Written by, 

Leeroy Ting & Hanan Khaleeda

(Disclaimer: In recent months, there has been a coordinated effort by members of the media to refer to ISIS using the term Daesh. This magazine believes in this policy and will join the cause.)


The Eiffel tower peace sign have emerged as a symbol of solidarity with the victims of the Paris attacks

On 2015 November, Friday the 13th, an explosion went off near the Stade de France, where a football match between France and Germany was taking place with President Francois Hollande amongst the spectators. One person was killed in the blast, and the body of a terrorist was found at the scene wearing a shrapnel-filled suicide belt. That was only the first explosion.

That night, there were 7 coordinated attacks by at least 8 terrorists with all them wearing suicide vests. 129 people were killed in the brutal attacks, 89 perished during a hostage situation, 352 were injured and 99 critically injured.

It was a night of terror and bloodbath- and Daesh proudly claimed responsibility for every single soul that was victimized that night.

Who or what is Daesh and what do they want?

Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, commonly known as Daesh is a lethal mix of violence, human right abuses, and sexual exploitation under the pretense of Islam. As a self-proclaimed worldwide caliphate, Daesh claims religious, political and military authority over all Muslims- dissent and disobedience would result to apostasy which is punishable by death.


Daesh fighters posing under their trademark black flag

They hold vast swaths of territory in war torn Iraq & Syria and have stood defiant against the world coalition seeking to wipe them out since rising to prominence in July 2014.

What are the repercussions to the Muslim community?

In light of this event, existing xenophobic and islamophobic undertones in western nations have been amplified and many in the Muslim diaspora have been subjected to generalization that incorrectly linked them with those who constructed the attacks and was exposed to discrimination, isolation and much hatred.

One such example of the retaliation faced by the Muslim community would be the heartbreaking tale circulating on social media of a Muslim taxi driver in US who cried when someone finally took his taxi after over 2 hours because people were scared to approach him. The dilemma faced by that driver is symbolic of those faced by thousands of Muslims in the wake of the attacks.


Twitter posting of the New Yorker, Alex Malloy

Another example would be how some leaders tried to stem the flow of immigrants in fear of similar attacks such as the 16 state governors in the US who vowed to stop accepting refugees. This is despite France itself making the bold and praiseworthy move of announcing that it is still willing to keep its commitment of accepting 30,000 refugees over 2 years right after the Paris attacks. However, France itself is not without her problems – the attack has empowered right wing radicals and opposition leader Marine Le Pen who told the media; “Our fears and warnings about the possible presence of jihadists among immigrants have unfortunately now been turned into tangible reality.” While ignoring the fact that 5 out of 8 attackers were proven to be European citizens.

However, these Islamophobic responses are clearly misguided and counterproductive as Daesh is not a true representation of Islam. In fact, the only objective these bigoted responses will achieve is to further victimize those who were already victimized and are running away from Daesh. It will also isolate and further marginalize the existing Muslim community which will only further empower Daesh’s recruitment efforts.

Today in this article we will analyze using verses from the Qu’ran and Hadith, how exactly Daesh differs from Islam.

How Daesh differs from Islam

Two sources of Islamic law will be used throughout this section;

AL-QURAN (Supreme primary source)

HADITH (Primary source but second-in-line in terms of authority next to Quran – despite that it is still profoundly important as it comes from Prophet Muhammad himself)

First, let’s analyze their moral ethics from the perspective of Islam.

  1. Before entering a war, there’s a necessity not to be hasty to resort to military options and there’s also necessity to favour peace and amicable solutions to conflicts as much as possible. “Do not wish to meet the enemy but if you meet them, be patient.”(SAHIH BUKHARI)

In fact, the Qu’ran expressly sets some very stringent conditions before war is permissible. “Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged.” (AL-HAJ 22:39)

But what does it mean to “have been wronged” and therefore bestowing permission to fight in self-defense? This is defined by the Qu’ran’s very next verse;

“Those who have been driven out from their homes unjustly only because they said, ‘Our Lord is God’” (AL-HAJ 22:41)

The above 2 verses were revealed in Medina, and is the very first time the Qur’an ever addressed fighting. And it was clear Allah explicitly declared that when it comes to war, fighting is permitted only for those against whom war is made. Pre-emptive war is categorically un-Islamic. Furthermore, the Qur’an defines “have been wronged,” as a person who has met two more conditions. The first: one who has been unjustly driven from his own home. The second: being driven out on account of faith.

In Mecca the Muslims sought permission to fight back and defend themselves from attack and persecution. Prophet Muhammad’s reply was unwavering, “I have not been given permission to fight. I have been admonished to remain patient.” Despite facing brutal persecution, economic boycott, social discrimination and murder all because of their faith, the Muslims never raised a finger in Mecca. Instead, they patiently waited until they were driven out to Medina by the violent Meccans.


Driven out of their homes; Syrian refugees fleeing Daesh persecution

Meanwhile, Daesh continues to wage pre-emptive war by conquering sovereign lands and killing those who do not wish to fight or have never attacked them such as the genocide of thousands of Yazidis on mount Sinjar. Daesh trains their followers to become soldiers and battle-hardened them to slaughter people in front of cameras. They make enemies out of the entire world including the Muslims of other denominations. They want to engage in fights, they don’t negotiate and they listen to no one. Daesh has also unjustly driven out thousands of innocent Muslims, Christians, and Yazidis on account of their faith — acts that align them with the violent Meccans rather than the reluctant example of Prophet Muhammad.

Every subsequent Qur’anic verse on “combatting disbelievers” is read in light of the above 3 prerequisites in the verses having being met — fighting without having met those criteria violates the Qur’an. Daesh terrorists have not fulfilled a single one. Thus, Daesh’s act of war itself contradicts Islam.

  1. In circumstances where war is unavoidable, Allah forbade Muslims from fighting those who did not participate in the fight. Allah said repetitively in the Quran, “And fight in the cause of God those who fight against you, and do not commit aggression. Indeed God does not love those who are aggressors,”(AL-BAQARAH, 2;190) which means Muslims are only allowed to fight those fighting against them without transgressing through attacking the non-combatants.

In fact, the sacredness of the lives of innocent was so precious that Allah equated the killing of an innocent to the killing of all humanity; “Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely.” (AL-MA’IDAH 5:32)


A tearful Vian Dakhil, Iraq’s only female Yazidi MP, implores for help against the Yazidi genocide by Daesh

Daesh killed innocent journalists, people they abducted across the globe for ransom, Yazidi and Christian men, women, and children as indiscriminately as they killed the combatants sent to fight them. Clearly, their acts are not Islamic in nature and they are not loved by God.

  1. When it comes to treatment of war captives, Allah said that the captives must be treated with mercy and respect. “And they give food, in spite of their love for it (or for the love of Him), to the poor, the orphan and the captive (saying); “We feed you to seek Allah’s contenance only. We wish you for no reward, nor thanks from you.” (AL-INSAN, 76: 8-9)


Jihadi John, believed to be dead, has acted as the executioner of various prisoners of war on behalf on Daesh

Daesh on the other hand, places captives in cages, burns and drowns them before uploading the videos on the Internet. They obviously displayed no mercy and very little humanity when they slaughtered journalists such as James Foley, Steven Sotloff, Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto. Hence, Al-Quran is definitely not the scripture that justifies their treatment of war captives and those under their rule.

Lastly,“There shall be no compulsion in religion.” (AL-BAQARAH 2:257)

God revealed this verse in Medina, after Prophet Muhammad peacefully retook Mecca and became the ruler of all of Arabia. At a time when Prophet Muhammad could have forced anyone to become Muslim, he did exactly the opposite. The Qur’an categorically condemns any form of religious compulsion and ensures universal freedom of conscience for people of all faiths and no faith.


A video released by Daesh showed Yazidis being forced to convert to avoid death

Daesh, meanwhile, uses weapons to force people to submit to their beliefs. They blatantly kill those of a different religion and even those of their own religion. For example, they are infamous for their ‘Shia checkpoints’ where they have been known to stop Muslims on the ground, ask them questions and if they suspect that those individuals are Shia, they will be murdered in cold blood. This is in total contradiction to Islam and Prophet Muhammad’s policy of tolerance.

Islamic Codes of Conduct During War

Furthermore, Islam has strict codes of conduct and rules of war during conflict that has to be obeyed as laid down by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in various hadiths.

  1. Do not kill any child, any women, or any elder or sick person (Sunan Abu Daud)

Daesh fighters never flinch when they shoot civilians as they bulldoze over an area. They killed Yazidi men- young and old. They also took Yazidi women to be kept as sex slaves upon pain of death and those women were treated as rewards for successful fighters and also as an incentive to recruit more men who abused them and killed them at will. In the recent Paris attacks, the suicide bombers and attackers did not bother to differentiate between women, children, elderly or sick – whoever within the range of explosion and gunfire were either killed or injured.


Faces of Paris victims; Daesh clearly does not discriminate whom they kill.

  1. Do not destroy the villages and towns, do not spoil the cultivated fields and gardens, and do not slaughter the cattle (Sahih Bukhari; Sunan Abu Daud)

Deash is notorious for their scorched earth policies, such as burning oil fields and agricultural land on areas which they have lost. For example, when they lost the city of Kobani in Syria, they burned about 4,000 acres of the agricultural areas containing wheat and barley crops and fruit trees. Setting these fertile lands ablaze is one of the attempts by Daesh to intimidate the citizens who will be returning to their homeland after the group’s departure from the city and ensure that they have no way of livelihood, plunging them into desperation.


Daesh leaves nothing but destruction in its wake; Kobani, Syria after Daesh’s retreat

Caring for the environment or heritage is not really on Daesh’s agenda either – they’ve also destroyed ancient thousand year old ruins in Palmyra, amongst other historical and cultural heritages in Iraq and Syria. When they raided the Yazidi’s villages and residence, they plundered, pillaged and destroyed.

  1. Do not kill the monks in monasteries and do not kill those sitting in places of worship.(MUSNAD AHMAD IBN HANBAL)

Daesh wasn’t even being subtle when they declared war against the crusaders or the non-muslim. They explicitly claimed that they will spill the blood of the infidels, apostates and whoever that stands in their way towards establish a caliphate and that was published in their official periodical.


Daesh-released image showing smoke billowing from the Baal Shamin temple in Syria’s ancient city of Palmyra

To that effect, they have laid waste to multiple churches such as the thousand years old ‘Mother of Aid’ church in Mosul and even Shiite mosques such as the Al-Arba’een Mosque in Tikrit, containing forty tombs from the Umar era. It was reported that a Christian is killed every five minutes in Iraq by Daesh and they are even using churches as torture chambers.

  1. No one may punish with fire except the Lord of Fire (Sunan Abu Daud)

Daesh needs no Lord of Fire- they believe Allah has given them the duty to spill blood and to punish. Perhaps one of the defining moments of Daesh brutality was when the whole world watched in appalling horror when Daesh released a video of Jordanian pilot hostage Moaz al-Kasasbeh being ‘burned alive’ in a cage. By doing so just for cheap publicity and a fleeting sense of retribution, they have gone against the very teachings and prohibitions of Prophet Muhammad whom they claim to fight for.


Daesh’s execution of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh clearly goes against Prophet Muhammad’s teachings

From all these transgressions, we can see that Daesh has consistently, systematically and blatantly disregarded multiple laws set forth in the Qu’ran itself, the ultimate source of Islamic law. They also clearly do not adhere to the rules of war laid down by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) – the final messenger of Allah in Islam. That is how perverted the version of Islam Daesh is propagating. Calling Daesh Islamic would be equivalent to calling Hitler a pious and devout Christian.

By homogenizing all Muslims, we are playing into Daesh’s hands; how?

Blaming ordinary Muslims for the actions of the Anti-Islam Daesh is clearly a problem solution mismatch. The harms of this problem-solution mismatch are immense- those on the right wing are playing right into Daesh’s hands.

Firstly, Daesh aims to to destroy the gray zone in Europe. The 44 million Muslims in Europe have endured much repression and discrimination since 9/11- after the Paris attacks, these people have been further marginalised and isolated. By punishing them for crimes they did not commit, there’s higher likelihood of them developing stronger anti-west sentiments hence becoming more receptive to Daesh ideology. That opens door for Daesh to recruit more people into their caliphate and enable them to have local militants on the ground. Do note that 5 out of the 8 Paris attackers were radicalized European citizens.


The face of radicalization; Sabina Selimovic (later beaten to death by Deash) told interviewers “Here I can really be free. I can practice my religion. I couldn’t do that in Vienna.”

Secondly, by encouraging xenophobia and islamophobia, Daesh intends to play on the fears of the people in the west so that politicians are pressured to close their borders to refugees. When refugees are trapped in the conflict zones, it will only strengthen Daesh as refugees who have nowhere to go and are desperate to keep themselves and their loved ones alive would be pressured into choosing between fighting for Daesh or death for them and their family members. Daesh’s ranks are full of such reluctant fighters (they even accept converts) who has been forced to fight in order to keep themselves and those they care about alive. Furthermore, the women and children left behind will be useful to Daesh who uses sex slaves as currency and as an incentive to entice more recruits.


Millions of trapped refugees with nowhere to go would empower Daesh beyond imaginations of trapped refugee

Thirdly, religious and secular retaliation will bestow legitimacy onto Daesh as the defender of the Muslim faith. Evidently Daesh has been discouraging the people of Syria and Iraq not to flee by warning them of the harsh treatment the Crusaders would give them in the west and the dangers of traveling across the ocean. Rejection of refugees and western fear of them are exactly what Daesh needs to complement their rhetoric. The victims of religious inspired hatred in the West and Middle East alike will view Daesh, a power that is strong enough to expand their caliphate to Europe, as their protector and defender.

At the end of the day, every time someone blames the attacks on Muslims, conducts retaliatory xenophobic crimes such the case of a Muslim woman being doused in alcohol on a train ride in UK or right wing groups pressure politicians to close borders to refugees, Daesh gains tangible benefits through more human resources, intelligence, and allegiance from persecuted Muslims, and that emboldens their movement even more. To truly defeat Daesh, this conflict cannot be painted as ‘West vs. Muslims’ but ‘Moderation vs. Extremism’. Being the better and more gracious side will help us delegitimize Daesh and weaken them significantly.


People gather and pray outside of Notre Dame Cathedral ahead of a ceremony to the victims of the Friday’s terrorist attack. Picture Source:




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