As a prelude to this essay, it could be relevant to state that the human nature had been, to live in communities, with relative commonalities and homogeneity among them. When tribes settled in a certain geographical area, when they either built these common bonds or those already with commonalities chose habitable geographical areas for settlement. [...]


The false concepts of ISIS claimed to be drawn from Islamic history


As a prelude to this essay, it could be relevant to state that the human nature had been, to live in communities, with relative commonalities and homogeneity among them. When tribes settled in a certain geographical area, when they either built these common bonds or those already with commonalities chose habitable geographical areas for settlement.

Iraqi troops celebrating their victory over ISIS

As Hartshorne the famous geographer states, they became regions, and based on homogeneous political, religious, linguistic and economic interests, these inhabitants established nations; some of them built, great civilisations, starting from Sumerians, Egyptians, Babylonians, to Greek, Roman Chinese and Mogul and to the Incas. They had their share of conflicts and wars but dominated the world; they were known as world powers and the stronger ones colonised the others. Each nation has such a colonial history.

This trend had taken a turn to vicious struggles for emancipation since the 15th century. By the 20th and 21st centuries, these struggles developed to terrorism, spreading even to extremist ideals based on religious beliefs. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is one such dominant terrorist organisation spreading its tentacles to the rest of the world for domination, through murder, pillage, terror and ultimately to suicide attacks as against wars fought face to face. It really does not equate with any of the past histories it talks of. The most heinous murder and killing that Sri Lanka faced from the group is the “Easter Sunday Massacre” of April 21 this year. This was planned by the terror group in the name of the religion. Therefore, to protect our land from similar scourges, it is necessary to understand the historical antecedents of this terror group. They should never go unpunished and their organisation should be annihilated.

Our security forces

With gratitude to our security forces, it should be stated that they crushed the pro-ISIS terror group, although they could not be destroyed before the events of the Easter Sunday Massacre. Perhaps all our security personnel should be educated on the genesis and origin of the ISIS.

In 1999, a Jordanian Salafi Jihadist named Abu Musab al Zarqawi formed an organisation called Jamat al-Thowheed wal-Jihad or the organisation of Monotheism and Jihad. It said that the Sunnis should get together and mobilise themselves. Firstly against the Shiites: This was to give them a cause or raison d’être to unite. Thus, by 2007, the Sunni group, together with Syrian militant groups fighting the Bashar al-Assad regime, mobilised their co-religionists to have a Caliphate in the Central and Western regions of Iraq.  The group then came to be known as ISIL — meaning the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) or Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Arabic acronym of which was Daesh. It extended its influence to other Muslim nations. This demonstrates how certain groups utilised Islam to gain their political ends, through misrepresenting historical antecedents.

Islam and caliphates

From the time of the Prophet Mohammed, the title “Caliph” which was religious in nature was used, as it gave a legal status, to lead. Prophet Mohammed (570 AD-632 AD) the founder of Islam was born in Mecca belonging to the Hashimi Section of the Koreish Tribe. He was the son of Abdulla and Aminah. Mohammed married Khadeeja, a wealthy widow who employed him to conduct caravans to Syria from Arabia. He received his divine revelation while meditating on the Hira mountain. According to tradition, Angel Gabriel summoned him to go out and preach that there was only one God. (The God of whole universe), as he, Mohammad, was the one anointed by God to reform the world. He preached against idol worship in the peninsula and taught meritorious acts. When the Meccan leaders opposed his preaching, he left for Medina with his followers. This journey is called Hijra, and the Muslim Calendar begins from this significant date. It was the start of the Islamic community, and a mosque was built in Medina with the followers of Monotheism and Submission (Islam) to God. As with other religious leaders, he, too, faced rebellions; against the Meccans, he won the Battle of Badr. His followers increased and people became more religious and cultured. After several years in exile he conquered Mecca and entered the Kaaba, the Shrine of Islam. He died at the age of 63. His divine revelations were collected in the Holy Quran. The basic message was peace. The religion spread the world over, to the West and East — and with the passage of time, Islam became a world religion.

The passing away of the Prophet made the concept of caliphate to emerge. The next Caliph was selected through ‘Shura’ – community consultation. For a while, the Prophet’s friend Abu Bakr was the inheritor of the leadership while there were other claimants to the leadership — like Ali, whose supporters later came to be known as the Shiites. The first four Rashideen Caliphs – or rightly guided Caliphs — were Abu Bakr, Umar I, Uthman, and Ali. The successor of the Prophet was called a caliph and the region he ruled was caliphate. The most known caliphates were Ummayyads and Abbasids, both their leaders claiming they were descendants of the Prophet’s family. The present ISIS leadership quite unhesitatingly claim that they are the present generation of the prophet’s family. The caliphates of the 8th Century and before claimed a great civilization, while Iraq and Bagdad were called the centre of Arab civilisation and the Hall of Wisdom, respectively. The present ISIS cannot claim such civilisation and culture, but only conflict. The use of the concepts of caliph, caliphate and succession by them are quite erroneous.

The deterioration

The downfall of the culture, in fact started in the 20th century due to the oil wealth of the Middle East, Wahhabism of Saudi Arabia and the Colonial interference of big powers during the cold-war era. This gave rise to al Qaeda led by Bin Laden who was a member of a wealthy Saudi family. When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the United States backed the Mujahideen to drive away the Soviets. Bin Laden and his al-Qaeda were part of this war. This saga is cited as one of the reasons for the rise of extremism.

When the war on terror came to Iraq, al-Qaeda’s Iraq chapter was headed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was close to Bin Laden. After Zarqawi’s death in 2006, Abu Ayub al-Masari became the leader. Although the movement did not make much headway during his period, it had mobilised Muslims the world over since 2010, when Al Baghdadi took over the reins. He moblisied the Sunnis against the Shiite-dominant governments in Iraq and Iran. It was the beginning of the modern ISIS and the Islamic Caliphate under its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.  By 2015 they had a territory equal to that of Britain, with an oil wealth of billions of dollars. Al-Baghdadi ordered all splinter groups to unite to build this Islamic Caliphate. He ordered that all other religionists should be destroyed, under the doctrine of Jihad. In fact, thousands of Iraq’s Yazidi people were killed while their women were used as sex-slaves.

However, this caliphate lost its recognition even among the Islamic countries due to its belief in terrorism and the atrocities it committed. The ISIS has already carried out 90 attacks in 21 countries.

The ISIS lost its vast territory in Iraq and this year it lost its last stronghold in Syria.

The ISIS misused Islam and Islamic concepts such as jihad and caliphate.

In 2008, Time magazine reported that ISIS’ backbone had been broken in the West and that it had the false doctrine only, which could brainwash the people of South and South East Asia, to bring mayhem. It has happened in this region. This threat had been brought to the notice of the authorities in Sri Lanka since then by those who loved our motherland, but we became wise only after the deluge when we had to swim to save our lives.

(The writer is a former Foreign Service Ambassador)


Share This Post


Advertising Rates

Please contact the advertising office on 011 - 2479521 for the advertising rates.