Muslim Nonviolence

Jeffry R. Halverson

in Islamic Studies

ISBN: 9780195390155
Published online April 2013 | | DOI:
Muslim Nonviolence


Nonviolence is the principled and strategic abstention from violence to bring about political or social change. The concept is most commonly associated with Mohandas K. Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Leo Tolstoy, and other non-Muslim figures. Muslim activists, scholars, and leaders are seldom, if ever, counted among these venerable modern saints. However, Muslim nonviolence is a growing and influential phenomenon on a global scale. Although rooted in Islam’s sacred texts, especially the Qur’an, the historical genesis of the concept coincides with its development elsewhere in the early 20th century. Proponents of nonviolence are found within the Sunni, Shʿia, and various mystical and heterodox branches of Islam. Muslim nonviolence also exists in both religious and pragmatic nationalist forms. Religious forms of Muslim nonviolence approach the sacred texts of Islam through a range of interpretive methods. Broadly speaking, these interpretive strategies place a special emphasis on the Meccan surahs of the Qur’an over the later Medinan surahs. In keeping with other components of Islamic thought, the Prophet Muhammad is also upheld as a moral exemplar for Muslim nonviolence and various interpretive strategies are employed to address his well-documented and celebrated participation in warfare.

Article.  3254 words. 

Subjects: Islam

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