Military Review English Edition March-April 2016 - Page 26

ruling, many soldiers were still unsure if they might go to hell for their actions. Today, more than half the world’s Muslims believe they will live to see the return of the Mahdi.67 Defeating Daesh Interpreting a single word to include the numerous, non-contradictory meanings that it can carry is without a doubt the correct approach here.68 —Article in Dabiq magazine Words and ideas are the most effective weapons of Daesh. It uses them to recruit and to spread its message in the domain of deen, where it enjoys freedom of movement. Therefore, this article gives several recommendations for countering Daesh, not with physical weapons, but with words and ideas, which we could use more effectively than any physical weapon. To start, we should refer to the “Islamic State” as Daesh. This simple word expresses the organization’s true identity, as a group of brutal blasphemers who bastardize Islam. We should refer to Daesh’s leader not by the name he prefers, but by the name he deserves: ad Dajjal.69 This name represents an evil figure Muslims fear will one day appear as a false messenger. Next, our messaging should expose the abundance of religious fraud in Daesh’s jihadist propaganda, most of which justifies fighting based on religious authorities. Raising doubts about tenuous religious rationales might dissuade potential recruits who want to adhere to their holy scriptures. Daesh’s propaganda frequently mentions jihad—the report by the Centre on Religion and Geopolitics found jihad mentioned in 71 percent of the propaganda studied.70 However, like the Saudi troops who hesitated in 1979, potential Daesh recruits and current Daesh members might think twice if they knew the sura on which they rely for authority to wage jihad is missing God’s invocation, and if they thought they might be sent to hell instead of paradise for their actions.71 We should call their attention to the fact that the ninth sura is the only sura missing the bismillah. A Quranic reference that does not help Daesh, and one they have taken pains to avoid, is the express prohibition on suicide, or intihar.72 Again illustrating how words matter, Daesh avoids the word intihar to describe suicide missions, 24 and instead it uses the term inghamaasi, roughly translated as “to submerge, or to go deep into something.”73 Narratives focusing on the Quran’s explicit prohibition of intihar, along with the omission of the bismillah in the ninth sura, are powerful refutations that should be used to counter the Daesh narrative. Islamic history should also be used to undercut the Daesh narrative that says infidels should be killed. In fact, the family of Mohammad’s first wife Khadija were Christian, and some refused to convert.74 Even Mohammad’s uncle and great protector Abu Talib refused to convert to Islam, despite his great love and affection for his nephew.75 However, none of them were killed for their refusal to convert to Islam. Additionally, the positive treatment of Christians at the time of Caliph Mansur, Harun’s grandfather, is exemplified by Mansur’s relationship with his Christian doctor, Georgius Bakhtishua. Mansur revered Bakhtishua, naming him the new founder of Baghdad’s medical school, and he and his family were allowed to practice their religion “for more than 300 years.”76 Nasheeds (or anashid) should be used to counter Daesh, as they are extremely effective in recruiting. In 2011, a shooter who killed U.S. military personnel at the Frankfurt airport was listening to a nasheed on his way to the airport, and at his trial said, “It made me really angry,” referring to the lyrics of the nasheed.77 Nasheeds could be just as effective in turning people away from Daesh. Bombs and bullets alone cannot defeat Daesh. To defeat these terrorists, we must engage them in the domain of deen where they maintain freedom of movement, and we must counter words with words. We need to use the same weapons, including knowledge of Islam, Islamic history, and language, to defeat them. Unfortunately, U.S. soldiers are seldom, if ever, instructed on the proper use of these weapons, and until they are, Daesh will continue to dominate the domain of deen—its primary source of power. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not represent the views of the Department of Defense, U.S. Special Operations Command, or the U.S. Army. The author gratefully acknowledges Col. Gene Del Bianco, U.S. Army Reserve, for providing feedback during the development of this manuscript. March-April 2016  MILITARY REVIEW