Violent Jihad

Bloody Ramadan

3 Attacks in Saudi Arabia, 2 in Baghdad, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Turkey, Lebanon...

BY Immanuel Al-Manteeqi · @Al_Manteeqi | July 6, 2016

Although ISIS has been losing ground recently, recent events indicate that the root problem—radical Islam—remains a significant threat to the world and the national security interests of the United States. Indeed, there have  been a flurry of recent Islamist attacks in the past few days, so much so that an Al-Arabiya article poignantly asks, “has Ramadan 2016 been one of the bloodiest in modern history?”

Recent Islamist Attacks Around the World

Whatever the answer, it has definitely been a bloody one. Shortly after the ISIS-inspired Orlando attacks, which occurred in the first week of Ramadan and which left forty-nine people dead and about fifty more injured, an Islamist attack hit Lebanon. On June 27th, Islamist suicide bombers killed about five people in Lebanon’s Christian village of Qaa, prompting Lebanese Christians to talk about forming militias to defend themselves against Islamist terrorists.

The following day, on June 28th, ISIS affiliates carried out a gun and suicide bombing attack on Ataturk airport in Istanbul, Turkey. Forty-five innocent people were killed in the attack, and about two-hundred-forty people were injured.

Just three days after the Istanbul attack, on the night of July 1st, Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, witnessed a brutal Islamist attack in its wealthy Gulshan neighborhood.  Six militants opened fire on the Holey Artisan Bakery, a place frequented by non-Muslims foreigners, which is ostensibly why it was attacked. The Islamist militants took many hostages and asked them to recite passages from the Qur’an. Those who could were spared and even given food to eat. Those who could not were mercilessly gunned down or “brutally hacked to death with sharp weapons.” About twenty-eight people were killed, including citizens, police officers, and the attackers. Interestingly, the Islamic militants were educated and relatively wealthy Bangladeshi citizens. This last bit of information is more evidence that Islamists come from all walks of life and social strata—they do not just hail from the ranks of the poor and disenfranchised.

A couple of days later on July 3rd, a suicide bombing in the Baghdadi district of al-Karada killed 200 people and injured hundreds more. It was the worst suicide bombing that Iraq has seen in years and certainly the worst of the recent spate of Islamist terror attacks.

Just one day later, on July 4th—American Independence day—an Islamist suicide bomber reportedly acting alone in Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country in the world, attacked a police officer in Central Java. The would-be suicide bomber killed himself, and other than the police officer, there do not appear to be any other resultant casualties. The attack comes less than a month after attempted suicide bombings in Surabaya, the second-largest city in Indonesia, were foiled.

On the same day the world witnessed three different Islamist attacks in Saudia Arabia, the very heart of the Muslim world (and one which ISIS has previously threatened to attack). The first attack targeted the American consulate in Jeddah, where an attacker wounded two security officers prior to being shot and killed. Then at dusk, as Muslims were preparing to break their fast, another Islamist attack shoot the Eastern and mostly Shi’i city of Qatif. The target was a Shi’i mosque, a clear indication that the attack was perpetrated by Sunni extremists. Most significantly, there was an attack near the “Prophet’s Mosque” in Medina, where four security guards were killed.[1] This particular attack is significant because Medina—short for medinat an-nabi, or “the city of the prophet,” is perceived by Muslims to be second in holiness only to Mecca.

As can be gleaned from the above, Ramadan 2016 has turned out to be a dark and bloody month, even for Muslim majority countries. Indeed, the above is by no means an exhaustive list, as there have been other Islamist attacks during this timeframe, such as a June 27th attack in Yemen that left 43 people killed. Given the sheer number and regularity of such attacks, it is becoming difficult for even avid readers of the news to keep up with them.

Does the Fact that Islamists also Target Other Muslims Make Them Non-Muslims?

However, some have taken the fact that some of these attacks have targeted Muslims in, for example, Medina, Istanbul and Baghdad, as evidence that ISIS and other Islamists who perpetrate these actions are not Muslims. People who advance this reasoning would have us believe that killing other Muslims is sufficient for being a non-Muslim. But this is false, and betrays a lack of acquaintance with Islamic history, which is filled with Muslim groups killing other Muslim groups. Indeed, intra-Muslim conflict goes all the way back to what is called The First Fitna (656-661 A.D), the first Muslim civil war, which was precipitated by the assassination of Uthman Ibn Affan (c. 576 – 656), the third “rightly guided” caliph. The First Fitna saw the likes of A’isha (c. 613 – 178), the then widowed wife of Muhammad, pitted against Ali ibn Abi Talib, the cousin of Muhammad and, according to the Muslim historian Ibn Ishaq, the first male convert to Islam.[2] If anyone was a Muslim, it was surely A’isha and Ali. But it seems clear that the fact that they fought each other, e.g., in the Battle of the Camel (656 A.D), is not sufficient to render them non-Muslims. Therefore, the claim that ISIS members are non-Muslims because they kill other Muslims is false. Muslims can and do kill other Muslims—they have been doing so for centuries.

The more interesting question is not whether people are non-Muslims in virtue of killing other Muslims; the question is not even whether fighting against other Muslims en masse is sufficient to make one a non-Muslim. Rather, the question is whether fighting against other Muslims en masse is good evidence for being a non-Muslim. If  apologists for Islam want to accept this weaker principle, then they must also accept that we have good evidence that the likes of A’isha, Ali, Mu’awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan (c. 602 – 680), Husayn ibn Ali (c. 626 – 680), Salah ad-Deen al-Ayubi, the famed Saladin (1137 – 1193), etc., were not Muslim. However, many such apologists will no doubt find these conclusion unpalatable, and for good reason. These people were clearly Muslim. Likewise, all the perpetrators of the above mentioned attacks were Muslim. All the perpetrators of the recent flurry of attacks have one thing in common—a commitment to the Islamic religion.

[1] The “Prophet’s Mosque” in Saudia Arabia is believed by many Muslims to house the burial place of Muhammad. But Salafis (fundamentalist Muslims) have a history of antagonism against even such a mosque. This is based on a hatred for shrines and taking the graves of prophets as places of worship. The Salafis partially base this belief on a hadith that is found in both Sahih Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim, the first and second most trusted collection of ahadeeth in Sunni Islam, respectively. The hadith states the following: “God damn Jews and Christians, as they have taken the graves of their prophets as places of worship [masajid].” See Sahih al-Bukhari, Vol. 5, Book 59, Hadith 727.

[2] ʻAbd al-Malik Ibn Hishām, Muḥammad Ibn Isḥāq, and Alfred Guillaume, The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of Isḥāq’s Sīrat Rasūl Allāh (Karachi; New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), 114.



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