…We need to change the name. We need to stop calling it the Islamic State and move toward something else. We need to do this because these are not the actions that Islam would allow. By holding onto the name of Islamic State, any actions against ISIL could be considered a religious action against Islam.
Da’ish — or DAESH — has been proposed by some, is an acronym from the Arabic name. Daesh is a particularly problematic name because it apparently has derogatory connotations. It is similar to the Arabic word “Daes” which means “one who crushes underfoot,” or Dahes “one who sows discord.” Not ideal names, to be sure, but certainly more accurate than Islamic State.
It might seem like a pedantic quibble, that it doesn’t really matter what name we give to something, what matters is what the thing actually is. I think this is wrong; the names we give to things shape how we respond to them. By legitimating the activity of extremists through giving them a name that represents a religion and purports to declare itself as a governing body, we allow ourselves the possibility of shirking the responsibility of working toward ending these atrocities…
Aaron Massecar is a Guelph resident, educator and author.