Besides removing supposed temptations to idolatry, Islamic jihadists want to ruin the artifacts of non-Muslim civilizations because doing so testifies to the truth of Islam, as the Qur’an suggests that ruins are a sign of Allah’s punishment of those who rejected his truth:
Many were the Ways of Life that have passed away before you: travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those who rejected Truth. (Qur’an 3:137)
This is one of the foundations of the Islamic idea that pre-Islamic civilizations, and non-Islamic civilizations, are all jahiliyya — the society of unbelievers, which is worthless. Obviously this cuts against the idea of tourism of ancient sites and non-Muslim religious installations such as St. Catherine’s monastery. V. S. Naipaul encountered this attitude in his travels through Muslim countries. For many Muslims, he observed in Among the Believers, “The time before Islam is a time of blackness: that is part of Muslim theology. History has to serve theology.” Naipaul recounted that some Pakistani Muslims, far from valuing the nation’s renowned archaeological site at Mohenjo Daro, saw its ruins as a teaching opportunity for Islam, recommending that Qur’an 3:137 be posted there as a teaching tool.
“Another blow to Christianity and civilisation: ISIS destroy 4th Century Mar Benham monastery in Iraq,” by John Hall, MailOnline, March 19, 2015:
Barbaric Islamic State militants have dealt yet another blow to Christian history in Iraq by using explosives to destroy the 4th Century Mar Benham monastery.
The ancient building, built by Assyrian king Senchareb 1,600 years ago, stood in the Christian-dominated town of Bakhdida, just 20 miles south east of oil rich ISIS stronghold Mosul.
Locals took to social media to share images of the massive blast, which reduced the ancient monastery to little more than vast piles of rubble.
The attack was later confirmed by Kurdish journalists familiar with developments in the city.
Mar Benham monastery was captured by ISIS last July in a lightning advance that saw the militants seize control of vast swathes of northern Iraq – including the country’s second largest city, Mosul.
Resident monks who live in the building – which is also known as the Monastery of the Martyrs Saint Behnam and his Sister Sarah, and was once visited by thousands of Christians and Muslims every year – were subsequently forced to leave and flee to nearby Christian villages.
The destruction of the religious building was subsequently confirmed by Barzan Sadiq, executive producer at Kurdish Rudaw media network, according to the International Business Times.
‘#ISIS blew the monastery of the two martyrs “Mar Behnam & His sister Sarah Mart”,which dates back to the fourteenth century eastern #Mosul,’ he was quoted as saying on Twitter, citing the Islamic calender.
The destruction of the monastery came just days it was claimed that ‘ancient’ statues infamously filmed being smashed to pieces by ISIS militants in a Mosul museum were all worthless fakes.
The terrorist organisation released shocking footage at the end of February purportedly showing jihadis destroying 3,000-year-old artworks with sledgehammers in their northern Iraqi stronghold.
But Baghdad museum director Fawzye al-Mahdi ridiculed the propaganda exercise, claiming the genuine priceless Assyrian and Akkadian statues and sculptures are still safely in his possession in the Iraqi capital, adding that those in Mosul were plaster cast replicas….
That would be a relief, if true.