Security measures alone cannot end the threat of Daesh, and scholars to guide the Islamic community against distortion of the religion by the "marginalizing" group are needed, a report by Turkey's religious affairs agency warns.
A report by Turkey's state-run Presidency of Religious Affairs (DİB) underlines the danger Daesh poses to the Muslim world by distorting religion to win recruits for its campaign of terrorism as well as how to combat the recently emerged threat affecting the world.
The DİB report urges Muslim scholars to act as guides for ummah (global community of the Muslim faithful) to counter Daesh propaganda and highlights that security measures and anti-terror operations are not sufficient on their own to end the threats of the terrorist group.
Daesh more or less replaced Al-Qaeda in terms of terrorist groups adopting warped salafist ideology and became prominent in Turkey's immediate region thanks to a security vacuum in Iraq and Syria, both suffering from conflict and deteriorating security. The group stepped up its attacks in Turkey last year and in 2016, targeting crowded sites in Şanlıurfa in the southeast, the capital Ankara and Istanbul in suicide bombings. Turkey is also concerned about the flow of foreign fighters to Syria, where Daesh has strongholds, through its lengthy border with the war-torn country.
The DİB is among Turkey's key agencies in its fight against the terrorist group which was dealt a major blow in Syria with the Turkish aid to rebels from the Free Syrian Army who captured various significant towns held by terrorists near the Syrian-Turkish border. The religious institution pursues a campaign to stamp out the exploitation of Islam for the purposes of terrorism, in cooperation with Muslim clerics around the world.
The report by the DİB emphasizes that scholars in particular have a crucial role as guides to ummah "in order to develop an inclusive and embracing discourse against the dismissive and marginalizing religious narrative" of Daesh. "We need to re-examine our educational order, especially our religious education and training method. When teaching religion to new generations, it is vital to tell them the reason, wisdom, and purpose in the revealing of verses. From that point, the questions of how a Muslim must behave and what should be their worldly duties and ultimate goals will be figured out. It must be instilled in minds that a religious life limited only to worldly gains or rules is not Muslim-like and that Islam pursues the gains of both this world and the next," the report said. The report also suggests a renewal of religious teaching and interpretation methods to counter the group's exploitation of centuries-old teachings out of context to serve their own interests. "It is not appropriate to adopt the opinions developed over history as they are and introduce them into our day. Because an opinion from history was formed depending on the time, place, atmosphere, and conditions of a specific era. Implementing opinions from history without considering today's conditions may bring damage instead of benefit. Then, it is necessary to readdress the opinions and views developed within a specific period of history which are also included in the literature of Islamic sciences and especially fiqh. And after that, they must be evaluated based on today's conditions. For example, it should be kept in mind that concepts like dar al-harb, zimmi, and apostate reflect the conditions of their period," the report says. Dar al-harb, roughly translated as "abode of war", refers to countries not ruled by Muslims and is a term used by early Muslim jurists mainly in reference to rules and laws in non-Muslim countries. Daesh declares any place outside their small bastions in Iraq and Syria as dar al-harb and uses it as a propaganda tool to recruit followers to what they called the sole legitimate Muslim country, urging migration of Muslims to Daesh-controlled areas and defining Muslims outside their sphere of influence as sinners. Daesh also exploits the reference to apostasy in Islam and uses it to justify the killings of anyone opposing the terrorist group's mindset.The DİB also touched upon the recruitment of foreign fighters by Daesh and claims the participation rate in the group from Turkey and among Turks living abroad is "quite low." The report says the reason behind the low participation is the "religious, historical and cultural texture" of Turkey, where the back-to-basics Islamic approach Daesh exploits did not affect the faithful much. "Our past Islamic experience rests on an understanding that holistically embraces the reason, wisdom, and purpose of Quran and Sunnah alongside their surface meaning," it said.