Though President Obama and other Western leaders have persistently attempted to divorce the Islamic State from the religion of Islam, some influential members of the Muslim community apparently disagree. A new report notes that Egypt’s oldest Islamic university, Al-Azhar University, refuses to declare ISIS heretical to Islam.
The Al-Monitor's Ahmed Fouad details the "honorable" Al-Azhar university's official declarations concerning ISIS, which it refuses to condemn as apostate, or heretical to the teachings of Islam.
Back in Dec of 2014, the university issued a statement refusing to declare ISIS apostates. "No believer can be declared an apostate, regardless of his sins," read the university's statement, which was issued shortly after some interpreted an influential Nigerian Muslim authority as having pronounced the group heretical, which the university strongly denied.
The next month, Ahmed al-Tayeb, the sheikh of Al-Azhar, doubled down on the institution's rejection of branding ISIS heretical, which Fouad notes, "sparked criticism from a number of religious, political and media parties, especially since Al-Azhar could have renounced the Nigerian mufti’s statement on IS without addressing the issue of whether or not Al-Azhar considers the group apostates."
The university's continued refusal to condemn ISIS apostate, Fouad notes, has raised the level of scrutiny on the university's growing Salafist faction. As The Daily Wire has reported, Salafism is a fundamentalist branch of Islam that plays a major role in the terrorism movement worldwide.
Citing a press report, Fouad highlights the disturbing similarities of the ideological positions supported by the university and ISIS, including the university's curriculum which "allows for killing a Muslim who does not pray, one who leaves Islam, prisoners and infidels within Islam [those who do not have a clearly specified creed or sect]. [It also allows] gouging their eyes and chopping off their hands and feet, as well as banning the construction of churches and discriminating between Muslims and Ahl al-Kitab [Christians and Jews], and insulting them at times."
Al-Azhar's leadership has defended its refusal to condemn ISIS by claiming that the university does not declare individuals or groups apostates, though Fouad provides some evidence that suggests otherwise.
Despite such disputes among Islamic authorities, President Obama and other progressive leaders have made their own determination on the legitimacy of the Islamic State.
"ISIL is not 'Islamic.'" declared Obama in Sept 2014. "No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL's victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state; it was formerly al Qaeda's affiliate in Iraq and has taken advantage of sectarian strife and Syria's civil war to gain territory on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border. It is recognized by no government nor by the people it subjugates. ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple, and it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way."
Read the full report here.