Islamic state army policemen carry out night patrol in mosul
A file image shows Isis policemen carrying out night patrol in Mosul.Islamic State Nineveh Information Centre

Among a host of restrictions introduced by Islamic State (Isis) militants in the Iraqi city of Mosul is the ban on performing the traditional Taraweeh prayers during Ramadan, the violation of which resulted in the public flogging of some residents.

According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), Isis has declared the practice of Taraweeh prayers as 'Bid'ah', which in Arabic means religious improvisation.

The ultra-radical group had decreed that the Taraweeh prayers should not be performed as there is nothing religious about it and just a 'fad' invented by Saudi clerics. It is practised widely in Saudi Arabia.

Taraweeh prayers are performed by pious Muslims, including Salafists. Although Isis is an offshoot of salafism, the radical group has decreed that anyone found performing Taraweeh prayers will be flogged in public.

RFE/RL reported that on 21 June, eight Arab sheiks inside Mosul were publicly flogged after they were caught performing Taraweeh prayers secretly. 

Taraweeh is a set of special night prayers performed by Sunni Muslims during Ramadan. While Taraweeh is not compulsory, it is practised widely as many believe Prophet Mohammad himself used to perform it consistently.

Carool Kersten, an expert in Islamic studies from King's College, London, told RFE/RL that the ultrastrict measures of Isis could backfire.

"Isis ban on Taraweeh is indication of how narrow-minded and literal the group is," Kersten said.

Its understanding of several aspects of Islam is "fall off the spectrum," Kersten added.

Incidentally, Shia Muslims, who are considered heretics by Isis, also have a similar ban on Taraweeh prayers.