Analysis, Commentary, Opinion

Forget “IS,” “ISIS,” or “ISIL.” Call Them “Da’esh.” It’s More Than They Deserve

By Gary Kopycinski

Referring to the heinous terrorists in Iraq and Syria as ISIS, ISIL, or simply IS, provides them with a false legitimacy. ISIS is short for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria; ISIL, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

The problem rests in the letters “IS,” short for “Islamic State.”

This is a distinction that exists nowhere. There is no Islamic state. The group of 30,000-100,000 who have designated themselves the Islamic state deserve no such title.

They do believe in their own legitimacy, of course, and strive to restore the ancient caliphate, begun after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and abolished in 1924 after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The caliph was the final arbiter in theological disputes, considered a successor to the Prophet Muhammad. But the role of the caliph evolved through the years, as did the manner of his selection.

There have been isolated movements to restore the caliphate, but none gained enough traction among Muslim states.

The fact is, there is no sensible way to recognize what is happening under Da’esh as the least bit appropriate in Islam. One does not become caliph simply by stating that one is a caliph. Likewise for pope, president, or any other type of office.

Da’esh is wrong.

Yes, Da’esh. Or Daesh.

Let’s call them Daesh.

Because they don’t like it.

What does it mean?

From the Boston Globe:

The term “Daesh” is strategically a better choice because it is still accurate in that it spells out the acronym of the group’s full Arabic name, al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham. Yet, at the same time, “Daesh” can also be understood as a play on words — and an insult. Depending on how it is conjugated in Arabic, it can mean anything from “to trample down and crush” to “a bigot who imposes his view on others.” Already, the group has reportedly threatened to cut out the tongues of anyone who uses the term.

Da’esh is an insult. A pejorative.

Replace it in your vocabulary. Never again call that group by the name they choose. Provide them nothing that even hints at legitimacy.


Gary Kopycinski is editor and publisher of eNews Park Forest. Follow him on Twitter at @GaryKopycinski and on Facebook at, or email him at [email protected]. He served as a village trustee in Park Forest from 2003-2006, and then again from 2007-2015. eNews Park Forest, Inc. is an independent media company and is not affiliated with the Village of Park Forest in any way.