A man who killed four Marines Thursday in shootings at a pair of military facilities in Chattanooga, Tenn., started a blog about Islam just days ago that made references to jihad and life’s transience.
The shooter, identified by the FBI as Mohammad Youssef Abdulazeez, 24, of Hixson, Tenn., was killed, apparently by police, after the rampage. However, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors online postings by radical Islamist organizations, Abdulazeez was the author of “MYABDULAZEEZ,” a blog begun on July 13 with just two entries.
In the first, “A Prison Called Dunya,” Abdulazeez appeared to describe everyday life as a prison, and the Koran as a means of transcending it. In Arabic, “Dunya” refers to earthly concerns as opposed to spiritual ones.
“Imagine that you are taken by force and placed in a prison,” Abdulazeez wrote. “Once in the prison you realize that the living arrangements in this prison really aren’t that bad. There is a sun room, a TV to watch, computer to use, phone, different kinds of food, and even a section for exercise.”
After spending a couple weeks in the prison you get used to it and develop a routine. You still aren’t sure why you are in prison, or how long you will be there, but you are comfortable in your life. At this time one of the guards enters with a large folder that he hands you. You open the folder and read its instructions, stating that you will be spending the next couple years in this prison, and at the end of this term you will be given a test at a random time. It could be in 2 years or it could be in 4. The instructions state that passing this exam will result in you being released to the city of your choice and your living expenses will be paid as well as an allowance. Failing will lead to your transfer to another prison cell, one that has no windows or accessories except a hole in the ground for you to relieve yourself, and your meals will be the same oats and water day after day until you die.
Abdulazeez then quoted verses from Koran: “Know that the life of this world is but amusement and diversion.”
He then turned to his conclusion.
“This life we are living is nothing more than a test of our faith and patience,” he concluded. “It was designed to separate the inhabitants of Paradise from the inhabitants of Hellfire, and to rank amongst them the best of the best and worst of the worst. Don’t let the society we live in deviate you from the task at hand. Take your study guide, the Quran and Sunnah, with strength and faith, and be firm as you live your short life in this prison called Dunya.”
In his second post, “Understanding Islam: The Story of the Three Blind Men,” Abdulazeez recounted the fable of three blind men who touch different parts of an elephant’s body, then can’t agree on what an elephant looks like.
“Why did they get this different understanding of what an elephant is?” Abdulazeez wrote. “It was because of their physical impairment and being limited to their sense of touch. They were all telling the truth and described to the best of their knowledge. But they were accusing the others of lying. Why? Because they don’t know where the others are coming from.”
Abdulazeez said that Muslims have a similar problem.
“We have a certain understanding of Islam and keep a tunnel vision of what we think Islam is,” he wrote. “What we know is Islam and everything else is not. And we don’t have appreciation for other points of view and accept the fact that we may be missing some important parts of the religion.”
Abdulazeez then discussed the Sahaba — the companions of the Prophet Muhammad — and how they served their faith by bringing it to the world, sometimes through jihad.
“Did you ever notice that in one certain period towards the end of the lives of the Sahaba (RA), almost every one of the Sahaba (RA) was a political leader or an army general?” Abdulazeez wrote. “Every one of them fought Jihad for the sake of Allah. Every one of them had to make sacrifices in their lives.” (“RA” is a term of reverence meaning “May Allah be pleased with him or her.”)
Abdulazeez praised the Sahaba further.
“They were very simple in the lives that they led and they were comprehensive in their understanding of Islam and applied what they knew,” he wrote. “And that’s why they are considered to be the best generation that ever lived. After the prophets, they were the best human beings that ever lived.”
He concluded by asking Allah to help believers follow the example of the Sahaba.
“We ask Allah to make us follow their path,” Abdulazeez wrote. “To give us a complete understanding of the message of Islam, and the strength the live by this knowledge, and to know what role we need to play to establish Islam in the world.”