By Shaykha Safia Shahid

My dear sisters in Islam. Today I am speaking to you from my heart. These are the words of a sister and a teacher concerned about your welfare. I am pained to see your state.

I feel it is my duty to help you and protect you from the allures of Shaytaan. It is my duty to offer you advice and warn you of the dangers. It is my duty to inspire you to make the right decisions.

We live in a world of trials and tribulations. We face challenges that we need to overcome but, because of these trials, we can become better people. Our experiences make us grow and help strengthen us. It is best to face any challenge with a firm belief and trust in Allah Ta’ala, always seeking His guidance.

In today’s world, people are misled into thinking that their problems can find idealised, illusory solutions that ostensibly involve heroism, valour and romance.

There will be those who will seek to manipulate you by telling you that they know what you are going through, assuring you that they can relate to your inner most feelings and promising you to help you forget your troubles.

Unfortunately, there is a group that is manipulating Muslims under the guise of religion. The ‘mujahids’ of ISIS are preying on the vulnerabilities of our sisters, living both here in the UK and abroad, by enticing them with promises of a life in a ‘perfect’ Islamic State and of marriage to a ‘mujahid.’ This is ISIS propaganda, which is designed to appeal to the young and impressionable.

These ‘mujahids’ prey on your insecurities and try to make you doubt the righteousness of your practice of Islam. Do not be inspired by ISIS’ superficial authenticity; its actions do not represent Islam in any shape or form. In fact, ISIS bears a resemblance to the Khawarij, a group that deviated from mainstream Islam in its early history.

ISIS, like the Khawarij, has strayed far from the teachings of Islam. Its apparent authenticity is nothing but deception, no matter how much its adherents pray and fast.

The Prophet (PBUH) said about the Khawarij,

There will appear some people among you. You will belittle your prayers and fasting in comparison to theirs. They will recite the Quran but it will not exceed their throats. They will pass out of the religion just as an array passes out of a prey.

—(Sahih Bukhari, Book 66, Hadith 83)

ISIS, the modern day Khawarij, is seeking to take you away from your friends and loved ones. Its adherents are only motivated by greed and lust. They know only ignorance and have professed every obscenity against Islamic law.

Know that the promises of ISIS are false. In the pursuit of studying Islam, I lived for five years (2003-2008) in Syria, which has been an epicentre of sacred knowledge and Prophetic inheritance for centuries. Not once did I find in any text anything that could sanction ISIS’ actions as being legitimate. Nor did I ever meet any scholar who could sanction them as such. Not once.

In Islam, it is not permitted to indiscriminately kill, maim, pillage, and rape. In Islam, there is no black and white ‘us against them’ dogma. The ‘mujahids’ of ISIS are lethal to anyone who opposes them. They have sunk their claws in innocent lives and subjected them to every manner of brutality.

Do not engage, online or otherwise, with Jihadist propagandists that offer you marriage as a means of escaping from your world to theirs. They claim that marriage to one of these self-professed warriors of Islam is a noble act, forgetting that they constantly commit the most heinous acts. They entice you to leave all that you hold dear, to abandon the love of your family and forsake the obedience due to your parents to join them in their illegitimate crusade.

Eventually, this ‘utopian Islamic dream’ is not easy to sustain; it shattered for Tareena Shakil, a British woman who travelled to Syria with her young son. She had to escape from an ISIS stronghold to avoid becoming a ‘jihadi bride’. She begged her father to take her back and asked him for forgiveness. Life with the jihadists was hard. She avoided a forced marriage to a one-legged ISIS ‘mujahid’ by scrambling over a barbed wire fence; others may not be so fortunate.

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is mercy,

We have not sent you except as a mercy to the worlds

—(Quran 21:107)

Let us return to the beautiful character of the Prophet (PBUH), who taught us virtuous behaviour and kind treatment even of animals, such as the case of a man who was rewarded for giving water to a thirsty dog (Bukhari). The Prophet’s way is one of mercy, compassion and righteousness.

My sisters, I pray that you will withstand this trial. I advise you to cut off all communication with any online ‘mujahids’ or supporters of the so-called Islamic State. Do not forget the promise of Allah Ta’ala and the rewards for righteousness. Let us seek out the channels of right guidance so that we may be counted among the successful in this world and the next.

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