Do ISIS and the newly adorned Caliph Ibrahim (formerly Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi) speak for you? If not you are probably feeling about one tenth of the horror and confusion that a British Muslim is probably feeling right now.
What has been happening in Iraq these past few weeks is nothing short of a tragedy and goes to highlight just how much bloodlust, the thirst for revenge and religion make for a strange partnership. What’s strange is just how these discourses inspire such romance in people.
Now Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS (the militia organisation fighting to create an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), has declared himself the new Caliph and has urged his fellow Muslims (Sunni Muslims mainly rather than the majority Shia in the region) to come and fight with him to establish a new Caliphate in the Middle East. To give a little context a Caliphate is a type of Islamic kingdom, with the head or Caliph (interpreted as ‘successor to Mohammed’) leading his people. The last of these ended in 1923 when the Ottoman Empire collapsed and the Middle East split in to lots of modern-style nation-states.
It will be interesting to see how many heed the call, although naturally the Western world is watching with a certain amount of paranoia. It is a great shame that paranoia is ultimately what informs the world about Islam today. Islam is mainly framed through the filter of draconian, misogynistic fanaticism due to the lack of real education for people, a lack of willingness to understand the world outside one’s own cultural world and news agendas. What is happening now is ultimately the newest example of scare story being used to strengthen long held stereotypes.
That’s not to say Islam doesn’t have its problems with misogyny, fanaticism and violence. Of course it does, as do the other Abrahamic religions this particularly example) and so different they find a way to discriminate based on racial difference and the idea of statehood. However I think if you asked the majority of any of the three religions if they want a state-based on their particular religion or creed, they would probably settle for a functioning society, something that the ISIS militia funnily have no plan for (also see the Taliban for this particular problem).
such as Christianity and Judaism. What’s most worrying are the increasingly incoherent, ill informed, people who represent a minority and claim to speak for the majority. You can find such people everywhere whether they be Jew, Christian or Muslim. The sad fact is the three religions are so similar (and at times express the same extreme outcomes, see
Most people don’t want to pick up a gun or a sword to slaughter the religiously impure. This is the 21st Century. Some do of course, and I imagine some always will, but we shouldn't go around placing guilt by association on people who are of a particular religion.
In the last year or so Islamaphobia has made a big comeback in the UK, with nonsense stories like the Subway and Pizza Express halal-panic (former being a logical step for a business located in an area with low demand for pork and the latter being so unimportant in terms of what you ended up eating that it was confusing) and people actually taking the word of someone like Anjem Choudrey seriously (watch a video of the man, whilst he is eloquent he has the reasoning of a 8 year old). Let’s not focus on these things and the bogeymen like Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and focus on the fact that British Muslims are our neighbours and organised this fantastic tea party organised by York Mosque for EDL members after the Woolwich beheading last year. Whilst some may argue that British Muslims have gone to fight in Syria and Iraq for ISIS and this is true, Mehdi Hasan points out in the New Statesman, these people make up 0.02 per cent of all 2.7 million British Muslims. So I wouldn’t panic about scare stories like the Black flag of Islam flying over Buckingham Palace just yet.
As usual the truth is never as interesting as the story.
British Muslims ultimately want to live like us and not follow cartoonish super villains like al-Baghdadi. After all, how would you feel if members of the Westboro Baptist Church organised a militia, took over 2 US States and declared themselves Kings of Jesus and said their new land represented you. You’d feel a bit sheepish right?