Ambivalent Universalism? Jus ad bellum in Modern Islamic Legal Discourse

European Journal of International Law, Vol. 24, No. 1 (2013) [Symposium issue on "Just and Unjust Wars."], pp. 367-389.

Yale Law School, Public Law Working Paper No. 248

31 Pages Posted: 5 Jul 2012 Last revised: 2 Aug 2015

Andrew F. March

Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University

Naz K. Modirzadeh

HLS Program on International Law and Armed Conflict

Date Written: July 4, 2012

Abstract

In this paper, we discuss the trajectory of modern Islamic legal discourse on jus ad bellum questions, challenging the ideas that the choice is between either a defensive or an aggressive jihad doctrine, and that declaring and waging war is regarded in Islamic law as properly a matter to be monopolized by legitimate state authorities. The dominant modern doctrine of just war in Islamic legal thought is not quite as simple as a bare doctrine of mutual non-aggression. While it is understandable that many Muslims have been eager to conclude that the proper understanding of jihad in Islam is that it authorizes only defensive or humanitarian war, virtually indistinguishable from modern international norms, the reality of modern Islamic just war thinking is somewhat more interesting than this. In this paper, we introduce a third modern Islamic concept of just war that would permit war against a country that does not allow for peaceful proselytization of Islam within its borders, and discuss some of the ambiguities of this doctrine.

Suggested Citation

March, Andrew F. and Modirzadeh, Naz K., Ambivalent Universalism? Jus ad bellum in Modern Islamic Legal Discourse (July 4, 2012). European Journal of International Law, Vol. 24, No. 1 (2013) [Symposium issue on "Just and Unjust Wars."], pp. 367-389.; Yale Law School, Public Law Working Paper No. 248. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2100540

Andrew F. March (Contact Author)

Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, Harvard University ( email )

124 Mount Auburn Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Naz K. Modirzadeh

HLS Program on International Law and Armed Conflict ( email )

1545 Massachusetts Avenue
Langdell 175-J
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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