The advent of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) caught the world by surprise. Its widespread appeal attracting many, mainly young, Muslims to join the cause has evoked widespread concern. At the same time, the nascent caliphate is roundly condemned by many from within the Muslim world and beyond. Violent religious extremism predominates its methodology, even though that is not the full substance of its propagandist appeal.
Extreme behaviours, including violent acts of terrorism, are born of many factors. In the case of religious or religiously motivated actors, one factor is that of the religious ideology that embeds – that is, doctrinally or intellectually undergirds – the justifying narrative and so the extreme behaviours. As an instance of an extreme religious ideology, in this case Islamic, the analysis and critical understanding of the ideology of ISIS is necessary for the purposes of understanding its widespread appeal, and then countering it.
In this lecture, Professor Pratt shall engage in a preliminary analysis, based on a perusal of the magazine Dabiq, the principal organ of ISIS propaganda, of the ideological motifs that provide the attraction of ISIS to those who seek to join it, and which demonstrate the attempt at a self-justifying narrative in support of it as a reality, both in fact and in substance.
About the Speaker:
Douglas Pratt is Professor of Religious Studies, School of Social Sciences, University of Waikato, New Zealand and Adjunct Professor (Theology and Interreligious Studies), University of Bern, Switzerland. He is an Associate of the Centre for the Study of Religion and Politics (CSRP) at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, and the New Zealand Associate of the UNESCO Chair in Intercultural and Interreligious Relations – Asia Pacific.
Professor Pratt has lectured and given seminars on Christian-Muslim relations, religious extremism, religious pluralism, and interfaith relations, etc., at the universities of Bern (Switzerland), Heidelberg (Germany), Copenhagen (Denmark), Leiden (the Netherlands); St Andrews and Edinburgh (Scotland), Durham, Birmingham and Oxford (England); Georgetown, Washington DC, South Florida, Utah State, and Claremont, CA (USA); Monash (Australia), and Auckland (New Zealand). He was a Fulbright Scholar at Georgetown University, Washington DC (2010), and Visiting Professor in Systematic and Ecumenical Theology at the University of Bern, Switzerland in 2011. Professor Pratt is currently a Research Team Leader on the University of Birmingham based, UK AHRC funded, Christian-Muslim Relations: A Bibliographical History 1500-1900 (CMR1900) project.
Professor Pratt’s most recent book is Being Open, Being Faithful: The Journey of Interreligious Dialogue (WCC, 2014). Other book publications include The Church and Other Faiths: The World Council of Churches, the Vatican and Interreligious Dialogue, (Peter Lang, 2010) and The Challenge of Islam: Encounters in Interfaith Dialogue (2005) which is to be re-issued by Routledge (2016).
In addition, Professor Pratt is a co-author, with Gary Bouma and Rod Ling, of Religious Diversity in Southeast Asia and the Pacific: National Case Studies (2010) and the editor of Interreligious Engagement and Theological Reflection: Ecumenical Explorations (2014).
Professor Pratt is also a co-editor of a number of recent works, including, with David Cheetham and David Thomas, Understanding Interreligious Relations (2013), and with David Thomas et al, Christian-Muslim Relations. A Bibliographical History Volume 6 (2015) and Christian-Muslim Relations. A Bibliographical History Volume 7 (2015). With Jon Hoover et al, The Character of Christian-Muslim Encounter (2015), and with Virginie Andre Religious Citizenships and Islamophobia (2016). With Angela Berlis, From Encounter to Commitment: Interreligious Experience and Theological Engagement (2015), with Rachel Woodlock Fear of Muslims? International Perspectives on Islamophobia (2016 – forthcoming) and with Andreas Krebs Religious Minorities and Interreligious Relations: Social and Theological Challenges (2016 – forthcoming).