Jihad and the Modern World

Jackson Sherman

in Islam in Transition: Muslim Perspectives

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780195174304
Published online November 2007 |
Jihad and the Modern World

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Born in Philadelphia, Sherman Jackson studied at the University of Pennsylvania where he received his doctorate in 1990. Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Michigan, Jackson specializes in Islamic law and jurisprudence and is President of Shariah Scholars Association of North America. His publications include Islamic Law and the State: The Constitutional Jurisprudence, The Boundaries of Theological Tolerance in Islam, and Islam and the Black American.

Tackling the contentious issue of jihad (exerting oneself for the sake of God), Jackson, in papers delivered in 2001 and 2002, stresses that Quranic verses commending conflict were revealed in a context in which new converts to Islam faced the loss of their customary security of tribal protection in a setting of endemic warfare. Embracing the new faith meant vulnerability to the enmity that their tribe, should it choose hostility against the Muslims, might exhibit against them. As Jackson states: the Qurn was not introducing the obligation to fight ab initio but was simply responding to a preexisting state of affairs [of conflict] to preserve the physical integrity of the Muslim community . . . when fighting . . . was understood to be the only way to do so. If the intention was to war against Jews and Christians, then the Prophet would not have been indebted to a Jew at the time of his death, nor would his companions have married Jewish women. In the modern period, Jackson argues, one must note that when Muslims say that their faith is a religion of peace they do not mean it is pacifist but rather that Islam can live in coexistence with other religions. To be able to do so, however, it is not sufficient to assert this. Coexistence must spring from the actual practice of non-Muslims avoiding hostility toward the Muslims, so that the Muslim people as a whole will recognize the reality of peaceful relations and wish to perpetuate it. In a fascinating section on Sayyid Qutb, Jackson provides an immanent critique of Qutbs position to show that the latter, on the basis of his own methodologyresting on a conception of the dynamic (haraki) principles of Islamwould have to change his conclusion that Muslims must be in a perpetual state of war with non-Muslims.

Chapter.  7199 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture ; Islam

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