Muslim-Americans Condemn ISIS in Phoenix Billboard, Say Islam Is Religion of Peace, Not Terror

Anti-ISIS billboard
A large electronic billboard has a simple message directed at ISIS: "Hey ISIS, you suck," erected in Phoenix in August 2016. |

A Muslim-American group in Phoenix, Arizona, is condemning the atrocities committed by the Islamic State terror group in a billboard message that says the radical jihadists are not followers of Islam.

Local news station Fox10 reports that the billboard has a simple message — "Hey ISIS, you suck."

The local Muslim community, in conjunction with Muslim-American nonprofit group Sound Vision, want the American public to know that their religion does not condone terrorism.

Aneesah Nadir, a retired ASU professor and follower of Islam, said: "We want our neighbors to know — we're colleagues and classmates and neighbors, and we want our neighbors to know that we don't approve of this at all. In fact, prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, taught the exact opposite of what ISIS is portraying and we want everybody to know that."

Nadir added that Muslims in America have had to experience bullying, name-calling and even physical violence because they are being associated with the actions of IS.

"This billboard is one way to get the message out there," Nadir said, noting that the same billboard has already been displayed in Chicago, as reported by The Christian Post earlier this month.

Although the billboard cites Quran 5:32 to prove that Muslims are supposed to regard all life as sacred, blogs like Answering Muslims and Patheos have stressed in the past that the verse is often used out of context by defenders of Islam to show that Islam is a peaceful religion.

The verse states: "Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land - it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one - it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors."

Not only is the verse directed at "children of Israel," it seemingly justifies killing in response to corruption on the Earth.

Additionally, Quran 5:33 states that "the penalty for those who wage war against allah and his messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land."

IS has been carrying out a genocide of Christians and other religious minorities across Iraq and Syria, fueling the ongoing refugee crisis, which has seen millions of migrants flee to Europe and the United States.

Muslim leaders around the world have on a number of occasions denounced the "inhumane horror" that IS is carrying out in the name of Islam.

Mohamed Fatris Bakaram, the Mufti of Singapore, argued at the end of March that the killing of civilians is "not only against Islamic teachings, but it is also an attack against all humanity." The Mufti was responding to the suicide attack by Islamic extremists in Lahore, Pakistan, on Easter Sunday, where over 72 people were killed.

"We must join together to tell our clear horror of such acts of inhumanity," Bakaram said at the time.

He added that "it is unjustifiable to attack another human being just because they have a different faith," and described the attack as "an act of inhumanity and an affront to the people who believe in the values of compassion and peaceful coexistence."

The University of Al Azhar, the highest academic center of Sunni Islam, has also condemned IS' various human rights abuses, such as the slaughter of 28 Ethiopian Christians in April.

A statement from Imam Ahmed al-Tayyeb called the mass killings a "heinous crime, committed by the Daesh terrorist group, which goes against any religion, law or human conduct."

In another billboard erected across major U.S. cities in September 2015, the New York-based Islamic Circle of North America also argued that Muhammed taught "love not hate," and "peace not violence," opposing IS' ideology.

"As a Muslim, it hurts me when I see someone abusing my faith, abusing the teachings of the prophet," Naeem Baig, the organization's president, said at the time.

He added that those who resort to violence are "people who are lost, who have no direction in their life, people who have their own challenges in their life, who are using faith as an excuse."

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