Is Jihad a Just War? War, Peace, and Human Rights Under Islamic and Public International Law
Hilmi M. Zawati, Is Jihad a Just War?: War, Peace, and Human Rights under Islamic and Public International Law (Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2001).
24 Pages Posted: 31 Dec 2012
Date Written: October 22, 2001
The idea of this book crystallized after careful examination and analysis of a considerable number of recent scholarly and journalistic works on the concept of war in Islamic legal theory. Most of these works, which are generally speaking descriptive and polemical, have distorted their representations by relying heavily on misleading stereotypes and, at best, a number of minor secondary sources. The result has been a distortion of the term Jihad to the point where it is virtually synonymous in the public mind with terrorism.
As its title suggests, the purpose of this book is to investigate, analyze and critically examine the theory of war under Islamic and public international law. The chief aim of this work is to counter the distorted image of Jihad and to demonstrate that Jihad is a just, defensive and exceptional form of warfare, geared to the maintenance of peace and the protection of human rights for all people, regardless of their race, sex, language or religious belief.
Furthermore, this analysis asserts that the chief aim of Jihad is not to force unbelievers to embrace Islam, nor to expand the boundaries of the Islamic state, but to sanction warfare by Muslims whenever their security is threatened. Accordingly, the Lewis-Huntington’s theory of “Islam’s bloody borders” is inadequate and groundless. In contrast, the present study points out that Islamic international law considers the right to life as the most basic and supreme right, and one which human beings are entitled to enjoy without distinction of any kind.
A closer look at the provisions of the Islamic law of nations, which governs the doctrine of Jihad, reveals that it is realistic and practical. It regulates conduct during a Jihad on the basis of certain human principles compatible with those upon which modern international conventions are based. Furthermore, Islamic law made a great contribution to international humanitarian law more than a millennium before the codification of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, and eight centuries before the appearance of Hugo Grotius’s treatise “De jure belli ac pacis libri tres,” which was published in 1625.
Keywords: Islamic law of nations, jihad doctrine, Just war theory, international humanitarian law, international human rights law; Islamic theory of international relations
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