Originally published in the Huffington Post
While President Obama reveals his plan to obliterate ISIS with force, and Bill Maher continues his ignorant rant to tie ISIS to Islam, New York Times journalist David Brooks provides the correct counter to ISIS in his September 4 column, “But, ultimately, [ISIS is] a spiritual movement that will have to be surmounted by a superior version of Islam.”
Brooks is right. ISIS is bad ideology and the best cure for bad ideas are better ideas. The obvious question, therefore, is does a superior version of Islam exist today and if so, where is it?
In 1963, Islamic scholar and member of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Mirza Tahir Ahmad, wrote a landmark book titled Murder in the Name of Allah. This book dismantled the terrorist Mullah Maududi’s dystopian claim that Islam should conquer the world through violent jihad. Some twenty years prior in 1941, Maududi established his right-wing political party known as Jamaat e Islaamiwith the goal of establishing an Islamic State to conquer the world.
Unfortunately, by 1963 most Muslim leaders rejected Tahir Ahmad’s work and arrogantly argued that Maududi was right about Islam forcibly conquering the world. Thus, Maududi soon inspired Sayed Qutb and the Muslim Brotherhood, then the Taliban, and then Al Qaeda. And now we see the most bitter fruit of Maududi’s labor — ISIS.
As journalist Kevin McDonald of The Guradian notes in his September 9 column:
When he made his speech in July at Mosul’s Great Mosque declaring the creation of an Islamic state with himself as its caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi quoted at length from the Indian/Pakistani thinker Abul A’la Maududi, the founder of the Jamaat-e-Islami party in 1941 and originator of the contemporary term Islamic state.
It is worth noting that Maududi had zero training on Islamic theology. Indeed, Prophet Muhammad nor the Qur’an validate al-Baghdadi’s or Maududi’s warped and self-concocted ideology.
Thus we return to David Brooks’ astute observation that ISIS can only be defeated by a “superior version of Islam.”
In Murder in the Name of Allah, Tahir Ahmad argued for everything a superior Islam would offer — i.e. everything ISIS is not. Tahir Ahmad demonstrated why apostasy and blasphemy laws are alien to Islam, why Islam condemns all forms of terrorism and religious compulsion, why mosque and state must remain separate, and why Islam condemns theocracy.
Tahir Ahmad advocated for the same moderate, pluralistic, service to humanity focused and superior Islam that Prophet Muhammad taught. Muslim leaders worldwide instead ignorantly sided with Maududi. Accordingly, 40 years ago this month on September 7, 1974, Muslim leaders from each of the then 72 sects of Islam in existence unanimously agreed that the millions of members of the 73rd sect — the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community — are infidels, non-Muslim, and outside the fold of Islam.
In essence Muslim leaders did the world a favor by making clear where their alliances stood — with Maududi, the father of ISIS. The sect of Islam they excommunicated was the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, and this is precisely the superior form of Islam that Brooks — and the world at large — awaits. Lip service aside, here is why the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community demonstrably practices that superior form of Islam that humanity needs.
First, since its establishment in 1889, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has spread to 206 countries without a single act of religious violence. Instead, they incessantly serve humanity through Humanity First and Muslims For Life. Likewise, Ahmadi Muslims are tested. Despite facing brutal and ongoing persecution by groups like Maududi’s Jamaat e Islaami, the Taliban, and ISIS sympathizers, Ahmadi Muslims have never retaliated, approved, or advocated the slightest violence in response. Additionally, Ahmadi Muslims champion universal religious freedom, separation of mosque and state, and reject blasphemy laws. Finally, Ahmadi Muslims number in the tens of millions and are in fact the fastest growing sect of Islam. Indeed, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is the world’s single largest Muslim organization united under one Imam. And that brings me to the crux of why this community of Muslims passionately writes the narrative on the future of Islam.
The tens of millions of Ahmadi Muslims in 206 countries worldwide are all united under one Imam — His Holiness the Khalifa of Islam, Mirza Masroor Ahmad. Unlike the terrorist ISIS “caliph” al-Bhagdadi, the Islam Ahmadiyya Caliphate has existed worldwide for 106 years and counting, and peacefully at that. This is the natural result of an Islamic community founded on the principles of compassion for all humanity and condemnation of all terrorism.
The founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the Messiah Mirza Ghulam Ahmad wrote in 1902:
Be kind and merciful to humanity, for all are His creatures; do not oppress them with your tongue, or hands, or in any other way. … O Muslim scholars and mullahs! Listen to me. I tell you truly that this is not the time for jihad. Do not disobey God’s Holy Prophet. The awaited Messiah has arrived and orders you to abstain from religious wars involving armed combat, killing and bloodshed.
The only “superior form of Islam” the world needs today is the Islam taught by Prophet Muhammad himself. It is that Islam that the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community stands unique in exemplifying for over a century.
And that Islam is the key to defeating ISIS.