The Transformative Nature Of ISIS

March 16, 2017 - San Francisco, CA - - A popular, kind of self congratulatory, narrative has emerged on general information social media forums as well as those dedicated to the defeat of the global jihad and it goes something like, “ISIS is on the verge of defeat, it’s not long for this world.”

So fervent is the desire within the Western world for this to finally take place that one can almost hear an anticipatory collective sigh of relief from coming from civilized societies.

To the casual but literate observer this might make total sense what with numerous reports regarding the siege of Mosul, Iraq and now the rapid buildup of U.S. military forces near Raqqah, Syria, ISIS’ central headquarters.

In evaluating these claims one must keep in mind that Mosul is a special case since the ISIS forces there have successfully resisted efforts to dislodge it since 2015, a very long time as these things go.

There are a number of reasons why this is so.

1. ISIS was allowed to completely overwhelm the defenders of Iraq’s second largest city, partly due to the ineptness of the previous administration in DC, but mostly because of the cowardice displayed by Iraq’s army, the ISF which has proven to be far better at advancing towards the rear – with great haste – than engaging the jihadis.

2. Mosul is a huge and very ancient city that consists of a maze of narrow streets with living quarters piled on top of each other, the type of territory in which dislodging the enemy will require vicious house-to-house fighting, something that the ISF wants no part of.

3. ISIS has integrated its defenses into the remaining population making a huge amount of collateral damage all but assured if the jihadis are to be defeated.

Notwithstanding these difficulties, we are willing to stipulate for the purposes of this piece that ISIS, as an organized fighting force can physically be defeated in Syria and Iraq.

So that yields what?

Victory over the world’s most notorious terrorist group?

Not so fast, as the calculus on the matter is complex.

Judged broadly by their activities, there are zero degrees of separation between ISIS, al-Qaeda, Al-Shabaab etc., they are all to a greater or lesser extent, fanatical ideological warriors intent upon enforcing, by whatever means necessary, the entirety of the Shari’a, Islamic law on a global basis, thus leading to the caliphate.

That there are some deep doctrinal discrepancies between these groups and in the larger sense between Sunnis and Shias, matters not since as judged by their deeds they differ only in the degree of the horrific.

In this sense ISIS is simply the most widespread example of Shari’a borne brutality with which we are forced to currently deal. And hence the very word ISIS has become symbolic, the essence of which Jung would have likely labeled archetypical of Islamic terrorism.

It may be difficult for the average Westerner to imagine but to a significant number of Muslims, ISIS fighters are seen as heroic figures and as such they have attained a mythic status.

This is not to argue against decimating ISIS, but it should be remembered that crushing al-Qaeda, did nothing to end jihadism.

Instead, those to whom the [abrogated*] Qur’an is quite literally the direct, word-for-word revelation of Allah, found inspiration in what was - in the particular sense - defeat. Therefore in the grander sense it was simply another step along the pathway to the inevitable establishment of a global caliphate.

The same was true in the case of al-Qaeda’s initial inspiration, the intellectual work of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s theorist, Seyyid Qutb, a modest [but dangerous] little man who died ignominiously at the end of a rope in prison.

So as Qutb was to al-Qaeda, al-Qaeda was to ISIS, an inspiration brought about by an absolute sense of civilizational confidence that the process would continue and thus the “death” of ISIS will likely produce the same effect.

It must be remembered that as twisted as it sounds, to the jihadists of all stripes there is glory in defeat, given the understanding that they are doing the will of the almighty who sets aside a special elevated status, a reward to those who die “fighting in the way of Allah.”

This is why the only possible way of ending jihadism, which unfortunately has for a very long time been the normative interpretation of Islam, is to defeat the doctrine kinetically where indicated and at all times in the war of ideas…the ideological struggle.

Many scoffed when it was suggested that there was something terribly wrong when ex-president Obama and members of his administration refused to link terrorism with Islam.

Hopefully by now the folly of that approach should be obvious, as the intentional de-coupling of action from inspiration has not lessened the impulse to impose Islam upon the infidel.

End note:

The notion of abrogation [naskh] within Islam entails interpreting the Qur’an in a theologically sound manner and for an explication of this idea we turn to a noted Western authority on Islam, Rober Spencer, who wrote in a now ten-year old post:

“Many traditional Islamic theologians and Qur’an commentators argue that violent material, such as sura 9, abrogates more relatively tolerant material such as sura 109. This is not a newly-minted view “cherry-picked” by Osama bin Laden; it is in fact a very ancient view. When discussing why Muhammad didn’t begin sura 9 with the customary invocation bismillah ar-rahman ar-rahim, “in the name of Allah, the compassionate, the merciful,” an intriguing answer comes from a Qur’an commentary that is still highly valued today in the Islamic world, Tafsir al-Jalalayn . This is a fifteenth-century work by the renowned imams Jalal al-Din Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Mahalli (1389-1459) and Jalal al-Din Abd al-Rahman ibn Abi Bakr al-Suyuti (1445-1505). The invocation, suggests this tafsir, “is security, and [Sura 9] was sent down when security was removed by the sword.”

Security’s removal by the sword meant specifically the end of many treaties the Muslims had made with non-Muslims. Another still-influential Qur’an commentator, Ibn Kathir (1301-1372) quotes an earlier authority, Ad-Dahhak bin Muzahim, to establish that the Verse of the Sword, sura 9:5 (“slay the unbelievers wherever you find them”) “abrogated every agreement of peace between the Prophet and any idolater, every treaty, and every term.” He adds from another authority: “No idolater had any more treaty or promise of safety ever since Surah Bara”ah was revealed.” And yet another early commentator, Ibn Juzayy (d. 1340) agrees that one of this verse’s functions is “abrogating every peace treaty in the Qur’an.”

This idea is crucial as a guide to the relationship of the Qur’an’s peaceful passages to its violent ones. Suras 16, 29, 52, 73, and 109 — the sources of many of the Qur’an’s verses of peace and tolerance — are all Meccan. That means that many Muslims, guided by commentators such as those above and the imams who teach from them, see these suras only in light of what was revealed later in Medina. Being the last or next-to-last sura revealed, sura 9 is generally understood as being the Qur’an’s last word on jihad, and all the rest of the book — including the “tolerance verses” — must be read in its light.” [source, Robert Spencer, The Islamic doctrine of abrogation, Jihad Watch - Exposing the role that Islamic jihad theology and ideology play in the modern global conflicts]

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