Application Paper: ISIS Terrorists
Abbreviated from ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’, ISIS is an al-Qaeda-led terrorist group fighting for the establishment of Iraq and Syria as pure Islamic states. ISIS is a radical group that believes that both Syria and Iraq should be governed using only sharia laws and follow pure Islamic faith. ISIS started as a small rebel group in Iraq controlled by al-Qaeda leaders before spreading to Syria. They strongly believe that both Syria and Iraq are pure and holy Islamic states, and therefore no any other religion should be admitted in the two countries. Their strict religious view and struggle to have control of both countries has led to war with the state authorities. At the moment, ISIS controls sections of Iraq and Syria where they constantly fight the government and oppress the local citizens who do not follow their religious point of view. They term any divergent religious opinion as heresy and unacceptable in Iraq and Syria.
Various sociological concepts, ideals, and models can be used to provide an explanation and analysis of ISIS’s behavior, conduct, and beliefs. Cultural ethnocentrism is the first sociological concepts applicable to social issues relating to ISIS terrorists. Ethnocentrism is the strong belief in superiority of a person’s own culture, religion, or ethnicity above others. Ethnocentric people tend to use their own perspectives to view others. Culture greatly influences ethnocentrism, which is a set of traditions and beliefs practiced by a given group of people.
The ISIS group believes that they are the only people practicing pure Islamic religion thus regards themselves as high above others. In Syria, for example, the struggle is between Alawites and Sunni who believes in sharia laws. ISIS, whose memberships largely come from the Sunni, strongly believes that the Alawites are heretics because they have not admitted the use of pure sharia laws besides believing in the Trinitarian concept of Ali, Mohammad, and Salman. Because of ethnocentricity, the Sunni believes that their own religious practice, which is enshrined in strong cultural practices, is superior to any other. As a result, they regard other religious practices as simply acts of heresy. Because of ethnocentricity, members of the ISIS group view other groups as modern secular people wavering medieval religious disguise.
Hegemony is another sociological concept that can be used to explain and analyze why ISIS do what they do. Hegemony is the practice of dominion of one group or religion over others. In this case, the domineering group elicits masses to the voluntary consent to their power and control. As a result, majority of the people or members accept the social norms and ideas of the leader without questioning. ISIS draws their hegemony from Quran and the teaching of prophet Mohamed whom they believe is holy and infallible. They are following the teaching of Mohamed as envisioned in Quran and sharia laws, and anybody who does not recognize the holiness and leadership of Mohamed is considered unfaithful, heretic and enemy to Islamic faith. Because they consider the leadership of Mohamed highly placed, the ISIS insist that they cannot waver from following the governing precepts of Mohamed as illustrated in the Quran and sharia laws. As a result, they are willing to fight anybody who does not recognize sharia laws and submit to “pure” Islamic faith.