Join getAbstract to access the summary!

Jihad and Death

Join getAbstract to access the summary!

Jihad and Death

The Global Appeal of Islamic State

Oxford UP,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Why are Western-born youths embracing Jihadism?

Editorial Rating



  • Analytical
  • Innovative
  • Background


Seemingly random attacks on public transportation or in public spaces, at concerts, movies, markets and workplaces – this is the earmark of modern terrorism. Since 1995, the world has witnessed a rise in terror attacks committed on Western soil by people with European or American citizenship. You’ve heard the usual speculation in the media, including narratives meant to either support or reduce immigration, implicate or vindicate Islam, or elevate one candidate’s policies over another’s. But, as French political scientist Olivier Roy argues in his analysis of “homegrown” radicalism, the perpetrators of violent acts often aren’t who you’d expect: lifelong religious fundamentalists, or Muslims who have suffered persecution, financial hardship or cultural alienation. So, what is modern Jihadism’s relation to Islam exactly, and why are Westernized youths embracing terrorism? According to Roy, the answer lies within Western culture itself, and in the ways modern terrorist groups like the Islamic State frame their activities in the content they distribute online. getAbstract recommends Roy’s analysis to readers who wish to know more about “homegrown” terrorism in the West.


From Jihad to Jihadism

Some call jihad the “sixth pillar” of Islam, or the “absent obligation” – a term coined by the Egyptian political theorist Abd el-Salam Faraj in the 1950s. While jihad has always had a military meaning, and is referenced in the Quran, regulations meant to impose limitations on jihad and avoid violent escalations have existed since the concept’s inception. Jihad is appropriate only in response when non-Muslims attack a community of Muslims, and even then jihad is incumbent only upon those of that specific community. Only religious authorities can declare jihad, and it cannot be declared against Muslims. An individual fighter cannot declare himself as a jihadist. Volunteers for jihad must have permission from their fathers, they must not be in debt, and their families must have adequate provision. 

Because of these regulations, calls for jihad have occurred very rarely for most of Islamic history. The Ottomans made infrequent use of the concept, and though jihad was part of the war of 1914, it had no effect on events. A similar call was issued during anticolonial struggles in Sudan...

About the Author

Olivier Roy is a French political scientist who writes about secularism and the global and political aspects of Islam. He teaches at the European University Institute in Italy.

Comment on this summary

More on this topic

Customers who read this summary also read

Related Channels