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ISIS’s Will to Apocalypse


politics religion & ideologyJournal abstract

Close observers of ISIS have recognized the group’s apocalyptic ideology, but this apocalyptic dimension has not been treated with sufficient theoretical depth or historical understanding. Theoretically, analysts have not penetrated to the deeper experiences that make the ideology attractive to the group’s adherents. Historically, analysis has suffered from two deficiencies: first, the ideology has not been considered in the larger context of apocalyptic speculation as it developed in Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions, understanding each of which is essential for making ISIS’s apocalypticism intelligible. Nor has ISIS’s ideology been put in context of what may be called secular apocalyptic movements that emerged in the twentieth century, elements of which had an important shaping influence on assumptions of contemporary jihadism. This paper is an attempt to rectify these analytical deficiencies by identifying the existential dynamics and related theological or ideological constructions driving apocalyptic movements in general, and the ISIS movement in particular. The driving force behind revolutionary apocalyptic movements like that of ISIS is, I argue, a will to transform the elemental structure of reality.

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