Militant Islam : A sociology of characteristics, causes and consequences book cover
1st Edition

Militant Islam
A sociology of characteristics, causes and consequences

ISBN 9780415412452
Published December 10, 2008 by Routledge
224 Pages

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Book Description

Militant Islam provides a sociological framework for understanding the rise and character of recent Islamic militancy. It takes a systematic approach to the phenomenon and includes analysis of cases from around the world, comparisons with militancy in other religions, and their causes and consequences.

The sociological concepts and theories examined in the book include those associated with social closure, social movements, nationalism, risk, fear and ‘de-civilising’. These are applied within three main themes; characteristics of militant Islam, multi-layered causes and the consequences of militancy, in particular Western reactions within the ‘war on terror’. Interrelationships between religious and secular behaviour, ‘terrorism’ and ‘counter-terrorism’, popular support and opposition are explored. Through the examination of examples from across Muslim societies and communities, the analysis challenges the popular tendency to concentrate upon ‘al-Qa’ida’ and the Middle East.

This book will be of interest to students of Sociology, Political Science and International Relations, in particular those taking courses on Islam, religion, terrorism, political violence and related regional studies.

Table of Contents

Introduction  1. The al-Qa’ida Phenomenon and beyond: Myths and Realities  2. Militant Islam in Local, National and Transnational Networks  3. Re-Interpreting the Umma: Islamic Nationalism and Transnationalism  4. Social Closure and Takfir: The Interrelationship between Secular and Militant ‘Switchmen’  5. Challenging the Risk Society: Contextualising the Impact of ‘Islamic’ Terrorism  6. Reacting to the Militant Risk: De-civilising in the name of Civilisation  Conclusion

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Stephen Vertigans is Reader in Sociology at Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. He has written and co-written a series of books, articles and conference papers on Muslim communities, terrorism and religion, especially resurgent and militant Islam, and is currently researching a range of terror groups across the world.


Written in a clear and direct style, Stephen Vertigans’ text provides a comprehensive and reliable guide to modern Islamic movements around the world. Militant Islam is a valuable analysis of Muslim responses to the West that dispels modern myths about terrorism and holy wars. This sociological perspective on contemporary Muslim politics is a welcome addition to the literature on radicalism.

Bryan Turner, National University of Singapore


At last we have a book that brings sociological insights into religion and social movements to bear on militant Islam. It goes well beyond a narrow preoccupation with politics and al-Qa’ida, showing that militancy among Muslims is diverse and has complex causes which challenge the basis for the War on Terror. This is the kind of sociology that policy makers cannot safely ignore.

James A. Beckford

Professor Emeritus, University of Warwick