Refuting jihadism


Western policy-makers and academics have focused in recent years on the need to provide an effective counter-narrative to the global jihadist movement, say two leading analysts. The common threads in radicalization literature suggest a critical element of the counter-narrative should be undermining the theological authenticity of jihadist ideology, Rashad Ali and Hannah Stuart write for Current Trends in Islamist Ideology.

The ideas outlined in their article show the type of arguments that can be used to refute claims made by Islamist militants and extremists, they write, noting that the original report published by the Henry Jackson Society (UK) on which the paper is based received endorsements from Muslim scholars in the UK, former leaders of European jihadist networks, and academics and security experts across Europe.

Jihadists are heretics

Understanding he traditional plurality of views and interpretations of the primary sources of Islamic law is crucial to undermining the legitimacy of jihadist ideology, Ali and Stuart observe:

The purpose is to demonstrate that jihadist claims to represent “authentic Islam” as it is found in the traditional sources and interpretations of Islamic law are false. In fact, as many scholars have argued, the jihadist understanding of Islam and edicts on warfare are actually heterodox innovations. Traditional legal opinions directly refute the jihadist movement’s claim to represent the only acceptable theological approach to these issues just as they challenge the extremist idea that traditional Islam mandates or requires jihadist struggle against modernity. Most important, this helps to undermine the main source of jihadism’s current ideological and religious strength—that is, the extremist claim to be the “true Muslims” who are fighting modernity—and it helps to show that the jihadists are, in fact, heretics.


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