Mohammad Hassan Khalil
people conflate the terms jihad and terrorism. This is in part because many
writers use the term “jihadist” when describing violent Muslim radicals.
To be sure,
such radicals have invoked jihad to justify their heinous acts, such as the
9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre and more recent Islamic State group
(also known as ISIS) operations. But these acts have been strongly condemned by
numerous Muslim clerics and scholars on Islamic grounds.
And as I
show in my own research, violent radicals who attempt to justify terrorism on
religious grounds are often misrepresenting the scholarly sources they cite.
According To Islamic Law
term jihad literally means a “struggle” or “striving.” This term appears in the
Quran in different contexts and can include various forms of nonviolent
struggles: for instance, the struggle to become a better person. This falls
under the category of “jihad of the self,” an important subject in Islamic
specific context of Islamic law, however, jihad generally signifies an armed
struggle against outsiders.
scholars of Islamic law delineated two basic forms of armed jihad: defensive
jihad, an armed struggle against invaders; and aggressive jihad, a pre-emptive
or offensive attack commissioned by a political authority.
surprisingly, Muslim scholars have long debated when exactly warfare can be
controversial, however, is the general rule that various categories of
civilians must not be targeted.
of civilian immunity is so widely accepted that it is even typically recognized
by violent Muslim radicals. But such radicals also invoke loopholes to get
around this rule. When attempting to justify 9/11, for instance, Osama bin
Laden argued, among other things, that American civilians could be targeted
since, he asserted, American forces had previously targeted Muslim civilians.
this loophole, bin Laden invoked the writings of medieval Muslim scholars such
as al-Qurtubi. As I show in a recent book, however, al-Qurtubi actually held
the exact opposite view: Civilians should never be targeted as a form of
This is but
one example of why it is critical not to conflate the prevailing
interpretations of jihad with Muslim terrorism.
Source: The Conversation