Guest Column: Islam vs. ‘demonic cults’ The distinctions between orthodox Islam and its heretical offshoots


By Abdul Cader Asmal

Posted Jan. 2, 2016 at 2:51 PM
Sandwiched between demonic terrorists on the one side and malicious Islamophobes on the other, the overwhelming majority of decent American citizens who include their law-abiding Muslim counterparts are askance as to what to make of Islam and the mayhem that is sporadically exploded in its name. With Mr. Trump’s proposal that if elected president he would exclude all Muslims from entering the U.S., indignant Trump supporters who consider themselves as concerned citizens rather than xenophobes protested at the outrage over what they view as a pragmatic measure to reduce a potential source of terror.
Unless a clear distinction is made between the orthodox religion of Islam and the demonic cults such as Al Qaeda, ISIS, etc., that choose to usurp its legitimacy, there is the risk of alienating every misinformed or anxious American as an Islamophobe, thereby playing into the hands of the terrorists. If the term “Islamophobia” is to remain meaningful it has to be used with circumspection. President Obama’s remarks – “Muslim Americans are our friends and our neighbors, our co-workers, our sports heroes, and, yes, they are our men and women in uniform who are willing to die in defense of our country. We have to remember that” – may have reassured some, but other skeptics await a Muslim response.
Both orthodox Islam and its cultish offshoots share common beliefs. Where the cults (with membership in the thousands) part company from orthodox Islam is in the following unbridgeable divide: The Islam of 1.5 billion adherents has orthodox beliefs and practices; the cults have introduced heretical beliefs and practices from a selective emphasis on scriptural passages taken out of context.
The heretical interpretation of Islam glorifies terror as a form of “jihad” that leads to martyrdom and paradise. This is a totally antithetical to the teachings of orthodox Islam, which unconditionally condemns the killing of innocent peoples as well as suicide as unpardonable sins whose only destination is hell.
Yet the diabolical cultists, by exploiting a litany of malfeasance (whether real or imagined) perpetrated against the Muslim world by the “West,” have been able to seduce impressionable disaffected Muslim youth to wage a “jihad” against the “West.” Such grievances have included: the serial provocative humiliations (The Rushdie affair, the Mohammed cartoon caper, and the Abu Ghraib prisoner scandal); the exploitation of Muslim resources, occupation of their lands, and the propping up of subservient dictators; the permissive extermination of Muslims in Bosnia and Chechnya; and the status of permanently despised “ghettoized citizens” in European homelands. Notwithstanding the merit or spuriousness of such excuses, the slaughter of innocents is not “jihad,” and Islam does not permit vicarious retribution. However, to avenge a personal vendetta, any one or combination of the above “injustices” have been employed by a heretic, a psychopath or an anarchist who happens to be Muslim.


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