Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Religious Studies

Major Professor

Michael DeJonge, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Adib Farhadi, Ph.D.

Committee Member

William Schanbacher, Ph.D.


Jihad, Politics, Religion, Seculaism, War


Religion is often invoked as a driving force behind violence, disentangled from political, social, and economic reasons. In this thesis, we will be exploring the viewpoints of three prominent religious thinkers in investigating the principal causes behind what is called religious violence. The works of Karen Armstrong, Mark Juergensmeyer, and William T. Cavanaugh are considered as theoretical frameworks for understanding violence in an Islamic context. While Armstrong argues that the root cause of violence can be traced back to economic, political, and cultural reasons, Juergensmeyer contests that religion is the most important cause underlying all violence. In their analyses, both thinkers rely heavily on a distinction between religious and secular violence. Cavanaugh, on the other hand, regards such a distinction as itself a legitimation of secular forms of violence that obscures the real causes of what we call religious violence.

Included in

Religion Commons