#GenerationCaliphate: Apocalyptic Hopes, Millennial Dreams and Global Jihad

#GenerationCaliphate

Apocalyptic Hopes, Millennial Dreams and Global Jihad

May 3-4, 2015, Boston University

Sponsored by the Center for Millennial Studies, Boston University History Department and Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.

Most Westerners associate the terms apocalyptic and millennial (millenarian) with Christian beliefs about the endtime. Few even know that Muhammad began his career as an apocalyptic prophet predicting the imminent Last Judgment. And yet, for the last thirty years, a wide-ranging group of militants, both Sunni and Shi’i, both in coordination and independently, have, under the apocalyptic belief that now is the time, pursued the millennial goal of spreading Dar al Islam to the entire world. In a manner entirely in keeping with apocalyptic beliefs, but utterly counter-intuitive to outsiders, these Jihadis see the Western-driven transformation of the world as a vehicle for their millennial beliefs, or, to paraphrase Eusebius on the relationship between the Roman Empire and Christianity: Praeparatio Califatae.

The apocalyptic scenario whereby this global conquest takes place differs from active transformative (the West shall be conquered by Da’wa [summons]) to active cataclysmic (bloody conquest). Western experts have until quite recently, for a wide range of reasons, ignored this dimension of the problem. And yet, understanding the nature of global Jihad in terms of the dynamics of apocalyptic millennial groups may provide an important understanding, both to their motivations, methods, as well as their responses to the inevitable disappointments that await all such believers. The now defunct Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University (1996-2003) brings to the public one final conference on apocalyptic beliefs, co-sponsored by the BU History Department and Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME).

This event is free and open to the public.

Schedule

*All events will take place in the Stone Science Building (675 Commonwealth Ave), room B50

Sunday, May 3

10:00-12:00 Introduction:

  1. Richard Landes, “Globalization as a Millennial Praeparatio Califatae: A Problematic Discussion”
  2. William McCants, Brookings Institution: “ISIS and the Absent Mahdi: Studies in Cognitive Dissonance and Apocalyptic Jazz”
  3. Graeme Wood, Yale University, Atlantic Monthly: “On the Resistance to seeing Global Jihad as Apocalyptic Movement”

 12:00-1:30 Break for Lunch

 1:30-3:30 Panel II: The Millennial Goal: Global Caliphate

  1. Timothy Furnish, “”Rejecting Millennial Time: The Ottoman Empire’s 700-year War against Mahdism in its Realm.”
  2. Cole Bunzel, Princeton: “From Apocalypse Now to Caliphate Now: Revisiting Juhayman al-‘Utaybi’s Siege of Mecca in 1979″
  3. Jeffrey M. Bale, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, “Refusing to Take Islamist Ideology Seriously: The Persistence of Western ‘Mirror Imaging’ and Ideological Double Standards”
  4. Comments: Charles Cameron

4:00-5:30 Panel III: Case Studies in Apocalyptic Jihad

  1. David Cook, Rice University: “ISIS and Boko Haram: Profiles in Apocalyptic Jihad”
  2. JM Berger, Brookings Institution, “The role of communications Technology in mediating apocalyptic communities”
  3. Michael Pregill, Boston University, “Shi’i Militancy, Apocalyptic Islam, and Othering the Other.”


Monday, May 4

10:0-12:00 Panel IV: Conspiracy Theory and Apocalyptic Genocide

  1. Itamar Marcus, Palestinian Media Watch, “Anti-Semitism, Conspiracy Theory and Apocalyptic Global Jihad
  2. Charles Small, “Ideology and Antisemitism:  Random Acts or a Core Element of the Reactionary Islamist Global Jihad?”
  3. Richard Landes, BU, “Active Cataclysmic Apocalyptic Scenarios, Demonizing and Megadeath: Taiping, Communists, Nazis, and Jihadis.”
  4. Comments: David Redles

  12:00-1:30 Break for Lunch 

 1:30-4:00 Final Panel Discussion

Paul Berman, Independent Scholar

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Independent Scholar

Husain Haqqani, Hudson Institute

Charles Strozier, John Jay College

Brenda Brasher, Independent Scholar

Mia Bloom, University of Massachusetts, Lowell

 

Selected Work

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Read “Those Who Love Death: Islam’s Fatal Focus on the Afterlife” from Heretic (2015) Here

Jeffrey Bale

Read “Islamism and Totalitarianism” (2009) Here

Read “Political Correctness and the Undermining of Counterterrorism” (2013) Here

J.M Berger

Read “The ISIS Twitter Consensus” (2015) Here

Professor Berger’s latest book, coauthored with Jessica Stern,  ISIS: State of Terror, can be purchased Here

Paul Berman

Read “Why is the Islamist Death Cult So Appealing?” (2015) Here

Cole Bunzel

Read “From Paper State to Caliphate: The Ideology of the Islamic State” (2015) Here

Timothy Furnish

Read “Days of Future Mahdism Have Not Passed” (2013) Here

Medhi Khalaji

Read “Apocalyptic Politics: On the Rationality of Iranian Policy” (2008) Here

Richard Landes

Read “Enraged Millennials” from Heaven on Earth: The Varieties of the Millennial Experience (2011) Here

William McCants

Read “The Sectarian Apocalypse” (2014) Here

David Redles

Dr. Redles’ Amazon page can be viewed Here

Charles Strozier

Professor Strozier’s book, The Fundamentalist Mindset can be purchased Here

Graeme Wood

Read “What ISIS Really Wants” (2015) Here