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Jihad : The Origin of Holy War in Islam - Reuven Firestone


The Origin of Holy War in Islam

Hardcover Published: 1st June 1999
ISBN: 9780195125801
Number Of Pages: 208

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Since the Islamic resurgence began to make news, the Islamic idea of holy war, or "jihad", has been the subject of tremendous media attention - much of it sensationalistic. This study attempts to discover where and when the idea of jihad originated, and to trace its early development. Firestone finds no evidence for religiously motivated warring in pre-Islamic Arabian cultures, or indeed for ideological warring of any kind, despite the common occurrence of intertribal raids and warring as a normal part of an ancient Arabian life. He seeks to discover the forces in early Islam that precipitated this powerful and successful war concept. Tracing the social and historical changes experienced during the transition from pre-Islamic Arabian culture to the religious civilization of Islam, Firestone concludes that, at base, jihad is an indigenous Arabian phenomenon. It resulted, he says, from the mixture of old Arabian culture with innovations in the traditional social structure and world view engendered by the introduction of Islamic monotheism. The cauldron in which this mixture produced its new product, says Firestone, was Medina, where the various forces came together in the formation of the religious community of Muslims known as the Umma. This historical reconstruction challenges the traditional "evolutionary theory" of holy war, which was first established by medieval Muslim scholars and has until now been accepted uncritically by Western scholarship. In its place Firestone offers a far more nuanced understanding, based on careful philological analysis of Islamic texts in conjunction with the application of contemporary methodologies in anthropology, history, and the study of religion. His analysis goes far towards explaining not only why the young Islamic polity was so successful militarily, but how the disparate populations that made up the followers of Muhammed came together as a cohesive movement in which religious identity replaced ancient kinship patterns as the basis of group loyalty.

Industry Reviews

"Reuven Firestone has produced a book that should have been produced a long ago"--Journal of Near Eastern Studies "In this book, Firestone had presented an attractive thsis which very much deserves to be read and debated by all who are interested in the subject."-- The Muslim World "Firestone has done an admirable thing: he has written a brief, readable, carefully delineated, and scholarly study of a concept that is often bandied about in discussions of Islamic thought without reference to historical development or context."-- Journal of Near Eastern Studies

Prefacep. v
Transliterationsp. xi
Introductionp. 3
Imaging Arabiap. 9
Islam and Holy Warp. 13
The Pre-Islamic Worldp. 19
The Qurān and Its Interpretation the Qurān as Transition Marker from Jāhiliyya to Islamp. 43
The Qurān the Traditional Reading and Its Inherent Weaknessp. 47
The Our qurān on War a New Readingp. 67
The Oral Traditionp. 93
The Prophetic Sunnap. 99
The S&U0016brap. 105
Conclusion from Mundane War to Holy Warp. 127
Notesp. 135
Glossaryp. 173
Bibliographyp. 175
Index of Scriptural Citationsp. 187
Subject Indexp. 191
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780195125801
ISBN-10: 0195125800
Audience: General
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 208
Published: 1st June 1999
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 24.26 x 16.23  x 2.18
Weight (kg): 0.47