Inspiring Migration to the Caliphate : Hijrah in ISIS’s Online Magazines Dabiq and Rumiyah

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Title: Inspiring Migration to the Caliphate : Hijrah in ISIS’s Online Magazines Dabiq and Rumiyah
Author: Haverinen, Joonas
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Teologinen tiedekunta
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Theology
Helsingfors universitet, Teologiska fakulteten
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2019
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Religion, Conflict and Dialogue
Religion, Conflict and Dialogue
Religion, Conflict and Dialogue
Abstract: The violent radical religious group ISIS declared a caliphate in July 2014. The group urged Muslims to make hijrah (migrate), to regions that it controlled. Tens of thousands of Muslims followed the call to migrate and joined ISIS as foreign fighters. Foreign fighters may pose a security threat in the West upon return to their home countries as the conflict in the Middle East resides. Among key mediums for propagating the message of migration to Muslims in the West were ISIS’s English-language online magazines Dabiq and Rumiyah, published 2014–2016 and 2016–2017 respectively. This thesis dives into the meaning and ideology of the message, which urged readers of Dabiq and Rumiyah to migrate to the Islamic State, as well as the persuasive techniques ISIS used in the propaganda to underline this call. Moreover, the thesis aims to track change in the ways that ISIS’s online magazines Dabiq and Rumiyah urged Muslims to migrate. This thesis tests a hypothesis that ISIS’s changing situation from an expanding to a diminishing phase on the ground in the years after 2014 changed the way in which the message of hijrah was propagated between the magazines Dabiq and Rumiyah. The research questions are: How is the propaganda concerning hijrah constructed in ISIS’s propaganda magazines Dabiq and Rumiyah? How did the propagated message about migration to the lands of ISIS in Dabiq and Rumiyah magazines change between the years 2014–2017? And if the message changed over time, why did this happen? The data for this thesis consists of 15 issues of Dabiq-magazine published between July 2014 to July 2016 and 13 issues of Rumiyah-magazine published from September 2016 to September 2017. The research method for analyzing the magazines is close reading and the theoretical background is propaganda research. The research finds that eight main categories were used to propagate messages on hijrah throughout the magazines: (1) calls to hijrah, (2) significance and legitimacy of hijrah, (3) promises of benefits resulting from hijrah, (4) imposing of threats for not performing hijrah, (5) cases of exemplary behavior regarding hijrah, (6) women’s role in the context of hijrah, (7) alternatives to and variations of hijrah, and (8) hijrah as atonement for one’s sins. Furthermore, the results showed that propaganda concerning hijrah did change – not only between the two magazines but also within them. Dabiq-magazine began showing signs of a loosening understanding of hijrah in the latter half of the fifteen issues of the magazine. The initially strictly set paradigm for the obligation of hijrah began to bend. Rumiyah continued to develop the message on hijrah as well. This subsequent magazine presented the intention for performing hijrah as sufficient for being rewarded for the action. It also encouraged into fighting wherever one was located and included the aspect of stealing or destroying non-believers’ property as a means of partaking in ISIS’s efforts against its enemies. ISIS demonstrated what the combined use of modern technology and propaganda can achieve. Based on the results in this thesis, a future study could, for example, attempt to uncover the reasons why messages on hijrah resonated in so many people in the West. Understanding the reasons why calls to hijrah resonated in the readership of propaganda magazines and supporters of ISIS is a crucial step in countering the foreign fighter phenomenon in the future.
Subject: ISIS
foreign fighter

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