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If you suggest to a Muslim that ISIS represents Islam in its purest form, he/she will protest in the strongest terms possible. Still, ISIS has been able to recruit over 35,000 devout Muslim volunteers from 44 countries around the world. See interactive map.

These volunteers are not Foreign Legion types or former soldiers longing for more action. They are “true believer” Muslims who pray, fast, and try to follow the example of Islam’s prophet Muhammad to a tee. Their flag is emblazoned with the Islamic Shahada statement of faith, similar to the proclamations on the Saudi Arabian, Iraqi, and Iranian flags. ISIS volunteers are willing to sacrifice their lives to see the Islamic Caliphate restored, after being defunct for almost a century.

Rather than argue whether ISIS is Islamic or not, a better, Islamic test would be to find an authoritative fatwa (religious edict) making a case against ISIS based on the Quran and on the “good example” and pronouncements of Muhammad. If you “google” << fatwas condemning ISIS >> you get an interesting mix of articles. Most of the so-called fatwas are actually statements by Muslim representatives in Canada, the UK, and the US. These Muslim representatives have almost no history of issuing fatwas on other subjects. Other fatwas against ISIS by foreign scholars are superficial, complaining about how ISIS hurts the image of Islam, but not providing arguments against ISIS based on the sacred texts. Finally, one “Open Letter” signed by 125 Islamic scholars is actually a shameful study of hypocrisy and double standards. Let’s look at these fatwas more closely:


Fatwas by Western Muslim leaders


Superficial International Fatwas


Islamic Scholars’ Open Letter to ISIS leader

Probably the most comprehensive Islamic religious edict condemning ISIS is the “Open Letter to [ISIS Caliph] al-Baghdadi” signed by 126 religious scholars from forty countries. It was introduced in September, 2014, in Washington, D.C., by Nihad Awad, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. One of the signers is Jordanian Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought. The English version of this twenty-three page communique can be downloaded at:

On the surface, this document looks like a formidable attack on the whole concept and activities of ISIS – a self-proclaimed resurrection of the Islamic Caliphate. It includes a detailed list of twenty-four forbidden activities of ISIS and reasons why ISIS is not a part of the Islamic community. But the entire document is a study in hypocrisy and double standards. Almost every act and theological position taken by ISIS was modeled by Muhammad or sanctioned by the Quran. According to Sharia Law, “good” and “bad” in Islam are determined by what Muhammad (and Allah) permitted to be done or asked not to be done. (Reliance of the Traveller, Section a1.4) Set forth below are just a few of the so-called forbidden activities:

The impossibility of establishing a Caliph with “consensus from all Muslims” was made quite clear at the Cairo Caliphate Congress in May, 1926. The goal was to establish an international Caliph in lieu of the Saudi Arabian King ibn Saud’s self-declared role a Keeper of the Two Holy Mosques. He had taken Mecca and Medina by force from the Hashimite family in 1926. The congress was a fiasco because few international Islamic leaders showed up. A rival conference, the Mecca Congress, was scheduled just two months later by ibn Saud. The subject of an international caliphate wasn’t even on the agenda. Instead the Saudis were pushing a new system of Islamic Public Order which was essentially a system of sovereign, independent national governments – a complete reversal of the Islamic concept of a world-wide Islamic ummah.

Looking at the Muslim world today, the largest Muslim nation is Indonesia. Indian, Bangladesh, and Pakistani Muslims constitute about 30% of world-wide Muslims. Fewer than 15 percent of Muslims are Arab. The Shi’ia branch of Islam consists of mostly Persian (Iranian) Muslims who are fierce rivals of the Arab Sunnis. To achieve a consensus of opinion among these rival Muslim factions would be impossible.
(See: )

The entire thrust of the Open Letter is a case of “the pot calling the kettle black.” Why couldn’t these 125 Islamic scholars find better reasons for condemning ISIS? Because, when all things are considered, ISIS IS ISLAM.