Are ISIS’ actions not Islamic? Judge for yourself

Last week, British lawmakers urged the BBC to stop using the term “Islamic State” for ISIS (also called ISIL), the jihadist organization led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Prime Minister David Cameron is one of over a hundred British politicians who think the term “Islamic State” is not correct and offends Muslims.

In an interview with the BBC, Cameron explained why he wants the BBC and others to refrain from using the term “Islamic State”:

I wish the BBC would stop calling it ‘Islamic State’ because it is not an Islamic state. What it is, is an appalling, barbarous regime. It is a perversion of the religion of Islam, and, you know, many Muslims listening to this program will recoil every time they hear the words ‘Islamic State.’

His interviewer “responded by pointing out that the group calls itself the Islamic State (al-Dawlah al-Islamiyah, Arabic for Islamic State), but he added that perhaps the BBC could use a modifier such as ‘so-called’ in front of that name,” the Gatestone Institue reported.

Cameron replied, “‘So-called’ or ISIL (the acronym for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) is better. But it is an existential threat, because what is happening here is the perversion of a great religion, and the creation of this poisonous death cult, that is seducing too many young minds, in Europe, in America, in the Middle East and elsewhere.”

The demand by British politicians to stop calling the Islamic State by its real name came a few days after 30 Britons were murdered by an ISIS terrorist at a seaside resort in Tunisia and after the British security services foiled an ISIS plot to attack a parade on Armed Forces Day.

Cameron is not the only world leader who has trouble calling ISIS by its real name and who claims that the organization is not Islamic. President Obama said something similar in September 2014 during his address to the nation in which he announced that the United States would join the battle against ISIS:

Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not ‘Islamic.’ No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim. And ISIL is certainly not a state. It was formerly al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq, and has taken advantage of sectarian strife and Syria’s civil war to gain territory on both sides of the Iraq-Syrian border. It is recognized by no government, nor the people it subjugates. ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple. And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.

In February this year, Obama repeated his opinion that the Islamic State is not Islamic, but that it has perverted the Muslim religion.

“We are not at war with Islam, we are at war with people who have perverted Islam,” Obama said at the time.

Islamic State leader al-Baghdadi obviously disagrees with Obama and Cameron’s idea that ISIS perverted Islam and that Islam doesn’t condone the killing of innocents.

In May 2015, in an address that was rife with references to the Islamic scriptures, al-Baghdadi expressed his opinion on the subject:

O Muslims, Islam was never for a day the religion of peace. Islam is the religion of war. Your Prophet (peace be upon him) was dispatched with the sword as a mercy to the creation. He was ordered to wage war until Allah is worshipped alone. He (peace be upon him) said to the polytheists of his people, ‘I came to you with slaughter.’

So who is right about ISIS and Islam – Obama and Cameron or the leader of the Islamic State?

To answer this question, we should look at what Islamic scholars have said and what the Islamic scriptures say about the jihad of the Islamic State and, more specifically, the methods they use in war.

One of the most influential Islamic scholars of today is Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who said the following about the core values of Islam:

In the Jihad which you are seeking, you look for the enemy and invade him. This type of Jihad takes place only when the Islamic state is invading other [countries] in order to spread the word of Islam and to remove obstacles standing in its way.

Elsewhere al-Qaradawi wrote:

Islam has the right to destroy all obstacles in the form of institutions and traditions. It attacks institutions and traditions to release human beings from their poisonous influences, which distort human nature and curtail human freedom.

Although al-Qaradawi rejects the legitimacy of the Islamic Caliphate that ISIS leader al-Baghdadi declared last year and has said that it violates Sharia (Islamic law), he also said that he opposes the war being waged against ISIS.

It appears a great deal of the violence the Islamic State uses against its opponents is based on Islamic scriptures.

The organization has published pamphlets in which it justifies a wide array of barbaric violence by citing parts of the Hadith or verses from the Quran.

Here is, for example, ISIS’ justification for its practice of having sex with captured infidel women, based on the Quran:

The believers must (eventually) win through, those who humble themselves in their prayers; who avoid vain talk; who are active in deeds of charity; who abstain from sex, except with those joined to them in the marriage bond, or (the captives) whom their right hands possess, for (in their case) they are free from blame. (Qur’an 23:1-6).

And here ISIS, citing the Hadith, explains that raping a captive woman is permissible:

Abu Sirma said to Abu Sa’id al Khadri (Allah he pleased with him): 0 Abu Sa’id, did you hear Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) mentioning al-’azl? He said: Yes, and added: We went out with Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) on the expedition to the Bi’l-Mustaliq and took captive some excellent Arab women; and we desired them, for we were suffering from the absence of our wives, (but at the same time) we also desired ransom for them. So we decided to have sexual intercourse with them but by observing ‘azl (Withdrawing the male sexual organ before emission of semen to avoid conception). But we said: We are doing an act whereas Allah’s Messenger is amongst us; why not ask him? So we asked Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him), and he said: It does not matter if you do not do it, for every soul that is to be born up to the Day of Resurrection will be born. (Sahih Muslim Book 008, Hadith Number 3371)

Islamic State also uses the following verses taken from the Quran to justify its practice of executing or crucifying people or cutting off their limbs:

The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter. (Quran 5:33)

They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (From what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks. (Quran 4:89)

As is well known, ISIS also murders fellow Muslims. The justification for these murders is taken from the Quran:

Truly, if the Hypocrites, and those in whose hearts is a disease, and those who stir up sedition in the City, desist not, We shall certainly stir thee up against them: Then will they not be able to stay in it as thy neighbors for any length of time: They shall have a curse on them: whenever they are found, they shall be seized and slain (without mercy). (Quran 33, 60-62)

You might remember that ISIS burns people alive. The most shocking example was the Jordanian pilot, Kasasbeh, who was burned alive in a cage. These gruesome murders were based on this part of the Hadith:

(Muhammad said:) “I decided to order a man to lead the prayer and then take a flame to burn all those who had not left their houses for the prayer, burning them alive inside their homes.” (Bukhari 11:626)

The seemingly random killings that take place whenever ISIS captures a village or a town seem to be based on this Hadith:

Allah said, “A prophet must slaughter before collecting captives. A slaughtered enemy is driven from the land. Mohammad, you craved the desires of this world, its goods and the ransom captives would bring. But Allah desires killing them to manifest religion.” (Ibn Ishaq/Hisham 484)

How are the beheadings ISIS carries out on a daily basis justified? That punishment, too, is based on a Quranic verse:

When your Lord revealed to the angels: I am with you, therefore make firm those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.

ISIS has published five more Islamic teachings that they argue justify the punishment of beheading.

So is Islamic State what its name says? You can judge for yourself.

The British politicians, meanwhile, are proposing to call the Islamic State by its Arabic acronym – Daesh. That would be less insulting to the Muslim masses, they think.

Well, Daesh means “the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (Dawlat al Islamiyah fi’al Iraq wa al Sham), as almost all Muslims know, so it only underscores the folly of the whole exercise.

It is clear that the British politicians think that by re-branding the Islamic State they can appease the Islamists living in England, 400 of whom were recruited by ISIS for the war effort in Syria and Iraq. Many have returned home now.

The great Chinese strategist, Sun Tzu, the author of The Art of War, had this to say about the importance of identifying the enemy:

It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles; if you do not know your enemies but do know yourself, you will win one and lose one; if you do not know your enemies nor yourself, you will be imperiled in every single battle.

As for the many Muslims who will recoil every time they hear the words “Islamic State,” as Cameron claimed, a new study by the Clarion Project published last week revealed that no less than 50 million Muslims support the Islamic State.

This article was first published at Western Journalism in the USA

About the Author
Yochanan Visser is a freelance journalist and director of Missing Peace Information, an independent news agency. He wrote a book about the cognitive war against Israel in the Dutch language. In December 2014 he became the Middle East Correspondent of Western Arizona USA