ISIS: “Accentuate the negative – eliminate the positive”

Even if we concede that ISIS is not Islam, whatever else it may be remains a blight upon civilization and a destructive force the likes of which the world has never before witnessed.

(ISIS news agency/YouTube)

CHARLOTTE, N.C., May 10, 2016 – Since its inception, ISIS has perpetuated its barbaric activities to unmentionable extremes. But those extremes extend far beyond rational thinking in a multitude of areas. Just how far is mind-boggling.

Consider, for example, the Islamic State’s changes to social, educational and cultural institutions in the places it controls. Whether by coercion or scaring people to death through its interpretations of Islam, ISIS has become a worldwide menace.

The most drastic changes have come within the past two years in Syria, where Newsweek reports that ISIS has created a department called the Diwan of Education. The word diwan coincides with the Islamic State’s efforts to recreate its religion within its captured domains to reflect Islam as it was taught during the time of the Prophet Muhammad.

One of the most obvious examples of how these changes are being incorporated into the curriculum, which, for all intents, is little more than Islamic brainwashing, is the elimination of the mathematical + sign for addition. It isn’t difficult to understand the reasoning, but it does demonstrate the absurdity of the lengths to which ISIS will go to decry anything that could be interpreted as non-Muslim.

Since the + sign is a cross, which is also a worldwide symbol of Christianity, ISIS has replaced it with the letter “Z” so it will not be seen as giving approval to infidels. Hence the + sign is now forbidden by the Islamic State.

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Among the first items on the educational agenda for the Diwan was to eliminate the previous educational and administrative officials at the schools in the city of Raqqa and then require children to take courses on sharia law. According to the Islamic State, this would “purify their minds” to modify ideas that were previously contrary to sharia.

Among other things that were eliminated in the program, which began in the fall of 2013, were science, math, art and music. Replacing those subjects were the rules of Islamic manners, basic concepts of tawhid, or Islamic doctrine, and Arabic.

ISIS also chose the texts for the Diwan program, which included “Al-Khulāsa al-Alfiyya,” written by Ibn Malik in the 13th century.

Mixed gender classes are forbidden; male and female students are separated in the first grade.

Perhaps most horrifying is the Islamic State’s focus on training children in the use of weapons during the most formative period in their lives.

In addition to editing sections of Arabic literary history to include only the parts ISIS regards as “acceptable,” middle school students are taught “Kitab al-Tawhid,” written by the founder of Wahhabism, Islamic scholar Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab.

Wahhab unified Saudi Arabia with his “pure” interpretations of Islam, and Wahhabism continues to be the form of the religion practiced in that country today.

The redacted portions of Arabic literature were said to be the “literature of infidels.”

Syrian journalist Hosam al-Jablawi reports that it is the Islamic State’s goal to “build a comprehensive educational system that spreads its ideas and is ingrained among children and teenagers so that it may benefit from recruiting them in the future.”

Complacency is the enemy of the West. Whether Barack Obama will admit it or not, ISIS is using education, one of the key facets of Obama’s campaign oratory nearly eight years ago, to do precisely what is necessary to perpetuate the ideals of Islam.

In the long run, using Wahhabist concepts while incorporating medieval principles from 14 centuries ago, can only be increasingly detrimental to legitimate solutions to eliminating Islamic jihad.

ISIS recognizes all too well that children are malleable, as well as being one of their most valuable natural resources when it comes to the successful achievement of their goals. Teaching children terror and hatred at an early age has already shown frighteningly beneficial results for the Islamic State.

Pretending to be “weighing all our options” or ignoring the situation with the hope it will disappear is not the answer. Neither is the repeated assertion that “ISIS is not Islam.”

Even if we concede that ISIS is not Islam, whatever else it may be remains a blight upon civilization and a destructive force the likes of which the world has never before witnessed.

Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award-winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.

Taylor is founder of the Magellan Travel Club (

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