Publication Date

Spring 2016

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Nahed Zehr (Director), Eric Bain-Selbo, and Sol Kiasatpour

Degree Program

Department of Philosophy & Religion

Degree Type

Master of Arts


The goal of this thesis was to analysis the Islamic State’s apocalyptic nature by studying both classic Islamic eschatology and the Islamic State’s online magazine Dabiq. In order to conduct this research, I separated my thesis into two separate angles of approach. The first angle (chapters one & two) exclusively looked at Islamic eschatology, classic apocalyptic texts, shifts in how literature was written over time, and on examples of modern messianic revolutions occurring. In this way, I attempted to emphasize how extra-Qur’anic texts have played a large part in providing details for what Islamic eschatology entails. I also looked at modern examples of messianic movements, including in Mecca and Sudan. I concluded by analyzing the shift modern apocalyptic literature underwent beginning in the late 20th century. This highlighted how apocalyptic literature stated focusing on the actions of Western forces—much like the Islamic State has done today.

The second angle of approach derived from the final chapters. I looked at the foundation and development of the Islamic State beginning in the early 21st century with Al-Qaeda in Iraq. I proceeded to emphasize how messianic speculation influenced the actions and strategies of Islamic State in Iraq and later ISIS. The final chapter, the crux of my thesis, was an analysis of the Islamic State’s written primary source, Dabiq. I researched all thirteen issues of the magazine for evidence of apocalyptic nature existing.I highlighted how Dabiq is filled with apocalyptic references and classic apocalyptic hadiths.

The objective of this thesis was to provide a multifaceted analysis of the Islamic State. It attempted to approach the Islamic State from two different angles to show why apocalyptic thought first arises, how it has led to revolution, and how the Islamic State mirrors those cases. With the Islamic State, a wide variety of interpretations have formed on what it wants and what it is fighting for. Whereas religious motivation has often been dismissed, I used this thesis to emphasize that both religious and apocalyptic motivation have been one of many influences behind the formation and development of the Islamic State.


International Relations | Islamic Studies | Other Religion | Political Science