Comparative Islamic Studies, Vol 4, No 4.1 / 4.2 (2008)

Islam and War: Tradition versus Modernity

Joseph S Spoerl
Issued Date: 6 Jun 2010


Islamic thinking on war divides roughly into two main schools, classical and modern. The classical (or medieval) view commands offensive war to spread Islamic rule ultimately across the entire world. The modernist view, predominant since the nineteenth century, limits war to defensive aims only. This paper compares the views of two important Muslim scholars, the classical scholar Ibn Ishaq (d. 767) and the modernist scholar Mahmud Shaltut (d. 1963). This comparison reveals that the modernist project of rethinking the Islamic law of war is a promising though as-yet-unfinished project that can benefit from the insights of Western scholars applying the historical-critical method to the study of early Islamic sources.

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DOI: 10.1558/cis.v4i4.1-4.2.181

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