Mark Collins – Not Terrorism: An Idea and a State–The Clever, Cuddly, Killing Caliphate

Note also the references to the Saudis and the U.S. in these excerpts from an article at the New York Review of Books (a great magazine, along with Aviation Week and Space Technology):

Inside the Islamic State

Islamic State: The Digital Caliphate

by Abdel Bari Atwan [more here]
London: Saqi, 256 pp., £16.99 (to be published by University of California Press in September)

ruthven_1-070915.jpg Al-Furqan Media/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi preaching in a mosque in Mosul, from a video released in July 2014

…The Islamic State has also established a sharia police force (similar to the religious police in Saudi Arabia) tasked with enforcing religious observance...

The Education Council oversees the provision of education and the curriculum, based on the strict Salafist, or ultra-orthodox, interpretation of the Koran and sharia law. In many cases the curriculum used in Saudi schools—especially at the middle and high school levels—has been adopted in its entirety…While gender segregation is rigorously enforced, women are not forbidden by law to drive, as in Saudi Arabia [great PR!]…

Far from being an undisciplined orgy of sadism, ISIS terror is a systematically applied policy that follows the ideas put forward in jihadist literature, notably in an online tract, The Management of Savagery, by the al-Qaeda ideologue Abu Bakr Naji [a translation here]. This treatise, posted in 2004 and widely cited by jihadists, is both a rationale for violence and a blueprint for the Caliphate. It draws heavily on the writings of Taqi al-Din ibn Taymiyyah (1263–1328), the medieval theologian who inspired the Arabian Wahhabi movement and is highly regarded by Islamists for holding rulers to account in the practice of true religion [more here and here].

Naji, who was killed in a US drone strike in Waziristan in 2008, considers the violence inherent in conflict a necessary stage in the establishment of the Caliphate. He refers in particular to the campaigns of Muhammad and the “Wars of Apostasy” fought by the first caliph, Abu Bakr, who reigned 632–634 and fought the tribes that had abandoned Islam after the death of Muhammad when they no longer considered themselves bound by their bayat (oath of allegiance). Naji sees the coming period of savagery as a time of “vexation and exhaustion” when, as Atwan summarizes, “the superpowers will be worn down militarily by constant threat…from the jihadists.” The Americans, he writes, “have reached a stage of effeminacy which makes them unable to sustain battles for a long period of time [see “Decades-Long War vs ISIS?”].”..

…Brutality, however, is only one element in the stream of images uploaded by its sophisticated media outlets. The Islamic State, according to Atwan, is also presented as

an emotionally attractive place where people “belong,” where everyone is a “brother” or “sister.” A kind of slang, melding adaptations or shortenings of Islamic terms with street language, is evolving among the English-language fraternity on social media platforms in an attempt to create a “jihadi cool.” A jolly home life is portrayed via Instagram images where fighters play with fluffy kittens and jihadist “poster-girls” proudly display the dishes they have created…

The jihadists’ most potent psychological pitch is exploiting dreams of martyrdom—a theme that is cleverly juxtaposed with images of domestic normalcy. Close-ups of dead fighters’ smiling faces are frequently posted, along with the ISIS “salute”—the right-hand index finger pointing heavenward. In one Twitter feed a British-born woman shares her “glad tidings”:

My husband Rahimuh Allah has done the best transaction you can make his soul [sic] and in return Jenna [heaven] may Allah accept you yaa shaheed [martyr].

“Five hours earlier,” Atwan writes, “she had posted a picture of a bowl of cream dessert with bits of Toblerone chocolate stuck on top.”..

…ISIS can dispense with preachers and instead use social media to stimulate a process of self-radicalization, with thousands of foreign Muslims (and some converts) flocking to join the Caliphate [see “Quelle Surprise! ISIS’ Tweeting Beats State’s“].

…both the House of Saud and the Islamic State lay claim to the “true path” of Islam as outlined by the eighteenth-century scholar Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, yet each considers the other to be in a state of apostasy.

There seems little doubt about which of these claims is perceived in Saudi Arabia as more authentic. In an online poll conducted in July 2014, a formidable 92 percent of Saudi citizens agreed that ISIS “conforms to the values of Islam and Islamic law.” In mounting its challenge to the Saudi monarch’s quasi-caliphal claim to lead the Muslim world as “Guardian of the Two Holy Shrines” (Mecca and Medina), ISIS highlights “the royal family’s love of luxury and acceptance of corruption which, it claims, renders its members ideologically and morally unfit for the task [see “The Caliphate vs the Saudi Kingdom“].”

The values and hubris of the Saudi dynasty are exemplified by its astounding exploitation, not to say desecration, of Mecca’s holy city, where the world’s largest hotel (seventy restaurants and 10,000 bedrooms) is under construction [see “The Saudi Despoliation of Mecca (Makkah?), or, a Crony Capitalist Country?“]…By appropriating Wahhabism’s iconoclastic rhetoric, along with its anti-Shia theology, ISIS challenges the legitimacy of the Saudi rulers as guardians of Islam’s holy places far more effectively than any republican movement. With Iraq and Syria falling apart and the US caught between conflicting impulses (fighting alongside Iran in Iraq while opposing it in Syria), it may only be a matter of time before the nightmare…becomes a reality.

—June 9, 2015

Simply calling ISIS “terrorists” is, on our part, mad–as far too many view the Caliphate itself. The human mind can respond to very differing logics as long as convincingly coherent.  And cuddly for some.

Meanwhile a current manifestation:

Chattanooga shooter: Prophet’s friends ‘fought Jihad for the sake of Allah’

In his second post, “Understanding Islam: The Story of the Three Blind Men,” Abdul­azeez…said that Muslims have a… 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 [emphasis added].” (“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.”

A clear logic and hardly mad, unless one so sees serious religion.  Just very ambitious and most definitely not WEIRD.  Latest:

Islamic State claims suicide car bomb that kills more than 100 in Iraq

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds


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