Penjihad's Blog

"To comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable"

What ISIS really wants. March ATLANTIC

If the author of The Atlantic Monthly article,” What ISIS Really Wants“, wanted to smear Islam and Muslims, he could not have done a better job. Picking a self-promoting Islamophobe like Bernard Haykel (“the foremost secular authority on the Islamic State’s ideology“) as his source of information helps to make naive readers believe in what Wood and Haykel wanted to promote; a deep suspicion of Islam and Muslims and that Muslims are only doing in ISIS, what they are rooted to do in faith.

If The Atlantic Monthly had done even a few basic fact-checks of this “article”, they would have found enough holes in it, to make a sieve proud. I guess the usual budget cuts, must have done away with their fact-checking department as well.

To: The Editors of The Atlantic Monthly.
Re: “What ISIS Really Wants” in their March 2015 issue.

Dear Editor,

What ISIS Really Wants”  (Graeme Wood. Atlantic, March 2015) might have been a most interesting article, but the author appears to have gotten carried away by his own theories, did anyone do fact-checks on the article?

  • The reality is that the Islamic State is Islamic. Very Islamic.”. Nothing in Islam (The Quran) allows for the slaughter, cruelty and destruction that ISIS has wrought upon people.
  • Virtually every major decision and law promulgated by the Islamic State adheres to …. following the prophecy and example of Muhammad, in punctilious detail.”. The prophet Mohammed did NOT lead his life in the manner of ISIS, there is no reliable documentation to such effect. In fact, every treatise published, shows him to be a compassionate man who forbade cruelty and destruction.
  • “The punishment for apostasy is death”. Not according to the Quran (the ONLY ruling authority in Islam), read 2:256, 4:80, 6:108, 109:1-6, 3:20, 88:21-22, 42:48, 10:99, 16:106, 5:54
  • Baghdadi permits them to live, as long as they pay a special tax, known as the jizya, and acknowledge their subjugation. The Koranic authority for this practice is not in dispute.” Jizya is a special tax on non-Muslims, largely because they do not have the obligations to the state, as do Muslims. The Quran does NOT require “Death” as punishment, is a non-Muslim fails or refuses to pay Jizya.
  • Centuries have passed since the wars of religion ceased in Europe“. I suppose, because Muslims were attacked and slaughtered by the Croats and the Serbs (Because they were Muslims) during the breakup of Yugoslavia, fails to elevate that war as a “religious war”?
  • When a masked executioner says Allahu akbar while beheading an apostate, sometimes he’s doing so for religious reasons.” Lots of badly-motivated people do lots of terrible things for religious reasons, but that should not conflate into an indictment of the faith.
  • Every academic I asked about the Islamic State’s ideology sent me to Haykel” Obviously the author failed to ask impartial academics who are also well-rounded in Islam. “He regards the claim that the Islamic State has distorted the texts of Islam as preposterous, sustainable only through willful ignorance. “People want to absolve Islam,” he said. “It’s this ‘Islam is a religion of peace’ mantra. As if there is such a thing as ‘Islam’! It’s what Muslims do, and how they interpret their texts.”. If “what people do”, that defines their faith, then there is no religion that is as humane as the original texts would have it be.
  • All Muslims acknowledge that Muhammad’s earliest conquests were not tidy affairs“. Where would one find such “All Muslims? Deliberate brutality and inhumane treatment of prisoners was condemned by the prophet Mohammed.
  • ” Koran’s ninth chapter, which instructs Muslims to fight Christians and Jews “until they pay the jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”. This is a deliberate misrepresentation of Chapter nine’s verse. The verses do not deal with Christians, but with “Idolators and only those who broke treaties with Muslims (“…fulfill their treaty to them until their term..” 9:5). The freeing of a slave is stated in the Quran, to be something that pleases God and is required as expiation of some sins.

I could go on detailing the factual “errors” by this author, but this should suffice to get you to do a full fact-check of this article and perhaps, publish some clarifications, if not retractions.

Jafar “Jeff” Siddiqui,

American Muslims of Puget Sound

Postscript: A few days later, ThinkProgress published an article (“What The Atlantic Left Out About ISIS According to Their Own Expert“) in which Bernard Haykel was interviewed to see if he did indeed, make the statements as attributed to him. It turns out that Wood left our more than he put in, creating a misleading picture of Haykel’s position.

February 18, 2015 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,


  1. Thanks Jeff for putting these ill informed Islamophobes straight though I doubt that they are any more willing to learn about facts than ISIS is.


    Comment by Qaseem Khan | February 19, 2015 | Reply

  2. He’s saying these are “misinterpretations” of the Koran by ISIS and these type of current, violent followers. He’s not saying (all) Muslims believe these things. Read it again.


    Comment by Jonathan Cruz | February 19, 2015 | Reply

    • Perhaps YOU should read it again.
      He makes statements regarding Islam, not what ISIS believes Islam to be. He clearly states the relationship between the driver Islam and the followers, ISIS. He quotes a rather Islamophobic person (Bernard Haykae) as “the foremost secular authority on ISIS” and uses Haykel’s words to take another bash at Islam. He even opens with “The reality is the Islamic State is VERY Islamic”. He deliberately misinterprets verses in the Ninth Chapter of the Quran.

      No reasonable person could miss the FACT that Wood is intensely Islamophobic and bent on spreading the fever, Truth, being only a bump on the road for him.


      Comment by penjihad | February 19, 2015 | Reply

  3. Open yourself up to love instead of hate and paranoia! I’m sorry you feel you have to live in a world that you see everything is stacked against you.


    Comment by Jonathan Cruz | February 20, 2015 | Reply

    • I could not agree more, we all need to work with each other based on trust and love, not fear, hate and resentment.

      Talking about Wood’s article is hardly paranoia. Paranoia would imply that Wood is saying one thing and we are understanding something else. Paranoia would suggest we are seeing Wood as hostile when he is actually being sympathetic. Unfortunately, if one just reads the article with a degree of comprehension, it is very clear that Wood is saying Islam is ISIS and ISIS is Islami…and wood generously provides lots of examples to suport this thesis of his…all of which are misleading or outright false.

      Wood’s article will not generate any love towards Muslims and Islam in America, it will simply fuel the false sense of hate and paranoia that is growing with such rapidity (thanks to people like him).


      Comment by penjihad | February 20, 2015 | Reply

    • A good article indeed. Here is an excerpt:
      What about Gen. Stanley McChrystal, architect of the US killing machine in Iraq, who brought his counterinsurgency strategy to ISAF headquarters in Afghanistan? According to an army officer who was McChrystal’s roommate at West Point, “He was someone who saw this global ‘Caliphate’ as a tremendous enemy, and kept beating the drum for that.” The officer continued: “Boykin and Cambone and McChrystal were fellow travelers in the great crusade against Islam,” naming two Pentagon intelligence bigwigs in addition to the general. “They ran what was for all practical purposes an assassination campaign.” (See Jeremy Scahill, Dirty Wars, pp. 109-10.) And what did we gain by stacking up the corpses of al Qaeda commanders in Iraq? In a word, ISIS:

      Worth reading. Thank you for the suggestion.


      Comment by penjihad | February 28, 2015 | Reply

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