Jihad beyond Islam

Jihad beyond Islam

Jihad beyond Islam

Jihad beyond Islam

Synopsis

"Jihad" is a highly charged word. Often mistranslated as "Holy War", it has become synonymous with terrorism. Current political events have entirely failed to take account of the subtlety and complexity of jihad. Like many concepts with a long history, different cultural ideas have influenced the religious aspects of jihad. As a result its original meaning has been adapted, modified and destabilized--never more than at the present time. How does jihad manifest itself in Muslims' everyday lives? What impact has 9/11 and its backlash had on it? By observing the current crisis of identity among ordinary Muslims, this timely book explores why, and in what circumstances Muslims speak of jihad. Marranci offers us a nuanced and sophisticated anthropological understanding of Muslims' lives beyond the predictable clich.

Excerpt

21 July 2005: I am walking back to my hotel in a post-7/7 London, when I see an unusual deployment of police and firefighters. I start to think that London could be under attack again. The closed gates of the Underground and the patrolling armed officers confirm the worst-case scenario. Approaching an Italian restaurant, I can see the waiters, customers and occasional passers-by gathering around a TV. I join them to watch a worried Mr Blair speaking to the nation. The message is clear: we are under attack, and although everything is under control, we have to stay where we are. Walking along the street, I see tourists still unaware of the attack, children playing, old ladies waiting for improbable buses. This time no life has been shattered, no other blood added to the 7/7 carnage. 'Life has to go on,' said the Prime Minister; 'life has to go on,' say the people I meet, yet the sirens of the emergency services remind me that life will not be the same. Many questions cross my mind, the most persistent of which is 'Why?' Why are these people taking their lives and killing innocent people in the name of Islam? Why are they conducting their jihad? What does jihad mean today?

To answer these questions, the mass media, politicians and often academics (see for instance Hoffman 1995; Hunter 1988; Huntington 1996; Kramer 1996; Lewis 2003; Pipes 1983; Roy 1994) have focused, among other things, on the political issues, on the alleged 'Clash of Civilizations', on the failure of multiculturalism, the invasion of Iraq, the alienation of Muslims, the social ghettoization of young South Asians, and the radical preachers and imams. All these factors might be the tiles of a complex mosaic, but still do not explain why the mosaic itself exists; why certain individuals, who profess themselves to be Muslim, have decided to kill themselves and innocent people in the name of jihad. In this book, I am not interested in discussing the 'tiles', although I shall consider them, but 'the mosaic'. This means shifting our analysis from interpreting the 'aims' of terrorists' actions to the dynamics of radicalization. Why do some Muslims understand jihad as murder while the majority reject such a view?

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.