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"Jihadism" (also "jihadist movement", "jihadi movement" and variants) is a 21st-century neologism found in Western languages to describe Islamist movements perceived as military movements "rooted in Islam" and "existentially threatening" to the West. It has been described as a "difficult term to define precisely", because it remains a recent neologism with no single, generally accepted meaning. The term "jihadism" first appeared in South Asian media; Western journalists adopted it in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks of 2001. It has since been applied to various insurgent and terrorist movements whose ideology is based on the Islamic notion of jihad.
Contemporary jihadism ultimately has its roots in the late 19th- and early 20th-century ideological developments of Islamic revivalism, which developed into Qutbism and related ideologies during the mid-20th century.
The terrorist organisations partaking in the Soviet–Afghan War of 1979 to 1989 reinforced the rise of jihadism, which has been propagated in various armed conflicts throughout the 1990s and 2000s. Gilles Kepel has diagnosed a specifically Salafi jihadism within the Salafi movement of the 1990s.
Jihadism with an international, Pan-Islamist scope is also known as global jihadism. Studies show that with the rise of ISIS, many European Muslims, from countries like the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, France, and Switzerland, traveled to Syria to join the global Jihad.
The term "jihadism" has been in use since the 1990s more widely after 9/11 attacks. It was first used in the Indian and Pakistani media, and by French academics who used the more exact term "jihadist-Salafist".[Note 1]
According to Martin Kramer as of 2003, "jihadism is used to refer to the most violent persons and movements in contemporary Islam, including al-Qaeda." David Romano has defined his use of the term as referring to "an individual or political movement that primarily focuses its attention, discourse, and activities on the conduct of a violent, uncompromising campaign that they term a jihad". Following Daniel Kimmage, he distinguishes the jihadist discourse of jihad as a global project to remake the world from the resistance discourse of groups like Hizbullah, which is framed as a regional project against a specific enemy.
The term "jihadist globalism" is also often used in relation to jihadism. Academic Manfred Steger proposes an extension of the term "jihadist globalism" to apply to all extremely violent strains of religiously influenced ideologies that articulate the global imaginary into concrete political agendas and terrorist strategies (these include Al Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiyah, Hamas and Hezbollah, which he finds "today's most spectacular manifestation of religious globalism").
"Jihad Cool" is a term used by Western security experts concerning the re-branding of militant jihadism into something fashionable, or "cool", to younger people through social media, magazines, rap videos, toys, propaganda videos, and other means. It is a sub-culture mainly applied to individuals in developed nations who are recruited to travel to conflict zones on jihad. For example, jihadi rap videos make participants look "more MTV than Mosque", according to NPR, which was the first to report on the phenomenon in 2010.
Maajid Nawaz, founder and chairman of the anti-extremism think tank Quilliam, defines Jihadism as a violent subset of Islamism: "Islamism [is] the desire to impose any version of Islam over any society. Jihadism is the attempt to do so by force."
Islamic revivalism and Salafism (1990s to present)Edit
According to scholar of Islam and Islamic history Rudoph Peters, contemporary traditionalist Muslims "copy phrases of the classical works on fiqh" in their writings on jihad; Islamic Modernists "emphasize the defensive aspect of jihad, regarding it as tantamount to bellum justum in modern international law; and the contemporary fundamentalists (Abul Ala Maududi, Sayyid Qutb, Abdullah Azzam, etc.) view it as a struggle for the expansion of Islam and the realization of Islamic ideals."
Jihad has been propagated in modern fundamentalism beginning in the late 19th century, an ideology that arose in the context of struggles against colonial powers in North Africa in the late 19th century, as in the Mahdist War in Sudan, and notably in the mid-20th century by Islamic revivalist authors such as Sayyid Qutb and Abul Ala Maududi.
The term jihadism (earlier Salafi jihadism) has arisen in the 2000s to refer to the contemporary jihadi movements, the development of which was in retrospect traced to developments of Salafism paired with the origins of Al-Qaeda in the Soviet–Afghan War during the 1990s.
Jihadism has been called an "offshoot" of Islamic revivalism of the 1960s and 1970s. The writings of Sayyid Qutb and Mohammed Abdul-Salam Farag provide inspiration. The Soviet–Afghan War (1979–1989) is said to have "amplified the jihadist tendency from a fringe phenomenon to a major force in the Muslim world." It served to produce foot soldiers, leadership and organization. Abdullah Yusuf Azzam provided propaganda for the Afghan cause. After the war veteran jihadists returned to their home countries and dispersed to other sites of conflicts involving Muslim populations such as Algeria, Bosnia and Chechnya creating a "transnational jihadist stream."
- Kashmir conflict (Lashkar-e-Taiba, 1990–present)
- Somali Civil War (1991–present)
- Algerian Civil War (1991-2002)
- Bosnian war (Bosnian mujahideen, 1992–1995)
- Afghan civil war (Taliban 1994–present)
- East Turkestan irredentism (East Turkestan Islamic Movement, 1997–present)
- Chechen war and Insurgency in the North Caucasus (Arab Mujahideen in Chechnya, 1994–present)
- Nigerian Sharia conflict (Boko Haram 2001–present)
- Iraqi insurgency (Islamic State of Iraq, 2003–present)
- Al-Qaeda insurgency in Yemen (Abyan Governorate, 2010–present)
- Syrian Civil War (Al-Nusra Front to Protect the Levant 2011–present)
- Syrian Civil War (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant 2013–present)
An explanation for jihadist willingness to kill civilians and self-professed Muslims on the grounds that they were actually apostates (takfir) is the vastly reduced influence of the traditional diverse class of ulama, often highly educated Islamic jurists. In "the vast majority" of Muslim countries during the post-colonial world of the 1950s and 60s the private religious endowments (awqaf) that had supported the independence of the Islamic scholars/jurists for centuries were taken over by the state. The jurists were made salaried employees and the nationalist rulers naturally encouraged their employees (and their employees interpretations of Islam) to serve the rulers' interests. Inevitably the jurists came to be seen by the Muslim public as doing so.
Into this vacuum of religious authority came aggressive proselytizing funded by tens of billions of dollars of petroleum-export money. The version of Islam being propagated (Saudi doctrine of Wahhabism) billed itself as a return to pristine, simple, straightforward Islam, not one school among many, and not interpreting divine law historically or contextually, but the one, orthodox "straight path" of Islam. Unlike the traditional teachings of the jurists who tolerated and even celebrated divergent opinions and schools of thought and kept extremism marginalized, Wahhabism had "extreme hostility" to "any sectarian divisions within Islam".
The term jihadist is almost exclusively used to describe Sunni extremists. In Syria, where there are thousands of foreign Muslim fighters engaged in the civil war, for example, non-Syrian Shia are often referred to as "militia", and Sunni foreigners as "jihadists" (or "would-be jihadists").[Note 3][Note 4] One who does use the term "Shia jihad" is Danny Postel, who complains that "this Shia jihad is largely left out of the dominant narrative." Other authors see the ideology of "resistance" (Arabic: muqawama) as more dominant even among extremist shia groups. Therefore, and for the disambiguation, they suggest to use the term "muqawamist" instead.
According to Shadi Hamid and Rashid Dar, jihadism is driven by the idea that jihad is an "individual obligation" (fard ‘ayn) incumbent upon all Muslims. This is in contrast with the belief of Muslims up until now (and by contemporary non-jihadists) that jihad is a "collective obligation" (fard kifaya) carried out according to orders of legitimate representatives of the Muslim community. Jihadist insist all Muslims should participate because (they believe) today's Muslim leaders are illegitimate and do not command the authority to ordain justified violence.
The Syrian Civil War became a focus for Sunni fighters waging jihad on Shia. The al-Nusra Front is the largest jihadist group in Syria. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has called for jihad against the Syrian government and against that government's Shi'ite allies. Saudi Arabia backs the jihad against the Shia in Syria using proxies. Sunni jihadi converge in Syria from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, Kuwait, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Morocco, as well as other Arab states with Chechnya, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Western countries.
During the Soviet-Afghan war in the 1980s, many Muslims received calls for a jihad against atheists. Mujahideen were recruited from various countries including Egypt, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. The conflict gradually turned from one against occupation to one seen as a jihad.
- Gilles Kepel used the variants jihadist-salafist (p. 220), jihadism-salafism (p. 276), salafist-jihadism (p. 403) in his book Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam (Harvard: Harvard University Press, 2002)
- Use of "jihadism" has been criticized by at least one academic (Brachman): "'Jihadism' is a clumsy and controversial term. It refers to the peripheral current of extremist Islamic thought whose adherents demand the use of violence in order to oust non-Islamic influence from traditionally Muslim lands en route to establishing true Islamic governance in accordance with Sharia, or God's law. The expression's most significant limitation is that it contains the word Jihad, which is an important religious concept in Islam. For much of the Islamic world, Jihad simply refers to the internal spiritual campaign that one wages with oneself."
- For example: "The battle has drawn Shiite militias from Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan on the side of Assad, even as Sunni would-be jihadists from around the world have filled the ranks of the many Islamist groups fighting his rule, including the Islamic State extremist group."
- The Iranian government has drawn from Afghan refugees living in Iran and the number of Afghans fighting in Syria on behalf of the Assad regime has been estimated at "between 10,000 and 12,000".
- Compare: Hammer, Olav; Rothstein, Mikael, eds. (2012). "16". The Cambridge Companion to New Religious Movements. Cambridge University Press. p. 263. ISBN 9781107493551. Archived from the original on 2016-06-03. Retrieved 2018-03-03.
'Jihadism' is a term that has been constructed in Western languages to describe militant Islamic movements that are perceived as existentially threatening to the West. Western media have tended to refer to Jihadism as a military movement rooted in political Islam.
- Hammer, Olav; Rothstein, Mikael, eds. (2012). "16". The Cambridge Companion to New Religious Movements. Cambridge University Press. p. 263. ISBN 9781107493551. Archived from the original on 2016-06-03. Retrieved 2018-03-03.
'Jihadism,' like the word jihad out of which it is constructed, is a difficult term to define precisely. The meaning of Jihadism is a virtual moving target because it remains a recent neologism and no single, generally accepted meaning has been developed for it.
- Martin Kramer (Spring 2003). "Coming to Terms: Fundamentalists or Islamists?". Middle East Quarterly. X (2): 65–77. Archived from the original on 2015-01-01. Retrieved 2011-05-11. "French academics have put the term into academic circulation as 'jihadist-Salafism.' The qualifier of Salafism—an historical reference to the precursor of these movements—will inevitably be stripped away in popular usage. "Jihadist-Salafism" is defined by Gilles Kepel, Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam (Harvard: Harvard University Press, 2002), pp. 219-22; and Guilain Deneoux, "The Forgotten Swamp: Navigating Political Islam," Middle East Policy, June 2002, pp. 69-71."
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- Gilles Kepel, Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam (Harvard: Harvard University Press, 2002), pp. 219-22
- Hekmatpour, Peyman; Burns, Thomas J. (2019). "Perception of Western governments' hostility to Islam among European Muslims before and after ISIS: the important roles of residential segregation and education". The British Journal of Sociology. 70 (5): 2133–2165. doi:10.1111/1468-4446.12673. ISSN 1468-4446. PMID 31004347.
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- and by Guilain Deneoux, "The Forgotten Swamp: Navigating Political Islam," Middle East Policy, June 2002, pp. 69-71."
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- Brachman 2008, p. 4.
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- Rudolph Peters, Jihad in Modern Terms: A Reader 2005, p. 107 and note p. 197. John Ralph Willis, "Jihad Fi Sabil Allah", in: In the Path of Allah: The Passion of al-Hajj ʻUmar: an essay into the nature of charisma in Islam, Routledge, 1989, ISBN 978-0-7146-3252-0, 29–57. "Gibb [Mohammedanism, 2nd ed. 1953] rightly could conclude that one effect of the renewed emphasis in the nineteenth century on the Qur'an and Sunna in Muslim fundamentalism was to restore to jihad fi sabilillah much of the prominence it held in the early days of Islam. Yet Gibb, for all his perception, did not consider jihad within the context of its alliance to ascetic and revivalist sentiments, nor from the perspectives which left it open to diverse interpretations." (p. 31)
- Commins, David (2009). The Wahhabi Mission and Saudi Arabia. I.B.Tauris. p. 174.
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The guardians of the Islamic tradition were the jurists.
- Kepel, Gilles (2006). Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam. I.B. Tauris. p. 51. ISBN 9781845112578. Archived from the original on 2016-05-14. Retrieved 2016-03-23.
Well before the full emergence of Islamism in the 1970s, a growing constituency nicknamed 'petro-Islam' included Wahhabi ulemas and Islamist intellectuals and promoted strict implementation of the sharia in the political, moral and cultural spheres; this proto-movement had few social concerns and even fewer revolutionary ones.
- Abou El Fadl, Khaled (2002). The Place of Tolerance in Islam by Khaled Abou El Fadl The Place of Tolerance in Islam. Beacon Press. pp. 8–9. Retrieved 21 December 2015.
The guardians of the Islamic tradition were the jurists.
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- The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global - Page 68, Fawaz A. Gerges - 2009 -
- Aging Early: Collapse of the Oasis of Liberties - Page 47, Mirza Aman - 2009
- Withdrawing Under Fire, Joshua L. Gleis - 2011
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- Zahid, Farhan (8 January 2020). "Jihadism in South Asia: A militant landscape in flux". www.mei.edu. Washington, D.C.: Middle East Institute. Retrieved 7 September 2020.