Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

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NPTG 8545

Jihad,Apocalypse and Terrorism

Across 15 centuries of Islamic history, jihad fi sabil Allah ("holy war in the path of Allah") and eschatological fervor have often gone hand-in-hand, since the primary messianic figure in Islam, the Mahdi, operates first and foremost as an apocalyptic military commander. While not all jihads have been Mahdist, it's almost always the case that movements centered around such a "rightly-guided one"--whether Sunni or Shi`i--become violent: major examples of such include Ibn Tumart and his al-Muwahhids (Almohads) in the medieval Maghrib; Shah Isma'il and the 16th century Iranian Safavids; and Muhammad's Ahmad's 19th century Sudanese "dervishes." Such men created states which lasted for decades and even, at times, for centuries. Apocalyptic jihads more frequently, however, remained at the level of what today would be called non-state "insurgencies." The Ottoman Empire was bedeviled by such--as is the modern Muslim world, with overtly eschatological movements arising from Morocco to the Middle East. Both the Islamic State (ISIS) and Jabhat al-Nusra have openly proclaimed their End Times motivations. This seminar will compare and contrast, across space and time, jihadist and eschatological movements in the Islamic world, with an aim of allowing history to illuminate current, relevant Islamic doctrines, trends and organizations.
Subject:
Nonproliferatn&Terrorsm Stdies
Department:
Nonproliferatn&Terrorsm Stdies
Division:
Intl Policy & Management
Requirements Fulfilled:

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