Islamic Theology as a Counter Narrative to Terrorism
: Analysing the Content, Extent and Impact of Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri’s Works on Counter-Terrorism

  • Samra Yasmin Mursaleen

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    It is argued that Islam has been stereotyped with rhetoric that links it with terrorism. Terrorists committing violent acts claiming an Islamic motivation and anti-Islamic rhetoric, reinforce the notion that Islam is inextricably linked with terrorism. Terrorist organisations such as Daesh utilise sacred Islamic concepts to justify their activities, which has had a negative impact on the lived experiences of Muslims in Western nations.
    Academics have identified a scarcity of theological counter-narratives to terrorism in current literature, and there are calls for authoritative, prominent, and influential Islamic scholars to deliver comprehensive counter-narratives to terrorism. Furthermore, Muslim leaders are being urged to offer alternative narratives that will guide Muslims to a new way of thinking and redefine their role in a troubled world. It is within this context that an analysis of the content, extent, and impact of the counter-terror works of the Pakistani Islamic scholar and theologian, Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri has been undertaken. The aim is to examine how far a critical understanding of Dr Qadri’s works might contribute to a potential delinking of Islam and terrorism.
    The thesis argues that Dr Qadri’s works provide an important contribution to Muslim-led theological refutations to terrorism using traditional Islam. It is claimed that his translation of the Qur’an disproves and refutes terrorist interpretations of the jihad verses and minimises the misuse of the verses in isolation.
    Individual interviews and a focus group study revealed that participants were initially drawn to Dr Qadri's esoteric works, and that drawing closer to traditional forms of Islam steered them away from radical and extreme narratives of Islam, while also providing them with tools to live peaceful and constructive lives. This was strengthened by his counter terrorism works, which provided them with the theological reassurance to counter violent extremist narratives. Whereas not all participants knew of his works, for those who were loyal to him this work shows the efficacy of his scholarship and the need for more such Muslim-led counter narratives.
    The thesis thus contributes a methodological innovation to British Muslim Studies and to studies of counter terrorism narratives. The case study approach investigated theological formation in the context of the impact it was having on people who acknowledged this theology as important within their lives. Second, the study's findings emphasised the importance of locally focused initiatives and support the recommendation that insider Muslim-led counter-terrorism narratives be led by community members and scholars. Although this is currently taking place, this study is original in its critical analysis of the efficacy of such efforts. Finally, and significantly, the findings demonstrate the intrinsic value of Islam’s esoteric dimension to counter terrorism efforts, which is lacking in current counter narrative initiatives.
    Date of AwardNov 2022
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • Coventry University
    SupervisorSariya Cheruvallil-Contractor (Supervisor), Paul Weller (Supervisor), Serena Hussain (Supervisor) & Ahmet Erdi Ozturk (Supervisor)

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