Islamic State Nasheeds As Messaging Tools

Author
Gråtrud, Henrik
Date Issued
2016
Permalink
http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12242/662
https://publications.ffi.no/123456789/662
DOI
10.1080/1057610X.2016.1159429
Collection
Articles
Description
Gråtrud, Henrik. Islamic State Nasheeds As Messaging Tools. Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 2016 ;Volum 39.(12) s. 1050-1070
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Abstract
Although jihadi nasheeds play an important role in the Islamic State's propaganda, there is scant literature on the topic. This article is an exploratory study on seventeen Islamic State nasheeds released between December 2013 and March 2015. The main argument is that Islamic State nasheeds are effective messaging tools because they focus on a limited number of themes that have broad appeal among Muslims. The nasheeds differ from other Islamic State propaganda in their almost exclusive focus on war and fighting, rather than on the softer sides of life in the Islamic State. The Islamic State (IS)'s media output is unmatched by any other jihadi group. This output is essential to IS's strategy because it conveys the group's messaging aimed at spreading fear among enemies and attracting new followers. Jihadi hymns called nasheeds, or anashid in Arabic, are a vital part of this output, an undisputable fact considering that IS established the Ajnad Media Foundation in 2013 for the purpose of producing and distributing audio material such as nasheeds. However, in spite of nasheeds' importance to the group's messaging efforts, there is scant literature on the topic. This article is an exploratory study on IS nasheeds as messaging tools, in which the following two questions will be addressed: Which characteristics make the nasheeds effective messaging tools, and how does the messaging in these hymns differ from other IS propaganda? It will be argued that the nasheeds are effective messaging tools for a number of reasons, but mainly because they focus on a limited number of themes that have broad appeal in the ummah. Although the messaging in the nasheeds mostly confirms what has been written about IS's messaging in general, there are some exceptions from this. Most notably, very few nasheeds portray the utopian life in the IS. This suggests that IS nasheeds are more important in preparing for war than for depicting the softer sides of life in the IS. Although there are IS nasheeds in dialect, this article only examines nasheeds performed in classical Arabic released by the Ajnad Media Foundation between early December 2013 and mid-March 2015. Seventeen nasheeds meeting these criteria were found on archive.org through the pro-IS website Ansar Khilafah. These nasheeds have been translated to English by the author. Translation inevitably results in some translation loss, especially when translating poetical texts such as nasheeds that include many cultural specific references. To limit this loss the author has chosen to prioritize the source language (Arabic) rather than the target language (English). By doing this, the hope is to preserve as many cultural references as possible, while still producing comprehensible translations.
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