Open Letter to Al Baghdadi and ISIS, by Muslim scholars and leaders from around the world

This is a open letter from Muslim scholars around the world explaining the heresies of Abu Baghdadi and his followers (ISIS or ISIL). It seems to me that Christians, Jews and other people of faith should try to support these Muslim scholars with the hopes that a better Islam will rise from the evils created by Abu Baghdadi and his followers (And those like him Al Qaeda etc). They can’t do it alone. I know we all wish that Muslims would accept whatever religion we personally follow. But sometimes that isn’t a feasible option, to them Islam is the true religion. It would be better for them to have a peaceful version of Islam, instead of violent version advertised and promoted by the media, and ISIS.

Some of the leading scholars:

Prof. Sheikh Mustafa Cagrici al Hanafi
Former Mufti of Istanbul, Turkey

Sheikh Mohammad Ahmad Al-Akwa’ al Shafi
Senior Sunni Scholar, Yemen

Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah al Maliki
Leading Muslim Scholar and President of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim
Societies, Abu Dhabi

Sheikh Dr. Ali Gomaa al Shafi
Former Grand Mufti of Egypt, Egypt

Sheikh Hamza Yusuf Hanson al Maliki
Founder and Director of Zaytuna College,

Sheikh Muhammad Al-Yacoubi al Hanafi
Islamic Preacher, Syria

Shaykh Muhammad al Jamal al Hanbali
Former Mufti of Masjid Al Aqsa Jerusalem

I mentioned these scholars in particular, because they represent the four main schools of Islamic Law, Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi and Hanbali, which has represented traditional Sunni Islam (Ahlus Sunnah wa Jamah) for over 1000 years. There are no traditional Sunni scholars that I am aware that support or aid those heretics and innovators ISIS (Abu Baghdadi and his followers). While they emerged from the ranks of Sunni Islam, claiming to represent true Sunni Islam, they don’t. And these Sunni scholars in this letter are explaining in detail why they don’t.

Executive Summary of the Letter

  1. It is forbidden in Islam to issue fatwas without all the necessary learning requirements. Even then fatwas must follow Islamic legal theory as defined in the Classical texts. It is also forbidden to cite a portion of a verse from the Qur’an—or part of a verse—to derive a ruling without looking at everything that the Qur’an and Hadith teach related to that matter. In other words, there are strict subjective and objective prerequisites for fatwas , and one cannot ‘cherry-pick’ Qur’anic verses for legal arguments without considering the entire Qur’an and Hadith .
  2. It is forbidden in Islam to issue legal rulings about anything without mastery of the Arabic language.
  3. It is forbidden in Islam to oversimplify Shari’ah matters and ignore established Islamic sciences.
  4. It is permissible in Islam [for scholars] to differ on any matter, except those fundamentals of religion that all Muslims must know.
  5. It is forbidden in Islam to ignore the reality of contemporary times when deriving legal rulings.
  6. It is forbidden in Islam to kill the innocent.
  7. It is forbidden in Islam to kill emissaries, ambassadors, and diplomats; hence it is forbidden to kill journalists and aid workers.
  8. Jihad in Islam is defensive war. It is not permissible without the right cause, the right purpose and without the right rules of conduct.
  9. It is forbidden in Islam to declare people non-Muslim unless he (or she) openly declares disbelief.
  10. It is forbidden in Islam to harm or mistreat—in any way—Christians or any ‘People of the Scripture’.
    11**. It is obligatory to consider Yazidis as People of the Scripture.**
  11. The re-introduction of slavery is forbidden in Islam. It was abolished by universal consensus.
    13.** It is forbidden in Islam to force people to convert.**
  12. It is forbidden in Islam to deny women their rights.
  13. It is forbidden in Islam to deny children their rights.
  14. It is forbidden in Islam to enact legal punishments (hudud ) without following the correct procedures that ensure justice and mercy.
    17.** It is forbidden in Islam to torture people.**
  15. It is forbidden in Islam to disfigure the dead.
  16. It is forbidden in Islam to attribute evil acts to God ﷻ.
  17. It is forbidden in Islam to destroy the graves and shrines of Prophets and Companions.
  18. Armed insurrection is forbidden in Islam for any reason other than clear disbelief by the ruler and not allowing people to pray.
  19. It is forbidden in Islam to declare a caliphate without consensus from all Muslims.
  20. Loyalty to one’s nation is permissible in Islam.
  21. After the death of the Prophet ﷺ , Islam does not require anyone to emigrate anywhere.

good luck.

isis doesn’t respond to “open letters”.

they respond by retreating when they are confronted at arms length on the battlefield

It’s a good start. But a good start is a long way from a good ending.

I commend these scholars for writing this open letter. We know that ISIS uses social media so they should see this letter. Whether it will change their minds I don’t know. I don’t have a problem with people who peacefully practice their faith of Islam, but I have a problem who use Islam to justify their use of violence, slavery, rape and persecution of other religions.

We do need to support these scholars and those who try to warn how Islam is being misinterpreted.

Hi Brian - I liked your comment. Are you related to George Armstrong Custer?

cousin george was a methodist

my side of the family is catholic :wink:

So, have they declared ISIS to be Kafir yet?

I think it is truly wonderful that many Muslims are turning away from the fanaticism, ignorance, hatred and violence espoused by the like of ISIS, Al Qaida and Boko Haram.

God bless them!

Could this fit taqiyya?

They can’t do that, because then they would be acting like ISIS.

One of the key points where ISIS is heretical, by a traditional Sunni point of view, is their willingness to declare fellow Muslims kafir.

I believe that from a mainstream, traditional Islamic perspective, adherents of ISIS are Muslims who are behaving very badly. That’s a different category from unbelievers, just as it is in Catholicism.


Anything can fit that category if you want it to.

If you want to imitate 19th-century anti-Catholic Protestants, who misused some Catholic casuists to argue that Catholics didn’t think lying was wrong, then go ahead. But you aren’t contributing to the glory of God or the common good by doing so.



Couldn’t have said it better.

…in laymen’s terms?

It is forbidden for a Sunni Muslim to lie under these conditions.

Yes, Muslims have a tradition saying that under certain circumstances, deception or even lying may be permissible.

There are such traditions in Catholic ethics as well, although the dominant tradition says that outright lying is never right. (The Jesuits were particularly famous for ingenious ways of getting around this.)

Protestants often quoted some of the “laxer” passages from some Catholic ethicists and said, “see, you can’t trust those Catholics, because they don’t think lying is wrong” (even though, ironically, Protestant ethicists were if anything more likely to approve outright lying). This fed into a paranoid stereotype Protestants (especially in England) had that Catholics (especially Jesuits) were clever, deceitful people always sneaking around in disguise and weaving intrigues, while Protestants were plain, simple people with a plain, simple religion.

Many Catholics here are aware of these stereotypes and how unfair and destructive they were. My point is that many Christians today have created a similar set of stereotypes about Muslims, and Catholics ought to know better than to go down that road.


A good start. It would be good if they didn’t issue any fatwas. In fact, they could sum it all up by saying that "it is forbidden to harm anyone, of any race, age, gender or religion (if they added ‘the unborn’ they’d then be even more peaceable than the West). They could also mention equal rights for women and children, in that list.

But this is a great start and I hope these learned muslims continue to move ever deeper towards real peace.

Interesting to see these imams mention “people of scripture” being Christians. Isis will take no heed here as they’ll likely say scripture is a tampered version. :shrug:


The difference would be that ISIS would enforce the ruling at the end of a gun.

I’m talking about one sect, someone in Islam, anyone who has authority to write a fatwa, issuing one declaring them Kafir.

The silence is deafening.

And I just explained why orthodox Sunnis can’t go around doing that kind of thing. Your response did not address the relevant point: that from the standpoint of orthodox Sunnism, ISIS radically departs from Islamic tradition precisely in its willingness to declare other Muslims “kafir.” As long as someone professes that there is one God and that Muhammad is God’s prophet, mainstream Sunnis will consider that person Muslim. A sinful Muslim, a Muslim in grave error, maybe, but still a Muslim.


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