Muslims shouldn’t call killers ‘Islamic’

A Muslim man prays Monday in front of a floral tribute near the Bataclan concert hall, scene of the bloodiest of the terror attacks in Paris.
A Muslim man prays Monday in front of a floral tribute near the Bataclan concert hall, scene of the bloodiest of the terror attacks in Paris. The Associated Press

I have an appeal to all my fellow Muslims. Stop referring to this collection of murdering sociopaths as the Islamic State.

Muslims in particular should not give them the satisfaction of having their homicidal enterprise referred to as “Islamic” because it is anything but.

I serve as a trustee at SALAM (Sacramento Area League of American Muslims), the largest Islamic center and mosque in our state’s capital. This Islamic organization is tolerant, peaceful and incredibly diverse. Even our board of trustees is led by a woman.

As a Muslim, why on earth would I use exactly the same “Islamic” adjective to describe this bloodthirsty, misogynistic enterprise, also referred to as ISIS?

I get why non-Muslims do so – they named themselves Islamic State so it’s the obvious thing for everyone else to use the same name.

But as Muslims, we know better. That’s why my appeal is mostly aimed at my fellow Muslims. These terrorists not only call themselves Islamic, they also derive enormous satisfaction in being referred to as Islamic, particularly by other Muslims. It’s as if we’re confirming that what they’re doing is Islamic. Only Muslims at large, acting in unison, can deny them any legitimacy and association given them by the name of our faith.

Muslims believe that only God can ultimately judge a person. However, the overwhelming majority of Muslims understand that the ideology and heinous acts of this terrorist organization are a twisted perversion that is unrecognizable as part of any major religion, including Islam. More than 200 people were indiscriminately murdered in coordinated bomb and machine gun attacks that occurred in Paris, Beirut and Baghdad within 24 hours of each other. Any Muslim (or non-Muslim for that matter) who has a shred of humanity instinctively recoils after witnessing such sickening acts of brutality.

There is no mechanism in Islam to excommunicate Muslims. But the Muslim Ummah (global community) can surely do the next best thing. We should unequivocally dissociate this barbaric organization from Islam by instead describing their ideology as the antithesis of our faith, the very opposite of everything we believe.

Henceforth, I will only refer to them as the Un-Islamic State.

I want all like-minded Muslims to be crystal clear on this important point: this Un-Islamic State doesn’t consider you as Muslim. Given the opportunity, they will cut your throats if you don’t agree with every aspect of their perverse ideology, as they have already done so to thousands of Muslims and non-Muslims alike across the Middle East and elsewhere.

For Muslims everywhere, our faith and its adherents are under assault and it’s up to us to take back the good name of our religion. Let’s start by defining a clear separation and join me in referring to them only as the Un-Islamic State.

Waseem Bawa is a business consultant and trustee of the Sacramento Area League of American Muslims. He can be contacted at