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Date of Award

Summer 2023

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Department or Program Affiliation


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Anderson, Charles (Professor of history)

Second Advisor

Garfinkle, Steven J.

Third Advisor

Miran, Jonathan


The Muslim jurist Ibn Taymiyya (1263-1328 CE) inspired those advancing into battle in his time, and inspires many on battlefields today. He lived on the physical frontier of his state, defended it, and in ideological terms defined it. The jurist is frequently portrayed in our time as an unyielding, hard-line, intolerant theologian and social critic. However, Part One of this work contends that when his positions are examined in the context of his times, a rational, realistic, methodical figure emerges.

Part Two of this thesis reviews the use of Ibn Taymiyya by several mostly well-known activists, Islamic revolutionaries and Jihadists. I use a wide aperture, “umma-wide” or “system-wide,” medium-durée methodology in considering the revivalist, rebel, and jihadi/Salafi movements from the period roughly 1964 to the present. If this approach is used, so many connections and common (but not identical) agendas become clear, arising from grievances concerning corruption, loss of cultural identity, lack of economic development, resentment of foreign interference or occupation, frustration over limited access states, and so on. In many settings, invocation of Ibn Taymiyya’s image sounds a kind of alarm that disruption, rebellion or insurgency are imminent or already underway.

This Damascus jurist is not alive today to defend himself, so it falls to those in the present to try to ascertain if his essays and arguments have been decontextualized or distorted. It is equally important to contend with peers in the academic and commentator domains who sometimes unknowingly repeat mischaracterizations made by modern day activists and radicals.




Islamist, jihad, caliphate, il-Khans, Taymiyya, terrorism, Salafi, fatwa, Mameluke, Sufis


11 Aug 23


Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subjects – Names (LCNAF)

Ibn Taymīyah, Aḥmad ibn ʻAbd al-Ḥalīm, 1263-1328

Subject – LCSH

Muslims--Islamic Empire--Biography; Lawyers--Syria--Biography; Caliphate--History; Ilkhanid dynasty




masters theses




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