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Lane: In battle with ISIS, imams choose pens over swords

BY JOE LANE | APRIL 01, 2015 5:00 AM

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Since 9/11, ethnic profiling of Arabs has, undoubtedly and unfortunately, been on the rise. As unrest grows and fear of terror attacks by extremist organizations seems more imminent, many stereotypes begin to gain ground.

The rise of ISIS and the maintained prominence of other extremist organizations based in Arab countries have fueled this unrest.

One group, however, is trying to fight the stigma attached to the religion of Islam. Last week, The Independent reported on a small group of Muslim leaders who are trying to “drown out violent voices” through the creation of a digital magazine called Haqiqah.

Haqiqah, which brilliantly translates as “reality” or “truth,” focuses on addressing the “twisted ideologies” of terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda and ISIS. The first issue of the magazine, in fact, addresses the ridiculous explanations for the killing, raping, and pillaging so frequently perpetrated by ISIS.

The imams (Muslim scholars commonly found leading prayer at mosques) who founded Haqiqah are trying to create a counter-narrative to the distorted Koranic verses that extremist groups use to gain followers and motivate their murderous regimes.

Upon discovering this story, I learned a horrifying fact. According to CNN, ISIS has a recruitment budget of $2 billion (with a “B”) that it uses to produce video and social-media content used to attract young people. While the terrorist group having access to such funds is terrifying, it is the organization that ISIS possesses that scares me most.

Terrorist organizations were once thought of simply as loosely tied, poorly organized — albeit frightening — militias of extremists, but ISIS appears to be shifting the paradigm.

When a terrorist organization is as organized as ISIS, disruption, Muslim leaders argue, cannot come simply from reactive or preventative violence. Marayati explains perfectly how the unique idea of Haqiqah may be the only thing capable of stopping terrorist organizations.

The creation of Haqiqah represents a less-often-seen side of the problem with Islamic extremist organizations: the battle between the small sects of Islam committing such heinous crimes and the larger portion of Muslims battling to prove they, too, are outraged by such actions.

Contrary to popular belief, it may not be missiles, Navy SEALs, or drones that are responsible for the ultimate demise of terrorist organizations.

The collapse of ISIS may come from within the religion of Islam itself. Rather than physically fighting those who have no rules by which to abide in their killing, imams are pursuing the road less traveled: education.

In trying to combat terrorism with knowledge, Haqiqah has the potential to single-handedly destroy Islamic extremism by starting from the bottom. By educating the Muslim population of the Middle East — and, increasingly, the rest of the world — in the fallacies promoted by terroristic leaders, Haqiqah has the chance to destroy ISIS without pulling a single trigger.

While the impact that “Haqiqah” may have is anyone’s guess, it represents an interesting possibility in the fight against terrorism. Unfortunate that these circumstances may be, Haqiqah is quite literally trying to prove that the pen is mightier than the sword.


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