Sharia as a Platform for Espousing Violence and as a Cause for Waging Armed Jihad

32 Pages Posted: 6 Apr 2014

Date Written: April 4, 2014


Many militant groups around the world are purportedly fighting to institute sharia as the governing law of Muslims. However, very few scholars have studied the relationship between sharia and violence, presumably because the former is largely viewed as dealing with internal governance issues. This perspective has likely led to the West’s policy of accommodating political and community groups that seek to promote sharia. In this paper, I argue that public surveys in Muslim communities are ill-prepared to identify the potential links between sharia and violence, especially when the majority of poll respondents identify themselves as peace-loving Muslims who perceive sharia as divine law. Moreover, I identify a radicalized subpopulation of jihadist clerics that benefit from sharia’s popularity. Empirical data is presented regarding the growth of clerical power in Pakistan and elsewhere, aided in part by this popularity, which the clerics themselves have helped to nurture. In particular, the analysis suggests that jihadist clerics and militant groups leverage sharia’s esteem in order to advance a violent agenda.

Keywords: Sharia, Jihad, Militant Groups, Clerics, Pakistan, India, Islam

Suggested Citation

Muthuswamy, Moorthy S., Sharia as a Platform for Espousing Violence and as a Cause for Waging Armed Jihad (April 4, 2014). Albany Government Law Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN:

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