Syrian Mufti pushes back on extremism
“If the Prophet Mohammed had asked me to deem Christians or Jews heretics, I would have deemed Mohammed himself a heretic”- Sheikh Ahmed Hassoun, the Mufti of Syria
We have always argued that Al Qaeda and other associated insurgency franchises are not religious movements but transnational political movements. Their objective although draped in vague religious references to a new caliphate, is in real terms secular. The insurgents exploit the uneducated, the poor, the challenged and the desperate as a recruiting pool, but it is not a religious war and it never was.
The more moderate and educated Muslims are well aware of this. They are also frustrated that their faith is being hijacked for political gain. In an important message, the Syrian Mufti called out the duplicity of factionalism and politics that’s corrupting Islam’s message. This is not the first time Sheikh Hassoun has caused controversy and attacked factionalism. In a speech in Germany in 2007, he said : “I am Sunni in practice, Shiite in allegiance. My roots are Salafi, and my purity is Sufi. There is no contradiction in being both Sunni and Shiite. That’s how one’s Islam becomes complete.” In his most recent comments Hassoun implied that Muslims should not see Israel as a natural enemy or target.
Hassoun, the leader of Syria’s majority Sunni Muslim community, also told the delegates that Islam was a religion of peace, adding:
“If Mohammed had commanded us to kill people, I would have told him he was not a prophet.”
Religious wars were the result of politics infiltrating systems of faith, he said, asking:
“Was Moses of Middle Eastern or European descent? Was Jesus a Protestant or a Catholic? Was Mohammed Shi’ite or Sunni?”
According to the Mufti, the conflict between Israel and its Arabs neighbors has nothing to do with an Islamic war against Judaism.
“Before you got American citizenship, and I got Syrian citizenship, we were all brothers under the dome of God,” he said.