Islamic State Selling Message With Glossy English Magazine

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The second issue of the Islamic State's magazine Dabiq has been released by the Al-Hayat Media Center, the Islamic State's propaganda arm, that produces the groups recruitment and music videos. 

The first issue bills itself as "a periodical magazine focusing on the issues of tawhid (unity), manhaj (truth-seeking), hijrah (migration), jihad (holy war) and jama'ah (community). It will also contain photo reports, current events, and informative articles on matters relating to the Islamic State."

The magazines portray the Islamic State as they see themselves, boasting of their victories and painting a romantic image of the restoration of an Islamic golden age based on holy war. Whole sections are devoted to praising the execution of perceived heretics and the demolition of ancient monuments.

In the first section of the first issue, the Islamic State explains the name of the magazine, Dabiq, which references the Muslim story of the apocalypse. It says, "As for the name of the magazine, then it is taken from the area named Dabiq in the northern countryside of Halab (Aleppo) in Sham [Syria]. This place was mentioned in a hadith describing some of the events of the Malahim (what is sometimes referred to as Armageddon in English). One of the greatest battles between the Muslims and the Crusaders will take place near Dabiq."

This sets the general tone of the magazine, building on and encouraging the Islamic State's record of violence and exhorting its supporters to join what it regards as the wars of God.  

In the foreword of the second issue, they lay out their position clearly: "Many readers are probably asking about their obligations towards the Khilafah right now." This opening statement alone displays a presumption and self-confidence built on the strength of their ideological convictions and shored up by their battlefield successes. The Islamic State assumes and demands loyalty from all Muslims worldwide, as they made in clear in their declaration of a caliphate (khilafah) on the first day of the Muslim month of Ramadan.

The answer is even more presumptuous: "The first priority is to perform hijrah [migration] from wherever you are to the Islamic State, from dar al-kufr [land under infidel control] to dar al-Islam [land under Islamic control]."

Hijrah is migration, meaning that all readers should move immediately to the Islamic State. Kufr is an Arabic term meaning "non-believer." In Islamist ideology, the world is divided into darul-kufr, the lands of the infidel, and darul-Islam, the land of Islam. Such a characterization draws the stark difference the Islamic State want to show, between them and everyone else.

Dabiq is outspoken in portraying the beliefs of the Islamic State in the simplest terms. Anti-Semitism is rife across the magazine, not explained or pushed, but included almost carelessly, showing how embedded that thought pattern is in the ideology of radical Islam. On page four of the second issue, the editor comments on the Gaza conflict, saying, "It is only a matter of time and patience before it [the Islamic State] reaches Palestine to fight the barbaric jews…[sic]" 

In the first issue they are even blunter, dividing the world into two camps: "The camp of the Muslims and the mujahidin [jihadist warriors] everywhere and the camp of the jews, the crusaders, their allies, and with them the rest of the nations and religions of kufr, all being led by America and Russia, and being mobilized by the jews."

Despite this radical and total ideological conviction, they reveal a certain amount of pragmatism and flexibility in their approach. If one is unable to move to the Islamic State, "Then try in your location to organize bay'at (pledges of allegiance) to the Caliph Ibrahim." 

They recognize the danger in doing so, saying: "If you live in a police state that will arrest you over such bay'at, then use means of anonymity to convey such bay'at to the world." 

They even allow for the possibility of Muslims who might not want to take the Bay'at, saying, "Insha'allah your intention and belief that the Islamic State is the Khilafah for all Muslims will be sufficient…"

They also attempt to build support by detailing social services they provide, such as donations of "meat to the needy" and the consultative approach taken in building support among local tribal leaders.

The magazine's entire structure and purpose is to build their legitimacy in the Muslim world. Their tactic seems to be that by asserting that their claims are valid with seemingly unshakeable confidence, the assertion will go unquestioned.

Dabiq also features pieces that attempt to build and demonstrate a logical foundation for their ideology, but such attempts are couched in the terms of reinforcing the faith of believers, rather than persuading those with no affiliation.

For example, a five-part feature is included comparing the current geopolitical situation to the story of Noah and the Flood, with the Islamic State in the role of Noah.


Dabiq is glossy, extremely well-presented and clear with slick, professional graphic design. It seems evident that it was written by native English speakers and a very talented production staff. The different sections are color-coded based on the kind of piece (article, report, etc.) and each issue conforms holistically to an overarching theme.

The first issue was about the declaration of the caliphate (khilafah) and the second issue attempts to create awe to entice Muslims into joining the Islamic State. The second issue also focuses on trying to dissuade any dissent from within the ranks of their possible supporters.

What Dabiq shows in no uncertain terms is the mentality of the Islamic State: confident and utterly devoted to its ideology. It clearly divides the world into two: those who agree with its racist, violent and hegemonic platform and those who do not. It shows an organization with ambition, resources and talent behind it which will not stop until either it achieves its aims or is utterly destroyed.

Given that its stated aim is world domination, the world must take the Islamic State very seriously indeed. 

Access all issues of the Islamic State's (ISIS, ISIL) magazine Dabiq

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