“I was astounded that someone of that kind of pedigree could sign on for something like that, which would be an anathema to the very teachers he revered.” This was the view of U.S-based academic, Prof Ebrahim Moosa, who on Monday addressed claims he has received death threats from the Islamic State (IS) in response to a recent publication in the Washington Post.
Moosa made headlines last week for an opinion piece in which he recounted his first-hand experiences with Mufti Rashid Moosagie, a PE based scholar believed to have emigrated to Syria to live in ISIS’s self-styled caliphate. The two scholars lived for a year as neighbours in Cape Town, as well as studied theology together at the Darul Uloom Deoband, India.
Speaking to VOC’s Drivetime, Prof Moosa described Moosagie as someone deeply rooted in Islamic values and tradition, further adding to the shock that the mufti would abandon his spirituality for a “reduced version of salafism”.
The academic’s piece has stirred anger amongst IS radicals who have responded with several death threats against him. Despite this, the majority response has been one of overwhelming support. Moosa said that many Americans, both Muslims and non-Muslim, felt that his opinion piece provided a ‘voice of reason’ on the IS situation.
“Of course there have been individuals within ISIS who have been unhappy about this, which was to be expected,” he conceded.
Addressing Moosagie’s proposed ‘radicalisation’, Moosa suspected isolation from within the ulema fraternity, as well as the development of ‘revolutionary’ ideas on the part of the scholar as possible reasons for his decision to pledge allegiance to the radical group. He said such ideas were uniform amongst many other IS supporters as well.
“I think that many of these individuals are looking for a particular way to change the world. They also have some idea that we are reaching the end times where Islam and disbelief is going to come into confrontation. They carry the traumas the Muslim world has undergone and all of these things have become mobilising vectors for their agenda, but it’s obviously very confused and an abuse of Islamic religion,” he said.
Weighing in on the matter former SA ambassador to the US, Ebrahim Rasool said Moosa’s story would bode well in shifting the narrative of IS from the idea of a collective group of Muslim extremists, towards analysing the individuals affiliated to the group.
“He has done the overwhelming majority of Muslims a favour by showing what has driven one person and one family,” he said.
Rasool praised the manner in which Moosa’s piece was written, recognising the lack of anger or disappointment towards Moosagie in favour of an honest attempt to portray his own experiences with the scholar.
“There’s not the sense of a personal insult or denigration of Maulana Moosagie, but certainly an unmasking that would move us to question the contradictions within such personalities,” he added.
Ebrahim Moosa’s opinion piece can be read on the our website via the following link: https://www.vocfm.co.za/my-madrassa-classmate-hated-politics-then-joined-is/. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)