The burning of a Jordanian pilot by Islamic State (Isis) has triggered a unified outcry from senior religious clerics across the Muslim world – including a jihadi preacher – who insist the militants have gone too far.
Abu Mohammed al-Maqdesi, considered a spiritual mentor for many al-Qaida members, said the killing of Lt Muadh al-Kasasbeh was not acceptable in any religion.
At Friday prayers in neighbouring Iraq, where the militant group has seized territory in a third of the country, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, a senior Shia cleric, said in a sermon that the “savage” act demonstrated the extremists knew no boundaries and “violated Islamic values and humanity”.
Religious groups, often at odds over ideologies or politics, have increasingly been speaking out against the militants, who continue to enforce their rule in Iraq and Syria through massacres, kidnappings, forced marriages, stonings and other acts of brutality.
This week, Isis militants released a video of Kasasbeh, a Muslim, being burned to death in a cage. While the beheading of hostages from the US, Britain and Japan drew condemnation from most religious sects within Islam, the gruesome images of the airman’s murder served as a unifying battlecry for Muslims across the world.
Jordan joined a US-led military coalition against the militants in September, but said it would intensify its air strikes in response to the killing of the pilot. On Thursday, dozens of fighter jets struck Isis weapons depots and training sites, Jordan’s military said.
Outrage escalated in the capital of Amman after Friday prayers, with demonstrators unfurling a large Jordanian flag and holding up banners supporting King Abdullah II’s pledge for a tough military response to avenge al-Kasasbeh’s death. “We all stand united with the Hashemite leadership in facing terrorism,” one banner read.
Now, even al-Qaida has grown more outspoken against Isis, a former al-Qaida offshoot in Iraq. That criticism has left the Isis extremists increasingly isolated.
Even clerics aligned with Isis are said to be speaking out against the pilot’s killing. Rami Abdurrahman, director of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said extremists dismissed one of its religious officials in Aleppo province after he objected to how the pilot was put to death.
The religious official, Saudi cleric Abu Musab al-Jazrawi, warned during a meeting that such killings contradicted the teachings of the prophet, Abdurrahman said. Other clerics in the meeting in the northern town of Bab launched a verbal attack against the Saudi cleric, who was later sacked and referred to a religious court, he said. The incident could not be confirmed independently.
Grand imam Ahmed al-Tayeb, head of the world’s most prestigious seat of Sunni Islam learning, the Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo, said this week that the militants deserved the Qur’anic punishment of death, crucifixion or chopping off their arms for being enemies of God and the prophet Muhammad.
“Islam prohibits the taking of an innocent life,” Tayeb said. By burning the pilot to death, the militants violated Islam’s prohibition on the burning or mutilation of bodies – even during wartime, he said.
Iraq’s most senior Sunni mufti, Sheik Mahdi al-Sumaidaie, said the crime against Kasasbeh was unprecedented, adding that “the prophet Muhammad said that only God can punish with fire”.
Pakistani Sunni cleric Munir Ahmed, in his sermon in Islamabad, also dismissed any theological basis for the crime, saying the “gruesome” death of the Jordanian pilot was “the most horrible act of cruelty”. It was a punishment that “Allah has kept for his own authority and no human is authorised to do it”, he said. »»» The Guardian (U.K.)
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