Just War, Peace and Human Rights Under Islamic and International Law

Hilmi M. Zawati

International Centre for Legal Accountability and Justice (ICLAJ)

August 31, 1997

The present thesis attempts a critical examination of the theory of war under Islamic and public international law, in an effort 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, whether those rights be exercised alone or in association with others, without distinction as to race, sex, language or religious belief. Through an examination of the norms of Islamic and public international law on armed conflict, this thesis argues that Islamic law, which governs the doctrine of jihad, is realistic and practical. Further, it 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 treatise De jure belli ac pacis libri tres in 1625.

Furthermore, this comparative study reveals that the word jihad might be one of the most misunderstood terms in the history of Islamic legal discourse. This analysis also claims that the division of the world into dar al-Islam (territory of Islam) and dar al-harb (territory of war), which is not predicated on a state of mutual hostility, was dictated by particular events, and was not imposed by scripture. Moreover, this discussion provides that Islamic humanitarian law regulates conduct during a jihad on the basis of certain humane principles, compatible with those upon which modern international conventions are based. Finally, this thesis concludes that there is a unique relationship between jihad and the notion of just war, a matter which qualifies it as the bellum justum of Islam.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 171

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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Date posted: January 6, 2013  

Suggested Citation

Zawati, Hilmi M., Just War, Peace and Human Rights Under Islamic and International Law (August 31, 1997). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2196687 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2196687

Contact Information

Hilmi M. Zawati (Contact Author)
International Centre for Legal Accountability and Justice (ICLAJ) ( email )
404 - 2340 Gold Street
Montreal, Quebec H4M 1S4
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