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Islam, jihad, terrorism, fundamentalism, Gaza Strip


One of the most troubling and controversial doctrines in Islam is that of jihad. Yet, in the West its meaning is unclear. Does it mean the struggle of the human soul to develop a wholesome spirituality, or is it more a struggle that results in terrorist attacks upon all who oppose Islam? Many politicians and academics in the West, along with many journalists and opinion-makers in the mainstream media insist that Islam, rightly understood, is a religion of peace. That means that Islamic jihadists who engage in wanton terrorism upon all who stand in their way are an aberration. They are interlopers and hijackers of this religion. This paper argues that the Qur’an, which Muslims insist is a timelessly relevant document, argues otherwise. So too does the Hadithic literature, which is also regarded as sacred in Islam, argue otherwise. Furthermore, Islamic theologians since the seventh century have insisted that jihad requires violent attacks upon the enemy. Only in the early twentieth century has a version of Islam emerged that is moderate in its orientation, and thereby stands opposed to militant jihad. Reformed Islam, a version of Islam that emerged in the late twentieth century, also stands opposed to militant jihad. Yet, the paper argues that far from being an aberration, fundamentalist Islam has a long pedigree within Islam and must be recognized as such. To do otherwise is to misunderstand the religion—and with misunderstandings come misapplications. When the nature of militant jihad is considered, especially as it has been presented in the Gaza Strip and Israel in recent days, careful and correct analyses of this religion are most important.



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