A new propaganda video was recently released by ISIS, addressing the UK specifically in its depraved, chilling rhetoric. Among other things, the video spoke of 'waging jihad,' 'breaking borders,' and 'ruling by the sharia.' Though they may have chosen 'Islamic State' as their name, both history and scripture testify to the fact that the acts of ISIS constitute the complete antithesis of Islamic teaching. That being said, some important questions remain unanswered. Does a true Islamic State exist in the world today? And fundamentally, what features would one possess?
The answers, though concealed beneath layers of modern day radicalised youths screaming calls for war and extremist clerics inciting hatred, are nevertheless easy to find. The Qur'an, while not specifying a specific form of government, lays down clear and consistent guidelines on the principles that an Islamic State should uphold:
Let not a people's enmity incite you to act otherwise than with justice. Be always just, that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah. Surely, Allah is aware of what you do.[5:9]
Religion is not mentioned at all in this verse. In order for a State to enact absolute justice upon its subjects as the Qur'an commands, it requires values of pluralism, religious tolerance, and secularism - with a complete separation between religion and politics. In this way each citizen, regardless of race, colour or faith, would be able to adhere to their own belief system as they pleased. To compel a non-Muslim to follow Islamic law would constitute a clear breach of justice, thus violating the principles of Islam itself.
In 626AD, the Prophet Muhammad, at that time the ruler of Medina, gave a letter to the Christian monks of St Catherine's monastery - a document which is still preserved to this day. His words serve as further evidence of the true teachings of Islam, in their pure and uncorrupted form. 'Christians are my citizens,' he writes. 'No compulsion is to be on them..., no one is to destroy a house of their religion... The Muslims are to fight for them.' At the bottom of the document the Prophet ordered that no Muslim, from that day until the end of the world, should disobey those commandments.
This is a true Islamic State. A State in which its Muslim citizens are prepared not only to live in peace with those of other faiths, but be willing to fight and die to safeguard their rights. A State in which a matchless spirit of peace is forged on the precepts of complete justice. A State in which there exists unity in diversity, in which there is light and compassion instead of darkness and hatred.
Needless to say, such a State does not currently exist in the Muslim world. Instead we see societies in the midst of flames, plagued by corruption and a lust for materialistic power. By far the most 'Islamic' societies today in their values and ideals are those in the West. Multiculturalism, tolerance, inclusivity - this is the nature of the community I live in. It is ironic indeed that a group naming itself 'Islamic State,' seeks to destroy those very principles of peace that its own religion stands for.