Sunni Muslims in Mosul: "considering becoming . . . atheist"
In an op-ed piece, "Who Are We?" (New York Times, November 15, 2014), by Thomas L. Friedman, a writer whose columns I ordinarily just skim (no offense intended, Mr. Friedman, I do a lot of skimming), I found the stunning words that I've cited above and now explain below:
Rasha al-Aqeedi is an Iraqi editor from Mosul working at Al-Mesbar. She has stayed in touch with people in Mosul since ISIS took over. "What is happening," she told me, is that the Sunni Muslim population of Mosul "has now awakened from the shock. Before, people would say, 'Islam is perfect and [the outside world] is after us and hates us.' Now people are starting to read the books that ISIS is based on. I hear from people in Mosul who say, 'I am considering becoming an atheist.'"Why do I call these words "stunning"? Because this means that some educated Muslims in ISIS-dominated territory are looking into the sources of the Islamic State, probably in an attempt to refute ISIS ideology, but are discovering that ISIS is correctly reporting what these sources say, and the problem is that these sources are classic early Muslim writings: the Qur'an, the Hadith, and the Sunnah.
As classics, such books cannot be shrugged off, as though the Islamists who call themselves ISIS are extremists at the margins of Islam. No, Islamists are radicals at the core of Islam. Some moderate Muslims living in Mosul recognize this, and those moderates considering atheism to be a proper response have decided that Islam itself is incapable of reform.