In his article “what Isis really wants” Graeme Wood describes how the West have miscalculated Isis and it aims. The West compares Isis to Al Qaeda but it misses the point of Isis and its objectives. Unlike Al Qaeda Isis needs a caliphate, a Muslim government with a caliph at its head.
To do this it needs territory, a caliphate – which is very different to Al Qaeda.
A state, a territory, a homeland, is like a magnet. It provides a focus for the cause and draws followers to its borders. The last Caliphate was the Ottoman Empire in the 16th Century. Even this would be challenged as a caliphate as it did not enforce strict Islamic Law.
Al Qaeda never believed that it would see a caliphate in its lifetime. It operates in a cellular, diffuse way. Al Qaeda has no allegiance to place or country. Bin Laden was a modern person taking advantage of modern habits such as shopping in Walmart and eating at Pizza Hut.
Isis is not so modern. It places its heart in old Islam practised by the Prophet Mohammed and his earliest followers. It is also very religious, and very Islamic. What is said, is taken from interpretations of learned texts of Islam. Isis is lead by a ‘takfiri’ doctrine a messianic ideology that is committed to a form of religious cleansing of those who have abandoned Islam.
Isis is uncaring of its public image and the caliphate supports slavery as part of how it operates. Al Qaeda never talked about slavery. It wanted to court favour with the world. Isis is not interested with being in favour. The caliphate is a vehicle for salvation. Muslims who do not swear allegiance to a true caliph have failed to live a valid Islamic Life and should be killed. The caliph has to implement Sharia law – the way to lead a true Islamic life. It is not all beheadings and slavery. Part of Sharia law is to provide the population with free housing, food, and clothing.
Another major part of Isis is The Apocalypse. It fills a deep psychological need to for Islam to conquer all its enemies in the world. There will be the battle of battles fought at Dabiq. The traditional enemy was Rome but now the US has conveniently filled this role.
Its radicalism is unique. No compromise will do. Negotiation is not an option. To Isis any forms of compromise are acts of apostasy. There is no authority, religion, or country that can have authority over the Caliphate. The caliphate’s mission is not to destroy the US or kill Americans but to enlarge the caliphate and attract Muslims from all over the world to live in it under true Sharia law.
Isis recruits on pointing out the meaningless and banality of living in the West and promising a life of meaningful living with an apocalyptic battle. Radicalism like drugs offers an antidote to the multiple choice and lack of direction of living in the West. At the end of his article Wood quotes Orwell
” Fascism is psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life … Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people “I offer you a good time,” Hitler has said to them, “I offer you struggle, danger, and death,” and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet … We ought not to underrate its emotional appeal.”
It seems struggle, danger and death with meaning have more to offer than the comfortable life of wealth and material riches in the Democratic West – without meaning.
Copyright Adrian Scott North London Counsellor Blog 2015
All rights reserved
Disclaimer: This weblog is the view of the writer and for general information only.
This article is designed to provoke argument and critique.