The Islamic State (IS) goes by many names, including the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the State of the Islamic Caliphate (SIC), and Da’ish (an Arabic abbreviated term for ISIL). IS found its origins in the Sunni resistance to the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 (part of the main resistance force called al-Qaeda) . It started out as a small part of the overall resistance (although violent and effective), and eventually splintered from the main force of al-Qaeda when the main leader (Osama Bin Laden) was killed (there was also claims that the group that splintered, now calling themselves the Islamic State, from al-Qaeda due to their excessively violent nature).

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After imbedding their group in Syria (during the Syrian uprising), they now control vast amounts of territory and have led major offensives against the countries that they occupy . With a vast amount of wealth, and with recruits traveling all over the world to join them and their group laying claim to several major terrorist attacks all across the globe, IS continues to make headlines and countries agree to fight them as the war rages on.

But where do their ideals come from? Are they true practitioners of Islam? How Islamic is IS? Or do they follow a perverted version of a religion that suits their needs?

One venue that we can look at to study the religion of Islam and its connection to IS is the various connections between other religions and radical sects throughout history. For example, Abdal Hakim Murad, an Islamic Studies professor at Cambridge University, compares the Islam and IS relation to past extremists from other religions .

Murad claims that with any religious group comes radical cells that claim to be the most pure of the whole religion, that their sect claims “the mantle of total authenticity” . Of this, he compares radical Christians in Bosnia that committed atrocities in Bosnia 20 years ago, and supports the fact that there are West Bank inhabitants that burn mosques (but practice Judaism) . Murad point is that you can’t identify the religions with these radical groups that have splintered away from the main religious group, and Islam and IS should be treated the same (as in you shouldn’t identify IS with Islam, as IS practices a modified version of Islam) .

And yet other critic’s claim that IS is extremely Islamic. They claim that punishments for enemies of the religion of Islam are just (according to the Koran, this entitles crucifixion) . People claim that IS is grounded in Islamic beliefs, and that it is the center of everything that they do, and that everything that they do comes from the teachings of Islam . Of this, it can be argued that IS is truly Islamic, and that the connection to the religion is undeniable.

IS has taken vast amounts of territory and have committed atrocities against their enemies. IS claims to be one with Islam, and that their teachings are the most pure, but world leaders of Islam have disregarded this, claiming that pairing the entire religion of Islam with IS is unfair.