I will start out politely, with the traditional As-salaam-u alaykum, peace be to you, and I will even use the title you have given yourself, and I will try to keep this note brief, for I can only imagine the press of your days, what with trying to manage a nascent state, and a fractious staff, and keeping a wary eye out for the many people who would dearly love to blow you to ragged bits smaller than grains of sand.
So, then, a few points to ponder:
First, I remind you that there is not one word in the Qur’an, which you believe to be the revealed Word of the One, or in the hadith (the words of the Prophet, peace be upon him), that says innocents may be murdered. Nowhere is that written. Yet you, like other ostensible leaders of the faith in recent years, have allowed and advocated the murder of innocents. I tell you this: you should fear the loss of your soul even more than the retribution of this world. I will assume you do not fear death, for you and I both believe death is only an abrupt change of form; but I say to you that you lead the faithful astray, and that is a sin; you have been responsible for the death of Muslims, and that is a sin; you have been responsible for the death of innocents, who had done nothing to injure the faith, and that is a sin; and you daily injure and reduce Islam in the eyes of a world that would be far better to be educated in what is merciful and gracious about an ancient and admirable faith.
Second, your use of the word jihad is incorrect and offensive: jihad al-Saghrir is, as you know, war against oppression. The Qur’an and the Prophet are clear on its rules: it is to be used only against those who would force Muslims from their faith or drive you from your home; it is limited to combatants, and forbidden against innocents; the Prophet himself commanded that civilians be protected from war; and you are commanded by the Prophet to seek peace at every opportunity. Yet you wage war against innocents; you slaughter civilians of every faith, even your own; and you seek no peace, but only endless war, and power, and land, and slaves. You allow prisoners to be murdered and you allow slaves to be raped. Again I say to you: beware your soul, and the souls of those you purport to lead, for you are breaking the very commandments you say are the blood and bone of your life and nominal state.
Third, your fearless warriors in Paris just murdered a girl named Elodie. She was 23 years old. She had never done anything to you and yours. Her brother searched through the sea of blood for her. His name is Alexis. He kept calling her cell phone. He says you cannot answer violence with violence. He says you have to find ways to get under the fear and blindness of thugs like those who murdered his sister. He says this as he is preparing for her funeral. I cannot imagine saying such extraordinary things but he said them. He says he is not angry, and that you cannot resist an evil person with evil, but you must try to help them solve their problems and thus prevent more evil. He says he is trying to put himself in your place and feel what you feel, so that you and yours will cease to murder innocents like the sister he loved with all his heart, the sister who was a student, the sister who loved to dance, the sister he will never see again in this form the rest of his life, the sister you allowed to be murdered in a dark room filled with screams.
Here is what I want to say to you: He is a better Muslim than you are, and he is not even Muslim. You have acted badly, and should be ashamed and repentant. If you were really a visionary leader, if you were really a devout follower of the Prophet and of the word of the One, you would kneel in the bloody sand and atone for what you have done, and apologize to those who weep, and then arise and turn all your mind and heart and soul to peace; in so doing you may yet save your soul, and turn the eyes and ears of the world finally to what is great and good in Islam, which is reverence, and purity, and peace.
It is traditional in my culture to end a letter with some expression of regard, but I am not as good a man as young Alexis in Paris, and I will restrain my fury, and conclude only with prayers that you will awake from your squirming darkness, and be, finally, a true Muslim.
Brian Doyle is most recently the author of the essay collection So Very Much the Best of Us.
We launched the First Things 2023 Year-End Campaign to keep articles like the one you just read free of charge to everyone.
Measured in dollars and cents, this doesn't make sense. But consider who is able to read First Things: pastors and priests, college students and professors, young professionals and families. Last year, we had more than three million unique readers on firstthings.com.
Informing and inspiring these people is why First Things doesn't only think in terms of dollars and cents. And it's why we urgently need your year-end support.
Will you give today?