This is a pioneering critical intervention into the study of terrorism, language and political thought. Challenging the commonly held idea that `suicide-bombings' are motivated by a nihilistic hatred of life, this book argues that it is more helpful to examine such violent agency through the concept of `sacrifice'.
Through a unique look at the way `sacrifice' is used in the Arabic language, this book offers penetrating insights into jihadi thought. How does it compare to western political theorists such as Machiavelli and von Clausewitz, Hannah Arendt, Julia Kristeva and Judith Butler?
Concluding that the heedless certainty of such violence undermines attempts to redress political grievances, Al-Qaeda and Sacrifice goes beyond simplistic or apologetic explanations of terrorism and allows the authentic jihadi voice to speak for itself.
Melissa Finn is a lecturer in the Department of Political Science and the Department of Global Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Canada. She is the co-editor of a special edition of Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, entitled 'Veiled Constellations: The Veil, Critical Theory, Politics, and Contemporary Society' (Spring 2012).
Introduction 1. From the Vantage Point of Sacrificial Violence: Al-Qaeda's Worldview in Context 2. The Meanings of Sacrifice in Islam 3. Etymological Reflections on Sacrifice 4. Comparative Political Thought on War, Sacrifices, and Politics 5. The Limits of Sacrificial Subjectivity for Politics 6. Conclusion: Sacrificial Subjectivity for Acephalic Politics Notes Index