There has been a recent push for the renaming of the terrorist group ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, amongst Muslims in Egypt. An institute for the study of Islamic law called Dar al-Iftaal Misriyyah launched an online campaign Aug. 21 urging the public to refer to ISIL as “al-Qaeda Separatists in Iraq and Syria,” or QSIS, instead of the “Islamic state.”
The campaign for the name change is run mostly online through the launching of the Facebook page “Call it Qa’ida Separatists not Islamic State.” The page read,“This page aims at clarifying the tarnished image of Islam across the globe due to the terrorist group’s horrendous act of attaching the name of Islam to their appalling acts which could not be justified under any religion or creed.”
ISIS is a jihadist group stemming from al-Qaeda, but it has since been cut off from its parent organization. The group has quickly become infamous for the mass slaughter of both Christian and Yazidi people in Mosul. The recent viral video of the beheading of American journalist James Foley by ISIS on Aug. 20 has directed substantial media attention toward the group.
Troy Gibson, The University of Southern Mississippi associate professor of political science, said that ISIL is an entirely different monster, motivated to action by a deep and chilling sense of self-righteousness unlike any terrorist organizations we have seen before.
“While many scholars consider Hamas and even al-Qaeda at least partially driven by ideology, power and other secular factors, ISIL seems to be driven primarily by religious conviction,” Gibson said. “That is critical because it would mean that ISIL is less likely to respond to more conventional threats and actions imposed upon it from the rest of the world.”
Muhamad “Mike” Buti, president of the Islamic Center in Hattiesburg, disagrees with the violent philosophy of ISIL and said that the actions of the rebels do not represent every Muslim’s interpretation of Qu’ran.
“Jihad does not mean to carry guns and shoot,” Buti said. “For me, leaving home, coming to work – this is what we call a Jihad. It means ‘struggle for living.’”
“In every religion there is a radical,” he said. “The same way in Islam. But really the word, Islam – it means surrender. Surrender to God and accept his gift, which is life. It’s really easy, really. But sometimes we step out and make it more (complicated) than we’re supposed to.”