Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Islamic Justifications For The Use Of Armed Force (Dissertation)

Fazal Mohammed Hassan wrote his dissertation (back in 2005 -- so excuse me if you have already seen it) on "Ending Oppression And Establishing Justice: Examples From Islamic History Of Select Muslims And Islamist Groups Justifying The Use Of Armed Force" while at Florida State University. I have not had time to read it in detail (and do not pretend to be an expert in this area) but I found the sections I skimmed generally well-organized and useful, if only for its substantial use of primary sources. Also useful were the author's perspectives on the roots of justified violence in Islam and the detailed discussion of key, modern Islamic figures (including bin Laden and al-Zawahiri). Highlights from the abstract (the full text is 238 pages) include:

  • "This dissertation examines the justification for using armed force throughout Islam’s history. Special emphasis will be made to the following three terms, harb, jihad, and qital. These three words translate into war, struggle, and fight respectively."
  • "It is the main thesis of this work that violence committed in the name of God by Muslims throughout Islam’s history is based upon the need to end oppression and establish justice."
  • "Though this topic has gained momentum since the events of 9/11, it is the intention of this work to show that using armed force is not new, but a political instrument used to establish Shari’ah or Islamic law. The term “political” is used because for most Muslims, including all those mentioned in this dissertation, believe that Islam is not just a personal belief system, like most in the West believe, but an ideology that is to be used for all times and for all facets of life."
According to the bio sketch in the dissertation, Hassan was born in Bangalore, India and has received a bachelors in Sociology, a Masters in Asian Studies and his Ph.D. in Humanities (in 2006). Ratemyprofessors.com indicates he is currently at Florida International University, though he is not listed in the faculty directory there.

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