The concepts of jihad in academic discussion and Muslim scholarship

Show full item record

Title: The concepts of jihad in academic discussion and Muslim scholarship
Author: Shah, Syed Waqar Ali
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Teologinen tiedekunta
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Theology
Helsingfors universitet, Teologiska fakulteten
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2018
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Religion, Conflict and Dialogue
Religion, Conflict and Dialogue
Religion, Conflict and Dialogue
Abstract: Some claim religion kills while others say people kill for all sort of things. In fact, the link between religion and violence is a much-debated academic topic. William T. Cavanaugh (2009) has challenged what he called the “conventional wisdom” about religious violence by pinpointing several important “blind spots.” His discussion of the usefulness of the construct of religious violence for its consumers in the West is fundamental to this study. Cavanaugh concludes that the “myth of religious violence” served West in both domestic politics and foreign policy and has been used against Muslims in particular. According to Mathew Rowley (2015) religious violence is a context-dependent and very complex phenomenon and oversimplifying the connection may help to jeopardize peace. In the wake of few historical incidents in the late 20th century, a small fragment of extremists emerged in the Muslim world. The activities of such groups, especially in the post 9/11 era, provided an avenue for the media and some academics to give a clear-cut answer to the question, i.e., to attribute Islam and jihad to violence. This study highlights the difference between the theoretical discussions about jihad among academics and its practical implementation in the texts of Muslims thinkers. Academic works on jihad have failed to address this issue and thus led widespread conviction of the contemporary scholarship that jihad has remained an unchanged and fixed concept. In this view, “Muslim” extremists and terrorists are the real face of Islam, and the notion of abodes means the absolute supremacy of Islamic rule over the whole world in which peaceful coexistence between Muslims and non-Muslims is not possible even on an individual level. The discussion on the concept of jihad among contemporary scholars, especially Daniel Pipes (2002), David Cook (2005), Patricia Crone (2004), Bernard Lewis (2003), and Rudolph Peters (1979 and 1996) serve as the reference point to my analysis. Brigitte Gabriel (2009) work has been included as a representative of the “popular literature” on jihad, which reproduces the “myths” in a more aggressive form. I applied a two-way strategy to highlight the meaning of jihad in Muslim thought by presenting an overview of Muslim history, with focus on jihad, and an investigation of Muslim sources. Mawdudi (1996, 2000), Nasir (2013), and Ahmad (2016) argue that Islam through its concept of jihad allows limited violence under certain conditions and in specific environments. The analysis illustrates that there is a wide variety of how central concepts directing the interpretation of jihad have been understood. Such differences have not only created theoretical disputes but also given rise to various practical implications. Similarly, Mamdani (2003) asserts that the current Muslim extremism and terrorism is the outcome of specific political and strategic policies of the West, mainly the US. The analysis of Muslim sources gives no support for the view of such academic research on religion and violence that has singled out Islam and jihad and equated them with violence. To correct the view, the diverse historical interpretations of jihad should be identified, and a detailed study of the rich theological discussions on jihad should be taken into consideration. A central feature in the misrepresentation of jihad is the failure to pay notice to the variety of meanings and interpretations of jihad, and the notion of the abodes in Muslim legal tradition. Much of contemporary academic scholarship is based on superficial knowledge of the Islamic sources and an overemphasis of certain statements of classical jurists, which leads to the simplification of complex concepts.
Subject: jihad
notion of abodes
abode of Islam
abode of War
Islam and West
War on Terror

Files in this item

Files Size Format View

There are no files associated with this item.

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show full item record