Military Review English Edition March-April 2016 - Page 24

I will give the flag to a man who loves Allah and his apostle.’ Mohammad then tells Ali, ‘Take this flag and go with it until God gives victory through you.’”40 According to Lorenzo Vidino and Seamus Hughes, many Twitter accounts of Daesh supporters display avatars of the black flag of Daesh.41 Just as the original flag was used in the days of Mohammad to rally and unify Muslims, today Daesh seeks to do the same with its version. William McCants, director of the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at the Brookings Institution, reports that when the Daesh flag was introduced in 2007, its designers said, “We ask God, praised be He, to make this flag the sole flag for all Muslims. We are certain that it will be the flag of the people of Iraq when they go to aid … the Mahdi.”42 The Caliphate Some wrongly assume the imamate [religious leadership, by succession] to be one of the pillars of faith. If it were one of the pillars of the faith … Mohammad would have appointed a representative, exactly as he had appointed Abu Bakr to represent him at prayer.43 —Ibn Khaldun The central pillar of the Daesh narrative is the idea of the new caliphate, which it announced the first day of Ramadan in June 2014.44 While not a requirement of Islam, Daesh has declared it so.45 The caliphate was never a religious duty. In fact, the Arabic word khalifa, which means successor, is used only twice in the Quran.46 In the first use, scholars doubt whether the word khalifa was intended. Some believe the word was meant to be khaliqa.47 In the other, the word khalifa is used to refer to David: “O, David, surely We have made you a succeeding [literally, a caliph] (Messenger) in the earth, so judge among mankind with the truth.”48 It is not surprising then, that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, alleging himself an Islamic scholar of Quranic phonetics, would avoid referring to these passages to justify the new caliphate or the supposed Muslim duty to pledge allegiance to the caliph. The Quran provides no justification for his claims.49 Many caliphs in Islamic history have been assassinated, with the original Abu Bakr being one of few exceptions. After serving two years, he died, and he was succeeded by Omar. Omar served ten years before he was killed, followed by Uthman, who served twelve years before he too was murdered. The fourth caliph, (Photo via Wikimedia Commons) Daesh fighters holding weapons stand with the terrorist group’s flags February 2015 in Anbar, Iraq. 22 March-April 2016  MILITARY REVIEW