How Islamic is Islamic State group? Not very, experts say

They are among tens of thousands of Muslims eager to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State group. An estimated 20,000 have streamed into the territory in Iraq and Syria where the group has proclaimed what it calls a “caliphate” ruled by its often brutal version of Islamic law.

But how rooted in Islam is the ideology embraced by this group that has inspired so many to fight and die?

President Barack Obama has insisted the militants behind a brutal campaign of beheadings, kidnappings and enslavement are “not Islamic” and only use a veneer of Islam for their own ends. Obama’s critics argue the extremists are intrinsically linked to Islam. Others insist their ideology has little connection to religion.

The group itself has assumed the mantle of Islam’s earliest years, purporting to recreate the conquests and rule of the Prophet Muhammad and his successors. But in reality its ideology is a virulent vision all its own, one that its adherents have created by plucking selections from centuries of traditions.

The vast majority of Muslim clerics say the group cherry picks what it wants from Islam’s holy book, the Quran, and from accounts of Muhammad’s actions and sayings, known as the Hadith. It then misinterprets many of these, while ignoring everything in the texts that contradicts those hand-picked selections, these experts say…

  • luna

    Islam is polarizing.

    • Justin St.Denis

      D’ya think?

  • Martin B

    These experts are charlatans.

    • winniec

      The author of the article misunderstand the tricky nuances of the university profs who gave their ‘opinions’…in Islam, only FATWAS from the top scholars carry any weight. Al Azhar has the TOP SCHOLARS OF ISLAM and they teach THE TRUTH.

      • Linda1000

        What about the Ayatollahs in Qom, Iran who think they are the authority on Islamic doctrine? Of course, Shia are the minority so maybe they are not recognized like Al Azhar.

    • Justin St.Denis

      Of course these experts are charlatans. Any “expert” on the subject of islam has essentially specialized in the study of charlatanism. Because the islamic prophet Mohammad himself was a charlatan, and his documented ramblings are just that – the ramblings of a charlatan.

  • David Kay

    To my knowledge, on two separate occasions recently, Al-Azhar University in Cairo (highest Sunni authority) has affirmed that IS is Muslim (though not necessarily fully happy with their behavior).

    • luna

      No one can deny that Islamic state is Islamic.

      • Minicapt

        Nor is it too Islamic.


    • mobuyus

      I think Al-Azhar is jealous of isis.

    • winniec

      They affirm the same doctrines.

  • Minicapt

    Thus the vast majority of Muslim clerics are in agreement with Obambi?


  • Alain

    So then according to claims of these “experts” Saudi Arabia would not be Islamic.

    • Frau Katze

      Something like that, I suppose.

      • tom_billesley

        IS would agree

  • winniec

    Whoever wrote this article (religion writer Rachel Zoll) is a novice at Islam and has got much of this wrong. She doesn’t seem to know that the centre of gravity in Islam is Al Azhar University in Cairo. Al Azhar is authoritative and defines Islam…not some university prof, no matter how learned. They do not speak for Islam. Al Azhar does.

    This article tries to have it both ways: while ISIS agrees with Al Azhar on doctrines, a supposed ‘vast majority’ of Islam disagrees! POPPYCOCK THEY DO! Muslims just aren’t likely to contradict Ahmed el-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University which is Islam’s version of the Vatican.

    Zoll writes, “And while moderate clerics counter the Islamic State group’s interpretation point-by-point, at times they accept the same tenets. Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb — the grand imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar, one of Sunni Islam’s most prestigious seats of learning — denounced the burning of the Jordanian pilot as a violation of Islam. But then he called for the perpetrators to be subjected to the same punishment that IS prescribes for those who “wage war on Islam” — crucifixion, death or the amputation of hands and legs.”

    There is no other ‘vast majority’. ISIS teaches EXACTLY the same doctrines as the Grand Imam does! Rachel Zoll needs to learn that.

    Her article is based on the highly nuanced explanations of academics that went WAY over her head.

    Rachel Zoll got many details right, but the conclusions are all wrong.

  • Xavier

    It doesn’t matter. The question is, will “moderate” Moslems in the West resist ISIS or join it when the time comes?

    That’s a rhetorical question, by the way.

    • Justin St.Denis

      File under “Rhetorical Fun”.

  • Tokenn

    In order to deny the various inhumane aspects of Islamic belief, you have to cherry-pick like crazy. For me, the bottom line is what life is like in Muslim countries. Not looking so good, eh?