ON ISIS Part I – An UNISLAMIC Call for Caliphate

By: Ashique Nilambur

An UNISLAMIC Call for Caliphate

The Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) and the Boko Haram of Nigeria called for an Islamic State and commanded Muslims all over the world to pledge allegiance to the Caliphate. The ISIS is well known, for it serves with the most important news for almost all newspaper in the world. The ISIS declared the ‘Islamic State’ in 29th of June, 2014[i] with Abu Bakr Baghdadi as its ‘Caliph’[ii] and demanded Muslims to pledge allegiance to the new ruler. The organization has itself claim to establish an Islamic state starting from the Levant region of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordon, Cyprus and Southern Turkey[iii]. Thereafter the IS has entrenched in Mosul, Tikrit, Fallujah, Ramadi in Northern Iraq murdering and pillaging both civilians and military men. Its rampage continues till today reaching the death toll more than what we saw at Gaza last months. Mass killing of captive soldiers and civilians, especially targeting ethnic and religious minorities like the Yazidis and Christians have caused to mass protest all over the world. These war crimes are condemned far and wide, but what have been gone unnoticed are its systematic degradation, rape and humiliation of women. This article will try to examine the Islamic view on ISIS with the ‘fatwas’ of Salafi Scholars on ISIS[iv] and the real power behind ISIS.

The Neo- Khawarijite State[v]

It is likely that anyone who does not know about Islam from its sources might think that ISIS is Islamic, for it claims to be the ‘Islamic state’ claiming to reestablish the Caliphate and the use of the Islamic declaration of faith seal on its flag. Further, the IS also exploits counterproductive western policies and misuses injustice in the Iraq and Syria by the government to cover its brutality. The slaughter of more than 200,000 people and displacement of millions more people by the brutal Syrian regime helped ISIS to find space in Syria.

IS has declared the Islamic state and asked to pledge allegiance to the new ‘caliph’. What followed is well known, from mass killing to rape. Everything is anti- Islamic, though I am suspicious about some reports in the media. But the fact that the declaration of a caliphate by the IS is itself unislamic would in turn necessitates everything they perform for establishing and maintaining the so called ‘caliphate’ to be unislamic. Many in the west have raised their suspicion on Muslims claim of IS been unislamic, for Jihad and Caliphate are very important in Islam and the Muslims aspires to live in an Islamic governance. This is true. Muslims like to live under an Islamic Caliphate. The simple answer to why Muslims still denounce the IS is because Islam does not teach the notion ‘end justifies the means’. The very proclamation of an Islamic Calipahte by the IS itself is unIslamic according to the teachings of Qur’an and the prophetic tradition.

An organization cannot come up with a claim of establishing a caliphate for the all Muslims in the world and selecting a Caliph. In this case no scholars of Islam who are well- known for the understanding of Islamic Jurisprudence have given legalization for ISIS, rather they have condemned it with vigor. ‘Scholars’ of ISIS has not considered the opinions of renowned scholars on the establishment of a Caliphate rather; they have totally ignored, or even threatened them.

It is important to know the contemporary circumstances, systems and realities in deriving a legal ruling. There is a branch of Islamic Fiqh termed ‘fiqh al- waqi’’ (Practical Jurisprudence) in order to acquire rulings on contemporary matters. Issues like, establishment of a Caliphate and proclamation of a Caliph has to be done with care. A ruling for an establishment of a Caliphate ignoring the contemporary political system in the world is sheer ignorance. We see no such discussions in the scholastic discourse of ISIS. But what we see instead are fatwas issued; without all the necessary learning requirements; undefined in the classical Islamic texts; oversimplifying sharia laws; and citing portions of Qur’an, prophetic tradition, even weak ones discarding the complete understanding of the verse and the subject. The following words of Umar Bin Khattab points an important issue regarding a caliph. He says: “Whoever pledges allegiance to a man without due consultation with Muslims has fooled himself; neither he nor the man to whom he pledges allegiance should be followed for he has risked both their lives.”[vi] If a small group can appoint a Caliph, this may lead to many rival caliphates budding, thereby spreading sedition and dissension.

There is no point in discussing the un- Islamic practices of IS on the name of Jihad and Caliphate, said that the establishment of the Caliphate itself is unIslamic. However a close inspection of IS activities in Iraq and Syria would suggest that the organization have distanced too long from the Islamic understanding of war and governance.

A legitimate Islamic government is conditionally permitted to go for war (Weaponry Jihad). However, Jihad without legitimate cause, legitimate purpose and legitimate methodology is not jihad, but rather, warmongering and criminality. Safety, freedom of religion, having been wronged and eviction from one’s land (Qur’an 22: 29- 40)[vii] are the reasons for Jihad, due to which majority of the scholars are of the view that there is no such a thing as offensive jihad, just because people have different religions or opinions. The methodology of waging war is clearly described in the Islamic law, which will be explained along with the deviation of ISIS in implementing it.

Prophet (S) said: “Wage war, but do not be severe, do not be treacherous, do not mutilate or kill children, women ……”[viii] The general principle from the above hadith regarding Jihad is that only combatants should be killed; non- combatants should not be killed. But we see mass killing of civilians in the Iraq and Syria. A report by the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human rights (OHCHR) states that 8493 civilians were killed in the period from 6 July to 10 September.

Mass murder of prisoners, including women, children are forbidden in Jihad. A total number of 2850 captives were killed in various Camps from June to August alone. The Qur’an, on the other hand commands to “…thereafter either set them free by grace or by ransom” (Quran 47: 4). Abu Bakr (r), the first Caliph, when sending an army to Levant said: “You will find people who are devoted themselves to monasteries, leave them to their devotions. You will also find others whose heads are seats for devils (armed deacons), so strike their necks. However, do not kill the old and decrepit, women or children; do not destroy buildings; do not cut down trees or livestock without good cause; do not burn or drown palms; do not be treacherous; do not mutilate; do not be cowardly; and do not loot.”

Non- Muslims in the Islamic Caliphate enjoyed full religious freedom and civil liberties. Non Muslims in the Islamic reign were given right to justice, right to preservation of dignity as human beings, right to freedom of belief, right to follow their religious laws and protection from foreign aggression and security of life, property and honor. But the situation of non Muslims under ISIS is no wonder, disturbing, considering their extreme acts of violence towards Muslims. Mass killing, savage beheadings and systematic degradation of women of religious minorities like Yazidis, Kurds, and Christians are widely used weapons to maintain the governance[ix].

There are more atrocities done by IS in Iraq and Syria which goes against the Islamic Shari’a. Only a few of them are discussed in this article. The fatwas of Salafi scholars will be discussed later. Insha Allah.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of wisdomislam.org 


[i] http://arabic.cnn.com/middleeast/2014/06/29/urgent-isis-declares-caliphate

[ii] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-28082962

[iii] http://blogs.wsj.com/briefly/2014/06/12/islamic-state-of-iraq-and-al-sham-the-short-answer/

[iv]  The reason for elaborating on this point is to clarify the widely articulated claim that ISIS is from the Salafi Ideology. The fatwas of Salafi Scholars from Saudi Arabia have special importance, for Salafi scholars from Saudi Arabia are usually termed to be fundamentalists giving intellectual support of ‘global jihad’. Insha Allah (if Allah wills)

[v] The khawarijites were the first division in the Islamic community evolved surrounding the political mayhem during the Caliphate of Ali.

[vi] Bukhari Kitab al- Hudud

[vii] “Permission is granted to those who fight because they have been wronged. And God is truly able to help them; those who were expelled from their homes without right, only because they said “Our Lord is One God”. Were it not for God’s causing some people to d

[viii] Muslim, At- Tirmidhi

[ix] Refer to “ “Beware whoever is cruel to the non- Muslim minority”: Non- Muslims under Islamic Governance”