Clarion Project’s National Correspondent Shireen Qudosi speaks with Newsmax TV,offers a Muslim woman’s perspective on the death of Baghdadi, ISIS’ terror leader. See below highlights of the interview.
Newsmax: How does it make Muslims in America feel that our president and armed forces got the number one terrorist in the world?
Qudosi: The death of Baghdadi is a day of celebration for Muslims. These are exactly the kind of kinetic wins we need, but we have to remember that this is only half the battle. The other battle is within policy work we can do, the alliances that we can build across sectors.
At the heart of this war, we still need to defeat the ideology that breeds Islamist terrorism. That is what I would now like to take this win and shift our focus to.
Newsmax: When The Washington Post refers to Baghdadi as an “austere, religious scholar.” Is that a fair assessment?
Qudosi: When we look at someone like Osama Bin Laden or Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, these are not the representations of Islamic teachings. However, what conservatives have been saying since Day One is: There is something within this faith that needs to be looked at.
During his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump said there is something within this faith that hates us. That is a very simple statement, but it’s a very important statement.
What is within this ideology that is enabling actors like Bin Laden and Baghdadi and the next wave of terror leaders? It’s very, very important that we’re educated and specific in the language that we’re using to describe the events in our lifetimes.
Newsmax: Talking to people on the street in the Middle East, their version of faith and view of America is usually very different than their governments. Can you talk about what’s happening on the street versus what’s happening in the capitals?
Qudosi: The average person doesn’t have access to the privileges that theocratic ruler and dictators do. Faith is very private to us, and it’s not something we want politicized. If it was something we wanted politicized, you wouldn’t see millions of Muslims trying to flee these dictatorships and enjoy these freedoms.
That’s why it’s very important for Muslims in the West to use our platforms and rights to speak out, especially for the next generation — people who are in my age bracket and younger.
Some of these “scholars” have bastardized the religion. What makes Muslims stay with their faith despite these bad apples?
I actually went and studied the faith. I was very close to skirting away from it until I went and properly studied it. What I learned is that what we’re doing as reformers is not that original. Islam has a very rich heritage of philosophy and inquiry, and we have a duty to have critical loyalty toward our faith.
There’s a difference between what Islam was intended to be — the origin story — versus what Islam has become.
What happens with a lot of these scholars is the same thing we’re seeing in Western academia at this point, the narrative is contorted to fit whatever the politics and policies of the hour are. There’s a difference of what Islam was supposed to be and what these scholars shaped it into — then there’s the question of what Islam can still be today.
Newsmax: What do you see moving forward with ISIS now that al-Baghdadi is dead?
Qudosi: The next phase will be shaped over the next three to 24 months, but it’s interesting to note that elsewhere, in places like Yemen, Al-Qaeda is embracing a governance structure that works very much like how vigilante groups in Nigeria operate.
It’s helpful to think of ISIS like a franchise, and while ISIS in Syria has been dealt a heavy blow with the death of Baghdadi, there are still strong global affiliates, especially in South Asia and West Africa. The question is, will ISIS adapt to Al-Qaeda’s model or continue to operate as it has to date?