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Journal of Religion and Violence

Volume 7, Issue 2, 2019
Jihadi Culture and Ideology

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Displaying: 1-9 of 9 documents

1. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Pieter Nanninga Introduction: Jihadi Culture and Ideology
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2. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Mathias Müller Signs of the Merciful: ‘Abdullah ‘Azzam (d. 1989) and the Sacralization of History in Jihadist Literature, 1982–2002
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This article explores how battlefield miracles were experienced, explained, and debated in jihadist literature in the period between 1982–2002. Competing with the secular histories written by foreign journalists, diplomats, and communists, the study argues that the influential jihadist scholar ’Abdullah ‘Azzam (d. 1989) endeavored to write an alternate sacred history of the Soviet-Afghan War (1979–1989), the course of which was determined neither by military prowess or luck, but by the miracles granted by God. Perusing more than three hundred miracle stories compiled by ’Azzam, the article demonstrates that the wonderworking mujahidin were indebted to a longstanding and complex tradition that determined the varieties of miracles experienced in Afghanistan. Moreover, the mujahidin’s own miracle stories shed light on when and how miracles paralleled or diverged from past tradition while raising important questions about the threshold of the supernatural, the mujahidin’s spiritual rank, and their abilities to encounter miracles. However, both mujahidin and the general public occasionally doubted whether miracles had really occurred, and so the article attempts to replay the discussions that surrounded ‘Azzam’s miracle stories, paying attention to how they were published, circulated, and received in the Muslim world. In conclusion, the article remarks on how ‘Azzam’s writings have influenced the development of miracle stories in later jihadist literature by looking specifically at al-Qa’ida’s portrayal of 9/11.
3. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Pieter Nanninga “Cleansing the Earth of the Stench of Shirk”: The Islamic State’s Violence as Acts of Purification
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Current research on jihadism is dominated by the policy and security perspectives that characterize terrorism studies, leaving jihadist culture underexplored. As a result, jihadist violence is typically studied as instrumental actions related to the organizers’ strategic objectives. This paper, however, argues the violence should also be studied as a cultural practice, focusing on its symbolic aspects and cultural meanings for the actors involved. For this purpose, the paper focuses on the case of the Islamic State and, particularly, on the theme of purification in relation to the group’s violence. The relationship between violence and conceptions of purity/pollution is a longstanding theme in research on fundamentalism and mass violence, but these studies have hardly been integrated in the study of jihadism. This paper does so by relating insights from these fields to the case of the Islamic State. Drawing from the author’s extensive archive of Islamic State media releases, it identifies three types of violence to which conceptions of purity/pollution are central: the destruction of cultural heritage, the targeting of non-Muslim minorities, and the punishment of alleged sinners and spies. These acts of violence, the paper argues, are deemed to purify space, society, and the Muslim community, respectively. Perceiving the Islamic State’s violence from this perspective, provides insights into the cultural meanings of the Islamic State’s violence for the perpetrators and their supporters, and thus for grasping the appeal of the group that has become infamous for its bloodshed.
4. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
David B. Edwards Sheep to Slaughter: The Afghan Tragedy in Five Acts
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This essay seeks to articulate the process by which sacrifice took on new meanings, symbols, and practices in the context of the war in Afghanistan. It does so by examining five acts and the ‘axial figures’ associated with each of these acts, the first of which centers on the early efforts of Afghan political parties to change the focus of popular esteem from brave deeds to heroic deaths and the axial figure of veneration from the Warrior to the Martyr. The second act is associated with ‘Abdullah ‘Azzam who infused the figure of the Martyr with a sanctity long associated with the Sufi Saint by documenting miracles observed during and after the death of Afghan Arabs who died in the Afghan jihad. The third act involves the Taliban’s deployment of public rituals that altered the focus of sacrificial violence from collective veneration of the Martyr to the punishment of criminals who had defiled the purity of the jihad. The fourth act is associated with Osama Bin Laden who exploited the potential of using bodies as weapons of mass destruction, in the process turning the figure of the Suicide Bomber into one of the key symbols of our age. The fifth and final act discussed here involves the rise of the Islamic State and its synthesis of diverse forms of sacrificial violence, expanding and recasting these elements in a symbolic register derived from popular media and centered around the figure of the Slaughterer.
5. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Mohammed M. Hafez Not My Brother’s Keeper: Factional Infighting in Armed Islamist Movements
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Islamists in civil wars often prioritize their factional conflicts above the collective goals of their movements. They end up fighting and killing each other despite having mutual state adversaries and shared normative commitments. This reality raises an intriguing puzzle. How can Islamists justify fratricidal practices given the ubiquity of Quranic scripture and prophetic traditions that prevail upon them to unite and refrain from infighting. This article explores two religious narratives that rationalize violent infighting between Islamist factions. The Victorious Sect narrative depicts rival Islamist factions as insufficiently Islamic by harboring political pluralism and nationalism in their ideological platforms. These deviations from orthodoxy are proof of their ineligibility to lead the Islamist movement. The other narrative depicts rival factions as modern day Kharijites or Muslim extremists that must be repelled and driven out of the Islamist movement because they undermine its legitimacy. Although these narratives do not necessarily drive factional struggles for power, they are important because they rationalize and publicly justify the highly controversial act of Islamists killing one another in their quest for movement supremacy.
book reviews
6. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Amir Hussain Republic of Islamophobia: The Rise of Respectable Racism in France, by Jim Wolfreys; and American Islamophobia: Understanding the Roots and Rise of Fear, by Khaled A. Beydoun
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7. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Hina Azam Guardians of God: Inside the Religious Mind of the Pakistani Taliban. Mona Kanwal Sheikh
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8. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Matthew Brake Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence, Fourth Edition. Mark Juergensmeyer
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9. Journal of Religion and Violence: Volume > 7 > Issue: 2
Sarah M. Hedgecock Cold War Monks: Buddhism and America’s Secret Strategy in Southeast Asia. Eugene Ford
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