The concept of political or ideological violence – that is to say, the concept of terrorism – cannot have a religion. Why? Because it is a concept, a tactic. Those who commit to terrorism, however, can have a religion – and in modern times, they often do. They can also base their political or ideological violence on the said religion.
The dogmatic and simplistic chant that terrorism has no religion fools so many. Political ideologues and their feel-gooder bedfellows fall into the trap of assuming that those who commit it are not religious or are falsifying their own faith and therefore ‘not really’ religious. This is wildly dogmatic.
No – terrorism does not have a religion.
- Those who commit it may do!
- And those who commit it may base it off a religious interpretation – theological and eschatological justifications for violence!
- And the groups who organize it may be exclusivist, including only those who house the same beliefs.
- Group members may find commonality based on their religious upbringing!
- Groups may implement religious politics e.g. a Sharia supremacist state or other religious laws of the land.
Let us not blind ourselves to reality. Terrorism is interconnected with some observable forms of terrorism. There is no getting away from that fact.
- Some groups organize around a principle such as identity, thereby organizing around a central theme such as religion.
- Other groups use religion in a way to gain political prestige e.g. self-declaring a Caliphate and appointing a Caliph.
- Some individuals act upon their own interpretation of a religion to bring violence into the present day.
So no – terrorism does not have a religion. But some forms of terrorism are interconnected with religion — which includes theological and eschatological justifications of violence.