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This monograph is an expanded version of an article published in the American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences (AJISS) in 1988, under the title War and Peace. The article attempted then to clarify some of the misconceptions surrounding the notion of jihad. Thirteen years later, the same misconceptions and misunderstandings regarding war and peace in Islam is widespread in both the Muslim societies and the West.
The attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, by apparently a religiously inspired group, brought to the fore the question of jihad and war, and led few misinformed and misguided individuals to confuse the Islamic concept of jihad with the medieval concept of holy war. The equation of the two is erroneous and misleading. Holy wars were fought in Medieval Europe in the name of God against infidels, because the latter were perceived to stand against God. Jihad, on the other hand, is fought to repel aggression and lift the oppression of a brutal force, and is never directed at the other’s faith. The fact that both are based on religious motivation does not make them equal. Religious motives have historically inspired both the noblest and the most based actions.
I, therefore, do hope that this monograph would contribute to bringing more meaningful discussion of the notion of jihad and the conception of war and peace in Islamic tradition. I also hope to be able to illustrate that Islamic worldview and values stand at the side of world peace and global justice, and against aggression and brutality.
I wish to thank two good friends who have encouraged me to refine the early article I wrote on the peace and war into the current monograph, Jamal Barzinji and Sayyid M. Syeed. Their encouragement and support is greatly appreciated.