The Concept of Jihad in Islamic International Law
Posted: 29 Feb 2008
Date Written: 2005
In the post 11 September 2001 legal and political environment, Islam appears to have become one of the most misunderstood religions. Islam has been equated with fanaticism, intolerance, violence and wars of aggression - the classical Jihad ideology is often deployed to cast doubts on the compatibility of Islam with modern norms of international law as enunciated in the United Nations Charter. Much confusion stems from the fact that Islamic international law and Islamic laws of armed conflict have not received due attention in western legal scholarship. The concept of Jihad has arguably been central to many modern conflicts including that of resistance to US occupation of Iraq (2003-2005), the struggle for self-determination in Kashmir (1947-2005) and the Palestinian struggle for reclaiming their land from Israel (1948-2005). This article seeks to provide a jurisprudential analysis of the concept of Jihad. Amidst controversies surrounding Jihad, the authors attempt to contextualise the concept and relate the discussion to contemporary norms of International law as established by the United Nations Charter. The authors identify the conditions under which Jihad is permissible in Islamic law in the light of its various sources. The distinction between dar-al-harb (abode of war) and dar-al-Islam (abode of Islam) is presented as this issue impacts on laws of war in Islam. The significance of humanitarian principles within Islamic international law as well as in Islamic humanitarian law is highlighted.
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