Answers to Questions About ISIS | FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about ISIS

Who is ISIS and what do they stand for? Its my belief there are a lot of uneducated Muslims. When the US was in Iraq Children’s parents flocked to get their kids in school. Isis has now shut education down. They believe a twisted teaching of the Koran is the only education children need. This whole article is a farce. I believe people have seen what is really going on in some regions. The main study and teaching is how to kill the infidel, and rid themselves of the people who have good souls. They want violent people, with radical views. The others must die.  

ISIS stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also called the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or ISIL, and, more recently, just IS or Islamic State. The group is popularly known as Da-ish in Arabic.

ISIS began as al-Qaida in Iraq as part of the Iraqi insurgency against American and coalition forces after the Second Gulf War in 2003. Following the uprising in Syria against Bashar al-Assad, it expanded to Syria, changing its name to the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” or “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.”

In February, 2014 al-Qaeda cut all ties with the group, reportedly due its brutality and after a falling out between ISIS and another al-Qaida related Syrian opposition group, al-Nusra Front. In June, 2014, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed himself to be the Caliph and renamed the group merely Islamic State. Today, ISIS has occupied large areas in Iraq and Syria, creating chaos and murdering and terrorizing thousands and driving many from their homes.

While the supposed focus of ISIS in Syria was to overthrow the dictator Assad, it is widely reported that there has not been direct fighting between ISIS and Assad forces. There have in fact been widely known reports and evidences of cooperation. Other Syrian opposition groups, including al-Nusra and the Free Syrian Army, a non-religiously affiliated Syrian group, have actually diverted many of their efforts from fighting Assad to fighting ISIS. Additionally, some of the Western journalists whom ISIS murdered were reported to have initially been captured by Assad forces, another example of collaboration between the two, raising the question of who is really behind ISIS (according to many Syrians, the Assad regime among others).

ISIS is more focused on building an “Islamic State” than on overthrowing the Assad government, unlike the other opposition groups; additionally, again unlike other Syrian opposition groups, it is made up of foreign fighters, not Syrians.

What do Muslims think of ISIS?

Muslims worldwide have universally condemned ISIS for their brutality, extremism, and unIslamic behavior. These condemnations have included Saudi clerics, a coalition of over 100 scholars worldwide, and numerous articles, rallies, and press conferences condemning ISIS’ actions. The most grievous actions condemned by Muslims include beheadings and other brutal killings, kidnappings, aggression against Christians, Yazidis, and Muslims they differ with, and other atrocities.

Do its actions reflect Islamic teachings?

No, its actions are the antithesis of Islam. Here are a few examples of the contrast between its actions and Islamic teachings.

Murdering innocents: Its blatant disregard for human life in particular directly contravenes teachings about the sanctity of life and commands to avoid killing innocents or civilians even in warfare, in particular women and children.

Persecuting Christians and Yazidis: Its destruction of churches and attacks against Christians directly violate Qur’anic teachings about the status of “People of the Book,” whose lives and houses of worship the Qur’an and prophetic sayings command to safeguard (Qur’an: 60:8). Yazidis are also one of the religions specifically mentioned by the Qur’an as “People of the Book” (Qur’an: 22:17). The fact that this ancient sect – along with Iraqi Christians – has survived in Muslim lands is proof of the authentic Islamic attitude towards them and other minority religious groups.

Forced conversions: Converting people by force makes a mockery of religion, which according to Islamic teachings should be embraced for God alone, not under duress. The Qur’anic verse “There is no compulsion in religion” clearly states the Islamic view on that question, as do other verses which state that God chose to create diversity among people, including religious diversity, and that had God chosen to make every one of the same faith He would have done so (Qur’an: 10:99; 18; 29; 13:31).

Torture and mutilation: Islam specifically prohibits torture in any form, as it prohibits mutilating dead bodies or any disrespect of the dead. ISIS’ barbaric acts, which reflect the worst tendencies of humankind, show the true nature of its fighters as criminals, not religious practitioners.

Oppression of women: ISIS’s insistence on women wearing black, all-encompassing garments including a face veil, is an extreme application of the general commandment to wear modest dress, including a head scarf. Their misogynistic attitude towards women, including their insistence on confining them to their homes at a time when Muslim women across the world are teachers, doctors, scientists, and even heads of state, is a perversion of Islamic teachings.

Sex slaves: One of the goals of Islam as evidenced in both Qur’anic and prophetic sayings about the merit of freeing slaves was to end slavery. This view has been universally adopted by Muslim societies and leaders. To revert to a practice that Islam sought to do away with makes a mockery of the principles of justice, equality, and other values and is merely a reflection of the gross misdeeds that are often perpetrated in war, including against Muslim women in Bosnia and Syria. To do to others what was done to oneself is the antithesis of religion and morality.

Harsh punishments: The random application of what are known as hadd punishments without the proper context for such application makes a mockery of the entire process. Additionally all such punishments require the highest level of proof, not the lowest as has been practiced by ISIS and other extremist groups.

Jihad: Jihad is meant to protect the oppressed against aggression, not to furnish a pretext for aggression against others. Driving people out of their homes and massively killing and destroying are not jihad but pure aggression. Such actions can in no way be characterized as jihad.

Declaring a Caliphate: It is an Islamic principle that one who seeks leadership should not be given it. Additionally, one cannot merely declare themselves to be a caliph, which is a term adopted after the death of the Prophet Muhammad for those who succeeded him as heads of state. This term continued to be used in the various dynasties which followed until the early 20th century, when the Ottoman caliphate was abolished. A true caliph would need to be chosen by other people based on merit and reputation, not by force.


In conclusion, the group ISIS has nothing to do with Islam or any other religion, but is using religion as a vehicle for its criminal behavior and goals, not unlike other groups and movements in history. Muslims worldwide declare their aversion and disgust with its tactics, attitudes and actions, and have united in their condemnation of and disassociation from it. We have compiled, and actively update, a list with many Muslim condemnations.