Eschatology in the ISIS narrative
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Apocalyptic millenarianism, rooted in traditional Islamic eschatology, is at the very core of the self-proclaimed Islamic State’s narrative and its claim to sovereignty and legitimacy. The millenarian narrative also represents a radical departure from the jihadist paradigm of al-Qa’ida and provides a major conceptual and theoretical challenge to al-Qa’ida’s leadership of the global jihadist movement. Other combatant groups in the Syrian civil war, such as Jabhat al-Nusra and Hezbollah, make some limited use of millenarian symbols. This essay will reference these cases briefly, for the purposes of comparison and context. The primary goals are to analyze the Islamic State’s challenge to al-Qa’ida, document ISIS’s millenarian narrative, and to contextualize these millenarian outbursts.