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Understanding Jihad

David Cook (Author)


Paperback, 269 pages
ISBN: 9780520244481
May 2005
$29.95, £19.95
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Jihad is one of the most loaded and misunderstood terms in the news today. Contrary to popular understanding, the term does not mean "holy war." Nor does it simply refer to the inner spiritual struggle. This book, judiciously balanced, accessibly written, and highly relevant to today's events, unravels the tangled historical, intellectual, and political meanings of jihad. Looking closely at a range of sources from sacred Islamic texts to modern interpretations, Understanding Jihad opens a critically important perspective on the role of Islam in the contemporary world.

As David Cook traces the practical and theoretical meanings of jihad, he cites from scriptural, legal, and newly translated texts to give readers a taste of the often ambiguous information that is used to construct Islamic doctrine. He looks closely at the life and teaching of the Prophet Muhammad and at the ramifications of the great Islamic conquests in 634 to 732 A.D. He sheds light on legal developments relevant to fighting and warfare, and places the internal, spiritual jihad within the larger context of Islamic religion. He describes some of the conflicts that occur in radical groups and shows how the more mainstream supporters of these groups have come to understand and justify violence. He has also included a special appendix of relevant documents including materials related to the September 11 attacks and published manifestoes issued by Osama bin Laden and Palestinian suicide-martyrs.

1. Qur'an and Conquest
2. The “Greater Jihad” and the “Lesser Jihad”
3. The Crystallization of Jihad Theory: Crusade and Counter-Crusade
4. Jihad in Resistance and Renewal during the Nineteenth Century
5. Radical Islam and Contemporary Jihad Theory
6. Globalist Radical Islam and Martyrdom Operations

Appendix: Some Translated Documents
David Cook, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University, is author of Studies in Muslim Apocalyptic (2002).
“Among the plethora of books on jihad published since 9/11, David Cook’s stands out in its ability to extend readers’ awareness of the breadth of Muslim writing about the topic.”—Intl Journal Of Middle East Stds (Ijmes)
"Understanding Jihad is one of the most helpful of the spate of new books to appear since the tragic events of September 11, 2001 on the debate about jihad in Islam. Cook's approach is based on historical and textual analyses, and is enhanced by valuable theoretical discussion. This book will help readers find their way through the vast literature by Muslims and non-Muslim scholars on what we can't seem to get away from calling 'holy war'."—Richard C. Martin, Professor of Islamic Studies, Emory University

"This book is important to current political and religious discourse on the role of Islam in today's world, and increases our understanding of the seemingly odd behaviors we observe through the media. A tremendous contribution."—Reuven Firestone, author of Jihad: The Origin of Holy War in Islam

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