Before the 1990s, very little research had been done on the religious dimension in the dynamics of internal and international violent conflicts. Two factors may explain this: first, the lack of interest of a good part of international theory in peace research and conflict resolution in particular; and, second, the negative impact of the division between the major disciplines of social sciences and area studies. This article takes this insufficiency as its starting point and assumes that the factors of greatest value in explaining violent conflict are diverse (political, economic or social processes), and to speak of a single factor (religion) in isolation makes little sense if it is not contextualized within a metatheory. Thus, the article presents several elements that are derived from the theory of conflict resolution and area studies on the Middle East and North Africa region, and which should be taken into consideration when examining the extent to which religion contributes to violent conflicts and their evolution. © 2013 © 2013 Taylor & Francis.