The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIS or ISIL, is an anachronism to those who believe in human progress. It is a throwback to the sixth and seventh centuries, a time when Darul Islam (the House of Islam) was the greatest civilization on earth, outside China. It seeks to resume the “holy wars” of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, when Crusaders and Jihadists fought for control of the Holy Land (now Israel and the Palestinian territories). It is a continuation of a centuries-old Muslim civil war between Sunnis and Shiites. Though friends and foes alike search through the Koran in an attempt to make sense out of it, ISIS is best described by a Roman philosopher who lived seven centuries before Mohammed, Lucretius, who in De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things) spelled out the reason behind ISIS and so many like it: “to so many evils religion has persuaded men.”
That the Islamic State does great evil in the name of religion there is no doubt. That it uses its power to promote its prejudices is equally evident. Its goal is world domination. On June 29, 2014 ISIS proclaimed itself to be a worldwide caliphate and named its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as caliph, the first person to hold that title since the fall of the Ottoman Empire (1922).
ISIS claims religious, political and military authority over all Muslims everywhere; adding that “the legality of all emirates, groups, states and organizations becomes null by the expansion of the caliphate’s authority and arrival of its troops to their areas.” It took advantage of the Syrian civil war and the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq to seize territory in Syria and Iraq. ISIS also gained the allegiance of the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram and of western sympathizers who traveled to the Middle East to join the cause.
The Islamic State uses modern technology and social media to promote its medieval goals. It carries Muslim ideology to an extreme and threatens dire consequences to those it considers to be apostates or infidels; in other words, the vast majority of the human race. Among ISIS’s crimes against humanity are its violent persecution of religious and ethnic minorities - Jews, Christians, Kurds, Assyrians, Yazidis; its mistreatment of women; its beheading of western journalists and aid workers; and its destruction of historical and cultural artifacts, most notably the bulldozing of the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud.
Not surprisingly, LGBT people are part of the Islamic State’s ever-increasing enemies list. ISIS believes homosexuals are a danger to the public, the “worst of all creatures” on par with pedophiles. When ISIS recently threatened the city of Rome (the “Crusader capital”) with conquest and the establishment of Shariah law there, it added that it will “use your leaning tower of pizza [sic] to throw off homosexuals.” Not since the Roman gladiatorial games have executions been such crowd pleasers.
Though ISIS has used the religiously-sanctioned method of stoning, it prefers to throw “gay” men to their dooms from a roof or a tower, often for the entertainment of their supporters. At times the public execution of “gay” men is accompanied by the deaths of other so-called criminals, such as adulterous women who are stoned or thieves who are crucified. One man, who was thrown from the top of a seven-story building, survived the fall, only to be stoned to death by the ISIS-inspired mob. Like other media, I use the word “gay” in italics, since it might not be correct to use such a “western” word to describe same-sex loving men who live in Darul Islam and other non-western cultures. There is also the possibility that some of the victims are heterosexual; and that ISIS used their alleged homosexuality as an excuse to execute them.
Lucretius was right. Though religion can inspire good, it can also lead to great evil. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant subverts Islam to promote its hatred and lust for power. Not since the Nazi Party is a group of humans as universally or as deservingly hated as is ISIS. Their rise to power is proof that, in spite of our advances in technology, our species is as morally lacking today as we were thousands of years ago, when Jesus and Mohammed and Buddha walked the earth.