Prof. Feryal Salem was interviewed on WNPR’s “Where We Live” on Friday, March 20, 2015 to discuss a recent article by Greame Wood titled “What ISIS Really Wants”. The program featured Wood and Prof. Salem in a discussion of Wood’s cover story for The Atlantic in March.
Wood argued during the program, and in his article, that ISIS is a religious group and part of Islam. Prof. Feryal countered that ISIS is not Islamic and when Muslims say it is not they mean that ISIS “does not adhere to the normative understanding of Islam as it has been understood for a millennium and a half”. One of Mr. Wood’s arguments is that the so called Islamic State often terrorizes in the name of Islam and therefore it is a religious group. Prof. Feryal then argued that “even the devil can quote scripture” and that ISIS in no way represents any faith tradition, especially not an Islamic faith tradition. It was discussed that faith, mercy and kindness are foundations in all faith traditions and ISIS has not shown any of those characteristics.
The conversation went into many facets of ISIS’ desires and beliefs including that ISIS attempts to justify its bloodshed by claiming it is surrounded by non-Muslims. Prof. Salem and Mr. Wood spoke about how ISIS is using scripture without looking at the historical context of over 1200 years of teaching. The program concluded with a discussion of the US involvement and how the US can interact and aid in fighting ISIS in predominately Muslim countries.
Photo by Chion Wolf of WNPR