The Secular State of Iraq and the Levant (SSIL)

The Secular State of Iraq and the Levant (SSIL)

Egyptian clerics, particularly during the Gezi protests of 2013, were the inevitable darlings of Turkey’s Islamists. Remember Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the president of the Association of Muslim Scholars and the ideological leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, who decreed in June 2013 that the Gezi protesters were “acting against Allah’s will.” The Turkish clergy never objected to that fatwa. 

All the same, the Egyptian clergy’s current narrative on jihadist terror must be unnerving Turkish Islamists, as it challenges Turkey’s official narrative.

Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah Nasr of the world’s most prestigious Islamic university, Al-Azhar, is a scholar of Islamic law. Recently he was asked in a television interview why Al-Azhar, which habitually denounces secular thinkers, refuses to denounce the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). 

He answered: “It [Al-Azhar] can’t [condemn ISIL as un-Islamic]. The Islamic State [ISIL] is a byproduct of Al-Azhar’s programs. So can Al-Azhar denounce itself as un-Islamic? Al-Azhar says there must be a caliphate and that it is an obligation for the Muslim world [to establish it]. Al-Azhar teaches the law of apostasy and killing the apostate. Al-Azhar is hostile toward religious minorities, and teaches things like not building churches, etc. Al-Azhar upholds the institution of jizya [extracting tribute from religious minorities]. Al-Azhar supports stoning people. So can Al-Azhar denounce itself as un-Islamic?” 

All that may sound bizarre to the Western ear, but at least there is truth - and honesty – in Mr. Nasr’s plain language. 

Fortunately, the Turkish clergy does not advise “killing the apostate” and being “hostile toward religious minorities.” But it definitely has a confused mind over the diagnosis of the problem. Turkey’s top Muslim cleric, Professor Mehmet Görmez, the head of the powerful (and wealthy) Religious Affairs Directorate (Diyanet), recently said he thought that “secularism has thrown the world into a total war by outstripping the level of violence that stemmed from religious conflict.” 

“Humanity set off on a different quest with the French Revolution. It envisaged building a more secular world separate from religion. But secularism sent the world into a total war by also superseding the amount of violence that stemmed from religions,” Professor Görmez said.

He is right. The world would have been a better place if the secularists had not killed innocent civilians in Suruc, Ankara, Paris, Beirut, San Bernardino and over the Sinai skies only this year; if they had not bombed mosques in almost every city in Iraq, Syria and Yemen; and if they had not shot at every “infidel” target in Syria. Just think: In the space of a year or so, thousands of secular radicals have got together from all around the world and formed the Secular State of Iraq and the Levant (SSIL) to declare jihad against the faithful.

They even declared the Secular Caliphate. Remember the scenes of secularists beheading people and killing tens of thousands of people in the Levant. 

Those secularists have their minor disturbances, too. For instance, they have the habit of firing shotguns, slamming tables and threatening conservative Muslims with sticks and knives, forcing them to drink alcohol. Every Ramadan, the secularists beat up fasting Muslims just because they fast. And enjoying a government-sponsored legal shield they continue to get away with it. 

There’s more. Secular violence not only threatens the civilized world with acts of terror. Secularists also tend to kill each other along sectarian lines: Are you a Shiite secularist or a Sunni secularist? 

What a violent bunch.