Jihad Through History

(New York Sun) Daniel Pipes - In his just-released book, Understanding Jihad, David Cook of Rice University dismisses the debate over the nature of jihad - whether it is a form of offensive warfare or a type of moral self-improvement. Cook dismisses as "laughable" John Esposito's contention that jihad refers to "the effort to lead a good life." Throughout history and at present, Cook definitively establishes, the term primarily means "warfare with spiritual significance." During his years in power, Muhammad engaged in an average of nine military campaigns a year, or one every five to six weeks; thus did jihad help define Islam from its very dawn. Conquering and humiliating non-Muslims was a main feature of the prophet's jihad. During the first several centuries of Islam, "the interpretation of jihad was unabashedly aggressive and expansive." After the conquests subsided, non-Muslims hardly threatened and Sufi notions of jihad as self-improvement developed in complement to the martial meaning. Nineteenth century "purification jihads" took place in several regions against fellow Muslims. The most radical and consequential of these was the Wahhabis' jihad in Arabia, where they condemned most non-Wahhabi Muslims as infidels and waged jihad against them.

2005-06-01 00:00:00

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