The role of 'foundation stories' in Islamic State narratives

Haroro Ingram, Kiriloi Ingram

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


    ‘Foundation stories’ play a crucial role in Islamic State (IS) narratives. In fact, the group draws on three historically distinct but narratively interwoven foundation stories in its messages. The first, and most important, is Islam’s foundation story centring on the Prophet Muhammad and the salafs (Islam’s first community of believers). IS also leverages an ‘organisational’ foundation story that focuses around the group’s founder – Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Finally, IS narratives perpetuate a multifaceted ‘contemporary’ foundation story that highlights the ‘disasters’ of modern history (e.g. colonisation) as the context from which IS frames its members as the architects of a living historical narrative that will purge ‘true Muslims’ of their shameful ‘recent’ history and return them to past glories. These foundation stories provide a diverse array of historical figures and events, ideological precedence and powerful politico-military examples from which IS selectively draws. IS messaging leverages these ‘foundation stories’ through more than just its narratives but also its imagery and symbolism. This paper explores how IS strategically interweaves these three foundation stories into its messaging to legitimise its politico-military agenda, appeal to transnational communities of support and propagate a narrative designed to shape perceptions, polarise support and mobilise its members towards action
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2015
    EventFoundational Histories: Australian Historical Association Conference 2015 - University of Sydney
    Duration: 1 Jan 2015 → …


    ConferenceFoundational Histories: Australian Historical Association Conference 2015
    Period1/01/15 → …


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