Boko Haram Is Not Islamic, But Muslim, By Majeed Dahiru

Boko Haram and the other terror groups came about as a result of radicalisation and as a consequence of hate preaching, violent and intolerant extremist teachings, not only found in the doctrines of deviant sects and other Muslim groups but within mainstream Muslim theology in the name of Islam.

Several reasons have been advanced by analysts and experts about the cause of terrorism and the rise of terrorist organisations like the Jama’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’wah wa’l Jihad commonly known as Boko Haram, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghrib (AQIM), Al Shabbab, just to mention but a few.

It has been argued by some that poverty, illiteracy, and underdevelopment are the fundamental causes of terrorism. These factors are said to be responsible for the hopelessness among the people affected, thereby making them vulnerable and susceptible to a radical ideology that teaches acts that constitute terrorism. I quite agree that these factors generally contribute to the rise in terrorism but disagree that they are the fundamental causes.

Boko Haram and the other terror groups came about as a result of radicalisation and as a consequence of hate preaching, violent and intolerant extremist teachings, not only found in the doctrines of deviant sects and other Muslim groups but within mainstream Muslim theology in the name of Islam. Some of these teachings promote negative comparative religious studies and outright hate. The young men and women who congregate in those groups are only putting into practice what has been taught over a long period of time, unchecked and believing it is a sure means to salvation.

It is unfortunate that mainstream Muslim leaders and followers alike are quick to deny that Muslims are responsible for Boko Haram and stridently dissociate the beautiful religion of Islam from terrorism. This self-denial is becoming the reason why these dastardly acts may never cease to happen. Muslims must begin to take full responsibility for these actions and take deliberate steps to rid the very beautiful, peaceful and just religion that is Islam of radical doctrines that have led to this ugly situation. We need to clearly redefine our faith so that the light of Islam can shine forth and illuminate the world with peace, love and happiness.

A background check on some of the leading figures in these groups show individuals who are very educated, from privileged backgrounds, and with some being born and bred in very advanced Western countries. This clearly puts a doubt on illiteracy, poverty and underdevelopment as being truly responsible for terrorism by some Muslims.

Nigeria’s case is particularly interesting. Radicalisation starts from the home, with negative utterances by parents against people of other faiths; to the Islamiyya, where religious supremacy and negative comparative religious studies are taught; and much later in life, the reading and digestion of poisonous literatures which teach hate and intolerance of people holding different views from one’s. These factors have produced generations of potentially radicalised Muslims, with some only putting to practice what has been imbibed over time in the form of Boko Haram terrorist acts. Boko Haram is a Muslim problem that can ultimately be solved only by Muslims in the long term. It is not enough to proclaim Islam as a religion of peace and tolerance, we must deepen this by teaching our young children to love and tolerate other people of different beliefs. The curriculum of our various Islamiyya should be revised to extensively include the teaching of love and tolerance, so that the next generation of Muslims will be largely saved from radicalisation.

Islam is a peaceful religion and is a blessing to mankind. The virtues of mercy, grace, love, justice and forgiveness are the hallmarks of this great religion. Muslims must reflect on these virtues always as the essence of Islam, and they will always be mirrored in the conduct of Muslims. Assalamu alaykum.

There are so many mainstream Muslim doctrines that are sources of radicalisation. In this piece, I shall highlight just three fundamental beliefs that are Muslim but not Islamic.

First, the concept of Caliphacy that is successor to the Noble Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). This singular belief, which is entrenched and widespread among Muslims, has no basis in Islam. A successor to the prophet will be tantamount to another prophet. A mere mortal without divine authority cannot be said to a successor to the prophet. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the last and seal of all prophets. The holy Quran is very clear on this issue; “Muhammad is not the father of any of you men, but he is an Apostle of God, and the seal of prophets: and God has full knowledge of everything”. The concept and belief in Caliphacy is central to a major shism in Islam that is today evident in the Shia\Sunni divide and other sectarian crisis that have rocked the Muslim Ummah since the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632AD. The aspiration to revive the Caliphacy, which never existed in the spiritual sense, is a major force driving violent and “radical Islam”. This can never be achieved, just as it was never achieved before, because Islam is an empire of faith and Muslims are united in faith and belief in Almighty Allah, without compulsion. Quran 2 vs 256 states clearly; “Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth has been made clear from error: Whoever rejects false worship and believes in God has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that never breaks. And God hears and knows all things”.

Second, the question of the people of the book; Jews, Christians and Sabaeans are regarded as believers and worshippers of God. However there has been a noticeable shift from this position by some mainstream Muslim doctrines and theology. The people of the book are now widely regarded as outright unbelievers and are treated as such. This explains why they are targets of terrorist acts and violence in the name of the religion. Some claim that it is idolatry for Christians to believe in The Trinity. Again this is far from Islam. The concept of The Trinity has been part of Christendom since 325AD after it was accepted as canonical at the first council of Nicea, convened by Emperor Constantine of the Roman Empire. This was three centuries before the prophethood of Muhammad (PBUH), which means that Christians, referred to as people of the book, believed in the concept of The Trinity and God did not denounce them as idolaters. The holy Quran 2 vs 62 states clearly, “Those who believe, those who are Jews, and the Christians, and Sabaeans, and all who believe in God and the last day and act rightly, will have their reward with their Lord. They will feel no fear and know no sorrow”.

Third, the question of Bid’ah (innovation). All forms of innovation are prohibited in the practice of Islam. However there are varying disagreements as to what constitutes an innovation or not. Opinion varies and there is no clear consensus on all issues concerning innovation in Islam. Theological disagreements have evolved and crystallised over the years and have deeply divided the Muslim ummah. In Nigeria, the initial dominance of Sufi theology was radically challenged by the rise of Jamat Izala tul Bidah wa ikatis sunnah (JIBWIS), popularly known as the Izala sect, beginning in the 1970s. This disagreements between the Izala sects and other sufi sects like the Tariqa Tijaniyya, were often very bitter, with one calling the other unbeliever. This practice of denouncing fellow Muslims as unbelievers simply due to disagreements on some interpretations of some aspect of the scriptures was what has degenerated to terror groups like Boko Haram targeting fellow Muslims they consider as not true Muslims and not better than unbelievers.

Islam is a peaceful religion and is a blessing to mankind. The virtues of mercy, grace, love, justice and forgiveness are the hallmarks of this great religion. Muslims must reflect on these virtues always as the essence of Islam, and they will always be mirrored in the conduct of Muslims. Assalamu alaykum.

Majeed Dahiru writes from Abuja and can be reached through dahirumajeed@gmail.com.

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