17 May 2017

Historian Tom Holland on Isis, receiving death threats and why there is a 'civil war' in the Muslim world

.... But talking about Isis, he’s sombre. He feels the terrorist organisation has “raised the ghosts of the past”. “Isis may be notoriously adept at the arts of modernity — social media and suicide vests — but their behaviour is redolent of ancient civilisations: enslaving and crucifying people, exactly as the Romans and Arabs did in the heyday of their imperialism.”

Holland knows the documentary will be controversial. He argues that Isis “self-consciously draws on Islamic scriptures, texts and episodes from Mohammed’s life to justify what they’re doing”.

So how Islamic is Islamic State? “Pretty Islamic, to the degree that they consider themselves to be Islamic,” he replies. “The mistake people make is to replicate Isis’s position, which is that there’s one, true form of Islam and anyone who deviates from that isn’t a Muslim. That’s Isis’s justification for killing Shia.

Ironically, when Western leaders say ‘it’s nothing to do with Islam’, they’re doing the same. I don’t think it’s the business — particularly of non-Muslims — to specify what a Muslim is. If people say they’re Muslim, they’re Muslim.” [Evening Standard] Read more