Part 1 is here.
I had also heard many theories from other Muslims on social media. One of those theories was that Wahhabism is to blame for ISIS. Another theory was that ISIS are the modern day Khawarij that Prophet Muhammad reportedly warned us about. Another theory was that Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS at the time, was trained by western agencies like the CIA and Israel Mossad, as allegedly revealed by Edward Snowden. This conspiracy theory went viral and so many Muslims used it as an excuse to dismiss any relevance that ISIS had with the Religion of Islam. This conspiracy theory was eventually exposed as a hoax by British journalist Sunny Hundal:
So the conspiracy itself was just a hoax that had been refuted. The other aforementioned theories didn’t satisfy me because they didn’t tell me enough about ISIS.
What was concerning was that according to the SITE Intelligence Group blog, a terrorism report agency, revealed “what turned out to be a largely accurate biography” of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, which mentioned that he had a a Bachelor’s degree, a Master’s degree and PhD in Islamic related fields:
This was also attested by William McCants, a renowned ISIS analyst, who confirmed that Baghdadi had a Bachelor’s degree in Islamic studies from the University of Baghdad and a Master’s degree and PhD in Quranic studies from Saddam University for Islamic Studies:
William McCants also gave a 10 minute summary of Baghdadi’s biography on YouTube:
Not only was Baghdadi well educated, but he was a very religious Muslim who a passion for the Quran since childhood. He had a PhD in Islamic related fields, which isn’t something that should be dismissed because most Muslims don’t have any credentials in any Islamic related field. So he is by no means uneducated. The fact that Baghdadi had a PhD was alarming because that means that he’s more educated than most Muslims, so I could no longer keep parroting the notion that ISIS had nothing to do with Islam if I wanted to be honest. There’s also the fact that he can speak Arabic, and he is a very eloquent speaker:
But at this point in my journey, this wasn’t enough to cause me serious doubts because I found a number of Quran verses and Hadiths that taught tolerance and acceptance of non-Muslims, here two examples from the Quran:
“There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path. Whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. And Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower. ” ― Quran 2:256 (Muhsin Khan translation).
“Say (O Muhammad (Peace be upon him) to these Mushrikun and Kafirun): “O Al-Kafirun (disbelievers in Allah, in His Oneness, in His Angels, in His Books, in His Messengers, in the Day of Resurrection, and in Al-Qadar, etc.)! I worship not that which you worship, Nor will you worship that which I worship. And I shall not worship that which you are worshipping. Nor will you worship that which I worship. To you be your religion, and to me my religion (Islamic Monotheism).” ― Quran 109:1-6 (Sahih International translation).
There was also this verse, which I really liked:
“Verily! Those who believe and those who are Jews and Christians, and Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and do righteous good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” ― Quran 2:62 (Muhsin Khan translation).
This verse stated that Jews, Christians, Sabians and whoever that believed in Allah and the Last Day and did good deeds will go to heaven. I wasn’t immediately aware that this verse only talked about the Jews, Christians and Sabians before Muhammad’s time, but the verse was still nonetheless a beautiful verse to me at the time. I also really liked this Hadith:
“Narrated `Abdur Rahman bin Abi Laila: Sahl bin Hunaif and Qais bin Sa`d were sitting in the city of Al-Qadisiya. A funeral procession passed in front of them and they stood up. They were told that funeral procession was of one of the inhabitants of the land i.e. of a non-believer, under the protection of Muslims. They said, “A funeral procession passed in front of the Prophet (ﷺ) and he stood up. When he was told that it was the coffin of a Jew, he said, “Is it not a living being (soul)?” ― Sahih al-Bukhari Hadiths 1312, 1313.
This was probably my favourite Hadith because Muhammad basically stood up out of respect for a deceased Jew in a funeral, which to me at the time, was powerful proof that Islam is a Religion of peace and tolerance because Muhammad showed respect to a non-Muslim and regarded him as a soul that wasn’t any less human than a Muslim. Not to mention, the non-Muslim in this funeral was a Jew, which was important because in history, there has been anomosity between Jews and Muslims in recent history for a number of reasons, and as a Muslim, I felt that the enmity between Jews and Muslims had been misused to spread the narrative that Islam was antisemitic.
Sidenote: Check out this fatwa for more information about why Muhammad stood up for a deceased Jew in a funeral: https://www.islamweb.net/en/fatwa/283960/
I also searched and found Quran verses and Hadiths that from my perspective, elevated women to a really high status. Here is an example of a verse from the Quran:
“O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will, and you should not treat them with harshness, that you may take away part of the Mahr you have given them, unless they commit open illegal sexual intercourse. And live with them honourably. If you dislike them, it may be that you dislike a thing and Allah brings through it a great deal of good.” ― Quran 4:19 (Muhsin Khan translation).
And here are examples of Hadiths, I really loved those Hadiths:
“It was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas that the Prophet said: “The best of you is the one who is best to his wife, and I am the best of you to my wives.” ― Sunan Ibn Majah Hadith 1977.
“Abu Hurairah narrated that The Messenger of Allah said: “The most complete of the believers in faith, is the one with the best character among them. And the best of you are those who are best to your women.” ― Jami at-Tirmidhi Hadith 1162.
There was also this one Hadith that I already know about, because I had heard about it in the Mosque:
“It was narrated from Mu’awiyah bin Jahimah As-Sulami, that Jahimah came to the Prophet and said: “O Messenger of Allah! I want to go out and fight (in Jihad) and I have come to ask your advice.” He said: “Do you have a mother?” He said: “Yes.” He said: “Then stay with her, for Paradise is beneath her feet.” ― Sunan an-Nasa’i Hadith 3104.
This Hadith is very important to Muslims because Islam teaches children that they need to have the utmost respect for their mothers, to the point that their salvation is dependent on how much respect they need to show for their mothers. I was also taught that from a young age that Muhammad abolished female infaticade in Arabia because it was apparently very common for the pre-Islamic Arabs to bury their female daughters alive shortly after they are born. So I felt like I already had enough proof against the idea that Islam is oppressive to women, but then I came across Hadiths like these:
“Narrated ‘Ikrima: Rifa’a divorced his wife whereupon ‘AbdurRahman bin Az-Zubair Al-Qurazi married her. ‘Aisha said that the lady (came), wearing a green veil (and complained to her (Aisha) of her husband and showed her a green spot on her skin caused by beating). It was the habit of ladies to support each other, so when Allah’s Apostle came, ‘Aisha said, “I have not seen any woman suffering as much as the believing women. Look! Her skin is greener than her clothes!” When ‘AbdurRahman heard that his wife had gone to the Prophet, he came with his two sons from another wife. She said, “By Allah! I have done no wrong to him but he is impotent and is as useless to me as this,” holding and showing the fringe of her garment, ‘Abdur-Rahman said, “By Allah, O Allah’s Apostle! She has told a lie! I am very strong and can satisfy her but she is disobedient and wants to go back to Rifa’a.” Allah’s Apostle ﷺ said, to her, “If that is your intention, then know that it is unlawful for you to remarry Rifa’a unless Abdur-Rahman has had sexual intercourse with you.” Then the Prophet saw two boys with ‘Abdur-Rahman and asked (him), “Are these your sons?” On that ‘AbdurRahman said, “Yes.” The Prophet ﷺ said, “You claim what you claim (i.e.. that he is impotent)? But by Allah, these boys resemble him as a crow resembles a crow.” ― Sahih al-Bukhari Hadith 3237.
Aisha, who is often called the mother of the believers, says that she hasn’t seen any woman suffering as much as the believing women i.e. Muslim women. There were also this Hadith:
“Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “If a husband calls his wife to his bed (i.e. to have sexual relation) and she refuses and causes him to sleep in anger, the angels will curse her till morning.” ― Sahih al-Bukhari Hadith 3237.
The fact that Muhammad taught that women are cursed by angels all night for refusing to have sex with their husbands disturbed me. This Hadith was even worse:
“It was narrated that: Abdullah bin Abu Awfa said “When Muadh bin Jabal came from Sham, he prostrated to the Prophet who said: ‘What is this, O Muadh?’ He said: ‘I went to Sham and saw them prostrating to their bishops and patricians and I wanted to do that for you.’ The messenger of Allah said: ‘Do not do that. If I were to command anyone to prostrate to anyone other than Allah, I would have commanded women to prostrate to their husbands. By the One in Whose Hand is the soul of Muhammad! No woman can fulfill her duty towards Allah until she fulfills her duty towards her husband. If he asks her (for intimacy) even if she is on her camel saddle, she should not refuse.” ― Sunan Ibn Majah Hadith 1853.
When I first saw these Hadiths, I found them to be so problematic and shocking because the Quran says that Muhammad is was sent as a mercy to the entire world:
“And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds.” ― Quran 21:107 (Sahih International translation).
The Quran also says that Muhammad is an excellent pattern of conduct for Muslim believers:
“There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and [who] remembers Allah often.” ― Quran 33:21 (Sahih International translation).
Muhammad for all intents and purpuses, was sent by Allah as a Prophet of mercy for all of humanity, is supposed to be a perfect man and role model for all of humanity to follow and imitate. But Muhammad gave injunctions that warned Muslim women to not refuse sexual advances from their husbands, which is clearly a very unwise and harmful teaching because it potentially facilitates marital rape. This caused me to doubt Muhammad’s morality and think is he really a perfect man? Is he really the Prophet of mercy? Is he really the ideal role model? Isn’t it unwise for a man like this to give such injunctions?
This was where I began to go on a downward spiral of doubts about Islamic morality, but this still wasn’t enough to make me reject Muhammad’s morality since the Quran commands Muslims to have zero resistance to Muhammad’s authority:
“But no, by your Lord, they will not [truly] believe until they make you, [O Muhammad], judge concerning that over which they dispute among themselves and then find within themselves no discomfort from what you have judged and submit in [full, willing] submission.” ― Quran 4:65 (Sahih International translation).
Muslims aren’t supposed to question Muhammad’s morality because they believe that he is a perfect man. Deep down, I found Muhammad’s actions in these Hadiths problematic, but I didn’t want to be a disbeliever, so I reluctantly accepted these injunctions.