Journal Essay

Dabiq, the Islamic State's Magazine: A Critical Analysis

David G. Kibble

Fall 2016, Volume XXIII, Number 3

Mr. Kibble is a former naval reservist and commanding officer of HMS Ceres. He has written on both sides of the Atlantic on defense issues, particularly on the Islamic background to problems in the Middle East and on ethical issues concerning defense. He has lectured on the Middle East at many naval establishments, on HMS Ark Royal and at the Defence Intelligence School.

The edition of Dabiq, the online magazine of the Islamic State (IS), that followed the horrific Paris attacks (130 dead) glorified the work of what it called the "eight knights" who carried out the killings. It rejoiced, too, in the downing of a Russian airliner (224 dead), picturing the homemade bomb it said caused the crash. Together, these constituted what the magazine called "blessed attacks" against "crusader nations." Other "brave knights" who carried out terrorist attacks in Australia, America, Israel and Jordan in the autumn of 2015 are said to have "sacrificed their souls in the noblest of deeds in pursuit of Allah's pleasure."

The IS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is quoted in the magazine's foreword following the rhetoric that praises the acts of terror. In an address during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, he said, "The Muslims today have a loud thundering statement and possess heavy boots. They have a statement that will cause the world to hear and understand the meaning of terrorism, and boots that will trample the idol of nationalism, destroy the idol of democracy, and uncover its deviant nature."1 One of the central aims of IS is to establish a state governed by Islamic law, shariah; it rejects nationalism and democracy as foreign to Islam. Establishing such a state will provide a home, it says, for all faithful Muslims; promoting such a state is one of the aims of Dabiq.


With the establishment of an Islamic state, it is the duty of a Muslim, according to Dabiq, to come and be part of it:

The first priority is to perform hijrah [emigration] from wherever you are to the Islamic State, from dar ul-kufr [the house of disbelief] to dar ul-Islam [the house of Islam]. Rush to perform it as Musa [Moses] rushed to his Lord...Rush to the shade of the Islamic State with your parents, siblings, spouses and children. There are homes here for you and your families. You can be a major contributor towards the liberation of Makkah, Madinah and al-Quds [Jerusalem]. Would you not like to reach Judgement Day with these grand deeds in your scales?2

There is in this call the vision of a future in which Muslims take over the three holy cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia and Jerusalem. Although Saudi Arabia is already a Muslim country, the followers of Islamic State believe that its rulers are corrupt and not true followers of Islam.

An article in Volume 8 of Dabiq is entitled, "Abandon the Lands of Shirk [idolatry] and Come to the Land of Islam." Once again, there is a call for Muslims to come and be part of the Islamic State. Five hadiths [sayings of Muhammad] are used as proof texts. Two of these are as follows: "Whoever gathers and lives with the mushrik [polytheist], then he is like him;" and "Allah does not accept any deed from a mushrik after he accepts Islam until he departs from the mushrikin [polytheists] and goes to the Muslims."3 Another article uses pragmatic arguments to encourage migration, itself a pattern set by Muhammad when he migrated from Mecca to establish a Muslim community in Medina in 622 CE.4 It argues that the West will simply corrupt Muslim believers, particularly children. They will become involved in drugs, alcohol, teenage gangs and promiscuity; they will be forced to stand for national anthems and to pledge allegiance to national flags rather than God as required by the Quran. The article argues that schools in the West teach the value of tolerating the faiths of others whereas the Quran teaches that Islam is the one true faith. Two verses from the Quran are cited as proof texts (3:85 and 9:28), although they do not actually prohibit the teaching of other faiths at all; one warns against following other faiths, not learning about them, while the other advises Muslims not to let polytheists near a mosque. Abu Thabit al Hijazi concludes his article by saying that schools use science education to inculcate scepticism and disbelief; What, he concludes, would keep Muslims from emigrating to an Islamic environment? For those who have emigrated, another article warns against leaving the Islamic State; abandoning the land of Islam for the land of disbelief is described as a "dangerous major sin." Doing so, the article argues, will see children abandoning their faith and opening themselves to the temptations of illicit sex, drugs and alcohol. They will also forget the language of the Quran.5 A quotation from the Quran, a hadith and numerous sayings of Muslim teachers in the past are used as proof texts to make the point.

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