Extremism in the Middle East: Considering ISIS and its Worldview

As described by The Independent on Jun 16, 2014 (http://ind.pn/1qmFzvN), ISIS – the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – has been gaining notoriety at a disquieting rate, in particular since Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi took over leadership in 2010.

In more recent news, the extremist group has been sharing videos containing the gruesome beheadings of innocent western journalists. As one would expect, the states that have been targeted by these acts have decided to respond aggressively and immediately through military force.

When considering terrorist organizations and the heinous methods through which they operate, it becomes easy for most people to dismiss them as merely irrational, psychotic, and evil. Such a response, however, while no doubt understandable, is ill informed as to the true motives that drive such groups.

What we must consider when looking at groups such as ISIS is their worldview: the lens, if you will, through which they see the world. Just as we in the west dismiss them as evil, as is consistent with our worldview, so too do terrorist groups dismiss us as wrongdoers. Indeed, as far as they are concerned, the crimes they commit are often entirely justified in accordance with their beliefs. Why else would a person be willing to take his or her own life in a final act of religious devotion?

Now, the notion of differing lenses through which all people see the world may seem absurd, especially when we consider the way in which such a notion appears to make it so that no one is wrong in their actions. However, there are certain guidelines that allow for the world to collectively decide what is and what is not acceptable. For instance, the unseemly methods of ISIS surely are not justified when the greater Islamic population of the world disagrees with the things that they are doing. And furthermore, when the entire rest of the world, too, agrees that ISIS should be condemned for its actions, we begin to see that, despite the extremist group’s own belief that what they are doing is just, their worldview is, if nothing else, too radical to be deemed acceptable.

By and large, it would seem that even for westerners who are so far removed from the reality of the people who make up ISIS, sympathy and understanding for the cause of the extremists can, to some small extent, be expressed. But despite this, terrorism is undoubtedly something that has no place in our world. Worldviews may shape the way in which we see and interact with the world, but they do not justify all of our actions by any means. And in the case of ISIS, their worldview has been deemed by most as too radical and too unforgiving to be accepted.

Author: M. E.

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