Just Wars, Holy Wars, and Jihads: Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Encounters and Exchanges

Just Wars, Holy Wars, and Jihads: Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Encounters and Exchanges

Just Wars, Holy Wars, and Jihads: Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Encounters and Exchanges

Just Wars, Holy Wars, and Jihads: Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Encounters and Exchanges

Synopsis

Surveying the period from the rise of Islam in the early seventh century to the present day, Just Wars, Holy Wars, and Jihads is the first book to investigate in depth the historical interaction among Jewish, Christian, and Muslim ideas about when the use of force is justified. Grouped under the three labels of just war, holy war, and jihad, these ideas are explored throughout twenty chapters that cover wide-ranging topics from the impact of the early Islamic conquests upon Byzantine, Syriac, and Muslim thinking on justified war to analyzing the impact of international law and terrorism on conceptions of just war and jihad in the modern day. This study serves as a major contribution to the comparative study of the ethics of war and peace.

Excerpt

This book is about the development of ideas of morally justified or legitimate war in Western and Islamic civilizations. These ideas have traditionally been grouped under three rubrics: just war, holy war, and jihad. A large body of literature exists exploring the development of concepts of just war and holy war in the West and of jihad in Islam. Yet until recently, the scholarship on just war and jihad has largely treated each tradition as separate and unrelated to the other. It is commonplace in histories of the evolution of just war thinking, for example, to trace a genealogy from Augustine of Hippo in the fifth century to Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century, with no mention at all of the rise and dominance of Islamic civilization in the Mediterranean during the intervening eight hundred years. Only a limited number of works deal comparatively with moral reasoning on war in Western and Islamic civilizations, and only a few articles explore the impact of contact among Christians, Jews, and Muslims on their respective views of war and peace. This book is the first to investigate in depth the interaction between just war and jihad thinking from the rise of Islam in the seventh century to the present. Two broad questions guide the discussion in each chapter: (1) What historical evidence exists—in treatises, chronicles, speeches, ballads, and other historical records or in practice—that Christian and Jewish writers on just war and holy war and Muslim writers on jihad knew of the other tradition? (2) Is there any evidence that Christians, Jews, and Muslims were influenced in their views on the ethics of war and peace through their mutual interaction? In other words, how did discourses on just war, holy war, and jihad influence one another?

Just War, Jihad, and Holy War

Moral reasoning on war is a human phenomenon perhaps as old and universal as war itself. All major civilizations have engaged in thinking about the justification of the resort to war and the proper means to prosecute it. This thinking is motivated by an intuitive or practical sense that the two ends of the moral spectrum— namely, pacifism (the rejection of all war) and total war (the acceptance of unrestrained warfare)—are unsupportable and that the right position is one that . . .

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