01 August 2017

How Has ISIS Impacted The Zeitgeist Of The Islamic World?

Just about everyone who has paid even a passing familiarity with current events in the United States has some awareness of ISIS, the extremists Islamic State formed by Sunni Arabs in Northern Iraq and Eastern Syria about three years ago rapidly gaining control of vast amounts of territory in a brief time using ruthlessly brutal tactics. Its atrocities are well known.

But, however much ISIS has been part of the U.S. consciousness (enough that a totally unrelated store in Denver named after the eponymous Egyptian goddess was regularly vandalized until it took down its sign), it has been ever present in the consciousness of people in neighboring Iraq, Turkey and Syria, and has more generally shared center stage with other developments on the international stage in much of the Islamic world since its very earliest days.

I have a pretty good idea about what kind of impact ISIS has had on public opinion and intellectual and political thinking in "the West" in the past few years. Maybe that is worthy of a post on another day. But, I really have no idea what intellectual, cultural and political impact ISIS has had in the Islamic world.

Certainly, some people have been inspired by ISIS, especially in the early days with it secured lots of foreign fighters and foreign funds to support it.

But, surely that has not been the only response. Surely, many people potentially in its path of expansion of feared that it will bring war, restrict their freedom, and destroy their economy, however much they do not love the regime they are currently under. Surely, many people see this expression of Islam as heretical and corrupt and an ill omen for the larger Islamic world where it or similar movements might spread - even Wahhabi Saudi Arabia has condemned it publicly and offered limited military assistance to opposing it.

On the whole, who has it tended to encourage more ISIS-like views of Islam and who has it tended to push in the other direction as a counter-reaction? Which has been the more common reaction? 

Has it brought other divisions within Islam, or at least Sunni Islam, closer together allied against it? Or has it driven wedges between Islamic factions?

What impact has it had on groups like the Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, loyalist theocratic forces in Iran, the ruling party in Turkey, and the political factions that insisted on giving Sharia law constitutional force in the new constitutions of Afghanistan and Iraq in their views about incorporating Islam in political life? Less specifically, how has it influenced political theory in the Islamic world?

Has it had an impact on how Muslims in Pakistan and Afghanistan view the Taliban?

As an outsider, it is very hard to find reliably information on any of these things, even though it is something that hundreds of millions of people around the world in many different countries are living on a daily basis. Questions like these remind me just how incomplete my sources of data about the world really are even in an age when information has never been more easily available.

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