CALGARY—A group of Canadian imams is condemning followers of the Islamic State as non-Muslims and “outsiders” to the faith.
Imam Syed Soharwardy and 37 other Muslim leaders from across the country have issued an Islamic edict called a fatwa against the militant group currently trying to attract supporters to its war in Syria and Iraq.
Soharwardy, the founder of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada, said Wednesday the Islamic State is violating Muslim law.
As a result, the group and anyone supporting them, will no longer be considered to be Muslim.
“They have been excommunicated from the Muslim community and those who will join them—they should be excommunicated from the Muslim community and they cannot be considered as Muslims at all,” said Soharwardy.
The imams and Islamic scholars are from Vancouver, Montreal, Edmonton and Toronto and include representatives of the different sects within the Muslim religion, he said “It’s significant for those individuals who understand the opinions of the scholars need to be followed and because our fatwa is based on the teachings of the holy Qur’an and the teachings of the Prophet,” said Soharwardy.
“With evidence what kind of violations ISIL and ISIS has committed, that will put a lot of weight for people to be convinced that ISIL and ISIS is the wrong way to go.”
He cited several acts that violate Islamic law, including capturing opponents and beheading them, killing Muslims who disagree with their actions, destroying mosques, burning enemy soldiers alive and encouraging Muslim girls to join them.
Soharwardy hopes the message gets out to young people who are most at risk of being recruited.
“We strongly urge every Muslim, especially the youth, not to be influenced by the speeches, songs and the literature available on the Internet or on social media produced by the impostors pretending to be Muslim,” he said. “This is a trap for young Muslims.”
Several Canadian youth have already gone to the Middle East to fight for the Islamic State. Ottawa’s national security report said at the start of 2014 there were more than 130 individuals abroad and suspected of terror activities.
Earlier this year there were reports that six young men and women between 18 and 20 years old from the Montreal area left around mid-January and landed in Turkey, a well-known gateway to battlefields in Syria and Iraq.
Soharwardy also had harsh words for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the federal government for equating ISIL followers with jihadists.
He said to Muslims that word simply means to struggle and using it might be leading to more sympathy for the terrorist group.
“These people use these words so loosely that it makes everybody push back to having sympathy for terrorist organizations,” he said.
“So one of the factors in the rise of terrorism is because of this Islamophobia and because of the misuse of … words by government officials.”