ISIS is not re-enacting the seventh-century Arab conquests, even though some among its ranks may think they are. They’re nostalgic for a make-believe past, and those among them who know plenty about Islam’s first decades have conveniently revised medieval history to fit modern ideological needs…
Islam’s early spread focused on expanding the number of believers without wholesale destruction of existing social structures. In contrast, ISIS’s determined lack of capacity for negotiation is what sets it apart from the early Islamic conquests.
Given this context, ISIS’s insistence on an all-or-nothing caliphate isn’t “medieval” at all. It is a thoroughly modern group.
Why ISIS Isn’t Medieval