A Guide to Refuting Jihadism: Critiquing radical Islamist Claims to theological authenticity

By Rashad Ali and Hannah Stuart

The first English-language handbook to comprehensively debunk the theological basis of jihadist aims and methods, this guide is an essential contribution to the on-going debate concerning extremism in our society.

Jihadist groups offer theological reasoning in support of their political ideology and violent activities. By showing that their arguments are not based on traditionally recognised interpretations of classical Islamic sources, A Guide to Refuting Jihadism provides a scripturally sound counter-narrative to al-Qaeda and like-minded groups.

 A Guide to Refuting Jihadism examines the Islamist division of the world into Dar al-Islam (‘lands of Islam’) and Dar al-Harb (‘lands of war’) and counters key jihadist tenets, including: re-conquering Islamic lands; rejecting peaceful relations; and re-establishing the Caliphate. It also demonstrates the Islamic prohibition on jihadist methods, including: non-state actors declaring jihad; jihad for conversion or domination; targeting non-combatants; suicide operations; and treachery towards one’s country.

A Guide to Refuting Jihadism has been endorsed by a range of prominent Muslim scholars, including from al-Azhar in Cairo, Sunni Islam’s highest religious authority, as well as by leading academics and writers.

Download the executive summary HERE

Download the full report HERE

The report was launched at an event in Parliament on 4 February 2014.  Click here for a full transcript or event summary.

A hard copy of the report is also available for purchase at a price of £10 (Postage & Packaging applies)

Praise for A Guide to Refuting Jihadism

“An ambitious effort to understand the issue according to enlightened Sunni Islamic jurisprudence […] we hope that this scholarly research work will be a seed of general benefit in […] correcting the thinking of extremist groups that have misunderstood Jihad in Islam, thus harming themselves, their religion and humanity in general.”

Sheikh Khalid Abdul Aziz Omran

Head of Training, Global Network for Al-Azhar Graduates


“Rashad Ali and Hannah Stuart’s brilliant scholarly discussion, critiquing contemporary extremist misappropriation of ancient and medieval discourse, is a welcome and much-needed contribution to the worldwide debate.”

Sheikh Dr. Usama Hasan

Former participant in jihad, today a senior Islamic Studies scholar at the Quilliam Foundation


“How useful and important it is … to have the book, A Guide to Refuting Jihadism, in which the views of the ‘Islamists’ are systematically shown to be perversions and distortions of the traditional positions of Islam.”

Sheikh Abdalhaqq Bewley

Director of Diwan Press, a leading UK publisher of classical books on Islam


“I hope and pray every seeker of God’s pleasure and of Truth will read this genuine book authored with superb competence and relevance, in order to expel disagreeable desires from a healing soul instead of repressing them in a disturbed one.”

Sheikh Abu Muntasir

Former participant in jihad, today leading a progressive Muslim charity Jamiat Ihya Minhaj al-Sunnah (JIMAS)


“By delving deep into classical Islamic theology and law, this report debunks the claims of modern Jihadists to authenticity [and] warrants careful study by anyone who wishes to understand Jihadist, extremist discourses today.”

Dilwar Hussain

Founder of New Horizons, an organisation focusing on Muslim identity and Islamic reform in the modern world


“A partial and distorted interpretation of some core Islamic concepts represents one of the cornerstones of all jihadist groups’ narrative. This ground-breaking work by Rashad Ali and Hannah Stuart challenges the jihadists’ flawed theological reasoning in an erudite yet accessible way. The book should be mandatory reading for any government seeking to counter the recruitment drive of jihadist organizations and for any Muslim seeking to understand some controversial aspects of his religion.”

Lorenzo Vidino, Ph.D.

Academic and security expert at ETH Zurich specialising in Islamism in the West


“This is an important document. Issues like the ‘Islamic state’, suicide bombings, ‘foreign fighting’ and religiously sanctioned warfare have too often been left to the extremists. Rashad Ali and Hannah Stuart show that mainstream Islamic interpretations are neither monolithic nor, indeed, do they support the extremists’ claims. Both jihadists and anti-Islamic bigots – who are united in their literal and ahistorical reading of religious sources – would do well to consider the arguments laid out in this pamphlet. They provide nothing less than the theological ‘ammunition’ with which to take on the extremists’ agenda.”

Professor Peter Neumann

Director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, King’s College London


“In this timely, erudite and deeply important paper Hannah Stuart, an expert on extremism and terrorism and Rashad Ali, one Britain’s foremost experts on counter-terrorism, critique radical Islamist claims to theological authenticity for Jihad. Ali is an expert on classical, traditional and modern Islamic texts as well as Islamic jurisprudence – and it shows. From accurately contextualizing such staples of extremist Islamic belief as the difference between as the Dar al-Islam (‘lands of Islam’), Dar al-Kufr (‘lands of disbelief ’) and Dar al-Harb (‘lands of war’), Ali deconstructs both the theological and legal basis for Jihad. This paper should be read by policymakers and politicians alike, or anyone who has a serious interest in one of the most pressing issues of our time.”

David Patrikarakos

Academic and journalist


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