Jihad in Islam: Just-War Theory in the Quran and Sunnah

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle

Abstract

Jihad in Islam, or warfare in defense of life and Muslim religious rights, is legally analogous to modern just-war theory as enshrined in international law. Jihad itself is a much broader concept in Islam, including difficult acts of charity and spiritual struggle against Satan and the lower self. In terms of warfare, jihad in the Qur’an and Sunnah foreshadows many features of the modern just-war theory concepts of jus ad bellum (“justice to war”) as well as jus in bello (“justice in war”): non-aggression, proper declaration, right intention, war as a last resort, proportional retaliation, strict adherence to covenants, and protection of civilian lives and property. The primary goal of jihad is to protect the safety of the Muslim community and fulfill our obligation to practice Islam and share it with the world. It is not a tool of religious compulsion or forced conversion, nor is it a means of advancing purely political, ideological, or worldly goals. This article documents the principles of just war as they appear in Islamic source texts, and it places the classical Islamic legal framework on warfare in its proper historical context. The final section offers a detailed analysis and rebuttal of common “proof-texts” used to malign Islam as a politically aggressive, violently expansionist, or war-mongering religion.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Specialist publicationYaqeen Institute for Islamic Research
StatePublished - May 15 2020

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