What is the Appeal of the Islamic State?

–June 29, 2015

And a big “Happy Anniversary” goes out today to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as one year ago today he and his righteous followers put the world back on the path towards salvation.yosemite-sam

Say what? And Abu who?

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is the self-proclaimed Grand Poobah of all Muslims, who was declared caliph of the Islamic State’s conquered territory on June 29, 2014. This new caliphate represents the eighth or ninth one in Islamic history depending upon your views regarding the legitimacy of the caliphate of the 400-or-so-year Ottoman Empire. But whether one believes that the last caliphate ended in 1924 or sometime in the 1500s, the emergence of this new caliphate is groundbreaking and its one year anniversary must be reason to party like its 1999….

Or not.

More likely the Islamic State is celebrating the anniversary with an increase in its usual day-to-day activities that it conducts to revere Muhammad and Allah. You know, beheading apostates and foreign infidels, shooting prisoners of war, burning spies, stoning adulterers, enslaving women and children, and just generally making sure no one has any fun at all.

“Allah Akbar,” Baby!

What’s the deal with this Islamic State? Three years ago no one had even heard of this group, and its abbreviated initials seem to constantly change, as Islamic State as been referred to as ISIS, ISIL, ISI and, most recently, just IS. Three years ago Al Qaeda and the Taliban were the baddest-ass Muslims in the land, but now Islamic State makes those groups look like two lost-in-the-woods Boy Scout troops.

In three short years, IS grew from a barely recognized rag-tag militia fighting against the Syrian government into one of the most powerful guerrilla armies in the middle east. An army and a self-proclaimed Islamic government that had captured large sections of Syria and Iraq, and inspired terrorists acts around the world. A movement that is also drawing large numbers of recruits from around the world, both those wanting to fight from within the caliphate and those seeking martyrdom abroad.

What is the appeal? Why are Muslim youth around the world flocking to the IS cause?

Al Qaeda offered its recruits 97 virgins in the after-life, but IS doesn’t even mention virgins in its propaganda. There is mention of the possibility of slave girls in this life to worthy Islamic State fighters. But are Islamic boys that hard up that they’ll give up everything for a remote chance at bedding an infidel slave woman?

Maybe…. What with most Muslim woman out of sight due to burkas and hijabs, and Muslim women definitely out-of-touch until marriage, well, can you say “sexual tension?” And nothing like a good fight to alleviate some of that tension.  Shooting prisoners, lopping off heads and the like probably provides the equivalence in tension release. And if done well it could lead to that infidel slave girl.

What else can be considered appealing about the Islamic State? How can Muslims, youth or otherwise, find it appealing on a religious or intellectual basis?

On a religious basis Islamic State only allows an extremely narrow interpretation of Islam, and failure to abide by this Flag_of_the_Islamic_State_of_Iraq_and_the_Levantinterpretation marks one as an apostate subject to death. In fact, most of IS’s victims thus far in its short history have been other Muslim’s who follow the wrong interpretation of Islam. In fact, if you’re a Shi’ite Muslim, you might want to think twice before heading off to the the Holy Caliphate, as Islamic State doesn’t take kindly to those of the Shia Muslim faith.

On an intellectual basis, well, you’d better be prepared to devote all energies to Allah, because intellectually that’s all that matters in life.

Sounds like fun, eh?

Allah Akbar! 

–Originally published in Hash It Out! on June 29, 2015

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