Three things we have learnt about ISIS after Moaz al Kasasbeh’s execution

Lt Moaz Kasaesbeh was burnt alive in a cage by ISIS

After the execution video of a Jordanian pilot being burned alive, we have learnt three things about ISIS, writes Bilal Abdul Kareem.  

On Tuesday, ISIS released a video of Jordanian pilot Lieutenant Moaz al Kasasbeh who they captured last December being burnt alive. He was locked inside a steel cage wearing an orange jumpsuit that had been drenched with flammable liquid and burned alive.

Lt Kasasbeh angered many Muslims around the world when his country Jordan decided to participate in a US-led coalition to bomb ISIS positions, while totally abandoning the Bashar al-Assad regime that has killed more than 200,000 innocent men, women, and children.

ISIS demanded the release of failed suicide bomber Sajida al-Rishawi who was convicted in connection to a 2005 terrorist attack in Jordan in exchange for Japanese journalist Kenji Goto. Jordanian authorities offered to release Rishawi in exchange for Kasasbeh. However, negotiations broke down, and in retaliation, Jordanian authorities executed Rishawi yesterday morning.

Now that we’ve refreshed our minds with what’s happened, let’s see what we have learned from these recent events.

ISIS are ignorant of the Sunnah

Abu Dawud dedicated a chapter in his Sunan entitled, “The Detestable Nature of Burning the Opposing Forces with Fire”.  Below are a few relevant hadith.

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#2673. It was reported from Muhammad bin Hamzah Al-Aslami from his father, that the Messenger of Allah appointed him as a commander over a military expedition. He said: “So I went along with them, and he (the Prophet) said: ‘If you find so-and-so, then burn him with fire.’ Then I turned to depart. He called me to come back, so I came back to him.  He said: ‘If you find so-and-so, then kill him, and do not burn him, for nobody punishes with fire except the Lord of the Fire.

#2675. It was reported from ‘Abdur-Rahman bin ‘Abdullah, from his father who said: “We were with the Messenger of Allah in a journey. He went to relieve himself. We saw a Humrah with two chicks of hers, and we took one of her chicks The Humrah came and started shaking her spread out wings. The Prophet came and said: ‘Who distressed her because of her chicks, give her chick back to her. And he also saw an ant colony which we had burnt, so he said: ‘Who burnt this down?’ We said: ‘We did.’ He said: It is not allowed to punish with fire, except for the Lord of the Fire.” 

Both of the above mentioned hadith were classified by Shaykh Al Albani as authentic in his checking and review of the book.

In Silsilat al-Ahadith as-Saheehah (#487), he adds a discussion of the authentic narration of when Ali (ra) ordered some people to face the death penalty by fire. When news of this reached Ibn ‘Abbas (ra), he disapproved of the decision and relayed a hadith of the Prophet (saw) with a similar wording: “Do not punish with the punishment of Allah!” (Sahih Bukhari #3017).

Imam at-Tirmidhi also collected it in his Jaami’ (#1458), adding that when this comment got back to Ali, he said, “Ibn ‘Abbas has spoken correctly.”

The ruling on this issue is very clear. The Messenger of Allah (saw) did not even accept ants to be killed in this way. How much more so a human being? Perhaps, it is a case that ISIS members and leadership are so ignorant of the Sunnah that they weren’t aware of these ahadith. In which case, they should be declared too Islamically ignorant to be carrying out the actions they are undertaking. Worst case scenario, they are fully aware of these ahadith and don’t care. If there is a third option, I’d like to know what it is because I do not see what else it could be. I am honestly stuck to find how even the most hardcore ISIS supporter can explain this action.

Thirst for blood takes precedence

By demanding the release of Sajida al-Rishawi they placed a spotlight on her. Surely they must have known that in doing so, they would have potentially exposed her to a reprisal should negotiations fail. ISIS has maintained that the blood of one Muslim is worth the blood of a thousand non-Muslims, or so they have said on numerous occasions. According to their logic, ISIS considered Lt Kasasbeh to have apostated from Islam. Why not make the exchange then if they truly placed such a high value on Sajida Rishawi’s life? Or perhaps the group is more bloodthirsty than serious about the very statements they make?

Sajida Rishawi was on death row since 2005 and yet her sentence was not carried out. Now through ISIS’ actions, a sentence that had not been carried out for more than nine years was expedited in a matter of hours. Those who support ISIS, how can you defend the handling of this affair? They had to have known that Rishawi would have been killed should they kill Lt Kasasbeh. Did they consider that displaying to the world the burning of this pilot was worth the life of Rishawi? This seems to defy their logic, or is there another perspective?

Who is benefitting from ISIS?

ISIS has succeeded in uniting the world’s powers not just against them, but against Muslims in general. At best we could say they are horrible tacticians, at worst we could say that they have done it purposely. It is difficult to imagine how anyone could support a group that displayed the burning of this pilot knowing full well the clear Islamic ruling regarding burning. Unless, that was their objective all along: to turn popular opinion against any just and legal Islamic struggle. They must have known that popular opinion would not discriminate against ISIS or other Islamic groups, thereby hurting every Islamic cause around the world.

Message to ISIS Members and their supporters

ISIS members and supporters, you must listen to reason, Islamic reason. You made a mistake in supporting the unknown Abu Bakr Baghdadi and his group. It is not the end of the world to recognise your mistake. As we read in the hadith mentioned above, Ali (ra) made a mistake and freely admitted it instead of trying to defend it or explain why. The worst mistake is to compound the original one and try to justify and explain away clear violations of the Quran and Sunnah.

Abandoning ISIS doesn’t mean abandoning Islam or the desire that Muslims around the world share, which is to see a just and fair Caliphate. So it is now up to you to decide. What will you do now? Accuse the Ummah of being against you because you are “on the truth” and they are not? Spit another takfir laced diatribe about how Muslims really don’t want Islam and only you do?  Truly this is a time to see who supports Islam and who merely supports Baghdadi.

Bilal Abdul Kareem is an American journalist and filmmaker who spent two years in Syria documenting the rebels.



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