Despite its claim to the contrary, ISIS is largely political, borne out of the conflicts in Syria and Iraq, said Khaled Abou el-Fadl, an Islamic law scholar at the University of California Los Angeles. The group, he said, is trying to make God "a co-conspirator in a genocidal project." Ahmed al-Dawoody, an assistant professor at the Institute for Islamic World Studies at Zayed University in Dubai, agreed.ISIS not only misreads the texts it cites, most clerics say, it also ignores Quranic verses and a long body of clerical scholarship requiring mercy, preservation of life and protection of innocents and setting out rules of war, all of which are binding in sharia. Many mainstream clerics compare the group to the Khawarij, an early sect that was so notorious for "takfir," or declaring other Muslims heretics for even simple sins, that it was rejected by other Muslim groups. In June, ISIS militants declared a caliphate in the lands it controls in Iraq and Syria, with its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as caliph, a declaration roundly ridiculed by Muslim clerics of all stripes. But here too, the group went further, saying that Islam requires the existence of a caliphate and anyone who refuses to recognize its declaration is not a true Muslim. "The hopes of the caliphate became an undeniable reality," the group proclaimed in its online magazine. Any Muslim who refuses ISIS authority will be "dealt with by the decisive law of God." After that, the stream of ISIS recruits swelled by the thousands.
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