By Mohammed Al Shaikh
29 August 2017
I am convinced that ISIS will end with the defeat of the so-called caliphate.
Maybe few members will remain scattered here and there but in the end they will vanish as ISIS is just an organization that branched from al-Qaeda and attracted militant extremists due to its actual victories on the ground and to its ability to establish a state with economic revenues, an army and advanced equipment.
However, ISIS does not have a theoretical or special ideology that guarantees its survival as a thought which generations inherit, like the case is with other groups such as al-Qaeda, the Sururists and the Muslim Brotherhood.
I have looked a lot for books which can explain ISIS’ ideological theories and how the group agrees or disagrees with other political Islam groups but I did not find except one book which is the famous Management of Savagery.
This book does not have any new ideological thoughts as it rather provides a brutal revolutionary approach which can only convince enthusiastic Islamized people or young men who have deep psychological issues. ISIS achieved several victories quite fast and it quickly formed a caliphate, as it calls it. This tangible reality brought to surface all the psychological issues, which Islamized youths suffer from so they joined ISIS.
Fitting Into a Reality
Meanwhile, al-Qaeda is a philosophy that bears the theory of the first Khawarij and their ideas. Active members who are very knowledgeable in religion then developed this idea and adapted it to fit reality.
Al-Qaeda’s philosophy also bears ideas from the inherited legacy. For example in the beginning there were “the special guards” whom the Brotherhood formed as a military wing in the mid 1990’s and which Sayyid Qutb developed, modernized and rooted in the group’s ideology. His brother Mohammed Qutb was of great help to him. Later on, the Syrian Mohammed Surur took this idea and assumed the task of rooting it and spreading in the Saudi kingdom.
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The Sururist Movement is named after him. In essence, the group is actually a Brotherhood movement but it was distinguished for its extreme adoption of the Salafist rhetoric inherited from the doctrine and this was viewed as a base that cannot be given up on or compromised.
The traditional Muslim Brotherhood, however, does not view doctrine-related matters as a priority. The priority for the Brotherhood, whether as followers of Hassan al-Banna or Sayyid Qutb, is to politically unite all Muslims with different sects and affiliations under one movement.
Since Salafism is old and deep-rooted in Muslim countries, Mohammed Surur found many followers as his ideas easily infiltrated Salafists, unlike the Brotherhood’s ideas.
Sururism is the major concept on which al-Qaeda built its cultural ideas. Al-Qaeda has books and recorded speeches. Therefore, one can say that al-Qaeda is a politicized Salafist product. It was the first base which produced the modern violent thought which experts call militant ideology.
ISIS does not have a written theoretical legacy and it lacks preaching scholars and influential preachers. Many Sururists as well as the Muslim Brotherhood criminalize ISIS and insist that their movements are innocent from it.
This is why I think ISIS ideology will not stay for long. There are enough logical arguments to besiege it as an idea in practice and eliminate it. The Sururist movement will stay. It may actually disappear too but it will emerge again whenever the objective reasons for its emergence are available.
Mohammed Al Shaikh is a Saudi writer with al-Jazirah newspaper.