Political Islam: From Ibn Taymiyya to ISIS

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Kirsten Schulze M14 Sardinia House


This course is available on the MSc in History of International Relations, MSc in International Affairs (LSE and Peking University), MSc in International and World History (LSE & Columbia), MSc in Religion in the Contemporary World and MSc in Theory and History of International Relations. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

This course has six objectives: i. To examine the evolution of political Islam as a set of ideas. ii. To compare and contrast different models of Islamic State. iii. To explore the strategies used by Islamist movements to Islamise a state as well as state strategies to prevent this. iv. To explore the phenomena of transnational Islamism and international jihadism. v. To analyse and evaluate the relationship between Islam and the West. vi. To familiarise the student with some of the primary sources (in translation) and the historiographical controversies. This course looks at the evolution of Islamist philosophy and movements,  focusing on ideas as well as intellectual, religious and political leaders. The key areas covered are: Islamist thinkers - Ibn Taymiyya, Wahab, Afghani, Abdu, Rida, al-Banna, Qutb, Maududi, Khomeini, Turabi, Faraj, Azzam and Zawaheri; Models of Islamic State - Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Malaysia and Sudan; Islamist Movements – the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic Jihad, Hizb'allah, Hamas, the Islamic Salvation Front, Darul Islam, and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front; transnational Islam and international jihadism - the Afghan jihad, Jama'at Islamiyya, al-Qaeda, and the Syrian jihad.


20 hours of seminars in the MT. 20 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework


Indicative reading

Mansoor Moaddel and Kamran Talattof (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Islam ( St.Martin's Press, 1999); Ahmed Rashid, Taliban: The Story of the Afghan Warlords (Pan Books, 2000); Gabriel Warburg, Islam, Sectarianism and Politics in Sudan since the Mahdiyya (Hurst, 2003); Sayyid Qutb, Milestones, (American Trust Publications, 1990); Gilles Kepel, The Roots of Radical Islam (Saqi, 2005) new version of Gilles Kepel, Muslim Extremism in Egypt: the prophet and pharaoh (1985); Oliver Roy, Globalised Islam: The Search for a New Umma (Hurst, 2004); Richard Bonney, Jihad: From Qur'an to bin Laden (Palgrave, 2004).


Essay (10%, 3000 words) in the MT.
Essay (15%, 3000 words) in the LT.
Essay (25%, 3000 words) in the ST.
Presentation (15%), class participation (15%) and online assessment (20%) in the MT and LT.

Key facts

Department: International History

Total students 2014/15: 31

Average class size 2014/15: 16

Controlled access 2014/15: Yes

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information