An 'uncomfortable' truth: Islamic State is … Islamic

An 'uncomfortable' truth: Islamic State is … Islamic June 2, 2016

Professor Aaqil Ahmed, above, the first Muslim to hold the post of the BBC’s Head of Religion and Ethics, said that people should admit the ‘uncomfortable’ truth that Islamic State is made up of Muslims and their doctrine is Islamic.
Speaking to students at an event curated by Lapido, the centre for religious literacy in journalism at Huddersfield University, Ahmed said it was wrong to suggest the terrorist group:

Has nothing to do with Islam.

He also responded to criticism of the BBC’s use of the term “so-called Islamic State” in its programming since last year.

I hear so many people say Isis has nothing to do with Islam — of course it has. They are not preaching Judaism. It might be wrong but what they are saying is an ideology based on some form of Islamic doctrine.

He continued:

They [Islamic State] are Muslims. That is a fact and we have to get our head around some very uncomfortable things. That is where the difficulty comes in for many journalists, because the vast majority of Muslims won’t agree with them.

In January during an interview on Radio 4, David Cameron criticised the BBC’s use of the term “Islamic State” and said Muslim families “hold their heads in despair” when they hear it.
He was speaking after a coalition of imams and organisations representing British Muslims said it wanted everyone from the Prime Minister down to stop referring to the Islamic State as Islamic State.
They demanded that politicians and the media start referring to the Muslim terror group as the “Un-Islamic State”
In a letter sent to Cameron they said:

We do not believe the terror group responsible should be given the credence and standing they seek by styling themselves Islamic State. It is neither Islamic, nor is it a state

Afterwards, Cameron clashed with BBC Radio 4 presenter John Humphrys over the issue. He said:

I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State because it’s not an Islamic state. What it is, is an appalling, barbarous regime … It’s a perversion of the religion of Islam and many Muslims listening to this programme will recoil every time they hear the words Islamic State.

The naming of the terrorist group has been fraught with difficulties for broadcasters, particularly as the replacement name “Daesh” is taken to be derogatory by many Muslims.
Last month Ahmed accused the BBC of neglecting Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs in its religious programming and catering primarily for Christians.
Muslim critics of the corporation have previously suggested that Friday prayers should be televised and there should be more coverage of Eid festival.
Ahmed joined the BBC from Channel 4 in 2009 and commissioned the award winning documentaries Inside The Mind Of A Suicide Bomber and The Qur’an.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn

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  • Angela_K

    Oh dear Mr Ahmed, stand by for a fatwa because you have the courage to tell the truth. The BBC’s post of “religion and ethics”is laughable as the two are usually mutually exclusive.

  • David Anderson

    “I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State because it’s not an Islamic state. What it is, is an appalling, barbarous regime …”
    Okey dokey Cameron, tell us which Islamic State is not barbaric.

  • Grunt

    It’s not a regime either…..appalling yes … But not a regime. It’s a fucking troop of murderous shitehawk guttersnipe islamic fundamentalists.

  • Grunt

    Here are a few extracts from the article related to this story … My comments in CAPs
    THE ISLAMIC State are Muslims and their doctrine is Islamic, the BBC’s Head of Religion, told a Lapido event last Wednesday (25 May). CORRECT
    Ahmed said: ‘I hear so many people say ISIS has nothing to do with Islam – of course it has. CORRECT
    ‘They are not preaching Judaism. It might be wrong but what they are saying is an ideology based on some form of Islamic doctrine. They are Muslims. CORRECT
    Veteran journalist Paul Vallely, former Associate Editor of the Independent who chaired the panel agreed, saying ‘Religion is not on the way out, it is on the way in – in a big way.’
    Dr Afshin Shahi, an Iranian-background scholar and founder of Britain’s first Centre for the Study of Political Islam – at Bradford University – said the number of people who counted themselves as having faith was increasing. WRONG.
    ‘Religion is here to stay. It has political and social consequences and that is why our journalists have to understand it.’ WRONG – YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND THE POLITICAL AMBITIONS OF THE DRIVING FORCES AND THE FUNDING CONDUIT FROM CERTAIN OIL RICH COUNTRIES IN THE SAND PIT OF THE MID EAST.
    He said reducing the beliefs of 1.2 billion Muslims to a very strict definition was ‘one of the greatest dangers we face when it comes to understanding Islam’. WRONG – THATS EXACTLY RIGHT. ISLAM RENDERS DEADBEATS OPEN TO THE INFLUENCE OF THE POLITICAL DRIVING FORCES.
    ‘I think the book is very factually rich. It could function as a very good frame of reference. Even as someone who has done years and years of research I did find some interesting facts that I did not know myself.’ SOME SCHOLAR IF A BOOK described by Ahmed (BBC) AS ‘a great entry-level read.’

  • Steve

    Isn’t it interesting that the BBC insist on putting ethics and religion together. If they role is both ethics AND religion, there’s no chance it could be filled by someone nonreligious.

  • Newspaniard

    BBC’s Head of Religion and Ethics. WTF? British Broadcasting Corporation who broadcasts “Thought for the day” which automatically excludes those of no faith and yet they have appointed a man from a religious organization which is sworn to destroy our democracy. Which group of PC tw@ts is currently running the BBC with salaries far outweighing their intelligence levels and certainly very questionable loyalty?

  • It is disrespectful to not call a person or a group by the name they give themselves. Simple, really.

  • Newspaniard

    @Trevor Blake. I do hope that you are being ironic. Their is nothing to respect with the followers of the terrible islamic death cult.

  • barriejohn

    Newspaniard: It was irony!
    And how about THIS piece of news?
    A manual used by imams to teach prison inmates about Islam risks “turning people into jihadis”, a cleric says.
    Sheikh Musa Admani told the BBC the Tarbiyah programme, used in English and Welsh prisons since 2011, could turn people towards violence and should be withdrawn.
    A section of the programme is on jihad, and it says taking up arms to fight “evil” is “one of the noblest acts”.
    The Ministry of Justice will investigate issues raised by the BBC.
    The BBC understands that the Tarbiyah programme was co-written by a number of imams and Ahtsham Ali, a prisons adviser to the Ministry of Justice.
    Mr Ali declined to comment.
    Another teaching course was withdrawn by the department last year because it was based on texts written by extremists.

    Once again, religion gets a free pass because it is *bound to be* a positive influence!

  • AgentCormac

    Well, I guess saying out loud and in public what the rest of us have known from the start is in itself a start – these bastards who throw people off buildings, bury them alive, burn them alive in cages and commit countless other acts of barbaric inhumainty and destruction are driven to do so by their religion. So well done to Professor Aaqil Ahmed for speaking out. I suppose.
    However, I would just love to understand how David Cameron knows that muslim families ‘hold their heads in despair’ when they hear the BBC use of the term ‘Islamic State’. When, exactly, do we think was the last time David Cameron sat down with a muslim family and asked them to explain what they think of this egregious, Saudi-bankrolled army and the nomenclature the BBC has ascribed to it? That’ll be right – never. Wishful thinking as ever by a man who has declared himself ‘an evangelical about his christian faith’ and has criticised the likes of ourselves for ‘failing to grasp the role that religion can have in helping people to have a moral code’. Yeah, right Dave – finger on the pulse as usual. What a tosser.

  • John

    It is possible – indeed far more likely – for someone to possess ethics without religion.
    Such a shame the BBC is too stupid to understand that very simple principle.

  • RussellW

    Of course the Islamic state is Islamic. Anyone who doubts that simple fact should read the early history of the murderous desert bandit ,Mohammed.

  • John the Drunkard

    How dare they call the Third Reich ‘Nazi Germany?’ Just because it’s run by Nazis, and consists entirely of Germans, and identifies itself completely with deranged notions of a ‘german’ race…
    Families all over Argentina and Chile hold their heads…

  • paul

    Sam Harris has been voicing this for some years now. And he gets regularly vilified of course. The twin towers pilots and murderers were doing it for Islam they were deeply religious and held Islamic ideals. As was Bin Laden, the Taliban, the French attackers of Charlie Hebdo and last years Paris attacks, as were the Tibe and Bus bombers here on 7/7. As do all suicide bombers in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. To simply call them terrorists is infantile peurile and simply wrong. Is this not unlike the issue of referring to Nazis as being some kind of race devoid from Germans. What they all profress is deep religious Islamic faith when they carry out these atrocities. That is why they do this: they all state as much.
    It is what it is.

  • Badger

    How about “Ethics or Religion”

  • Har Davids

    Why use “Un-Islamic State” if “Un-Jewish State” or “Un-Christian State” are available as well?

  • L.Long

    As anyone who is a singular unit will act nice to others it is a fact that these same ‘nice’ people are not that nice when in a group of more then 1. This is true for ANY DOGMA! as ALL DOGMA is evil. I met many ‘nice’ xtians in NC, but these nice people talk about the evils of ‘the gay’ in church and voted to outlaw gay marriage. Admitted this is very much nicer then cutting someone’s head off by ISIS, but it is the same ideas that drive them, the only difference is political power. xtians in France don’t go around beating gays, but what about Russia? Africa? Mideast? ALL dogmatists are evil in groups of more then 1, and even then watch your back!!!!

  • Lucy1

    Where I live, there is a plaque on a wall, as a memorial to several people who were incarcerated then burned alive as part of the religious wars in England post Henry 8th. The only reason xtians don’t do it here, now, is they have lost power. The drive is the same. I want to add graffiti to the plaque pointing out its similarity to ISIS. Then watch all the ‘nice’ xtians huffing and puffing,

  • Stephen Mynett

    Lucy, a lot of Christians have a very selective memory, especially when it comes to the nastiness of their particular sect. As we mentioned on another thread, Christianity was just a Messianic cult until Constantine forced his way into power and made it a state religion, from then on it was downhill for democracy. The church took control, mathematicians, scientists etc were treated as heretics and often tortured or killed and people had religion forced on them, the only difference was the type of threat, then it was the axe or the sword, whereas ISIS have AK47s and Semtex.
    Without a lack of education in the majority and the threats of a few no religion would have control.
    It is a pity Islam followed Christianity down this bloody route rather than learning from it. While the west was in the grip of the popes, there was great science going on in the middle east, the Abbasid Caliph Harun al Rashid started a period of superb scientific and intellectual achievement.

  • Peterat

    Douglas Murray had a great comment about this: “We didn’t call the IRA the “Supposed IRA”! ISIS is exactly what it claims it is, it is an Islamic group and plans to force it’s views on the rest of us!”

  • John

    I am just re-reading Sean Martin’s “The Gnostics – The First Christian Heretics” in which – on page 117 – he records – in connection with the Albigensian Crusade – ‘…Finally, the last major Cathar stronghold at Montségur fell in March 1244; all 225 Cathar Perfect [Parfait in French, a similar status to priest] were burnt at the stake.’ 225 !!!!!
    Can anyone tell me what is different about such Christian behaviour and ISIS behaviour?

  • RussellW

    Commenters who refer to the bloodstained history of both Christianity and Islam are missing the point, which is how Islamic is IS. That is, does it adhere to the religion’s ideology and the behaviour of its founder?
    I can’t remember any references to Jesus leading a tribe of desert bandits, taking slaves, massacring other tribes and robbing travellers. The early Christians were prepared to die for their faith, not kill.
    Steven Mynett
    Islam’s Golden Age was brief and ultimately sterile, while Europe produced the Renaissance.

  • John

    What you say may be true (assuming there was a real person called Jesus – though there is no contemporary evidence he ever existed) but the fact is that from the time christianity became an official religious ideology of the Roman Empire, it’s character changed and it was hideously repressive and murderous.
    It still retains a potential to be exactly the same today as the murderous persecution of children, elderly and gay people in Africa today attest.
    In the past, the Judaic tribes slaughtered people wholesale in accordance with what they believed their “god” wanted them to do.
    This shows conclusively that any ideology taken to extremes, especially religious ones and ones linked to racist supremacism, have the potential to inflict enormous suffering and bloodshed on humankind.
    That is why humanists, secularists and atheists prefer to live in a civilized world, in which religious and other extremist ideologies are abandoned.

  • RussellW

    I generally agree with your comments— my argument is, that unlike Christianity, Islam has very barbarous origins. Also whether or not Jesus or Mohammed ever existed is irrelevant, their demented followers think that they did.

  • John

    I think the problem is that the religion of christianity that has come down to us to the present day may have no resemblance at all to the original religion, which gnostics argue is about finding the sacred within each person rather than finding it in some outside sphere.
    The so-called Old Testament (The Torah, as was) is positively blood-thirsty in its pronouncements and is very much a part of the christian bible.
    The New Testament is different, I admit, but no attempt is made by christians to distance themselves from the excesses of the Old Testament.
    Therefore, the jews, christians and muslims are all as bad as one another as far as I am concerned. The muslims are more open about it but we know that given half a chance the jews and christians would like nothing better than to be in a position to enforce their own forms of barbarism if they could on the rest of us.
    I am a humanist but I am not a pacifist. I believe the west should be using everything it has to destroy ISIS. However, some regimes delude themselves into believing they can control them and steer them in directions which suit their purposes. That is why the US did not inflict any serious damage on ISIS over 2 years of bombing raids while the Russians destroyed large elements of ISIS in just 2 months of bombing raids.

  • RussellW

    Agreed, with qualifications.
    I’d distinguish Judaism from Christianity and Islam which are both aggressively proselytising ideologies. Jews have usually minded their own business, with the notable exception of Zionism of course.

  • paul

    I cannot see how there are differences in these so called three religions, they are all Abrahimic, use the same prophets and are an clearly an evolving cult developing and trying to move along the original jewish created system. Christianity is simply Judaism without the (selective use of some items here) food, clothes wearing and circumcision requirements. Islam is not an Arabic religion, it became one. It is Jewish almost in its entirety. It was originally written in Syriac not Arabic (from its oral beginnings) but is contains many references to Isa (Jesus) (a revered prophet by Islam) and over 100 references to moses and noah. How can that be if it isn’t a development of the originals.there are just four or so references to mohamed and three are using that word not as a person (if ‘he’ existed and there is doubt of that. It makes no sense. However it developed into a separate cult be aside the Arabs wanted their own religion, but can it really be termed separate if it uses so much of the Abrahimic and Judaism.

  • John

    I am largely with Paul in what he says.
    He may be seeking the terms kosher and halal?
    I would just add that just as christianity became the official state religion of the roman state so too did islam become the new official state religion of the emerging arabic state which took over from the former enervated states of Rome and Persia.
    As Tom Holland has pointed out, both former states had exhausted themselves fighting each other and islam just happened to come along at the right moment to take over the territories of both former empires.
    I would also point out to Russell that the story of the so-called “battle” of Jericho ends with all the Jerichoan men, women, children and animals all being put to the sword. Quite what “sin” the animals were considered to have committed – or might possibly commit in the future – is utterly unclear to me – or any rational person.
    I actually do not believe there ever was any “battle”.
    Having seen Jericho, it is clearly an earthquake-prone zone and it is that fact that explains why any walls – if they really existed – would have come a’tumbling down!

  • barriejohn

    John: You are correct about Jericho, yet you will still hear fundamentalist Christians (and see internet sites) today confidently claiming that archaeological evidence of fallen walls and fire damage support the Biblical account. Kathleen Kenyon, and others, torpedoed such fanciful notions – mainly deriving from the discoveries of early archaeologists who were hell-bent on “proving” the Bible – showing that the walls “fell” (several times) due to much earlier earthquakes:

  • John

    Barrie: Unlike those deluded christians, I know what I am talking about because I have actually been to Jericho and the Dead Sea. Across the entire area of Jericho there are no buildings taller than 3 or 4 stories – and they are modern. Maybe they now have technology to resist earthquakes but they certainly did not at the time that General Joshua allegedly laid siege to Jericho and demolished its walls. See to see how low the city is and how un-wall-like the ancient “walls” were – more like a cattle enclosure, at best!
    I have visited Joshua’s grave. According to local Palestinians, when the grave was opened at some time in the past, it was found to be empty; there were no remains inside. So did the attack on Jericho happen? Who knows?
    Hisham’s Palace – five km north of the town of Jericho – is commonly thought to have been destroyed and abandoned by the earthquake of 747/8, but an analysis of Baramki’s detailed reporting shows that this is incorrect. Instead the ceramic record indicates that the occupation continued through the Ayyubid-Mamluk period, with a significant phase of occupation between 900–1000. See
    This is further proof that the whole Jordan Rift Valley – including the former Sodom and Gamorrah sites – are located on an earthquake fault which has routinely destroyed buildings and communities over millenia.
    Religious “explanations” are wholly unnecessary!
    Ultimately, only self-stupified ignorant people – such as religionists – can cling on to outdated ideas.

  • barriejohn

    John: Very interesting. I used to be an evangelical Christian, and could see that I was being lied to. I find the following account breathtakingly dishonest, but I’m afraid that it is just typical:
    It was not until a British archaeologist named Kathleen Kenyon reexcavated the site with modern methods in the 1950s that it was understood what these piles of bricks were. She determined that they were from the city wall which had collapsed when the city was destroyed!
    “The destruction was complete. Walls and floors were blackened or reddened by fire, and every room was filled with fallen bricks, timbers, and household utensils; in most rooms the fallen debris was heavily burnt.”

    Only problem here: Kenyon was the one who proved that none of this took place in the time of “Joshua”, but they just ignore THAT bit of evidence!

  • John

    Having seen the size of the site from the cable car, I came to the same conclusion as Watzinger that “in the time of Joshua, Jericho was a heap of ruins, on which stood perhaps a few isolated huts”.
    The size of the site is tiny.
    The idea that it encompassed a “city” is ridiculous.
    Probably most of the space was occupied by animals.
    My impression was that they used the natural layout of the land, with naturally occurring mounds being connected with stone small walls to keep livestock in and predator animals out.
    Any full-scale military attack could have scaled the “walls” in a matter of minutes.
    I don’t believe the “battle” of Jericho ever happened.
    Like much else in Jewish history, it is pure invention.