On the Psychology of Islamist Terrorism*

Sudhir Kakar

in Culture and Psyche

Second edition

Published in print June 2008 | ISBN: 9780195696684
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199080304 | DOI:
On the Psychology of Islamist Terrorism*

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Terrorism has long been intertwined with religion. Prior to the rise of Marxism, nationalism, and anarchism, religion provided the only means to justify acts of terror. The horrors created by terrorists who are religious fundamentalists or by nationalist-separatist terrorist movements that are religiously zealous can be unimaginable. Although terrorists engaged in what they call ‘holy war’ share some of the terrorist psychology with their secular counterparts, they nevertheless differ considerably when it comes to concepts of morality, values, and how they justify and legitimize their terrorist acts. A terrorist comes from a large minority of Muslims from different parts of the globe who are committed to a radical Islam. Psychologically, religious fundamentalism is a theory of suffering and cure. While many may sympathize with the outer, armed jihad of the terrorist, they focus their own energies on the inner jihad: to lead the pious life of a believer.

Keywords: Islam; religious fundamentalism; psychology; terrorism; religion; Muslims; jihad

Chapter.  3338 words. 

Subjects: Social Psychology

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