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Al-Qadā’ wa-l-Qadr: motivational representations of divine decree and predestination in salafi-jihadi literature


British Journal of Middle Eastern StudiesJournal abstract

This paper explores how the normative Islamic concepts of divine decree and predestination are used for motivational purposes in salafi-jihadi literature. These concepts are known as al-qaḍā’ wa-l-qadr within Islamic jurisprudence and assert that certain characteristics in an individual’s life—such as their lifespan, wealth and progeny—have already been preordained by God. Salafi-Jihadi groups, not least al-Qaeda and Islamic State, frame these concepts in unique and important ways to motivate their fighters on the battlefield, liberating them from fear of personal consequences. In particular, we examine the use of this concept not just to motivate fighters at a personal level, but also its role in maintaining morale during times of hardship, its ability to explain away failures and defeats, and its ability to project both momentum and success even when the facts suggest otherwise.

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