chapter  7
10 Pages


Sociological characteristics, causes and consequences In a number of ways this book has been designed to challenge normative standpoints. For example, contrary to popular opinion that depicts militant Islam as reactionary and antimodern, the religious interpretation is actually very much a product of our time. Yet conversely, as a discourse, it has existed in different forms during previous turbulent periods across local and global contexts. Two of the inspirational figures for contemporary doctrine, Qutb and Mawdudi, highlight this. During the mid parts of the twentieth century, before the obvious emergence of the contemporary militants, they were opposed to colonialism, imperialist controls, irreligious leaders, denial of liberty and argued for the need for modernity to be reinterpreted according to Islamic values and practices. On such issues, distinctions can be drawn with their ideological successors but, equally, common themes can be identified that help to explain their continuing resonance. Discursively, militant Islam, as it is recognized today, is a product of historical exegesis and events and contemporary adaptations that can vary according to location and experience. And just as characteristically, militancy today is a myriad of historical and contemporary Islamic doctrine interwoven with elements of Western political thought. The causes behind the phenomena are also diverse. It is therefore a mistake to overgeneralize through single causal factors because the diversity, both of discursive appeal and routes of radicalization, quickly disproves such an approach. This is not to state that popular explanations are invalid. On the contrary, economic exclusion, real and absolute poverty, threats from globalization, political suppression, cultural imperialism, alienation and anomie are all factors which can help to illuminate the contemporary nature of militancy, when established within a multilayered framework of explanation. This is what this book has set out to achieve.