What’s there in a name: Rechristening Islamic State as Daish



By Gaurav Sharma

The territorial and political entity which has wreaked havoc on large swathes of Syria and Iraq since the last decade has assumed many monikers through its barbaric and rapid rise.

Preferring to be earlier known by names such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS), al-Nusra Front etc., the terror outfit since June 2014 has branded itself as the Islamic State.

The appellation was undertaken by the group to highlight and give precedence to the caliphate’s claim of representing military, religious and political authority of Muslims all over the world.

This would help in establishing the group as a sovereign, independent and borderless unit under the self-styled khalif Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi.

Furthermore, the idea behind the name was to underscore the point that with the expansion of its troops on different countries, the legality of all emirates, organizations, groups and states would become null and void.

To prevent the group from staking and propagating to such an ideology, countries all over the world are now rubbishing the name and instead calling it through its Arab acronym, Daesh or DAISH–a title which the group hates to be called as.

One might ask what is in a name, especially because it is the activities of a unit that define it and not the name itself.

Since the group is in expansion mode, the name is part of a broader branding exercise akin to commercial advertisements. The more appealing and sentimentally valuable the name, greater would be the galvanization of recruitment.

In the case of Islamic State, its leaders and followers want to promote the unit as a successor to Islamic Khilafat, established after the death of Prophet Muhammed in 632 AD.

The epoch was witness to long period of Islamic rule, first under the Arab leadership and subsequently under the Ottoman Empire, finally withering into oblivion after the establishment of the modern Turkish state.

However, time and again calls for reinstating the Khilafat under the tutelage of al-Qaeda and Hizb ut-Tahir, have arisen with a view to rule the world under an umbrella leadership, though not with much success.

Islamic State wishes to change the dismal track record. And that is the precise reason why it chooses to be known as the Islamic State.

Moreover, the term DAISH is looked upon as a denigrating term by the terror outfit.

Nonetheless, the name is more suitable and rather synonymous with the modus operandi of the group. Dais, the etymological term for DAISH means “one who sows discord” or “one who crushes something underfoot”, an apt description of the brazen, brutal way by which the Islamic State operates.

Another fact which adds to the credibility and accuracy of DAISH as the moniker for the terror group is the fact that most Muslim governments and organizations have denounced the IS as being antithetical to the way the previous Khilafat worked, viz. peaceful and humane methods.

Most Muslim scholars and clerics have dubbed the organization as “fake”. Politicians have called it “an apocalyptic death cult”.

Keeping in mind Islam as a religion, it would be insulting and abhorrent to term the terror outfit’s Caliphate mission as “Islamic”. More than that, it would be far from the truth.