February 5, 2015


[In the execution of Kasasbeh, ISIS departed from its usual approach of beheading a captive: It burned al-Kasasbeh alive in a metal cage and filmed it. Aside from the unremitting cruelty of this act, for nearly all Muslims, it is also close to sacrilege.]

For Muslims, immolation is sacrilege.

Members of Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh's tribe protesthis death in Jordan. 
Raad Adayleh/AP
On Tuesday, ISIS released the latest in a series of gruesome filmed murders of its foreign captives. This time, it was the execution of First Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh, a celebrated Jordanian pilot whom the group had been attempting to exchange for Sajida al-Rishawi, a female failed suicide bomber from Iraq who was being held in a Jordanian prison. Kasasbeh was the first pilot in the 60-member US-led coalition fighting ISIS to be caught, and relatives in Amman and officials throughout Jordan are outraged at his death. In retaliation, Jordan executed the Iraqi woman and one other Iraqi jihadist by hanging early Wednesday morning. 
"Burning someone alive is absolutely barbaric and it is expressly forbidden in Islam," said one Middle East expert.
In the execution of Kasasbeh, ISIS departed from its usual approach of beheading a captive: It burned al-Kasasbeh alive in a metal cage and filmed it. Aside from the unremitting cruelty of this act, for nearly all Muslims, it is also close to sacrilege. 
"Burning someone alive is absolutely barbaric and it is expressly forbidden in Islam," said Emma El-Badawy, a Middle East expert from the University of Exeter to Sky News, a UK based news station. The Council on American- Islamic Relations (CAIR) held a press conference in response to the act, where Nihad Awad, the national director, called it "unspeakable and anti-Islamic." Hussam Ayloush, the director of CAIR in Los Angeles, noted, as many Islamic clerics have, that ISIS should not even be compared to Islam, as it does not fit the category of an Islamic group, but rather a "murderous terrorist cult."
Activists in Syria from Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, a group reporting from the ground in the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa who learned of Kasasbeh's death by fire, were shocked and initially incredulous. Abu Ibrahim Al Raqqawi, the pseudonym of an activist following ISIS's occupation in the radical group's stronghold in Raqqa, Syria, told the Daily Beast: "I know that in Islam, there is no excuse to burn someone to death, so I thought they were lying," referring to a friend recounting tales of ISIS members gloating about the pilot's death.
Even cremation is not acceptable in the Islamic faith. "To honor the dead is to bury them," reads a Muslim hadith, or prophetic teaching attributed to the Prophet Muhammed. Sheikh Muhammed Saalih Al Munajjid, a respected Muslim scholar in the Salafi school of thought, posted on a well known Islamic information website that he manages."It is not prescribed in Islam to burn or cremate the dead, rather this is an act of disrespect and dishonour. Islam forbids us to step, walk or sit on the grave of the deceased, so how could we burn him?" 
ISIS members, anticipating criticism, were quick to launch a PR counter-offensive online. ISIS published a post titled "Moaz Was Burnt Alive, Below Is the Islamic Justification for Such an Act." It claims that "scholars" (who are never directly quoted or named) say it is acceptable to burn victims in the modern day, and the post gives instructions to jihadists on how to argue with clerics who might complain that burning is un-Islamic. Commenters on the post began to cite other lines from the Quran could justify the decision to burn the pilot. Some commenters claimed it was retaliation for ISIS fighters who died in air strikes, who may have been burned.
The immolation has further alienated ISIS from the broader Muslim world. The Qatari based International Association for Muslim Scholars issued a statement condemning the pilot's murder as criminal: "The Association asserts that this extremist organization does not represent Islam in any way and its actions always harm Islam."
Abu Sayaf, a Jordanian Salafist cleric who spent a decade in Jordanian prisons, in part because of his role in plans to attack the US military, agrees. "This weakens the popularity of Islamic State because we look at Islam as a religion of mercy and tolerance," he told Reuters. "Even in the heat of battle, a prisoner of war is given good treatment. Why film the video in this shocking way?"

@ Mother Jones
PTI | Feb 5, 2015, 10.49 PM IST

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama on Thursday said the "acts of intolerance" experienced by religious faiths of all types in India in the past few years would have shocked Mahatma Gandhi.

The comments by Obama came a day after the White House refuted suggestions that the US President's public speech in New Delhi in which he touched upon religious tolerance was a "parting shot" aimed at the ruling BJP.

"Michelle and I returned from India - an incredible, beautiful country, full of magnificent diversity - but a place where, in past years, religious faiths of all types have, on occasion, been targeted by other peoples of faith, simply due to their heritage and their beliefs - acts of intolerance that would have shocked Gandhiji, the person who helped to liberate that nation," Obama said in his remarks at the high-profile National Prayer Breakfast.

The US President, who has just returned from India, was referring to violence against followers of various religions in India in the past few years.

He, however, did not name any particular religion and said the violence is not unique to one group or one religion.

"Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.

"In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow (racial segregation state and local laws) all too often was justified in the name of Christ," he said, addressing the gathering of over 3,000 US and international leaders.

"There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith. In today's world, when hate groups have their own Twitter accounts and bigotry can fester in hidden places in cyberspace, it can be even harder to counteract such intolerance.

"But God compels us to try.

"And in this mission, I believe there are a few principles that can guide us, particularly those of us who profess to believe," he said.

In a US-style Town Hall address in New Delhi on January 27, the last day of his India trip, Obama had made a strong pitch for religious tolerance, cautioning that India will succeed so long as it was not "splintered along the lines of religious faith".
The White House yesterday strongly refuted allegations that Obama's remarks on religious tolerance was aimed at the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), saying the speech in its entirety was about the "core democratic values and principles" of both the US and India.