Is Jihad a Just War? War, Peace and Human Rights Under Islamic and Public International Law

Author: Zawati, Hilmi

An Adele Mellen Prize Winner


"Impressively succinct ... Zawati offers a general comparison of the form of armed struggle called jihad with international law. His primary point is that jihad is not the aggressive religious war it is often purported to be; rather, it is a defensive war that meets the just-war criteria established in the United Nations Charter and other international laws of war. Zawati's argument is persuasive as a legal defense of jihad, but it is not intended to be a scholarly analysis, in that alternative interpretations are not considered. The most helpful aspects of Zawati's study are the correlations he draws between Islamic international law and the actual text of the Koran, the Treaty of Medina, and other primary Islamic sources. A number of these translated documents (as well as an easily understood glossary) are provided in the appendixes. These features make the book attractive to and appropriate for a wide spectrum of university-level readers, especially since it can stand alone or nicely accompany other writings on jihad. Recommended at all readership levels." - CHOICE

"... Any scholar of Islamic Law, international relations and western legal discourse on just war understaking the study of the jihad doctrine should include this work in his research ..." - Emory International Law Review

“In arguing that jihad is best viewed as an analogue to the better-understood (but still complicated) ‘just war’ doctrines of the Christian world, Zawati is carving out an admirable and necessary, but nonetheless uncomfortable, position. He finds himself challenging both essentialist Islamic scholars and western critics of the contemporary role of Islam in world affairs. . . . The concept of jihad has sometimes been abused by irresponsible leaders within the Islamic world and used to inflame the passions of those for whom the richness of Islamic law is reduced to slogans and billboards. Similarly, jihad has been invoked by Western ‘analysts’ who are completely ignorant of the Islamic tradition, to justify assertions of evil intent on the part of millions of the Muslim faithful. Zawati points a way out of this mess. His book should be read by Muslims who seek to better define their relations with the non-Muslim world, and by anyone who would wish to escape the caricature of orientalism and the end-game of clashing civilizations.” – Stephen J. Toope

“The work is an analytical study of high order which will easily qualify for acceptance among scholarly circles, besides helping to focus the attention of human rights and minority groups to a cause that should have been a focal point of their concern for several decades now. . . .Dr. Zawati demonstrates his ability to analyze both western and Islamic legal concepts and is able to distinguish between finest points. . . . Zawati’s bibliography consists of nearly one hundred fifty primary sources and about three hundred books, articles and official documents. The selection is very well balanced and he uses these sources judiciously. Students of Islamic law, international relations and western legal discourse on just war will find this extremely useful. . . . The work is an excellent piece of scholarship which will remain a standard reference for the subject matter for many years to come.” – A. Uner Turgay