Like Judaism and Christianity – and strongly influenced by them – Islam has a powerful eschatological strain. It anticipates the end of the world and a final historical confrontation between good and evil, after which human life is set to be miraculously transformed. And according to one reading of Islamic tradition (hadith), the place where this final malahim (apocalypse) will happen is – of all places – Dabiq. This is where the Muslim and Christian armies will finally face each other and the Crusaders will be destroyed. And this is why Dabiq is the name on the lips of Isis recruiting sergeants.

It is worth noting that Isis is extremely selective in its use of hadith. For instance, other parts of the tradition have it that Jesus, dressed in yellow robes, will return east of Damascus and will join forces with the Islamic messiah, the Mahdi, in a battle against the false messiah, the Dajjal. After the death of the Mahdi, it is the Muslim Jesus who will rule the Earth. This hadith is less useful to Isis, though its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, looks to many observers to be trying to style himself as the Mahdi.




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