The 15th and latest issue of Dabiq, the “magazine” of the Islamic State (ISIS – Daech) is instructive and even “interesting.” The use of these words could shock that’s why I immediately tell you that this is just from the unbiased standpoint of an analyst – in full objectivity. Indeed, the strategic mistake of Western governments in their “war” against ISIS appears to me as resulting to a large extent from their inability to understand that in the absence of a definitive vision and central authority of Islam, ISIS offers an interpretation that is not necessarily deprived from all credibility as it concerns such a vast, complex and decentralized theological and ideological stream.
In operational as in ideological matters, ISIS does what it says. Because of a certain so Western pretentiousness, it seems that governments don’t want to realize that the strength of ISIS notably lies in this concretization that consists of turning words into acts, hence the extreme importance of taking its threats – and each word it broadcasts – very seriously. In this special “Christianity” issue of Dabiq, one notes the vast and scholarly theological knowledge of ISIS. I stress on the fact that making such a remark doesn’t mean I agree in any fashion with the interpretation made by ISIS, however I believe it’s important to point out that such an erudition does contribute to convince a number of individuals of a certain “legitimacy” on behalf of ISIS as for the achievement of “Jihad.”
First of all, ISIS has managed to observe precisely the different streams which animate Christianity and especially Catholicism. By explaining that Pope Benedict XVI, of course an “unbeliever”, is closer to the truth than his successor Pope Francis who’s “hiding behind a deceptive veil of good will,” ISIS proves it has well grasped the rising tension that is shaking the relationship between the Vatican and its faithful. The strong reactions caused by the latest statements by Pope Francis about Islam have shown how much Christians want peace but also feel increasingly exasperated by Holy Father’s lack of realism. Then, ISIS reminds that Islam is warrior and will continue to spread by the sword in accordance with History certainly watered-down in the West but well learned like this elsewhere in the world.
Lastly, ISIS points out with real analytical skills what distinguishes Islam from Christianity. One can of course offers a wholly different interpretation but it’s noticeable to see that it’s much more Christianity that defends its proximity with Islam than the vice-versa. Like ISIS, it’d be much difficult to find any non-Western Muslim scholar who’d dare to validate the comparisons awkwardly disseminated by the Catholic Church. It is precisely because he is somewhat blind in face of the world’s reality, blissful in his Western and liberal assurance of universal peace, that the “Christian pagan” is rather well described by ISIS.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not validating the idea that the Christian is a pagan, I am explaining the words of ISIS have a certain resonance because they stick in part to reality as we don’t want to see it in the West. It’s not up to me to assess the theological validity of ISIS as for Islam, but as far as it concerns Christianity – I am a Catholic myself – its description of what it allows – liberal values, Liberté among other things – is as exact as the section about “crimes against Islam” seems inexact to me. If there are of course other non-warrior and pietist interpretations of “Jihad”, this is well this multiplicity that gives to that of ISIS significance at least as important as those which oppose it. As a consequence, both the Vatican and Christians must draw conclusions based on both respect of Faith in view of Hope and also on temporal realism of which the current serious lack could prove very damaging eventually.