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What if Jihad was Really about Social Justice?

February 4, 2009

It′s probably one of the most contentious and misunderstood words in global politics – jihad.

Religious scholars discussed the meaning and context of jihad in vol. 8 no. 1 of the Journal of Scriptural Reasoning, released this past month.

Omar Ha-Redeye, a law student at the University of Western Ontario, provided a historical and textural context for jihad which helped demonstrate that when Islam first emerged it was surrounded by religions already at war.

What the early Muslims sought to do was end the inter and intra religious conflicts that plagued the Mediterranean world. What followed was a period of relative peace, tolerance and stability, even fostering the Golden Era of Judaism in Spain.

Much of the confusion around the use of the word jihad comes out of contemporary politics, where any violent movement emerging from predominantly Muslim countries seeks endorsement and validity by attaching religious labels.

The underlying premise behind warfare in the name of jihad is to achieve social justice, specifically seeking to end exploitation, oppression, and gross disparities of wealth. But these goals developed into just war theory that highly regulated wartime conduct, including very clear prohibitions against killing civilians.

But stereotypes about Muslims go back further than modern conflicts. Ha-Redeye demonstrates that early Talmudic and Biblical scholars harbored their own ethnic prejudices, which led to oversimplifications of cultures they poorly understood.

Conversations between religious scholars such as the Journal of Scriptural Reasoning, published out of the University of Virginia, are essential for both faith groups and the global community to overcome their misunderstandings about each other.

A good place to start might be over a discussion over the role of conflict itself.


For More Information:

Journal of Scriptural Reasoning:

Omar Ha-Redeye

For more information contact:
Omar Ha-Redeye
Phone: 226-448-6627

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