The History of an Idea


'A groundbreaking study ... a masterclass in how to do intellectual history, and one that nobody with an interest in radical Islam should miss' Tom Holland, New Statesman

'Readers looking for a rigorous but lucid account of Islamic State's ideas will be well-served by Maher's book ... the first of its kind' Kyle W. Orton, Wall Street Journal

No topic has gripped the public imagination so dramatically as the spectre of global jihadism. While much has been said about the way jihadists behave, their ideology remains poorly understood. Shiraz Maher charts the intellectual underpinnings of salafi-jihadism from its origins in the mountains of the Hindu Kush to the jihadist insurgencies of the 1990s and the 9/11 wars. His ground-breaking introduction to salafi-jihadism recalibrates our understanding of the ideas underpinning one of the most destructive political philosophies of our time.

'Magisterial ... Essential reading' Robin Yassin-Kassab, The National

'Shiraz Maher, a leading authority on contemporary Islamic extremism, traces the evolution of the key ideas behind one of the most significant religious and political movements of our time. Comprehensive, important and timely' Jason Burke, author of Al-Qaeda

'A work of genuine interest and originality ... indispensable' David Patrikarakos, Literary Review


  • An excellent and original account of what jihadists actually think. Mr Maher goes well beyond previous works... in setting out a taxonomy of jihadist's system of beliefs. It will be a must-read work in the study of radicalism.

About the author

Shiraz Maher

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