DHAKA (THE DAILY STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) – The world in general and the Muslim world in particular must be heaving a sigh of relief at the news of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s death.
While this has been welcomed by some world leaders, it is time to ask ourselves some hard questions about how such a callous man was allowed to grow and become one of the most notorious terrorists the world has seen.
The case of Baghdadi can be studied from three perspectives: Baghdadi – the man, the organisation that he represented, and his philosophy of the caliphate that he so pretentiously preached.
As a man Baghdadi was ruthless and cruel, killing hundreds and thousands of innocent people.
Most of his victims were people belonging to his own creed, often from his own sect.
The organisation that Baghdadi represented distorted the teachings of Islam and manipulated people in the name of religion to join their flawed cause of the caliphate, which is nothing like the historic Islamic caliphate that we know about, or anything close to the philosophy of Islam.
However, as flawed as Baghdadi’s philosophy was, it had subscribers, followers who believed in his ideas and joined his cause.
Even people from as far away as Bangladesh, albeit a minuscule minority, fell for Baghdadi’s ideologies and went to fight his meaningless war.
We would like to ask the Muslim world why it allowed such a distorted philosophy, which is patently anti-Islam, to find audience among some segments of its people?
Why did the Muslim community not challenge these ideas and stop them from spreading in a collective voice? Why did the Muslims not stand up against Baghdadi? Why were his ideas allowed to sustain?
These are difficult questions, but it is high time we asked them.
It is also time we contemplate how Baghdadi’s radical and conservative ideas seeped into a liberal society such as ours – a society that is driven by our celebration of diversity and openness of thoughts, a syncretic culture that is inclusive in all regards.
We must address the reasons that allowed a certain portion of our population, although a small minority, to fall victim to the distorted philosophy of a vindictive man, such as Baghdadi.
We must seek answers to these questions and eliminate the root causes that encouraged some of our people to take such a hard-line misguided path.
The Daily Star is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 24 news media organisations.
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