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Does ISIS represent Islam?

Throughout my discussion with many non Muslims from different countries, I noticed that they had a common impression that ISIS represents Islam. This impression was aroused due to the Islamic identity ISIS tries to show when doing its crimes and it is also due to the way the media is acting by focusing on ISIS actions as if it is the reason of all problems. They forget that one of the main root causes of the formation of ISIS are the atrocities against Muslims committed by the governments to whom the media agencies are belonging to. So in order to understand if ISIS really represents Islam or not, we need first to understand the historical context that led to its emergence.

Historical Context of Emergence of ISIS

US Invasion of Iraq

In 2003, USA invaded Iraq based on a lie that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction (which was opposed by the UN and was proven to be a lie afterwards) and that he is suppressing his people (as if he was the only dictator in the world!). This invasion caused the murder of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and then the US army left Iraq due to the high casualties. They left the country in much worse conditions than during Saddam’s rule. They just replaced Saddam with a sectarian Shiite regime that persecuted the Sunnis afterwards.

This persecution caused the Sunnis to welcome ISIS when it came because of the persecution they faced from the sectarian regime that was put in power by USA, same as the Ukrainians when they welcomed the Nazis thinking that they will free them from the Soviet persecution and the mass murder committed by Stalin. Afterwards, when the Iraqi Sunnis saw the ugly face of ISIS they realized that they are not much different from the Shiite regime (who also made horrible atrocities in recapturing the cities dominated by ISIS), same as Ukrainians who also realized that the only thing changed was the identity of the invaders and that Nazis are not much different from the Soviets.

In 2015, Tony Blair came out admitting the mistakes his government caused that caused ISIS to emerge. We usually see the West asking others for compensations and to take the responsibility for historical atrocities when it comes to others as asking Germany for compensations of the Holocaust or the Turks for massacres against Armenians, but it comes to their massacres and atrocities, they think it would be a favor if they gave a cold apology for destroying countries and all their concern would be their soldiers who were killed not the Iraqis of course.

The Syrian Revolution

In 2011, and following a wave of uprisings in the Arab world, a revolution in Syria broke out against the dictator regime of Bashar Al Assad in Syria. The revolution was just represented in peaceful protests, however the response of the Syrian regime was very repressive. The regime’s security forces responded by shooting their own people ruthlessly, but people never surrendered. They kept on organizing daily protests that were always met with repression.

Thousands of people were murdered, but they never stopped. Many Syrian soldiers and officers began to refuse the way the regime dealt with the protesters, so they began the formation of the Syrian Free Army and by the time the resistance against the regime began to be armed. Many groups began to form and the revolution was converted into a war between the Syrian people and the Assad’s regime. As more cities began to declare its independence from the brutal Syrian regime, the brutality of Assad increased through bombarding civilians in these cities with explosive barrels and even with chemical weapons and as a result hundreds of thousands of Syrians were murdered.

These events occurred within the first two years and ISIS hasn’t existed yet . So the root cause of the problem in Syria is not ISIS, but rather the Syrian regime who was backed with Russia and USA just condemned these atrocities without trying to interfere as they did with Saddam (It wasn’t a matter of protecting human rights or democracy, they are just looking for their own benefits). ISIS began to emerge in the middle of 2013 and they considered themselves the only group that should be followed and hence began fighting all other Syrian revolutionist groups, they murdered thousands of Sunnis before even fighting the Syrian regime which helped Assad’s regime pick up its breath against the continuous defeats from the revolutionists.

Does the Islamic Identity shown by ISIS mean that it really Represents Islam?

Many people get deceived by the slogans made by ISIS saying that they do what they do in the name of Islam so this means that Islam must be teaching this. However this couldn’t be an evidence by any means. In order to know what Islam says, this should be through reading the Quran and the life of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ in proper context not through what someone claims to be Islam. For example if we used the Crusade campaigns where Christians took the cross as their slogan murdering Muslims and committing horrible atrocities in the name of Jesus, would we say that this is what Christianity teaches? When the Russian Patriarch calls the war in Syria as a holy war, and it was clear how this “holy war” was dedicated in helping the dictator Bashar Assad in bombing the areas of the revolutionists murdering civilians and destroying hospitals and there are many other examples, it will clear that there are governments and groups similar to ISIS belonging to Christianity. So to say that ISIS represents Islam just because they say that their actions are in the name of Islam, I think this would be unfair.

Who are the Victims of ISIS?

People think that ISIS just targets non Muslims in their wars, this would be clear through the media focusing on the explosions made in Europe. But the case is that the explosions of ISIS are not just in Europe, there are also many explosions in Muslim countries. Many explosions occurred in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon and of course Syria, Libya, Iraq and other Muslim countries. In these explosions many Muslims were murdered who are even more than those murdered in Europe so it is a fact that Muslims are victims of ISIS as well as non Muslims. And at the end, the victims of ISIS in Syria and Iraq are much less than those of USA, Russia or Bashar’s regime so the way the media handles this issue needs to be reviewed.


ISIS is an extremist group that uses Islam and the pains Muslims suffer as a fuel to recruit people who don’t have enough knowledge to follow them. The events that occurred in Muslim countries and the mass murder against Muslims in Syria and in Iraq is the main reason for this kind of groups to emerge. The ones who made atrocities against Muslims are participants in raising a group like ISIS and they are even much worse by the atrocities they committed. Finally there are many other extremist groups in many religions and no one blamed any of these religions for the actions of their followers, so it’s unfair to blame Islam for ISIS.
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About Ibn Taymiya

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