SINGAPORE — The Singapore Islamic Scholars and Religious Teachers Association (PERGAS) has expressed its concerns over Islamic State (IS) propaganda and issued a statement to the local Muslim community yesterday, calling on it to be careful and not to be swayed by these.

PERGAS said it was of the opinion that “IS and any other groups with radical beliefs that cause bloodshed among Muslims and murder innocent lives are carrying out acts that are against the teachings of Islam and have no links to Islam”.

It added: “Islam calls for justice, peace, the freedom of religion and emphasises … protecting the weak and spreading goodness. Violent acts by IS should be condemned and the Muslim community should not support nor sympathise (with) IS.”

Tracing the history of the Islamic State group, PERGAS said it was set up during the United States’ early invasion in Iraq. Then known as “Al Qaeda in Iraq”, it had paid allegiance to Osama bin Laden.

The group evolved over the years and changed its name several times, gradually expanding its activities in Iraq and Syria before declaring itself the Islamic State of today — a sign that its focus was no longer limited to Iraq and Syria, said PERGAS.

However, it said the fight by Islamic State was “inconsistent with Islam” and brings to mind the warning of the Prophet Muhammad regarding the rise of extremists during the end of times.

“This group will comprise of youth who are passionate, good orators and will call upon others to embrace the rule of Allah. They will speak and present their arguments with verses from the Quran, but they themselves do not truly understand the meaning and context of the verses of Quran and the Hadith (Prophetic Sayings),” said PERGAS.

Across the Muslim world, it said, 126 Muslim scholars and academics have already rejected and denounced the Islamic State. In fact, several scholars have called it the new Khawarij, which refers to a group of terrorists who take innocent lives, it said.

PERGAS also said it was of the opinion that this issue of terrorism and the Islamic State will not be solved simply by military actions by certain authorities aimed at eradicating the group. As long as the fundamental issues of tyranny, oppression and injustice that lead to radicalisation and acts of terror continue, groups such as the Islamic State will continue to exist, and “will alternate”.

Emphasising that PERGAS rejects any form of violence and oppression by any party or religion, it called on Muslims to “hold true to the noble qualities taught in Islam, and to reject any form of extremism and acts of terror”.

It added: “Extremism and terrorism do not originate from Islam.”

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