This is a translation of the Persian book Jihad dar Islam in which the reformist cleric Ayatollah Salehi Najafabadi (d. 2006) challenges dominant classical views, both Shi‘a and Sunni, regarding jihad. Through a detailed exploration of the Qur’an and Sunnah, as well as an analysis of the writings of classical scholars, Najafabadi concludes that it is religiously forbidden to wage offensive war against peaceful non-Muslims. However, he adds that it is religiously required to engage in self-defence when under attack. He gives special attention to refuting the notion that the Prophet intended for Islam to be spread by the sword, a topic which is of continuing contemporary relevance. Many facets of jihad are discussed, ranging from the account of the attack on Bani Mustaliq, to the meaning of ghanimah, to the long-standing question of whether jihad is permissible during the absence of the Imam. As the only comprehensive Shi‘a scholarly work available in English on the subject of combative jihad, this translation fills an important gap in the literature (although it should be acknowledged that shorter scholarly works have been written). It is also one of the few Shi‘a books in English to honestly and straightforwardly address the question of combative jihad without falling into the trap of apologetics and confining the discussion of jihad to jihad of the nafs (combat against the self). At the same time, the author acknowledges and unequivocally argues against the polemical use of jihad as a weapon to attack Islam, and insists that Islam is inherently non-violent, with violence as the exception rather than the norm. The translation itself is professional and fluid, although the type-setting is non-standard for an academic work. The book concludes with a reprint [End Page 508] of an in-depth article by the translator, Hamid Mavani, on the question of offensive jihad in Islam.
The Islamic College, London, UK