This article examines the rationale behind ISIS’s (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) destruction of the historical monuments in the Iraqi town of Mosul. Their demolition campaign started shortly after this radical organization seized control of the town on June 10, 2014 and was systematically tracked by the authors during the first fifteen months of their control of Mosul. Analysis of satellite imagery, historical literature and ISIS’s propaganda material shows that the main object of their destruction was funerary architecture. The collected data has been interpreted within the context of the discourse regarding the destruction of graves in Salafi teachings. The article assumes that among the range of possible reasons for ISIS’s behaviour toward Mosul’s architecture, special importance should be ascribed to the religious doctrine of taswiyat al-qubur (the levelling of graves). This particular policy has been supported by Salafi scholars and ideologists and often vigorously invoked by religious institutions within Saudi Arabia.
Keywords: ISIS; Islamic State; Islamic architecture; heritage destruction; levelling of graves; taswiyat al-qubur
Melčák, Miroslav and Ondřej Beránek. "ISIS’s Destruction of Mosul’s Historical Monuments: Between Media Spectacle and Religious Doctrine." In International Journal of Islamic Architecture, Volume 6, Number 2 (pp. 389-415) , edited by Stephennie Mulder, Bristol: Intellect, 2017.