The NY Times of 21 December 15 ran an OpEd piece entitled “A Medieval Antidote to ISIS” (see: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/21/opinion/a-medieval-antidote-to-isis.html, which is also the picture source.)
The article was written by Mustafa Akyol, who is a self-described lenient Muslim. While many of us are familiar with our own religions and many others, I suspect that not many of us are familiar with “Murjia” or irja. Adherents to this variety of the Islamic religion are simply called “postponers” because they believe in a pluralistic, tolerant form of Islam.
Many religions are not uniform. They run from the strict, conservative approach to the laws espoused by the religion to the more reform or lassiez faire who adopt more of a buffet approach where they take what they want in terms of religious guidelines.
Many in the PSYOP/MISO Community regard the war on Daesh as one of competing philosophies and ideals.
Is it reasonable to assume that an approach based on lesser-known aspects of a religion can be used to persuade zealots and jihadists to become more moderate?
While I don’t think either a historical or a logical argument will win over these extremists, I do believe that it may be possible to show existing moderates or undecided followers that there are historical and less violent ways to follow their religion.
Here, as with other campaigns, it would be necessary to employ credible spokes people to employ and inside out approach so that people within the community are trying to influence their co-religionists rather than outsiders promulgating this philosophy.
The last paragraph of the article sums up its perspective nicely:
“Aware that irja is its theological antidote, the Islamic State presents it as a lack of religious piety. It is, however, true piety combined with humility — the humility that comes from honoring God as the only judge of men. On the other hand, the Islamic State’s zeal to dictate, which it presents as piety, seems to be driven by arrogance — the arrogance of judging all other men, and claiming power over them, in the name of God.”