Why We Should Use 'Daesh' - Not 'Islamic State' or 'ISIS'
By The Kurdish Project / thekurdishproject.org

In the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, the world has woken up to the threat that the ‘self-proclaimed Islamic State’ poses to the Western world. Among other things, it has sparked a discussion about what we should call ISIS, as the twisted ideology of the group is neither ‘Islamic,’ nor represents a ‘state.’

In the past, we at the Kurdish Project, have used the term, ‘the self-proclaimed Islamic State,’ implying that the terrorists are the only ones who consider themselves to be an ‘Islamic’ State. However, we believe that this term gives these terrorists too much credibility.

Pronounced ‘Dah-esh’

Moving forward, we will be referring to these terrorists as the rest of the Muslim world does, by calling them ‘Daesh’ (pronounced dah-esh), an Arabic acronym for ISIS that sounds like ‘daes’ — the Arabic word for “something or someone that crushes or tramples.”

But what are the origins of the word ‘Daesh,” and why do these pseudo-Islamic terrorists hate the term?

Neither ‘Islamic’ nor a ‘State’

A lot of news organizations use ‘Islamic State’ or ‘the Islamic State’ for a simple reason: It’s what the group calls itself, and accuracy is important.

But politicians and governments generally don’t. They’ve got some pretty good reasons: Calling it the Islamic State helps ISIS sell its message, and helps insult Muslims to boot.

British Prime Minister David Cameron says that the name ‘Islamic State’ causes Muslim audiences to “recoil every time they hear [it].” Rather, says Cameron, the group should be called by the derogatory name ‘Daesh’ — an Arabic acronym for ISIS that sounds like ‘daes’ — the Arabic word for “something or someone that crushes or tramples.”

 

Islamic State v. Daesh

The name ‘Islamic State,’ as opposed to ‘ISIS’ or ‘Daesh,’ is at its heart a propaganda tool. By claiming to be an Islamic caliphate, ISIS is implying that it’s the only state true Muslims should obey: Around the world, they should pledge loyalty to the one and only Islamic State. This message is part of how ISIS recruits and thus keeps fighting.

Hence why governments and media outlets are moving to the more derogatory ‘Daesh,’ which doesn’t imply that the group is either a real government or an authentic representation of Islamic thought. In fact, the term ‘Daesh’ is an acronym that doesn’t really mean anything, which is precisely why it infuriates the people it describes.

D.A.I.SH.

Khaled al-Haj Salih, the Syrian activist who coined the term in 2013, says ‘Daesh’ is based off the acronym ‘D.A.E.SH.’ which stands for ‘al-Dowla Al-islaamiyya fii-il-I‘raaq wa-ash-SHam (meaning ‘The Islamic State of Iraq and the Leveant’). Salih says that the use of acronyms in Arabic are repulsive to most Arabic speakers. Thus, the simple use of an acronym to describe ‘Daesh’ is offensive to the terrorists.

Furthermore, the acronym is the perfect satirical simplification of the pompous, long and delusional name created by the group. Judged in this light, it is easier to see how the group hates the acronym ‘Daesh.’

A Final Word on the ‘un-Islamic State’

The use of ‘Islamic State’ brings up the issue of insulting and stigmatizing non-extremist Muslims (the other 99%). Using ‘Daesh’ sends the message to all audiences that they should not equate ISIS with Islam.

Given the large Muslim minorities across the West, and their struggles with assimilation and intolerance, this is an important message. A group of British imams wrote a letter to Cameron last year asking him to call it the “un-Islamic state.”

Cameron, during a BBC interview, called the name Islamic State “a perversion of the religion of Islam and many Muslims listening to this programme will recoil every time they hear the words Islamic State.”

By using ‘Daesh,’ a fabricated nonsense name for them, we can hope to undermine the terrorist group’s claim to legitimacy, and reject their rule as nonsense. Join us, and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


For a more indepth read check out Decoding Daesh: Why Is the New Name for ISIS so Hard to Understand?

4.3 ·
2
What's Next
Trending Today
The Myth of Positivity: Why Your Pain Holds a Mighty Purpose
umair haque · 15,768 views today · Of all the great myths of contemporary life, one of the most toxic is positivity. It says: there are negative and positive emotions, and only the positive ones are worth...
Stunning Summary of US Imperialism and Native Resistance... on MSNBC!
4 min · 11,959 views today · On The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC, Lawrence explains why a protest by Native Americans in North Dakota reminds us of the history American always tries to forget.
Standing Rock Wisdom: How Sacred, Nonviolent Activism Has the Power to Succeed
Charles Eisenstein · 6,654 views today · I am told by Native American friends active at Standing Rock that the elders are counseling the Water Protectors to undertake each action prayerfully and to stay off the...
Seven Must-Have Skills for the 21st Century
Tommy Lehe · 4,899 views today · We live in a world that moves faster than we do. Trying to keep up can be an overwhelming task that at times feels hopeless, like we are falling further and further behind—but...
Veterans at Standing Rock Ask Forgiveness for War Crimes Against Tribal Nations
Jen Hayden · 4,392 views today · Jon Eagle Sr., Tribal Historic Preservation Officer at Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has reported something wholly unexpected happened at the Standing Rock Reservation today. The...
Why People Cling to Old Beliefs
1 min · 4,038 views today · Cognitive psychologist and neuroscientist at McGill University, Daniel Levitin, explains why people can be so stubborn when it comes to false beliefs. This behavior is...
The Other Way of Knowing
Lilian Na’ia Alessa · 3,477 views today · Western science and Indigenous worldviews are often seen as incompatible, with the Indigenous view usually being far less valued by society at large. But an inside look at...
DREAM: A Spoken Word Meditation For When Life Is Kicking Your Ass
4 min · 3,129 views today · If life is kicking your ass and the general un-coolness of everybody on planet erf is making you want to off yourself, TALK to someone: 800-273-8255 (national suicide...
Forget Air Force One, Pentagon Wastes Billions and Billions Every Month
Nadia Prupis · 3,115 views today · President-elect Donald Trump's focus on single Boeing contract ignores enormous waste of bloated Pentagon budget
Solar is Already Producing More Energy Than Oil, Says Major Scientific Review
Nafeez Ahmed · 2,996 views today · And is twice as powerful than previously thought
13 Crises That We All Must Face
George Monbiot · 2,515 views today · We face (at least) 13 major crises, some of which are immediate. It’s time for some hard thinking about how we confront them.
Dear Activists, Maybe It's Time to Admit That We've Got It All Wrong
Mickey Z. · 2,322 views today · “The first step in the revolution is eye contact.” - Alicen Grey
A Hauntingly Beautiful Short Film About Life and Death
5 min · 2,232 views today · The Life of Death is a touching handdrawn animation about the day Death fell in love with Life.
How a White Supremacist Became a Civil Rights Activist
Araz Hachadourian · 2,141 views today · The story of a KKK leader’s transformation shows us that we need not live forever with the kind of violence we saw in Charleston this month.
Andy Goes In - Working Undercover in a Factory Farm
10 min · 2,066 views today · He's a $10/hr farmhand, and his name isn't Andy. Andy Goes In is a compelling 10-minute documentary short about a Mercy For Animals undercover investigator. The vast majority...
15 Films Inspiring and Illuminating the 'New Story' Revolution
Tim Hjersted · 1,531 views today · Charles Eisenstein is one of the first people I heard talk about the "new story," synthesizing a diverse movement that has been emerging for the last several decades. When I go...
Sean Carroll - The Meaning of Life
7 min · 1,459 views today · The world keeps happening in accordance with its rules; it's up to us to make sense of it and give it value. Sean Carroll Music: Moby - God Moving Over the Face of the Waters
Satish Kumar on "What Is a Sacred Place?"
3 min · 1,372 views today · Satish Kumar brings a Hindu, Buddhist and Jain perspective to the definition of "sacred place." We found his explanation so compelling that we edited a three-minute piece...
Amanda Abbington Introduces iAnimal - 42 Days in the Life of Chickens
4 min · 1,319 views today · Shot undercover in British factory farms and slaughterhouses, this immersive 360° video gives you a birds-eye view of what happens to chicken from farm to plate.
Sky Roosevelt-Morris: The Secret of Indigenous Resiliency
2 min · 1,235 views today · Activist Sky Roosevelt-Morris is of the Shawnee and White Mountain Apache Nations. She is a member of the Leadership Council of the American Indian Movement of Colorado. In...
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
Why We Should Use 'Daesh' - Not 'Islamic State' or 'ISIS'