chapter
8 Pages

Introduction

Beyond ‘al-Qa’ida’ and politics: a sociological contribution? Since 2001, studies of militancy associated with Islam have shifted atten - tion from a generic ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ to domination by the spectre of al-Qa’ida. This form of militancy seems ubiquitous, yet without a distinct, substantive or quantifiable core, the same entity can appear nowhere. Populist coverage of the phenomena has tended to replicate these misapprehensions, understandably concentrating upon terror attacks and their physical impact. Gruesome images of dead Jews, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, agnostics, men, women, children, government officials, police officers, military personnel, bank employees, pop singers, journalists, authors, medical doctors, university students, school pupils, wedding guests and tourists have all been transmitted across the world. These pictures and the tendency to connect all acts of political violence committed by Muslims to a generic ‘al-Qa’ida’,1 have contributed to an inflation of a specific ‘Islamic threat’. To some extent, this is a consequence of political discourse in the West and media reporting. However, as the plethora of publications during these early years of the twenty-first century indicates, academics have also been heavily instrumental in these processes of inflation. Conse - quently, the obvious question to commence this book with is: Why is yet another text about militant Islam required?