The recent announcement in which the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) said it was creating an "Islamic caliphate" and installing Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as caliph makes a mockery of Islam, clerics and experts told Al-Shorfa.
In a June 29th audio recording, ISIL spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani announced the group was establishing an "Islamic caliphate" and that al-Baghdadi had "accepted the pledge" to serve as "Caliph of the Muslims".
The declaration means Muslims must pledge allegiance to al-Baghdadi and that the legitimacy of all other "Islamic states, emirates and organisations" will be annulled, al-Adnani said.
The ISIL would now be known as the "Islamic State", he said.
With this declaration, ISIL "reached the peak of its exploitation and distortion of Islam", said Al-Azhar University professor of sharia and law Sheikh Mahmoud al-Jabali.
"This announcement demonstrates the extent of its disrespect for the centuries-old Islamic legacies," he told Al-Shorfa.
"What this gang is doing in announcing the caliphate and the instalment of the caliph is nothing but lies and fabrications and an indication of the growing injustice exercised over people in the areas where they are now present in Syria and Iraq," he added.
In Islam, there are religious conditions and guidelines to be met in the creation of a caliphate which are not found in the case of the al-Baghdadi state, al-Jabali said.
ISIL's declaration "is a void announcement because it lacks the minimum pre-requisites of the Islamic state, which assumes the state has extended its control and authority on all territories", he said. "And what is meant by 'control' is control through words and persuasion, not by blood and killing, as ISIL is doing".
It is clear ISIL is distorting the concept of the caliphate for its own purposes, "which is something that no one can be convinced with except he who is ignorant in his faith", he added.
Furthermore, when choosing a legitimate caliph, multiple candidates should be presented in order for one of them to be chosen in a process similar to an election, al-Jabali said. There would be six initial candidates, with a final selection between the remaining two, rather than a unilateral declaration of authority.
ISIL's declaration forewarns an increase in the rift between ISIL and other al-Qaeda linked groups, said Maj. Gen. Yahya Mohammed Ali, a specialist on terror groups who is retired from the Egyptian army.
The announcement "foretells of further bloody fighting between ISIL and those opposing it in the areas under its control in Iraq and Syria, especially against al-Nusra Front (ANF), and other al-Qaeda-linked organisations", he said.
"Al-Adnani's announcement was a clear message to al-Qaeda, because the announcement of the caliphate annuls other 'Islamic states' and the mandate of their rulers, whether they belonged to ISIL or any other organisation," he said.
"Regrettably, ISIL, al-Qaeda and others thrive on the presence of those who lack religious knowledge and exploit their ignorance to brainwash them, turning them into obedient tools in their hands," Ali said.
The declaration of the "Islamic caliphate" and the naming of al-Baghdadi as caliph is "the completion of the bloody farce being played out in Syria and Iraq", said Sheikh Moaz Abdul Kareem, who was a preacher at the al-Omar Mosque in Aleppo, Syria, before moving to Cairo.
ISIL's resort to the title of caliph is nothing but an attempt to hide behind an Islamic, historical symbol in the face of opposition from most people who are not convinced with their presence to begin with, he told Al-Shorfa.
"One of the conditions for a caliph is that he should possess extensive knowledge in religious sciences and be a scholar of religion, but this condition is not found in al-Baghdadi, who is not one known for extensive knowledge in religion," Abdul Kareem said.
"If, for argument's sake, we accepted that ISIL is seeking to create a caliphate, the pledge of allegiance would not be made by his entourage and his soldiers, but by all the people of the territories which will be ruled by the alleged state," he said.
"This is one of the first conditions which must be fulfilled in appointing the new caliph, which is not found in this case, especially in the wake of the huge revulsion shown by the people of Syria against ISIL due to its unacceptable practices, which it conducts in the name of religion, such as oppressive detentions, the imposition of 'jizya tax', extortion and executions," he added.
The purpose behind declaring the state is to "ensure the existence of this gang known as ISIL" and the existence of additional gangs that follow it through voicing their allegiance, Abdul Kareem said.
Furthermore, ISIL is trying to lay its hands on available funds and resources in the areas it controls, he added.
Al-Adnani's claims regarding setting up all the religious aspects of the "Islamic state" are no more than "empty words lacking any meaning or substance", he said.
"Everyone knows how sharia and hadd punishment are applied in ISIL controlled areas, and against whom, as the majority of those on whom religious rulings are being applied are those opposing ISIL, not the criminals or the murderers, and clearly they are being killed in cold blood under the cover of religion," Abdul Kareem said.