So who speaks for Islam in a time of terrorism?

THE RELIGION GUY interrupts  this blog’s usual answers to posted questions and feels impelled to highlight a development that ought to receive far more attention than it has.

Addressing the United Nations General Assembly Sep. 24, President Obama said “it is time for the world -- especially Muslim communities -- to explicitly, forcefully, and consistently reject the ideology of organizations like al-Qaeda and ISIL” (the group also called ISIS or “Islamic State”).

As if in response, that same day 126 Muslim leaders issued a dramatic 15-page “Open Letter” to ISIL’s Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his followers that denounced them on religious grounds.

Implicitly, the letter targets as well the tactics of al-Qaeda, Nigeria’s Boko Haram, and similar terrorist movements claiming Islamic inspiration. The technical argument relies on dozens of citations from the Quran, Hadith (accounts of the Prophet Muhammad’s words and deeds), and Sharia (religious law).

The signers of this blunt challenge, all from the faith’s dominant Sunni branch, come from 37 nations including the U.S. They include the current and former grand muftis of Egypt, the deans of the Sharia and theology faculties at Cairo’s venerable Al-Azhar University, and many scholars of similar stature, but no figures from Saudi Arabia’s religious establishment (though they could endorse the statement later).

In effect this international alliance is asserting that we speak for the true Islamic tradition and you absolutely do not. The signers say they represent “the overwhelming majority of Sunni scholars over the course of Islamic history.” The letter’s overarching theme is that God is “the most merciful” so all human conduct should reflect this.

A summary of key contentions:

Continue reading "Who speaks for Islam in a time of terrorism?" by Richard Ostling.

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