Click here to read ICSR’s latest report Polemical and Fratricidal Jihadists: A Historical Examination of Debates, Contestation and Infighting Within the Sunni Jihadi Movement

The Religious Foundations of Political Violence

The Religious Foundations of Political Violence

Building on a longstanding academic partnership, TRENDS Research & Advisory and the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR), based in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, have launched a major new project to examine the religious foundations of political violence.

Western thinking about the interplay between religion and violence has traditionally been influenced by the secularisation thesis of the 20th century. Most notably, the works of Marx and Weber posited that in the wake of progress and modernisation (however understood) human beings are more like to base their beliefs, identity and actions on rational scientific thought, rather than the supposedly mysticism of religion. Yet, it is clear that development and modernisation have not lead to a retreat in either the appeal – or indeed zeal – of religious conviction in the 21st century. If anything, the current rise of global disorder and insecurity could even be said to have led to an increase, in some parts of the world at least, in religious observance.

Some discussions about contemporary political violence consequently overlook or neglect the role of religious narratives – particularly in discussion about terrorist actors. This comes despite the fact groups like al-Qaeda and Islamic State clearly invoke and refer to a jurisprudential framework of obligation and necessity to explain their actions.

Recent Policy Reports

  • Aug132019

    Polemical and Fratricidal Jihadists: A Historical Examination of Debates, Contestation and Infighting Within the Sunni Jihadi Movement

    The full report can be accessed here. An overview of its findings can be found…

    Read more
  • Jul262019

    From Daesh to ‘Diaspora’ II: The Challenges Posed by Women and Minors After the Fall of the Caliphate

    This article was first published in the CTC Sentinel, July 2019, Volume 12, Issue 6.…

    Read more
  • May232019

    Erdoğan and the Last Quest for the Greenmantle

    By Saud al-Sarhan, King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies You can also find…

    Read more

Want to stay updated about ICSR’s work? Sign up to our mailing list here.