A frequently quoted saying, with slight variations, insists that, while not all Muslims are terrorists, all terrorists are Muslims. This is a great untruth. According to be the American Federal Bureau of Investigation, Muslims have not been responsible for the majority of terrorist attacks identified and prevented or committed throughout the world in the last twenty years. Yet it is true that, even before the Bush Administration initiated a concentrated campaign against anti-American terrorists around the world in 2001 — a campaign which quickly came to be known as the War on Terror — several states including America and Israel had already experienced terrorism undertaken unmistakably by Muslims. For example, the bombings of American embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998 brought Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri to the focused attention of American security services for the first time. These terrorists and their ideological bedfellows embraced an extreme minority opinion within Islam. According to that opinion, militant opposition to any ostensibly oppressive political activity that weakens Islamic states and their interests constitutes a righteous struggle (jihad) on God’s behalf (fi sabil Lillah, literally “in the path of Allah”). Yet these “jihadists” (a phrase not widely used in those pre-9/11 days) did not garner much public interest until that dreadful day when nineteen of them hijacked four aircraft and carried out history’s worst single terrorist attack.
No-one can doubt that Western attitudes towards Islam changed for the worse at that time and have not returned to the way they were before 2001. Among widely held negative views of Islam is a perception (or at least a concern) that, while Western states adhere to the Just War tenets, other states and peoples, particularly Muslims in general and Arabs in particular, have no comparable philosophical framework for guiding ethical behaviour during international disputes and during warfare itself. According to this perception, the Western code of war is based on restraint, chivalry and respect for civilian life, whereas the Islamic Faith contains ideas on war that are more militant, aggressive and tolerant of violence.
This small book analyses the Qur’an and attempts to explain its codes of conduct in order to determine what the Qur’an 3 actually requires or permits Muslims to do in terms of the use of military force. It concludes that the Qur’an is unambiguous: Muslims are prohibited from undertaking offensive violence and are compelled, if defensive warfare should become unavoidable, always to act within a code of ethical behaviour that is closely akin to, and compatible with, the Western warrior code embedded within the Just War doctrine. This book attempts to dispel any misperceptions that the Qur’an advocates the subjugation or killing of “infidels” and reveals that, on the contrary, its key and unequivocal concepts governing warfare are based on justice and a profound belief in the sanctity of human life.
Prof. Joel Hayward's Books and Articles
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