The Roots of ISIS and Prospects of its Humane Alternative


On September 30, 2015 at 4:00 PM, Dr. Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na‘im, the Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law at Emory University, spoke to the issue of ISIS at the International Law Institute, 1055 Thomas Jefferson Avenue, Washington, D.C. In ICMES’s second annual Ibrahim Abu-Rabi‘ Memorial Lecture, Dr. An-Na‘im argued that the effective and sustainable eradication of radical Salafism, commonly referred to as ISIS, in the MENA region and beyond calls for dynamic understanding of multiple sources and factors, but that nothing can be achieved without candid and honest confrontation of the theological and juridical roots of arbitrary and anarchical political violence in the history of Muslim societies. In his view, radical Salafism must be purged from the individual psyche and collective consciousness of Muslims everywhere in order for it to be militarily defeated in fields of Iraq and Syria, and deserts of North and West Africa. There is a humane theological and juridical alternative to radical Salafism, but it must evolve in the hearts and minds of Muslims everywhere before it can be sustained in the halls of political and economic power of the Muslim world. The inherent nature of both the eradication of Salafism and evolution of its humane alternatives can only be done by Muslims among Muslims. Unless routed in the mosques and neighborhood of Muslim communities, the military defeat of ISIS will merely be a postponement of its anarchical destructive force.

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