Islamic Empire or Insane Empire? (RELS 348)

An empire can be defined as an extensive group of states or countries under a single supreme authority, formerly especially an emperor or empress (Google, 2015). These supreme authorities have existed for thousands of years across all the corners of the world. Different empires throughout history have stood for many different beliefs, both good and evil. However, some empires are far more bloodthirsty and savage than others. Krista R. Burdine’s article “Who is ISIS (aka ISIL) and why you should care?” World Religion News, June 24 2014, describes an empire that is relevant today and presently continuing to thrive. This empire is a jihadist group labeled The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, otherwise known as ISIS. Burdine does a great job of briefly yet sufficiently outlining the pertinent information about ISIS in this article. The article is broken into sections summarizing the following points: who leads ISIS, how ISIS rose to power, what motivates ISIS, how ISIS used twitter to get attention, where they get their funding, and the prospective future of ISIS. Burdine believes that “if ISIS cannot maintain the confidence of the networks, social media, and resident Sunnis, then its influence could crumble.” This leads the reader to think that perhaps the best way to defeat ISIS would be to simply give them less attention. Burdine is quick to shut down that notion by saying “History shows that ignoring troublesome problems does not make them go away, and sometimes they grow too large to disarm.”

Although I was unable to find any direct correlation between Burdine’s article and Kris Manjapra’s book “M.N. Roy: Marxism and Colonial Cosmopolitanism”, it is noteworthy to compare and contrast the manipulative methods that both Roy and ISIS have used to influence and control their followers. While Roy is communist and ISIS is more rebellious and savage, they both found ways to gather support for radical and revolutionary ideas.

After reading Burdine’s article I agree with her in that we should all know who ISIS is now that they have achieved a recent rise to power in Iraq. Where I disagree with Burdine in this article is her loose use of the term “Islamic Empire”. To refer to ISIS as a growing Islamic Empire in such a casual manner is inaccurate and offensive. ISIS is a growing empire advocating intolerance and violence. Yes, ISIS deems themselves to be orthodox Islamists but as a Muslim myself, I can say that the actions and viewpoints of ISIS are far from what Islam truly stands for. Islam is a peaceful religion that has been twisted and warped by ISIS into something much different than what it really is. That is why ISIS should not be termed as an Islamic Empire.




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