Public Comment

Sorry, But Military Airstrikes Aren’t Going to Stop the Islamic State

Khalida Jamilah
Friday October 31, 2014 - 12:05:00 PM

In his recent address, President Obama reiterated that the U.S. government “will degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL” by providing airstrikes against ISIL targets in Iraq, military support for the Kurds, and political reform in Baghdad. These strategies will only last temporarily because history has proved that when group like ISIL (the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) or now simply called IS (the Islamic State) that has a strong ideology, any military intervention only last temporarily. For instance the death of Osama bin Laden seems as the death of Al-Qaeda but until now Al-Qaeda still exist. Shooting Osama bin Laden to death does not stop Al-Qaeda from operating. The same logic goes for IS. For example, shooting 500 IS militants will not stop ISIL from spreading its wings to establish Islamic State in the world. Thus, the most effective way to stop IS extremism is by educating Muslim youth that IS does not represent Islam because Islam means peace. 

In order to understand why IS does violent actions, one must understand its ideology. ISIL tries to reestablish Islamic caliphate— central Muslim leader like during the time of Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam. IS strongly believes that everyone must convert to Islam and every nation must follow the Sharia or the Islamic law because through this way, the world will be saved from destruction. An elected caliphate will then guide Muslim to achieve that goal. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is a self-proclaimed caliphate and is currently a leader of IS. 

However, there is one Muslim sect that claims to have a true caliph. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community claimsHis Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad to be the true caliph. In a BBC interview, when asked how did he know that he is the true caliph, Ahmad answered, “I never ever thought of becoming khalifa [caliph] but once I was elected, I could see some force from within me or from outside asking me that I must take this responsibility. Always when I take any action, I feel that Allah is helping me.” Ahmad further explained that IS caliph has no legitimacy because if it is true caliphate, it will be supported by Allah. That is the belief of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. 

Because IS mostly targets Muslim youth, Muslim leaders must educate Muslim youth about Muslim identities and why IS does not represent Islam. Sure, IS member can claim they are Muslim and some non-Muslim might have anti-Islam sentiments. However, it is up to people to choose which representation of Muslim they want to belief. And in order to have a better understanding of Islam, one must understand that Islam itself means peace and jihad refers not to war but to a struggle to become a better person. 

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community educates Muslim youth about their identity by launching several programs. For example, it launches a nationwide campaign called Muslim for Life in which more than 10,000 pints of blood is collected annually to save the lost life from 9/11 Attacks. This campaign promotes the true Islamic teaching of the sanctity of life and thus it shows that IS actions of beheading journalists and worker do not represent Islam. As Obama said in his remark on IS, all evil in this world cannot be eradicated therefore not all people will choose the positive way and some people might choose to join IS. 


Khalida Jamilah is a UC Berkeley student majoring in Peace and Conflict Studies and a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community Women’s Writer Association.