For the past several years I have been fascinated by Islamic theology and the resurgence of Islamist movements in Africa, the Arabian peninsula, Asia and the middle east. Probably because terrorism has been the issue of the time for much of my young adulthood, starting with 9/11.
I had been reading about AQAP and AQI for years and so wasn’t surprised when we pulled out of Iraq that a restructured AQI would take power after gaining mass support across the border in Syria from an entire region of disgruntled Sunni’s.
What did interest me though was the state building initiative of ISIS upon the “prophetic model” and their reliance on hadith prophecy and how it guides their actions, something Al Qaeda HQ never supported and argued against.
ISIS have more in common with Juhayman (He seized the grand Mosque in Mecca and believed his brother in law Mohammed Abdullah al-Qahtani was the Mahdi prophesied in the Qur’an) than they do AQAP.
Just as when they were the unruly AQ affiliate in Iraq, basically at odds with the more “moderate” and scholarly Zawahiri and Bin Laden, they are obsessed with the end times prophecy from Hadith which goes like this, from my studying (extremely condensed):
- The world becomes full of war, fitna and shirk.
- The Muslim Ummah strike each others necks.
- The true believers hold up in Iraq and Al Sham.
- The anti-christ emerges and starts to take over and gain power (prophesied he will have one eye)
- There is a huge battle between the muslims and the army of the cross in Dabiq Syria (ISIS control Dabiq and paid a huge price to capture it, despite it being strategically unimportant, because they are trying to bring about the end times in a paint by numbers manner).
- 2/3 of the Muslims are wiped out, leaving a small number remaining.
- The Mahdi will be revealed and lead the Muslim forces
- Jesus (the messiah in Islamic theology) will descend from the heavens in eastern Damascus, his hair will appear as if dripping in oil, he will be wearing two yellow garments, upon seeing him the anti-christ will start to dissolve as salt in water, he will break the cross, kill the pig and abolish the Jizyah. He will establish peace on earth and live for 40 years before dying. There is a grave reserved next to Muhammed’s grave reserved for Jesus)
ISIS are clearly desperate to drag the west into putting boots on the ground, as they see it as essential to full-filling the prophecies they believe are upon us. They don’t care how many of them die as they are expecting 2/3 of all fighting muslims to die, they have been sending 2-3 men per vehicle on many suicide bombing as so many are eager to achieve shuhada as part of the force that ushers in the end times.
The most interesting part is Baghdadi is of the tribe of the prophet (quraysh) so by all standards is a valid caliph, if he can hold onto reasonable territory and rule openly, implement Hudud (sharia rullings, amputation etc), can collect and distribute zakat, all observant muslims will have to give bay’ah to him or will in essence be apostatising.
”The one who removes his hand from obedience he will meet Allah without a proof for himself’ and Whosoever dies without a bay’ah on his neck dies the death of Jahiliyyah.”
I can see IS gaining mass support over the next decade and I think our only hope of avoiding the reestablishment of the caliphate and the rise of it as a major power over the next 100 years is to avoid boots on the ground and back the Saudi’s and the Iranians and other Islamist groups against ISIS.
If we avoid entanglement there, we can in essence force the sunni regional players to take on the burden and we can merely provide arms and air strikes etc.
For anyone interested in a real understanding of IS and the “prophetic methodology” and what they really want and how they differ from other Wahhabi (think Saudi Arabia whose ideology differs rather profoundly from ISIS) and Deobandi (think Taliban and Khorsan affiliate) islamists, watch their own full length video.
They can give Qur’an and Hadith justification for everything they do, slavery, not killing Christians and jews, as they are people of the book and apply for Jizyah, genocide of polytheists, “how to treat their sex slaves” courtesy of some horrific hadiths, crucifixions, stoning, even down to pricing for meat and how to groom your beard.
They are not mindless thugs or a product of western foreign policy, they are motivated by theology and have surprising support, with polls suggesting tens of millions of muslims are sympathetic or outright supportive of them from Sudan to Saudi Arabia.
That might be a minority of 1.7 billion, but it will grow if it is seen they are fullfilling the requirements for a caliphate, especially if we play into their hands and it looks like they are bringing to life the prophecies of the hadith.