Jihad in the Qur’an

Jihad in the Qur’an September 10, 2018


In Arabia, with camels
In the Arabian Peninsula, with camels     (Wikimedia Commons photo by Mohammad Nowfal)


Continuing with a few notes from Michael Bonner, Jihad in Islamic History: Doctrines and Practice (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2006):


Writing already existed in Arabia when Islam first arose, and many Muslims of the first generations wrote, most often in the Arabic language.  However, for a number of reasons, writings from that earliest period of Islam have survived only sporadically and by accident.  (Here, as so often, the Quran constitutes the great exception.)  The compendious Arabic works on which we rely for most of our knowledge of the events, ideas and doctrines of the earliest Islam were written in later times (beginning around 750 CE, and in most cases considerably later than that).  These works were based on earlier works, but those earlier works have since disappeared and it is difficult or impossible for us now to establish their texts.  The matter grows even more complicated because of the intertwining, within the oldest Arabic sources, of oral and written techniques of transmission, itself very much a matter of dispute among modern scholars.  (16)


The themes of warfare and jihad take up the greater part of only two suras, or chapters of the Quran (the eighth and the ninth); we also find these themes scattered in other places throughout the Book.  These passages on warfare are certainly vivid and memorable, but they do not, in and of themselves, constitute a coherent doctrine.  Moreover, on close examination of these passages, we also find what seem to be contradictions among them, or differences in emphasis, at any rate.  Resolving these differences requires interpretation on our part, which in turn means the application of principles and source materials taken from outside the text of the Book.  (20)




An interesting speculation:


Will Saudi Arabia Cease to Be the Center of Islam?  Saudi Arabia, or the Arabian Peninsula before the formation of the modern kingdom, has been and remains a place both central and marginal to Muslims around the world.”




Near the ancient city of Nikaia (that is, Nicaea, famous for its great ecumencial council), which is known, today, as Iznik.


“Ancient Church Hidden in Turkish Lake. And a Pagan Temple May Lie Beneath It.”


I’m looking, right now, at some tiles that we bought years ago in Iznik.




And here, to reward those who’ve stayed with me thus far, is a seemingly unrelated story that I really like.  In a sense, it’s about contemporary Southern high school jihad:


“She ditched the homecoming crown for a helmet then went out and kicked her team to a win”


It was a great day for Kaylee Foster, obviously.  Not so much, I’m guessing, for the guys on the losing team.  Being beaten by the opposing school’s homecoming queen isn’t the sort of thing that will likely be recorded in annals of male athletic glory at the defeated school.



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