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The Islamic Law of War: Justifications and Regulations

The Islamic Law of War: Justifications and Regulations

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by A. Al-Dawoody

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Al-Dawoody examines the justifications and regulations for going to war in both international and domestic armed conflicts under Islamic law. He studies the various kinds of use of force by both state and non-state actors in order to determine the nature of the Islamic law of war.


Al-Dawoody examines the justifications and regulations for going to war in both international and domestic armed conflicts under Islamic law. He studies the various kinds of use of force by both state and non-state actors in order to determine the nature of the Islamic law of war.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This is a highly technical book that will provide answers to many researchers on its dual topics of the Sha'ria position on the resort of the use of force and on the means employed during armed conflict." - Cherif Bassiouni, Distinguished Research Professor of Law Emeritus, President Emeritus, International Human Rights Law Institute, DePaul University College of Law, Chicago, USA.

"With an astute and comprehensive analysis of a 'burdened' subject, Dawoody's book joins a few treatments of the subject in English that do not repackage medieval Christian perceptions of Islam as 'neutral' treatments of the subject of war in Islamic history. It will find its way into most syllabi of college courses on jihad." Ahmad Atif Ahmad, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, the University of California-Santa Barbara, USA.

"...a detailed and nuanced analysis of the Islamic take on the law of war...it contributes to clearing up the current misunderstandings with respect to the Islamic law of war in particular, and with respect to the Islam in general...I would like to reccommend this book to anyone interested in the subject, and specifically to those studying the law of war from a Western perspective." - Hadassa A. Noorda, University of Amsterdam, Journal of Military Ethics

"Ahmed Al-Dawoody has produced a most welcome contribution to the literature of the field, meticulously researched and annotated. His well-constructed analysis turns down the volume of so much shrill rhetoric, and raises hope of breaking the unproductive cycle of blanket condemnations of Islam and Muslims. His study will reward the patient reader with a painstaking deconstruction of numerous unjust misconceptions." - G. John Renard, Professor of Theological Studies, Saint Louis University, USA

'A highly useful guide to Islamic precepts on the initiation of armed conflict and the conduct of belligerents once a war has begun, Al-Dawoody's book shows Islamic law as a source for, and consistent with much of what the international community accepts as the contemporary law of war.' John Quigley, President's Club Professor Emeritus of Law, Ohio State University, USA

'This is a very authoritative book on Jihad in recent years. Al-Dawoody not only sheds light on Jihad, its justification and the rules of qital (combat), he also addresses common misconceptions about Jihad.' - Niaz A Shah, University of Hull, UK

Product Details

Palgrave Macmillan US
Publication date:
Palgrave Series in Islamic Theology, Law
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)

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Meet the Author

Ahmed Al-Dawoody is a Lecturer in Islamic studies at Al-Azhar University, Cairo. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Birmingham, UK, his MA in Islamic Studies from Leiden University, The Netherlands, and a five year BA degree in Islamic studies from Al-Azhar University, Cairo. He has also taught courses on Islam in the United States and the UK.

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Islamic Law of War: Justifications and Regulations 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dr. Ahmed al Dawoody, who is currently a Lecturer at al Azhar the oldest institution of higher learning in the world, has written perhaps the most comprehensive academic work on the topic of Jihad to date. He divides his book into five very lengthy but readable chapters. In the introduction of the book, he lays out the outline and methodology of his research and seeks to answer a set of questions he intends to answer in the work. Chapter 1 he looks at War during the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)'s time. He juxtaposes the classical and contemporary "insider" and "outsider" literature on the period and puts out a conclusion that contrary to popular belief, the battles that the early Muslims had during the Prophet's time were defensive wars and not offensive. In chapter 2 he goes cover the Qur'anic justifications of war using the classical exegetical works and shows the hermeneutic tools to properly understand context and shows how other researchers lacking such exegetical tools have misinterpreted the jus in bello (justifications for going to war) in the Quran. In chapter 3 , this is perhaps the most interesting section of the book. All too often, non-Muslim academics and writers tend to confuse fiqh and shariah. Al Dawoody gives a good explanation on this issue. He then goes into the classical Sunni schools of jurisprudence positions on the jus in bello or justifications for going to war. What is surprisingly interesting about his research is that the vast majority (three out of the four schools) actually hold that in offensive jihad (called jihad al talab), can only be waged in defense against aggression and or the rights for Muslims to freely practice their faith is threatened. The school in the minority, the Shafi'i school holds that the reasons for waging war is to get rid of kufr or disbelief. This position seems to be obsolete based from the fact that most who follow the Shafii school (Muslims from Southeast Asia and parts of Yemen and Egypt) have not waged war on anyone. He also goes over contemporary Muslim scholars and their works like the late Abu Zahra and the charismatic "teleshaykh" al Qaradawi. "Outsider" literature and academics Dawoody remarks, because of their confusion over shariah and fiqh, and the positions of the schools as recorded in fiqh manuals tend to misinterpret the juridical justifications thinking that they are arguing some sort of perpetual warfare against non muslims, but in fact they are not and that is the vast majority. The next chapter deals with jus ad bellum or the rules of warfare according to Islam. Here we see how even the so-called jihadists violate every rule in the book and casts doubt as to whether jihadists are really waging jihad at all or is it some other term? These rules of warfare were in place long before the Geneva Conventions and other international instruments to try and bring civility to war. The final chapter deals with jihad in a different light. Here he talks about the rules dealing with rebellion and sedition and how islamic law handles that. He also goes over what jihadists actually waging which is called in the Islamic legal literature, hirabah or terrorism. Terrorism is among the major sins and crimes against society according to Islam. He goes over the problem over the definition of terrorism as displayed in the hundreds of definitions from international bodies, and even within nation-states like the US (which has over a dozen of definitions depending on what agency). He recommends in this chapter that international bodies should agree to a consensus type definition to avoid confusion. He remarks that Muslim jurists have already defined terrorism through their definition of hirabah. This book is an excellent resource in learning more about what the Islamic law of war. He has a multitude of sources (most of which are in the Arabic language as are most islamic legal works) ranging from the classical to contemporary, both insider and outsider. He challenges the existing literature on jihad and hopes to clarify issues that have confused academics when researching jihad. As a treat, UCLA law professor and Muslim scholar Dr. Khaled Abou el Fadl wrote the forward of the book. Apparently, this book is a more condensed version of a larger dissertation that al Dawoody wrote and defended for his PhD. Those interested in an unabridged version (from what I can tell the content of the work is identical and the only difference is the listing of sources which is more extensive in his dissertation.