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al-Mahdi is "the rightly-guided one" who, according to Islamic Hadiths (traditions), will come before the end of time to make the entire world Muslim.  Over the last 1400 years numerous claimants to the mantle of the Mahdi have arisen in both Shi`i and Sunni circles.  Modern belief in the coming of the Mahdi has manifested most famously in the 1979 al-`Utaybi uprising of Sa`udi Arabia, and more recently in the ongoing Mahdist movements (some violent) in Iraq, as well as in the frequently-expressed public prayers of former Iranian President Ahmadinezhad bidding the Mahdi to return and, in the larger Sunni Islamic world, by claims that Usamah bin Ladin might be the (occulted) Mahdi.  Now in 2014 Mahdism is active in Syria, as the jihadist opposition group Jabhat al-Nusra claims to be fighting to prepare the way for his coming; and in the new "Islamic State/caliphate" spanning Syrian and Iraqi territory, as its leadership promotes the upcoming apocalyptic battle with the West at Dabiq, Syria.  This site will track such Mahdi-related movements, aspirations, propaganda and beliefs in both Sunni and Shi`i milieus, as well as other  Muslim eschatological yearnings.
For a primer on Mahdism, see my 2005 article, "What's Worse than Violent Jihadists?," at the History News Network:; for more in-depth info, see the links here to my other writings, including my book on Mahdism.

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Is Islam Really 99.981% Terrorism-Free? Refuting Fareed Zakaria on ISIS

Fareed Zakaria penned a rather inane article in “The Washington Post” last week, entitled “The limits of the Islamic label” (which he adduced at length in his “GPS” show this morning).  The point therein: to criticize Graeme Wood for his “Atlantic” article, “What ISIS Really Wants,” in which the latter dares to state that ISIS is profoundly Islamic, and even apocalyptic, in its belief system and actions. Zakaria supports President Obama’s Machiavellian “terrorism means never having to say ‘Islam’ ” strategy on the grounds that it avoids alienation of 1.6 billion Muslims, and takes Wood (and those of us like-minded) to task with the metric that ISIS’s 30,000 members only comprise .0019% of the world’s Islamic population.


99.44% pure Ivory soap's got nothin' on me! 

But ISIS isn’t the only terrorist organization which adduces Islam as its raison d’etre—it’s only the most brutal.  I scrutinized the data on the other three dozen major terrorist groups which are Islamic, on the US State Department site as well as several others, and came up with a rough membership number for all the non-ISIS Sunni Muslim terrorist groups of some 65,000.  Adding in ISIS’s 30,000 puts the global Sunni dedicated terrorist ranks into the 100,000 range—especially when we consider that State enumerated the membership strength of a number of these entities as “unknown:” it’s certainly reasonable to estimate that these half-dozen groups (which include the likes of al-Qa`idah [AQ] central and the Abd Allah Azzam Brigades) count several thousand adherents.  

But wait, there’s more that refutes Zakaria’s specious claim.  The core ISIS ideology centers around several key Islamic concepts: Islam as the only true religion; the need for a caliphate to rule all Muslims and impose shari`ah; the necessity of not just da`wah but jihad to achieve those ends; the belief that the Qur’an should be literally followed, even if need be to the point of beheading opponents.  This interpretation and articulation of Islam is virtually synonymous with that of the Wahhabis of the Arabian peninsula, the Deobandis of the Indian subcontinent, and even, arguably, apolitical piety-minded “missionary” groups like Tablighi Jama`at [TJ]. Active Wahhabis number at least 5 million in the Gulf; Deobandis make up some 20% of Indian Muslims (30 million) and 20% of Pakistani ones (35 million); and TJ’s membership has been put in the 20-80 million range (see my entry on this group in the World Almanac of Islamism).  In addition, while Wahhabis and Deobandis can all be subsumed under the category of Salafism, not all Salafis are Wahhabis or Deobandis—and this latter category would include at least 10 million more Muslims.  

Even taking the lowest estimates for Wahhabis, Deobandis, TJ members and Salafis, we arrive at a count of some 95 million.  This comprises about 6% of the world’s total Muslim population—or, since we’re actually working here only with the Sunni population, about 8% of  the world’s 1.36 billion Sunnis.  (Yes, there are Twelver Shi`i terrorist groups—notably Hizbullah—but such tend to be as much nationalist as Islamic, and they are rarely as brutal as the Sunni terrorist ones, plus, they are not as enamored with imposing shari`ah, much less a caliphate.)  

Furthermore, according to Pew data, large minorities—indeed, majorities in some parts of the Islamic world—believe not only that shari`ah is ordained by Allah, but also that components thereof such as cutting off hands for stealing or stoning for adultery should be the law of their lands.  This differs very little from ISIS ideology.

Likewise for apocalyptic beliefs: some 42% of the world’s Muslims, or about 670 million people, indicate they expect the Mahdi to come in their lifetime; and a further 35%, approximately 560 million, say the same about the return of Jesus.


Quite a far cry from Zakaria’s .0019%. 

Fareed Zakaria finished his “WaPo” piece by citing an Egyptian-turned-terrorist, then pontificated that “calling him Islamic really doesn’t help you understand” why this chap did so.   Au contraire, Mr. Zakaria: it helps very much,  despite your sophistic attempts at muddying the analytical waters.
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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Jihad, Apocalypse and Terrorism: Is ISIS Acting as Lucifer's Hands?

As most purveyors of this site know by now, the mainstream media has (finally) discovered that Islamic apocalyptic thought drives ISIS: Graeme Wood wrote an excellent piece covering this in "The Atlantic," and Peter Bergen did the same for CNN.  

Apocalyptic traditions and movements, led by a Muslim claiming to be the End Time Mahdi ("rightly-guided one"), are not new with ISIS or Jabhat al-Nusrah or any of the other modern groups proclaiming belief in such. They go back to the early days of Islam, and are intrinsically connected to the more general Muslim practice of jihad, or holy war against "infidels." 

Soudanwar.jpg British troops fighting troops of the 19th c. apocalyptic Islamic State: the Mahdiyah of Sudan.

As someone who's studied this topic for almost two decades now, I was asked to put together a three-day seminar on it for the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and I taught this class via 17 hours of contact time over Super Bowl weekend.  Thirty MA students signed up (including many Muslims), and it went very well.

Here is how I organized the material:

I) Jihad

A Brief History of the Islamic World 

Qur'an and Hadiths: Basic Teachings

Pew Data on Key Modern Muslim Beliefs

Moderate Islamic Actors 

II) Apocalyptic

Acting Like it's the End of the World: Islamic Eschatology

Christian and Muslim Eschatology since 9/11

Twelver Shi`i Eschatology and the Iranian Vision 

III) Terrorism

Terrorism: A History of Violence

4GW, 4th Terrorism Wave, or Forthcoming War? Sunni and Shi`i Jihad Analyzed

Fighting for the End of the (Christian) World: ISIS's Jihad Eschatology 

This seminar is intended for a secular audience, but much of it can easily be adapted to a more religious venue, Christian, Jewish or even Muslim--if the latter are willing to be intellectually honest and open-minded.

One major aspect of this seminar, reflecting my own well-researched opinion, is that ISIS and its ilk (like the "moderate" [sic] Jabhat al-Nusrah) are legitimately Islamic in waging jihad and hoping for the apocalyptic defeat of Western Christian forces. BUT I also firmly believe that such Islamic violence and triumphalism are predicated on a literal reading of the Qur'an and Hadiths, as well as a slavish following of Muhammad's more unsavory practices; and that Islamic sects and movements which interpret the religion non-literally can, eventually, perhaps pry Islam out of Lucifer's hands.  

If anyone is interested in having me present this workshop (or a shorter version thereof) to an interested organization, please contact me through this site. 

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Friday, February 20, 2015

The Media Is Never Late: It Discovers Islamic Apocalyptic Precisely When It Means To!

Since this is Lent, I must choose charity over envy: it is, indeed, a net positive for the world that "The Atlantic" and CNN have discovered that ISIS is Islamic, and that eschatological belief is one of its major drivers. However, as someone whose very doctorate is in Islamic End Times movements ("Eschatology as Politics, Eschatology as Theory: Modern Sunni Arab Mahdism in Historical Perspective;" 290 pp., The Ohio State University, 2001), who has published numerous articles and delivered a legion of lectures on this topic as well as advised the US military on same--I do have to say: "what took you so bloody long?"

My take on Graeme Wood's excellent "Atlantic" piece has just today been written up by WND;  but I do have some further observations on Wood, as well as on Peter Bergen's CNN piece: 

* Wood's description of ISIS's worldview as being that of "medieval Islam" is not entirely accurate, as it comes from the 7th-9th century AD; "early Islamic" would be better. (My historian's distaste for automatically equating "medieval" with barbaric is showing, I freely confess.) 

* "Quietist Salafism" as the antidote to ISIS's brutally literalist Islam is a stretch, since that approach is also one of Sunni fundamentalism. What's needed is a brand of Islam that eschews Qur'anic/hadith literalism, and that is found, rather, in sects such as the Ahmadis, Isma'ilis, and some Sufi orders

* Bergen's labeling of ISIS as a non-rational actor implies that its members are, well, crazy--which they are not.  They are entirely rational, once you accept their eschatological premises--which, according to Pew data, hundreds of millions of Muslims actually do.  

Still and all, I am glad that Wood and Bergen, and their respective outlets, are interested--FINALLY--in this important issue.  

But at the risk of hubris: is it too much to ask that, in future, said news entities cut out the (journalistic) middle men and go straight to a chap who's been studying this topic since 1999?  


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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

When Fictional Spokeswomen are Better than Real Ones: Éowyn v. Marie Harf on Our Enemies

A very important point which no one in the analytical, and few in the journalistic, community wants to admit (hence State's Marie Harf adducing phantoms such as poverty-driven jihad): the ISIS Caliph and his minions refer to the United States of America as "defender of the cross."  Not "proponent of Ayn Rand," "guardian  of the Enlightenment" or "warden of Jeffersonian democracy."  Caliph al-Baghdadi and his decapitating/immolating rank-and-file forthrightly (if inconveniently) spell out exactly why they hate us: because, in their eyes, we are a Christian nation.   There are those who will dismiss this as a mere progagandistic trope.  But they would be wrong to do so.  IS, along with Boko Haram and al-Qa`ida and Jabhat al-Nusra and the Taliban (to name only a few of the Islamic legions), as well as the non-terrorist but Muslim fundamentalist movements such as Wahhabism, Deobandism and Salafism, all view the world through a simplistic but legitimately Islamic lens of Dar al-Islam v. Dar al-harb: the "house of Islam" v. the "house of war."  And for 14 centuries the vanguard of the latter has been Christendom.  Some decry pointing this out as crass  "Crusaderism."  But as that combat veteran J.R.R. Tolkien pointed out--via his main female protagonist, Éowyn, "it needs but one foe to breed a war, not two"--and when that enemy declares its war on us in religious terms, why should we pretend otherwise? 

HildebrandtEowyn.jpg Should I help the Witch-king get a real job--or just stab him in the face? (Thanks, TH.)

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

ISIS Beheadings: Hotwiring the Apocalypse One Christian Martyr At A Time

Major news outlets are reporting, today, the mass beheadings of 21 Coptic Christians by the Islamic State affiliate in Libya.

Coptsabouttobebeheaded.jpg The Coptic Christians about to enter martyrdom.  

In my 2005 Middle East Quarterly article, “Beheading in the Name of Islam,” I wrote that “the purpose of terrorism is to strike fear into the hearts of opponents in order to win political concession[s].”  Then I went on to spend much of the article explicating the legitimately Islamic roots (Qur’anic rubrics, precedents by Muhammad, examples from Islamic history, exegesis by Muslim scholars) of decapitating  “non-believers”—especially Christians, the primary political and military adversaries of Islamic expansion over the last 14 centuries.

OttomansbeheadingGeorgians.jpgThe Ottomans beheaded tens of thousands of Georgian Christians who stubbornly, and heroically, clung to their Christian faith. 

The Islamic State has upped the ante with its regular beheadings of Christians by IS central and, now, its far-flung branches.  Seen in light of  incessant calls for recruits, and even more vociferous citations of apocalyptic hadiths—both of which are clearly explained in the many issues of “Dabiq” magazine—I now think that ISIS cares not one whit about political concessions.  Rather, it chops off Christians’ heads for three primary reasons: 1) to reinforce its literalist Islamic credentials;  2) to win over young Muslims, particularly men, and persuade them of Islamic State’s power and dedication; and 3) to provoke the “Christian” West, particularly the United States (the world’s most populous Christian nation), into deploying ground troops—which ISIS is certain it will defeat, based on the group’s adherence to this eschatological hadith 

Metrics indicate that Christians, despite being the world’s largest religious group, are the most-persecuted—and particularly in majority-Muslim areas.  This should come as no surprise to anyone who had read the Qur’an, the biographies of Muhammad, or studied much Islamic history, because all three are rife with bitter condemnations  of Christianity, as well as examples of deadly attacks upon Christians.   

And Islamic civilization is unique today in that it is the only one on the planet in which violence against non-adherents (or, sometimes, even differing brands of its own devotees) is justified by both state (Sunni and Shi`i) and non-state actors (ISIS, al-Qa`idah, Boko Haram, TTP, Kata’ib Hizbullah, etc.).   Beheading, which seemed so horrifically novel 13 years ago when AQ used it to kill Daniel Pearl, is now a rather routine instrument in the Islamic terrorist toolbox against such.  Muslim authorities, for all their condemnations thereof, will find it difficult to lock this dreadful chest, considering its hallowed tradition in Islamic thought and praxis.   That leaves the option of sending beheaders to meet Allah—or, much more likely, Iblis.  President Obama seems content to simply, gradually “degrade” the Islamic State.  At least we might take some solace in thinking that this minimalist approach will allow Islamic beheadings to create more Christian martyrs.   But they, and we, would probably be better off if the most powerful man in the world were less loathe to wield the sword of punishment


(Stylized) Ottomans (again!) beheading 800 Catholics in Otranto (Italy) who refused to convert.  

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Islamic Republic of Iran and ISIS: Comparative Eschatologies
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Thursday, February 5, 2015

Sympathy for the Iblis: ISIS and its Islamic Bona Fides

Earlier this week I returned from teaching a workshop/seminar—over Super Bowl weekend, no less—entitled “Jihad, Apocalypse and Terrorism” at the Monterey (CA) Institute of International Studies [MIIS].  Thirty students, at least one-third of whom were Muslim, suffered through some 17 hours worth of lecture and discussion about Islamic history, Mahdist movements, types of terrorism, etc.  

I also covered jihad, in all its range of meanings, from the Qur’an, Hadiths, sirat (bios of Muhammad, Islam’s founder) and historical case studies.  And I pointed out that while violent jihad to subjugate non-Muslims is only one of the understandings thereof, it IS the first and primary one—and that this theological and historical reality is, inter alia, what empowers ISIS and the other 38 Islamic terrorist groups listed by our State Department.


Jihad: it's more aesthetically pleasing as an Arabic verb than in historical reality.

No students, not even the Muslims in the class, ran screaming from the room or sobbed uncontrollably; none brandished a scimitar and came at me; nary a one demanded I shut up, or bolted for the Dean’s office to demand my dismissal.  If only analysts and commentators in the major media and US government could be as open-minded and intellectually honest as the MA students in my class and the good folks who run MIIS.  

Barack Husayn Obama long since abandoned any pretense of  accuracy in this realm.  From his 2009 apology tour in Cairo to his 2012 UN accession to fundamentalist Islamic norms to this morning’s National Prayer Breakfast—where Obama blamed not just the Crusades and the Inquisition, but slavery and Jim Crow, on Christianity—the 44th POTUS has spent one entire term in office, and looks to spend the rest of his second, obsessed with whitewashing Islam for any violence perpetrated in its name and blaming all religions (but especially Christianity), “nihilism,” unspecified  “violent extremism” or a combination thereof for what any rational being can see is Islam’s particularly vexing problem. (By the way: unlike the dilettante historian with a JD in the White House, I have a PhD in history and taught both world and Mideast history at the college level for seven years—and Obama’s caricature of the Crusades and Inquisition is on the level of a poorly-educated college freshman.)  


This may ruin my reputation with some a millennium hence, but....what the hell! Deus vult!

For any who may still need convincing about the evils bedeviling Islam, here are some relevant facts—or at least all I have time to provide for those in inveterate denial:            

*State’s 39 Islamic terrorist groups comprise 66% of the global total of 59 (only two are “Christian”—IRA offshoots that are actually Irish nationalist—and one, now defunct, Jewish).  

                *Since 9/11 over 80% of DOJ terrorism conviction in the US are of Muslim perps

                *30 of 32 individuals on the FBI’s most-wanted terrorist list are Muslims

                *Three of the four state sponsors of terrorism are Islamic ones (about to be all three, once Cuba drops off—leaving Iran, Sudan and Syria).

Outside the terrorism realm per se:

                *Seven nations impose the death penalty for homosexuality—all are Muslim.

                *100 million Christians are regularly persecuted—mostly in Islamic countries

                *Women are more oppressed and mistreated under Islam than any other religion.  

Why is there so much violence, misogyny and dislike for members of other religions in Islam?  Because the Qur’an mandates fighting fi sabil Allah, “on the path of Allah,” especially against “polytheists” (which includes Trinitarian Christians); prescribes crucifixion and dismemberment for enemies of Allah;  mandates beheading for “unbelievers” (the rest of the legion of jihad verses the reader can peruse at his leisure).  Regarding women, Islam’s holy book consigns them to subordinate status and allows men to strike them;  it also permits sexual slavery of non-Muslim women.  According to dozens of Hadiths (alleged sayings of Muhammad’s), Islam’s founder extolled jihad and, according to his MUSLIM biographers, personally ordered torture by fire and decapitations.  (I shall refrain, out of civility, from discussing the inflammatory issue of whether Muhammad had sex with one of his 11 wives while she was single digits in age.)  

Unlike Christianity or Judaism regarding the Bible, however, mainstream Muslims in the largest branch—Sunnism—are prohibited from reading violent passages symbolically or allegorically.  They must apply literally across space and time; so beheading cannot be construed as “defeating an opponent polemically” or said to only apply in Muhammad’s time.  Sunni Muslims, particularly Western modernist ones,  who attempt to do so are either woefully out of touch with the scholarship of the greater Islamic world,  or engaging in willfull obfuscation, if not outright mendacity, about Islam’s actual teachings.   

(Some sects of Islam do allow for non-literalist interpretations, but these Ahmadis, Isma’ili Shi`is and Sufi mystics have a hard, uphill row to hoe if they hope to change hearts and minds among their much more numerous Sunni cousins.  Ironically, and perhaps counter-intuitively for many, Twelver Shi`ism may hold the best hope for a legtimate reformation within Islam—since that largest minority branch still allows for ta`wil, or “esoteric” interpretation of the Qur’an and Hadiths.  However, as long as the dour intellectual descendants of Ayatollah Khomeini run things in Iran, such will stay at best nascent.)


I guess the imam was right; we really aren't allowed to go to the bathroom 

Under the prevailing literalist exegetical paradigm, then,  when members of ISIS (or al-Qa`idah or Boko Haram or the Taliban or any of the other legion of non-state Islamic actors) behead, enslave “infidel” women/practice polygamy/marry underage girls, crucify non-Muslims, or stone adulterers, they are not engaging in “extremism” or acting as “radicals”—they are, in point of fact, simply being brutally literalist. Note, too, that not just these terrrorist non-state actors, but many majority-Muslim states—several dozen, in varying degrees—enforce at least some aspects of shari`ah law (Saudi Arabia beheads more people than does ISIS—albeit with bigger blades and, thus, more mercifully).  And this is not always done against the will of their people:  solid majorities of Muslims in many countries actually support shari`ah elements, to include stoning for adultery and the death penalty for “apostasizing” from Islam.  

ISIS, then, while more ruthless in application of such norms and laws, is nonetheless clearly Islamic in doing so.  Recently POTUS did, incomprehensibly, say that ISIS is has a “nihilistic, violent, almost medieval interpretation of Islam.”  To quote a famous rock-and-roll sage, “two out of three ain’t bad.”  ISIS (and its ilk) is decidely violent; and its Qur’an literalism really is pre-medieval, going back to 7th c. Islam.   But it is in no wise nihilistic, for ISIS has a coherent political, military and, yes, religious agenda.  Just because we Westerners may dislike something does not render it ipso facto  “nihilistic.”  Likewise, employment of violence—even horribly cruel kinds, like burning someone alive--does not equate to meaninglessness.   (Plus, it’s rather contradictory to refer to an ideology as medievally Islamic and nihilistic.  And this would seem to be contra Obama’s incessant assertions that Islam has been “hijacked” by “radical extremists.”  Was medieval Islam also hijacked?  One would think the smartest man ever to sit in the Oval Office would know that.)

Obama’s (and Eric Holder’s and John Brennan’s) willfull ignorance about ISIS’s legitimate Islamic provenance, motivation and goals has seeped down into the military ranks.  Just a few weeks ago, the head of SOCCENT, Major General Michael Nagata, said regarding ISIS that “we [still] do not understand the movement, and until we do, we are not doing to defeat it.” Well, General, as a much lower-ranking soldier—my old Army DI, SFC Ocaña—used to say when I was in basic training, “it don’t take a GED.”  In fact, it certainly doesn’t take a PhD to understand ISIS, since they have clearly told us what they believe since the days of their founder, Abu Mus`ab al-Zarqawi.  

I analyzed the first five issues of ISIS’s “Dabiq” magazine on this website, in some detail—so I will not re-create that wheel here.  But here are the highlights evincing that group’s clear, indeed slavish, devotion to Islamic norms:   

                *The magazine is called “Dabiq”—a town in NW Syria described in Hadith as the site of the apocalyptic battle between Muslims and Christians.

                *All issues of the publication are rife with Qur’an, Hadith, Sirat and Islamic scholarly references.  Issue #3, “A Call to Hijrah,” adduces the Qur’an eight times, the Hadith 35, and thinkers such as Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Kathir 17 times. Issue #4, “The Failed Crusade,” is even more steeped in Islam: 20 references to the Qur’an and 36 to Hadith.  Other issues of “Dabiq” are similar in this regard.

                *Besides quantity of citations, ISIS in its publications (and videos) offers extended, qualitative explications of validly Muslim doctrines and beliefs, such as eschatology, slavery of non-Muslim women, beheading and mubahalah, or “imprecatory challenge.”  (The latter is a fascinating doctrine, to which ISIS devotes much of “Dabiq” #2, in an attempt to goad Islamic authorities into taking up that gauntlet so that the former might prove, before Allah, its Islamic bona fides.  Perhaps the rector of al-Azhar, or another Sunni cleric of such stature, should al-Baghdadi up on this—but so far has not taken the bait.)

                *Decapitation and slavery are easy pickings for justification from Islamic sources and traditions, granted. But even with the horrible burning alive of Jordanian pilot Mu`adh al-Kasabeh, ISIS managed to concoct a coherent, if contrived, Islamic rationalization (as I explained to “The Washington Post” yesterday), based on the doctrine of shifa’ al-sudur, “healing the hearts” via legal retribution, and glossed by a quote from the famous 14th c. Islamic thinker Ibn Taymiyya about the acceptability of descecrating bodies in order to shock infidels who are attacking Muslims.  ISIS’s Islamic theoreticians thus immolated al-Kasabeh in the same manner as which he (and his fellow pilots, lackeys for the “Crusaders”) had been killing Muslims.   Many Muslim commentators disagree.  But, as with beheading and slavery, it is difficult bordering on impossible to ascertain which side is more correct in terms of Islamic sources and historical practice.  What is possible to say is that ISIS, while pitiless beyond measure, makes a very good Islamic case for its positions—perhaps every bit as good as its opponents make against it, and them.  I’d prefer that the anti-ISIS position of Shaykh Abd Allah b. Bayyah, et al.,  be the more authoritative, and widespread; but that is not for me to decide, but for Muslims.   

Yes, “even the devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.”  But when in the Gospels Satan tempted Christ, he only cited one verse;  ISIS, however, calls upon dozens of Qur’anic passages, as well as even more Muhammadan sayings, in its many missives.  At some point, if Iblis manifests such a command of Islamic doctrines, who’s to say his view of Islam isn’t legitimate? 


Let me please introduce myself/I'm a jinn of wealth and taste....

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

ISIS and Islamic Immolation

ISIS gruesomely burned alive Jordanian Air Force officer Mu`adh al-Kasabeh not simply to horrify or intimidate, but rather in order to exact retribution for the “Crusaders” and their Coalition allies dropping bombs and launching missiles that consumed Muslims (especially, allegedly, children) in flames.  The Islamic doctrine of shifa’ al-sudur (the name of the video, note) was derived from Sura al-Baqarah [II]:179 and its idea of “legal retribution” which is supposed to lead to reconciliation between Muslims once scores have been settled in like fashion—between, presumably, ISIS and the Muslim nations (Jordan, UAE, KSA, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain and Oman) named in the video as helping the “Crusaders.”  So, in this mindset, al-Kasabeh had to burn--not simply be decapitated.  Lex talionis according to Allah.  


ISIS also adduces a saying from the famous Sunni cleric Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328) that desecrating bodies is allowable if it horrifies (unbelieving) enemies into ceasing their aggression against Muslims—or, in this case, against the Islamic State proper. 


So, just as with beheadings and enslavement of "pagan" women, ISIS is acting in a supremely, albeit brutally, atavistic Islamic fashion (not a nihilistic one, as the President keeps saying).  Only when we admit that will we (Westerners and Muslims) be on the path to refuting and eradicating ISIS. 



This poor man suffered horribly.  I have prayed for his soul and his family.   


*Addendum (2.4.15): ISIS also, at the end of this video, offers a 100 gold dinar bounty for any "Crusader pilots'" heads.  After a bit of research, I discovered that this, too, is also a hearkening back to (old) Islamic norms, in that it puts ISIS squarely in the camp of Muslim groups who wish to escape "Western" economics and monetary strictures. The return to the gold (dinar) standard also, according to some Islamic thinkers, signifies the approach of the Islamic eschaton.  


And, of course, ISIS hopes it will get more Coalition pilots killed.  



12:01 am est          Comments

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Jamkaran Mosque near Qom, Iran (during my trip there Aug. 2008)

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