ISIL acts prove its total depravity

To stand up to ISIL's poisonous ideology, we must all be Baghdad, Istanbul and Medina, writes Shelina Janmohamed

Muslim worshippers gather after a suicide bomber detonated a device near the security headquarters of the Prophet's Mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia (REUTERS/Handout)
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There’s an old saying that most of us will have invoked at terrible times, that if you don’t laugh then all you can do is cry.

But this Ramadan there has been nothing to laugh about. Even if we invoke the darkest of black humour, for me, this Ramadan will be remembered as one of devastation, heartbreak and destruction.

In May, ISIL vowed to inflict terror during the Muslim month of fasting, to make Ramadan, “with God’s permission, a month of pain for infidels everywhere”. The month was nothing short of a bloodbath.

Istanbul, Dhaka, Qaa, Baghdad, Taif, Medina – as well as reports from Qatif and Malaysia too. Hundreds dead. Hundreds more injured.

These locations have one factor in common that is rarely highlighted in the global narrative about the death and destruction that lies at the heart of ISIL’s ideology: the targets and the victims are mostly Muslim.

Muslim countries, Muslim victims, most likely fasting, in the holiest of Islamic months. ISIL had clearly labelled them “infidels” and pitilessly murdered them.

Islam teaches that for someone who kills one person, it is as though they killed all of humanity.

It is beyond comprehension how we might describe the mass murder committed by ISIL. There are no words that can capture their evil.

Their beliefs and their acts are a transgression of every single boundary of Islam and humanity. They kill innocent victims and this Ramadan their evil has culminated in waging war at the very doorstep of the Prophet Mohammad’s mosque in Medina.

Buried in the raw revulsion that makes vomit rise in my mouth and tears stream from my eyes each time I read of these horrors, is the smallest of hopes: that we begin to be clear and united in our understanding that ISIL is not an Islamic phenomenon. These acts of ISIL are far outside the boundaries of Islam. No ifs or buts.

Do not be confused by talk of “jihad”, and oppressive regimes, of reclaiming lost glory or fighting infidels.

If you think that there is something about establishing a “caliphate” that appeals, that there is a utopia in conducting what ISIL call a jihad then be clear: unilaterally declaring Muslims as infidels, killing them in the month of Ramadan and spilling blood in Medina, the city of the Prophet and one of the holiest places for all Muslims, are not Islamic acts. They are not human acts.

Some scholars have been careful to argue that we should not pronounce takfir on ISIL, referring to the declaration that they are not Muslims. Because it is ISIL itself that have decided to unilaterally label any Muslim opposed to their views as an infidels. And then they use this as their justification to easily, heartlessly and without any remorse kill Muslims, even in the month of Ramadan.

It is clear to me, as to any human being, that this is a barbaric, heartless and twisted organisation.

Let there be no doubt. Mass murder is not inspired by Islam. Rejection of such acts in heart, word and action is the duty of every human being. Brussels or Baghdad, Paris or Medina we must absolutely be united in our opposition to the evil that is ISIL.

Shelina Zahra Janmohamed is the author of Love in a Headscarf and blogs at