On The Origin Of The ‘Name' DAESH – The Islamic State In Iraq And as-Sham
It seems more and more Western media
are using the derogatory DAESH when they're talking
about the Islamic State in Iraq and as-Shām (commonly
known as ISIS).
As nobody seems to have the faintest idea what DAESH
stands for, here's an attempt to explain.
The capitals in the word DAESH point out it is an
acronym of some sort. And indeed if we single out the
beginning letters of the Arabic name for ISIS : الدولة
الاسلامية في العراق والشام
we get the Arabic: داعش
د = Dawlat (Nation)
ا = (al-) Islāmiyya
ع= (fī'l-) ‘Irāq
ش = (wa's-) Shām (Greater Syria or the Levant)
So, roughly transcribed to the Latin alphabet that
leaves us wit DAESH. (The E stands for the ‘ayn in
At first the name DAESH was merely an acronym indeed.
Activists and more moderate rebel coalitions used it
as referral to Dawlat al-Islāmiyya fī al-Irāq wa s-Shām.
But it didn't take long before all kinds of
In se the Arabic word داعش doesn't even exist. But if
we look at the tone of voice within circles (opposing
ISIS) ever since they introduced the acronym, we might
conclude the acronym has a double meaning.
Most likely ISIS opponents are referring to the Arabic
verb دعس, meaning : to thread underfoot, trample down,
crush (see The Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written
Arabic, p. 325 and 326)
Another theory is that the name refers to the
Jāhiliyya (pre-Islamic) strife between two Arab tribes
on the Arabian peninsula : داحس والغبراء
Dāhis wa'l-Ghabrā' can be literary translated as
‘felon and dust' (see http://ar.wikipedia.org/wiki/داحس_والغبراء
). This referral seems to have a more theological
background yet it seems unlikely all sources using
this would have in debt knowledge of the Jāhiliyya.