The Islamic militia known as ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) has made headlines around the globe in recent months, most notably for terrorizing and destabilizing the countries of Iraq and Syria. This is nothing new for this region, ISIL itself was once called al-Qaeda in Iraq but now they have regained power and rule under a new flag and a new mantra: Khilafah.
Since August, the news media has spun this over and over again on its 24 hour axis prompting both sides of the aisle to blame each other for this reborn, ultra-extremist Islamic group, as if further divide in Washington was needed. By now, the media and the rhetoric out of Washington has made us pick sides, and whether you blame U.S. involvement that stems from the 80s or after 9/11 or rather you blame neighboring Islamic nations of turning a blind eye, ISIL is here and expanding rapidly as you read this. But, should Western powers again get involved? Is a more comprehensive coalition – one that includes both Western and Middle Eastern nations –with a socio-economic reconstruction plan needed? Maybe. Maybe not. But what the news media has failed to reveal or discuss I will fill you in on: single-ism, the cause of one too many issues in our modern world.
Single-ism may not be an actual –ism but that doesn’t stop it from being something to talk about. I’ll define single-ism as the lifestyle of anyone who is not in any type of relationship with a significant other. Sure, that includes a vast majority of individuals in the world, but the issue arises when select individuals have a deep feeling of loneliness and apathy towards the world. Essentially, the behavior associated with single-ism is when one feels he has no purpose in life. This is a centuries-old, human thought but in modern times, we live in a fast paced, highly social, and interconnected world where knowledge is endless on the Internet and social media tells single people that their life should have a meaning. Technology has brought us together, made us want to feel connected constantly, and to feel the need to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. Cue Islamic extremism.
Social media tells single people that their life should have a meaning.
Yes, single-ism can be blamed for ISIL. Sure, there are other factors at play here but where’s single-ism’s story on the 6 o’clock news? Undoubtedly, ISIL is comprised of nearly all men, but more importantly the majority are young and single. These are the individuals who should be getting an education and a well-paying job to hold intact the economic infrastructure of their countries. Instead, Iraq and Syria are war-torn nations with no leadership and little to no well paying jobs. Why be a poor doctor in Iraq when you can be a part of a group that stands to conquer the world? Sure, blame religion for its vitriolic passages and brainwashing but that hasn’t stopped Westerners from joining the cause. Thousands of individuals in France, Germany and England support ISIL. The U.S., itself, has seen its fair share of individuals join the fight for ISIL. These Westerners weren’t raised in an Islamic country or education system. Yes, perhaps their lifestyle and culture was Muslim. But, there is a mutual need amongst these individuals to feel a part of something bigger than themselves.
Don’t believe me? Just listen to what CBS Foreign News correspondent Clarissa Ward has to say about an Australian man who joined ISIL: “The way he talks, the rhetoric he uses…is reminiscent of, okay, if he had grown up in South Central he would have joined a gang.” She goes on: “Maybe this fills a similar space that gangs can fill in the sense of a spirit of fraternity, a sense of belonging… of purpose.”
See below for the full Clarissa Ward interview on Charlie Rose alongside Tim Arango, another foreign correspondent:
Single-ism is an issue that is causing various problems across the globe. This sense of worthlessness inspires young people to act rash and join dangerous movements. ISIL is no different than a gang. It attracts individuals the same way and entraps them indefinitely. Unfortunately, modern culture has convinced the youth that being a part of any group is better than being a part of none.
ISIL’s True Intentions
Khalifah. Yes, this purpose-driven, bloodthirsty group has declared a modern-day caliphate. For those without a history book by their side, a caliphate is a supreme leader of an Islamic state, the last recognized one was in 1922 before the Ottoman Empire was dissolved. But according to ISIL the new caliph is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. This in and of itself indicates that a new Islamic state shall exist and one doesn’t need to look much farther than the name ISIL to understand what this state will be.
ISIL stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The Western media, however, tends to refer to them incorrectly as ISIS (it must sound catchier). Another reason for this misrepresentation might also be that the Levant is an old geographical term unfamiliar to many; but, in terms of having a declaration of a caliph this specific detail shouldn’t go unmentioned. The White House, however, seems to have found a geography book lying around because they are the only ones referring to them as ISIL.
This is about land. This is about power.
The Levant is a region in the Middle East that comprises the present-day countries of Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria and a southern portion of Turkey. One will notice Iraq is not included on that list which is why the second “I” in ISIL refers to Iraq since it is not part of the Levant. A lot can be made from a name. This is what the new Islamic State will be according to ISIL. Yes, Israel will be a part of it. So, it’s no wonder the U.S. is a little concerned about such a ruthless, terrorist group that currently controls many cities in Syria and Iraq.
Now, let’s look at some ISIL rhetoric to better understand their motives. Like any great social movement, some literature is needed to promulgate its intentions. Cue ISIL’s magazine Dabiq.
The word Dabiq actually refers to a town in northern Syria with significant importance in the Quran. According to a Hadith, Mohammed said: “The Final Hour will not be established until the Romans land at either al-A’maq or at Dabiq. Then an army from al-Madinah of the best people on the earth at that time will leave for them.” Yes, this is the apocalyptic verse similar to the book of Revelation in the Bible.
In the first addition of this magazine, Mr. al-Baghdadi openly declares:
“O Ummah of Islam, indeed the world today has been divided into two camps and two trenches, with no third camp present:
The camp of Islam and faith, and the camp of kufr (disbelief) and hypocrisy – the camp of the Muslims and the mujahidin everywhere, and the camp of the jews, the crusaders, their allies, and with them the rest of the nations and religions of kufr, all being led by America and Russia, and being mobilized by the jews.” (Issue 1, pg. 10)
In essence, the Romans (non-Muslims) have landed at Dabiq and all Muslims must stand and fight this “other camp.” He goes on: “We make a special call to the scholars…judges…people with military, administrative, and service expertise…medical doctors and engineers…We call them and remind them to fear Allah…The State is a State for all Muslims…So fear Allah, O slaves of Allah.”
(The full English version of Issue 1 of Dabiq can be found here.)
This is about land. This is about power. This is about ISIL being a gang within Islam. Unfortunately however, too many disenfranchised singles want to be responsible for dividing this world even further, simply to be remembered in this modern era of instant forgetfulness.