The militant Islam represented by Al-Qaeda is often described as a global movement. Apart from the geographical range of its operations and support, little else is held to define it as ‘global’.
Landscapes of the Jihad explores the features that Al-Qaeda and other strands of militant Islam share in common with global movements. These include a decentralised organisation and an emphasis on ethical rather than properly political action. Devji brings these and other characteristics of Al-Qaeda together in an analysis of the jihad that locates it squarely within the transformation of political thought after the Cold War. The jihad emerges from the breakdown of traditional as well as modern forms of authority in the Muslim world. It is neither dogmatic in an old-fashioned way nor ideological in the modern sense, and concerned neither with correct doctrinal practice in the present nor with some revolutionary utopia of the future. Instead it is fragmented, dispersed and highly individualistic.
Faisal Devji is Reader in Modern South Asian History and Fellow of St. Antony’s College at the University of Oxford. He is the author of, inter alia, Muslim Zion: Pakistan as a Political Idea and The Impossible Indian: Gandhi and the Temptations of Violence.