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Religious Tolerance logo

About the goals and alternative names of ISIS,
(a.k.a. the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,
Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham,
Daesh, Daísh, Daesh cutthroats,
Islamic State, IS, Islamic State in Syria
ISIL, Islamic State Group, &
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.)

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About ISIS' names and goals:

The group has used -- or has been referred to by -- various names, including:

ISIS, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham, Daesh, Daísh, Daesh cutthroats, Islamic State, IS, Islamic State in Syria, ISIL, Islamic State Group, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and probably by other names and acronyms.

The term "Levant" refers to the countries located east of the eastern shore of the Mediterranean, including the all or parts of: Cyprus, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Turkey.

The group's long-range goal is to create a world-wide Islamic caliphate. A caliphate has been defined as:

"... a form of Islamic government led by a caliph -- a person considered a political and religious successor to the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, and a leader of the entire Muslim community." 1

ISIS declared in mid 2015-JUN that their more immediate goal is to restore an Islamic caliphate to include all of present-day Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.

The above definition of a caliphate stresses the integration of religion and government. In contrast, the public in the U.S., Canada and many other countries consider their concept of separation of church and state to be one of their most important political and religious principles.

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About another Isis: an Egyptian-Roman goddess:

Unfortunately, one of the most common acronyms for the group, "ISIS," is a capitalization of the name of "Isis," an ancient Egyptian Pagan goddess of health, marriage and wisdom. She was subsequently worshipped throughout the Roman empire, and is still worshipped today by some current Neo-pagan groups and Goddess movements. She is pictured here carrying an Ankh in her left hand and wearing a headdress shaped like a throne.

She was portrayed as being married to Osiris, the god associated with the afterlife, death, life, and resurrection. One of her children was named Horus whose life experiences closely match those associated with Yeshua of Nazareth, a.k.a. Jesus Christ. Since beliefs about Horus predate Jesus' life by over a millennium, many religious historians believe that many of the events in Jesus life were copied from that of Horus, and thus probably may not have happened.

An image of Isis has been widespread on the Internet with the caption:

"Hi there. My name is Isis. You have probably been hearing my name a lot in the news recently. That is because it has been hijacked by a group that is actually named Daesh. Please call Daesh by their proper name, not mine. Thank you."

The image is often shown with the comment:

"It is extremely offensive that the media has chosen to call a terrorist group after a Pagan Goddess. The group originally known as ISIL gained the name ISIS by western media. They would never refer to a terrorist group as 'Jesus' or 'Allah' or 'God,' or 'Jehovah.' So, stop calling them ISIS. reports on the popularity of Isis as a name assigned to newborns. It was the 540th most popular name in the year 2013. However, probably because of the terrorist groups' activity, its popularity sank to 701th in 2015, and 1,471 in 2015. 7

Randy Cassingham, in his "This is True" weekly review for 2015-DEC-13 included an article called "A Daesh of intolerance." It described conflicts experienced by two girls named Isis, who live in Canada and Australia. 4,5

  • Isis Fernandes from Winnipeg, MB, Canada completed an obstacle course at the University of Manitoba. A soldier who was signing congratulatory certificates for those who finished the course told Isis:

    "I’m not writing your name down. I don’t think this is your real name. That’s not your real name. This is not funny."

    He subsequently apologized, and said that he didn’t intend to hurt her feelings. Meanwhile, Isis' aunt tried to buy personalized jars of Nutella with her niece's name at a local store,. She was informed that the company did not allow print jars labeled "Isis."

  • Isis Taylor of Illawarra, NSW, Australia, had a similar experience over a jar of Nutella. Her aunt wrote Nutella’s parent company, Ferrero Australia. saying:

    "I’m really quite upset by this, You are actually making my daughter’s name dirty. You are choosing to refuse my daughter’s name in case the public refers to it negatively."

Meanwhile, Woman's Day magazine published an article listing 12 baby names that should not be permitted. "Isis" is at the top of the list.

To further complicate the acronym problem, there is the acronym "IIS" which refers to Microsoft's Internet Infomation Services. It differs by only one "S" from "ISIS."

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What is the most appropriate name to use when referring to the group?

The group's full name, in Arabic, is ad-Dawlah al-Islāmiyah fī 'l-ʿIrāq wa-sh-Shām. Some detractors have extracted the acronym "Da'ish" or "Daesh" from the full name. 2

Unfortunately, the Arabic term "äl-Sham" has been variously translated as "the Levant," "Greater Syria," "Syria," or "Damascus." That is, a group of countries, one country, or a city.

The most common name seen in the media appears to be Daesh, ISIS,and ISIL. The latter two are acronyms of the group's full name, which is unusual in Arabic -- a language that rarely uses acronyms. Many Muslims consider Its use is considered disrespectful.

Daesh and Daish are only one or two letters different from "daes" which means "someone or something that crushes or tramples."

Patrick Garrity, writing for NBC News, said:

"Depending on how it is conjugated in Arabic, the word can mean 'to trample down and crush.' But it can also mean 'a bigot.' ISIS has reportedly threatened to cut out the tongues of anyone it hears using the term.

'It's a derogatory term and not someting people should use even if you dislike them,' said Evan Kohlmann, a national security analyst at Flashpoint and a contributor to NBC News. 'It would be like referring to Germans as 'Huns." 6

France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in a statement:

"This is a terrorist group and not a state. I do not recommend using the term Islamic State because it blurs the lines between Islam, Muslims and Islamists. The Arabs call it 'Daesh' and I will be calling them the 'Daesh cutthroats'." 3

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Webmaster's note:

Faced with the problem that:

  • the names "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria," "Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham," "Islamic State in Syria," Islamic State, "ISIL," and the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" are all too restrictive, since the goals of the group are to control a much larger area and eventually the world;

  • Daesh, and Daísh are offensive to that group,

  • "Daesh cutthroats" is perhaps the most accurate, but would be even more offensive to the group;

  • "Islamic State," and "Islamic State Group" give them too much credit because they are not a state; and

  • "IS" is already a word in English and is thus not suitable as a name for this group.
I have choosen "ISIS" because this web site commonly uses acronyms for long titles, and "ISIS" is currently the most popular acronym.

As of 2015-DEC-15, Google found about 258 million hits for "ISIS," 24.1 million for "ISIL," and 16.8 million for "Daesh."

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Caliphate," Wikipedia, as on 2015-NOV-24, at:
  2. Faisal Irshaid."Isis, Isil or Da'ish? What to call militants in Iraq," BBC News, 2015-JUN-24, at:
  3. "French govt to use Arabic ‘Daesh’ for Islamic State group," France 24,
  4. Randy Cassingham's "This is True®" column for 2015-DEC-13.
  5. "Randy Cassingham's 'This is True'® presents "bizarre-but-true news items from legitimate news outlets from around the world. Each story ends with a comment — a tagline which is humorous, ironic or opinionated (or with luck, some combination of the three)." A subscription to a basic version of his nwesletter is availabe FREE at: A unique publication that is not to be missed!
  6. Patrick Garrity, "Paris Attacks: What Does 'Daesh' Mean and Why Does ISIS Hate It?," NBC News, 2015-NOV-15, at:
  7. "Isis," Baby Center, as on 2015-DEC-28, at:

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Site navigation:

Home pageIslam > ISIS > here

Home page > World ReligionsIslam > ISIS > here

Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2015-DEC-28
Latest update : 2015-DEC-28
Author: B.A. Robinson

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