The attacks by an Islamic State-affiliated group against Christians on Easter morning in Sri Lanka last month fall into a long-established pattern. Back when the Islamic State was expanding in northern Iraq in 2014 and 2015, the region’s 1 million Christians were some of its main targets, as well as Yazidis, Shiite Muslims, and other religious minorities. Churches were razed and Christians issued with an ultimatum: exile, conversion, or death.
The end result has been a brutal and depressingly thorough religious and ethnic cleansing. For the Islamic State, destroying churches and killing Christians came second only to its top priority of killing other so-called apostate Muslims—Shiite and Sufi Muslims in particular. But although the Islamic State claimed to be acting in the name of Islam, its actions were not only horrific but also clearly and universally recognized as blasphemy.
All the world’s leading Muslim scholars have pronounced that attacks on Christians and other terrorist tactics are antithetical to Islam, strictly against sharia as jurisprudence based on the Quran and hadith, and a hideous blasphemy against the message of the Prophet Mohammed. For example, the Pakistani-born cleric Tahi-rul-Qadri, who is recognized as one of the world’s leading Islamic scholars, issued a fatwa to this effect back in 2010.
The Quran in verse 4:59 commands Muslims to follow Mohammed and his example. And the Prophet Mohammed was very clear about how Muslims should treat Christians. He entered a treaty with Christians in the year 628 that deserves to be quoted in full here, since its words speak so clearly against terrorists’ actions:
“This is a message from Mohammed ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them.
Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by God! I hold out against anything that displeases them.
No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses.
Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate.
No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray. Their churches are to be respected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants.
No one of the nation (Muslims) is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day (end of the world).”
This agreement was signed with the prophetic seal by Mohammed in Medina and given to a delegation of Christian monks from St. Catherine’s Monastery at Mount Sinai.