British troops fighting troops of the 19th century apocalyptic Islamic State: the Mahdiyah of Sudan. This is not a new concept.
Since this is Lent, I must choose charity over envy: it is, indeed, a net positive for the world that “The Atlantic” and CNN have discovered that ISIS is Islamic, and that eschatological belief is one of its major drivers. However, as someone whose very doctorate is in Islamic End Times movements (“Eschatology as Politics, Eschatology as Theory: Modern Sunni Arab Mahdism in Historical Perspective;” 290 pp., The Ohio State University, 2001), who has published numerous articles and delivered a legion of lectures on this topic as well as advised the US military on same–I do have to say: “what took you so bloody long?”
My take on Graeme Wood’s excellent “Atlantic” piece has just today been written up by WND; but I do have some further observations on Wood, as well as on Peter Bergen’s CNN piece:
• Wood’s description of ISIS’s worldview as being that of “medieval Islam” is not entirely accurate, as it comes from the 7th-9th century AD; “early Islamic” would be better. (My historian’s distaste for automatically equating “medieval” with barbaric is showing, I freely confess.)
• “Quietist Salafism” as the antidote to ISIS’s brutally literalist Islam is a stretch, since that approach is also one of Sunni fundamentalism…