Prominent Muslim scholars say the Islamic State is un-Islamic

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Some 120 Islamic scholars from around the world have issued an open letter to the leader of the Islamic State militant group, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, detailing why the actions of this group do not conform to Islamic teachings, jurisprudence or widely-held beliefs.

“Everything said here relies completely upon the statements and actions of followers of the ‘Islamic State’ as they themselves have promulgated in social media — or upon Muslim eyewitness accounts — and not upon other media,” the letter said.

A screenshot from Islamic State Supreme Leader Abu-Bakr Al-Baghdadi’s sermon in Iraq

The letter goes on to describe in detail why many of the actions of the so-called Islamic State are un-Islamic, and debunks the group’s use of sacred texts to justify the committing of atrocities.

“The slaying of a soul — any soul — is haram (forbidden and inviolable under Islamic law),” the letter said. “It is also one of the most abominable sins.”

It goes on to quote a verse from the Qur’an that says: “Whoever slays a soul for other than a soul, or for corruption in the land, it shall be as if he had slain mankind altogether.”

The letter also addresses the group’s practice of killing journalists, saying that the killing of emissaries is clearly forbidden in Islam.

Still image from a video released by Islamic State showing a militant threatening to execute US journalist Steven Sotloff

“Emissaries have a special inviolability,” the letter said. “Journalists — if they are honest and of course are not spies — are emissaries of truth, because their job is to expose the truth to people in general. You have mercilessly killed the journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, even after Sotloff’s mother pleaded with you and begged for mercy.”

“Aid workers are also emissaries of mercy and kindness, yet you killed the aid worker David Haines. What you have done is unquestionably forbidden.”

The letter also describes the rules of conduct when waging war, citing Islam’s first caliph Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq as saying that the destruction of homes, the killing of women and children and the elderly, the mutilation of bodies, and the looting of valuables, are all forbidden practices.

ISIL members executing captured Syrian soldiers (photo: Reuters)

“As for killing prisoners, it is forbidden in Islamic law,” the scholars wrote. “Yet you have killed many prisoners, including the 1,700 captives at Camp Speicher in Tikrit,” as well as hundreds of others including unarmed civilians.

“These are heinous war crimes.”