophetic seal.
The original was moved from St Catherine’s monastery by Sultan Selim I of the Ottoman Empire in 1517, and today can be seen in the Topkapi Museum in Istanbul. When he took the document from the monastery, the Sultan and Caliph of Islam Selim renewed its terms and gave the resident monks in Sinai a copy. This copy is still at the monastery. Any Muslim can go see either of these documents with their own eyes whenever they wish to do so.
The Prophet granted unconditional protection and what today we would recognise as basic human rights to Christians, near and far. All true Caliphs since then have observed this treaty, as they have been compelled to do till the Last Day – ie this treaty can not be abrogated. There are few things in the Sharia that can be as clear as this prescription towards Christians.
But today, Wahhabi clerics and Isis fanatics seem to think that they know better than the Prophet himself how to be good Muslims. And that now includes destroying all churches, in direct violation of God’s covenant. Wahhabis say they want to emulate the life and times of the Prophet. Isis and their “Caliph” want to rebuild the original Caliphate to represent the entire ummah. So why are their teachings and their actions then exactly opposed to those of the very first Islamic state of Muhammad in Medina (CE 622)?
When the Muslim community world-wide came out to condemn the Sri Lanka attacks, they did not do so in the name of “political correctness” or out of fear of reprisals. They did so because this Isis cell violated the Prophet’s covenant in their name. For even the most fundamentalist Muslim who actually knows their Qur’an, Hadith and Sharia, this was an attack against the honour and authority of the Prophet just as much as it was an attack against Christians on their holiest day of the year.
If the Prophet Muhammad is not your guide to God, then you are not a Muslim. By violating the Prophet’s irrevocable covenant, the Sri Lanka attackers declared themselves against Islam. By the very ideology they claim to represent, they are the Apostates.
Dr Azeem Ibrahim is a research professor at the Strategic Studies Institute US Army War College and author of “Radical Origins: Why we are losing the Battle Against Islamic Extremism”. He is also former expert advisor to the UK Government’s Commission on Countering Extremism