Besides removing supposed temptations to idolatry, Islamic jihadists want to destroy the artifacts of non-Muslim civilizations because doing so testifies to the truth of Islam, as the Qur’an suggests that the destroyed remnants of ancient non-Muslim civilizations 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. 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.
“Islamic State ‘blows up Palmyra arch,'” BBC, October 5, 2015:
Islamic State militants in northern Syria have blown up another monument in the ancient city of Palmyra, officials and local sources say.
The Arch of Triumph was “pulverised” by the militants who control the city, a Palmyra activist told AFP news agency.
It is thought to have been built about 2,000 years ago.
IS fighters have already destroyed two ancient temples at the site, described by Unesco as one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world.
“The Arch of Triumph was pulverised. IS has destroyed it,” Mohammad Hassan al-Homsi, an activist from Palmyra told AFP on Monday.
The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a group monitoring the conflict, said sources on the ground had confirmed the destruction.
Syrian antiquities chief Maamoun Abdul Karim also confirmed the news, and told Reuters news agency that if IS remains in control of Palmyra, “the city is doomed”….