The Spectacle Blog

Crickets Chirp for Islamic Caliph

By on 7.9.14 | 4:57PM

The Middle East is known more for its locusts than crickets, but some kind of insectile chirping could be heard after the Sunni militant group ISIS declared itself a caliphate and commanded the Muslims of the world to join them.

No rush of support greeted the ISIS—excuse me, caliphate underling—call to destroy the Kaaba, the most sacred shrine of Islam, which Muslims believe marks a place where heaven symbolically touches earth.

Even the Sunni clerics who gave bin Laden and others of his ilk the theological go-ahead are questioning ISIS's inattention to proper Islamic jurisprudence, according to the Daily Beast:

Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, the Jordanian scholar viewed as one of al Qaeda’s top spiritual leaders, has branded Ibrahim’s Islamic State “deviant” and contrary to the principles of Sharia law. While acknowledging that all jihadists yearn for a caliphate that erases the artificial borders of the Arab world and unifies Muslims, al-Maqdisi challenged the basis of al-Baghdadi’s claims. “Is this caliphate going to be a safe haven for all the vulnerable and a shelter for every Muslim? Or will this name become a hanging sword over Muslims who disagree with them?” he asked.

Such inattention to detail is one of the great complaints of moderate Muslims. Khaled Abou el Fadl, a law professor at UCLA and world-recognized Islamic scholar, lamented in The Great Theft that the Wahhabi extremists who laid the foundation for both the Saudi regime and al Qaeda ignored centuries of Islamic law when they began enforcing their own Islamic interpretations on an unsuspecting populace. Thus, most other Islamic organizations have not bothered to respond to the call for loyalty in Iraq.

ISIS may be claiming to represent Islam, but a quick background check into its leadership hints they may have a hint of gold fever. Omar al-Shishani, as an ISIS leader, may talk about re-establishing the glory of the Islam's past, but he does not have much of an Islamic past himself. He was born to a Christian family in Georgia, and his name was Tarkhan Batirashvili. He served in the Georgian army in 2008, but a bad experience in the military and a brush with poverty convinced him to leave forever, according to the BBC. His father, who is less than impressed with his son's career choice, said that Batirashvili's sudden interest in the Quran had nothing to do with God and a lot to do with greenbacks. As a leader in the wealthiest terrorist organization in the world, one can assume Batirashvili's/al-Shishani's conversion was successful.

He and his father are not on speaking terms. Reports BBC:

He has had only one phone call from Shishani since he left.

Shishani told him he had a Chechen wife. "He said: 'I have a daughter and she looks like you, her name is Sophia.'"

Shishani asked his father if he was still praying. Mr Batirashvili says that when he replied that he was still a practising Christian, his son hung up the phone and never called again.

ISIS finds support from young Western whippersnapper Muslims who don't know any better and the Iraqi Sunnis who hope they can use and then dispose of them. It has been called "too extreme even for al Qaeda," but its increasingly erratic behavior suggests it might not be Muslim enough for others. The crickets are still chirping for the new caliphate.

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