And God Knows the Martyrs: Martyrdom and Violence in Jihadi-Salafism

ISBN : 9780190092153

Nathan S. French
368 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
May 2020
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Narratives of Jihadi-Salafi operations are often filled with praise for what are considered exemplary acts of self-renunciation in the vein of early Islamic tradition. While many studies sift through the biographies of these so-called martyrs for evidence of social, psychological, political, or economic strain in an effort to rationalize what are often labeled "suicide bombings," Nathan French argues that, through their legal arguments, Jihadi-Salafis craft a theodicy that is meant to address the suffering and oppression of the global Muslim community.

Pulling from a broad selection of primary sources, including previously untranslated fatwas, on the subjects of martyrdom operations, jurisprudence, and political philosophies, French reveals that the Jihadi-Salafi legal debates on martyrdom reorient the basic objectives of the Shari 'a, focusing on maximizing the general welfare and promoting religion above all other concerns-including the preservation of life. Understanding this utilitarian turn opens the possibility for formulating a meaningful engagement and critique of Jihadi-Salafi legal interpretation and theories of warfare within a broader, just-war framework. And, as the jurists and propagandists of ISIS have demonstrated, this turn also opens the possibility for the use of self-renunciative violence as a means of state formation.


A Note on Transliteration, Translation, and Sourcing
Reference List of Jihadi-Salafi Jurists and Authors
Introduction - Jihadi-Salafism, Theodicy, and the Renunciation of Suffering
Chapter One - A Jihadi Salafi Legal Tradition? Debating Authority and Martyrdom
Chapter Two - Performing a Renunciative Unity: On Jihadi-Salafi 'Aqida and Minhaj
Chapter Three - Intentional Suffering: Self-Renunciative Martyrdom Seeking in the Path of God
Chapter Four - Of Debatable Benefit: Ma?la?a and the Tactic of Martyrdom-Seeking
Chapter Five - Self-Renunciation and State Formation? Women, Men, and Constructing a Caliphate
Conclusion - The Islamic State is Remaining and Expanding: On the Collapse of the Caliphate

About the author: 

Nathan French is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Comparative Religion at Miami University in Ohio. Recently, he has contributed to the Routledge Handbook on Islam and Gender and to Teaching Islamic Studies in the Age of ISIS, Islamophobia, and the Internet. His work has also appeared in the Journal of Religion and Violence and Mizan.

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