From What are the rules for declaring a jihad?:

From the WSJ: Jihad vs. Crusade

So apparently, John’s comments are technically correct but misleading. Yes, the Qu’ran used Jihad in the context of internal struggle, but the common use of the term is not in reference to the Qu’ran but rather to the usage in sharia law, which does indeed mean “holy war”.

As a long time reader of the straight dope, i was surprised to find such a poor answer as the one given for the question on jihad. Mostly because it was incomplete, to the point where it simply left out info vital to understanding this whole thing. This quote:

“Even in such a fight, civilians, women, the elderly, and religious men such as priests are considered innocents not to be touched; those who would attack an innocent are murderers, not warriors.”

Is true, but thats not all the Qu’ran has to say about fighting. Pardon me for forgetting my source, some internet site that gave quotes from the Qu’ran, talked about how it was ok to attack an area even if you knew there were innocents in it. The example they gave was when one army laid siege to a town, and even though they knew it was full of women & children, it was perfectly alright.
All the quote from the answer means is that as a muslim you cant blow up a day care center, anything else is fair game.

Im surprised that an answer with such a heavily politically biased answer got passed the editors.

I was under the impression that Jihad (with a capital J) referred specifically to the wave of armed conquest led by the Prophet himself that led to the imposition at swordpoint of the Islamic faith throughout Arabia and later North Africa and in following centuries much of the middle east. And that while Christians and Jews were considered damned to hell they still got some tolerence as “peoples of the book” (Old Testament), whereas out and out pagans were mercilessly slaughtered.

Not that the Christian Crusaders or even the Israelites conquering Caanan were models of mercy and pacifism, but I think that the Staff Reports reply vastly underplayed Islam’s military history. If my general understanding of Islamic history is wrong, please correct me.

Izzy: Your definition is about word for word the same as Bernard Lewis ( the author of that largely fair article ) used in his book The Political Language of Islam. However he mentions in the book, that even in the classical period there were disputes over this. Even back then some Shi’a jurists pushed the spirtual struggle interpretation. So it’s not really that clear-cut. There have always been doctrinal dispues over this issue. It’s just in modern days, more liberal Muslim traditions have begun embracing the spiritual interpretation. Religious evolution - Just as in earlier times many Imami Shi’a jurists rejected direct involvement in politics ( theocracy ) until the end times, whereas today one strain of activist, theocratic Imami Shi’ism rules Iran. Or from the Christian standpoint, the increasing acceptance of homosexuality by some liberal branchs of Protestantism.

At any rate the usual way this is divided, is to refer to the inner struggle with one’s self as the Greater Jihad and the defense of Islam from its enemies as the Lesser Jihad. Even many militant Islamists ( NOT the Taliban, I’ll note, who take the opposite position ), regard the the Greater Jihad as the more important of the two in terms of religious significance, while still holding that both are important.

A popular view, but an incorrect one. Islam was originally an ethnic religion and sought no non-Arab conversions. Further, conversion ‘by the sword’ is at least obliquely condemned by the Koran and, although it occurred, was relatively rare in Islamic history. Expansion out of Arabia was originally motivated by the desire to bring Syrian Arabs ( who by then accounted for a majority of Syria’s populace due to immigration ) into the fold. Further expansion was opportunistic as Arabs sliced through two moribund empires, incapable of effectively defending themselves, the loot of which served to motivate and buy off barely converted and unruly Arab tribes. The concept of Islam as a universal religion was not firmly established until 749, over a century after Muhammed’s death.

The issue with pagans was a dicey one. Interpretations on how to deal with them differed. The Koran certainly does regard them as “ritually unclean”, but it neither mandates their slaughter, nor forbids Muslims to treat them with respect. In practical terms though, there were no pograms aimed at slaughtering pagans ( like Hindus in India ) wholesale - It just wouldn’t have worked for one reason. And most conversions in places like India, in fact the overwhelming majority of them, were the result of proselytizing. Indeed, in India the most successful missions were by Sufi’s - An odd feedback because Sufism was strongly influenced by Hindu mysticism :wink: .

  • Tamerlane

That’s all fine. (I don’t think the quoted article says that it is clear-cut). What I object to is the implication by JC that the association of Jihad with a call to arms is done by “Those unfamiliar with Islam”, and with his specious contradiction of this association by pointing to the Qu’ran’s use of the term.

Hmmm…Well I don’t think that implication was all that strong, myself :slight_smile: .

I thought it was a fair answer. He does mention that it can mean a call to arms ( which it certainly can and often does ). And he correctly stated that the Koran’s language is couched in defensive terms and forbids the slaughter of non-combatants. Of course, many Muslims have often subscribed to the idea that ‘the best defense is a good offense’, extremists find it easy to manufacture “threats” were none really exists, and some nutjobs ( re: ObL ) have sought loopholes to try to justify the killing of innocents.

Because I find it of interest and it’s somewhat related, I’ll post this link again to an article that seeks to analyze ObL’s statements for their Islamic content and tease out his personal theology:


  • Tamerlane

Another fine point: it’s been reported that Arabic translations of the Christian Gospels refer to the internal struggle of Jesus of Nazareth in the Garden of Gethsemane before his crucifixion as a “jihad.”

I was just happy he liked Malkavians. They are some crazy bastards!

~erl, Jyhad player

lol. I read this and nearly died. The game was dead for so long I didn’t expect to see a comment on it here. Tournment in Madison WI this sunday, no fee, if anyone is interested.


Gah! [mumble grumble WI too far away grumble]

D’oh. That’s no good. Not that I need competition in the Malk/Ventrue department. besides Mass. has good games around the Boston area no?


Hey, I don’t know… do they?! Where would I go to find out?

sent you an e-mail with more info.