Yet most efforts are currently failing to respond to the key arguments peddled by extremists. They are only addressing and challenging the interpretations of 16 percent of the Koranic references prominently used by Salafist-jihadists in the study′s sample.
As a result, it is clear that much more can be done to reclaim religious discourse from Islamist and jihadist ideologues. For example, one of the most commonly quoted verses in Salafist-jihadist literature (Surat Al-Anfal, verse 60) warns Muslims to prepare against armed battle with their opponents, but counter-narratives are currently failing to capitalise on the verse that follows, which emphasises peaceful resolution of conflict.
Counter-narratives seem to address the religious ideas explored in Salafist-jihadist literature more successfully, but still do not prominently tackle about 40 percent of the key ideological concepts of Salafist-jihadism. Most efforts are focused exclusively on tackling narratives of violence, such as suicide attacks.
Not the path to Paradise
For example, ″This is not the Path to Paradise″, a widely shared fatwa by Mauritanian sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah condemning the Islamic State′s claim to have established a caliphate, is one of only a few examples of a counter-narrative that directly confronts the religious nuance of an Islamic state.
Around the Muslim-majority world, prominent religious institutions and leaders are increasingly issuing proactive rebuttals of extremist thought founded on sound Islamic knowledge.
While still in the early stages of development, Al-Azhar University′s online Observatory for Combatting Extremism, launched in June 2015, tracks the Islamic State′s propaganda and rebuts extremist religious interpretations – for example, it issued an online feature correcting common misconceptions about Islam and publishes theologically founded replies to terrorist ideologies.