Skip to main content

What form of 'Islam' do these terrorists follow?

Muslim terrorists are not only defying Islamic teaching with regards to the sanctity of life, they are also prone to other vices banned in Islam

In the wake of the Islamic State (IS) terror attacks on Beirut, Baghdad and Paris last week, I argued that nothing IS has ever done was for the benefit of Islam or Muslims, and that any Caliph throughout history worthy of the title would have waged war against them.

In the early days of Islam, the Muslim community suffered from a rogue, unorthodox faction who turned away from the teachings of Islam and instead embraced the path of blood, violence and aberrant beliefs, assassinating those whom they disagreed with and massacring innocents. Those people were called the Khawarij, or Outsiders, and were viewed by many Muslims as departing from the basics of Islam. IS, al-Qaeda, Iraq's Shia League of the Righteous and several other groups are clearly the modern-day Khawarij.

The Khawarij never did care too much about Islamic teaching with regards to the sanctity of life or the rules of war and that is exactly what groups like the aforementioned are like. However, the modern day Khawarij appear indifferent to most other Islamic teachings as well. Take, for instance, the 9/11 bombers.

It became clear that the men who had taken thousands of lives in 2001 and ignited George Bush’s bloodlust in the global war on terror - that cast the world into an abyss of increasing, and not decreasing, terrorism - had frequented strip clubs. Many of you who have religious Muslims as friends will know that drinking in bars is a serious no-no, let alone paying to watch and be entertained by women stripping naked.

According to the FBI and witnesses, the 9/11 plane hijackers went to Las Vegas several times to partake in the carnal pleasures of a quite un-Islamic lap dance, un-Islamically gamble in Sin City’s (I cannot emphasis “sin” enough here) casinos, and even have a nice, cool, and quite clearly haram (forbidden in Islamic law), alcoholic beverage or two. Some extremist radicals.

Similarly, the lack of righteousness shown by Shia militant outfits in Iraq for example is now becoming legendarily comical, were it not for the great human suffering that it causes. Under the guise of religion, and with the use of clerics as middlemen and essentially pimps, women are often sexually exploited into “temporary marriage” in order to make ends meet, or to feed their families that had lost their breadwinners. As reported at the United Nations Human Rights commission, these women can be wed to men, who can take on as many temporary wives as they want (provided they have the money, of course), and these marriages can last from minutes to days.

The report further quotes a cleric justifying the sexual exploitation of women by saying that “[temporary] marriage aims to provide humanitarian assistance to the women”. Ali bin Abi Talib, the Prophet Muhammad’s cousin, companion and the man whom both Sunnis and Shia revere was more akin to a saint than a sinner, as I am sure many of the world’s Shia who love him would agree with. There is no way he would allow the sexual exploitation of women, particularly when they can also be killed by these armed terrorist gangs. Meanwhile the proclaimed foes of such gangs, i.e. IS militants, appear to be equally obsessed with sexual abuse, not spirituality.

The Paris attackers were also no different, and certainly no more religious. Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the supposed mastermind of the tragic murders, was seen drinking whiskey and offering it to local Frenchmen, and was also with a group of other men who were smoking cannabis joints. The so-called “jihadist” (a terrible term insulting to the spirit of jihad) architect of one of Europe’s deadliest terror attacks, at the apparent high point of his spiritual path, was sat on a street kerb gulping alcohol and getting stoned - not praying at his local mosque. Perhaps he was trying to dull the horror of what he had just committed, or perhaps he was always a pothead with no idea about Islam, what it stands for, or even the slightest notion about Islamic history and civilisation.

Abaaoud’s relative, and apparently Europe’s first female suicide bomber Hasna Boulahcen, was hardly a paragon of Islamic ideals herself. Boulahcen had spent the vast majority of her life hiding away from it in a stupor of narcotic-fuelled ignorance, or jahiliyyah in Islamo-Arabic parlance. According to the Independent, she wore “normal” clothes before donning the hijab (Islamophobically implying that the hijab is not normal), was quite the party girl and drank alcohol as a matter of course. Witnesses described her as living a “hedonistic” lifestyle, with a steady stream of boyfriends. According to the article, she only became “religious” after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January – hardly a long-term, committed and studious disciple of the Islamic sciences, traditions and scholarship.

So-called Islamic terrorists can hardly be described as religious, and sometimes they can barely be described as non-practicing Muslims. If Islam is followed properly, Muslims should do their best to avoid showing even a sheep that is about to be slaughtered the blade that will be used, and they should also do their best to distance other animals from the sight of their fellow creature being slaughtered.

This is in order to be as humane as possible, while minimising distress and harm to other creatures. If Islam is this sensitive towards the feelings, emotions and comfort of animals that are intended for food, how can that same religion be then callously used to justify the wanton murder of completely innocent human beings, and in such terrorising fashion?

In 2008, an MI5 report found that most of alleged Muslim British terrorists were "religious novices" and not "Islamist fundamentalists". The vast majority of such extremists live lives of material hedonism, and are not strict adherents to the Islamic faith or tradition. They have spent their lives mired in what Islam has determined is sin, and are then radicalised by false preachers promising them an easy way to earn forgiveness, expiation of their sins and a one-way ticket to paradise. What these uneducated, inebriated fools do not realise is that they are carrying out exactly the opposite of what the Quran tells us.

What Islam are these people following, and where did they learn it from? Wherever they learnt it from, it certainly was not from the Quran or from the teachings and traditions of the Prophet Muhammad.

-Tallha Abdulrazaq is a researcher at the University of Exeter's Strategy & Security Institute, and winner of the Al Jazeera Young Researcher Award. He blogs at and tweets from @thewarjournal

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.

Photo: A view of the bar "Les Beguines", owned by Brahim Abdeslam, one of the suicide bombers implicated in the Paris attacks, on 17 November, 2015 in Brussels' Molenbeek district (AFP).

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.