Teaching Jihad: Developing religious literacy through graphic novels

Melanie C. Brooks, Kelly Deits Cutler, Fida Sanjakdar, Daniel D. Liou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This study examined the representations of jihad in graphic novels to ascertain how its depictions may inform the development of religious literacy in secondary classrooms. Hegemonic constructions of jihad in the West are commonly reduced to false binaries that shape non-Muslims’ extant beliefs and perceptions of Islam and Muslims. This raises concerns about the ways in which societal expectations shape knowledge formation in schools. Accordingly, this critical content analysis explored the depiction of jihad in three graphic novel memoirs, an increasingly popular medium of instruction in secondary classrooms. Our analysis identified three forms of jihad conveyed through the graphic novels, specifically: jihad for education, jihad for gender justice, and jihad for identity. These representations provide robust counternarratives and suggest the value of teaching religious concepts through graphic novels as a way to develop deeper understandings and counter misinformation. The article concludes with six recommendations for educators to consider when teaching religious content through contemporary graphic novels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number622
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Curriculum
  • Education
  • Expectations
  • Gender justice
  • Graphic novels
  • Islam
  • Jihad
  • Muslim identity
  • Religious literacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies


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