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THE PROBLEMS OF VIOLENCE AND CONFLICT IN ISLAM Qamar-ul Huda Boston College This paperis aworkin progress and itanalyzes theIslamic reasoning for the use of violence and conflict while also examining the reconciliation of violence in accordance to the Qur'ân and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (Hadîth). Generally the ethics of violence and the interpretation of its use in the Islamic tradition was historically connected to legalists and theologians who collaborated in devising policies for the imperial state. Their reading of the sources to support violence can be explained in areas of survival, self-defense, and resistance to oppression. Here, violence is explained in terms ofthe needs ofthe state, meaning that what is good for the government is good for the religion of Islam. More modern scholars of Islam are revisiting the problem of violence and the weaknesses ofclassical interpretations, and also examining, in light of the Qur'ân and Hadîths, contemporary issues like rights of the unborn, abortion, individual versus communal self-defense, domestic violence, and unprovoked aggression. The scope ofthis paperis, first, to discuss the ideas ofharmony and divine unity in Islamic theology and also the reasons Ithink they are crucial to any understanding of violence. Second, I proceed to analyze some of the ideas relating to violence "for" and "against" God in the Islamic tradition and how those ideas fit into the larger Islamic theology. Third, I am interested in presenting the specific verses from the Qur'ân, as well as Hadîths or sayings of the Prophet that deal with war, conflict and violence, and demonstrate that their contextuality is crucial. Fourth and last, but not least, I will suggest some new hermeneutics for Qamar-ul Huda81 using all of the above for developing, enriching, and incorporating it into an Islamic liberation theology that is desperately needed in the modern Islamic world. I. Islamic Theology, Muslims, and Divine Unity The beginning of all Islamic thought begins with God, or more specifically, with the testimony of faith or shahadâh,1 the statement that "There is no Godbut God, and the ProphetMuhammad is theMessenger.2" This attestation for Muslims is understood to be a unique certainty upon which all other truths depend and exist. With this as the starting point for Islamic beliefand practices, and indeed for all Islamic theology, the logical question for us here at COV&R is, then, to ask: "What is the Islamic perspective on peace and violence as it is related to God and to the testimony of faith?" Also, along the same line of thinking, one needs to pursue the question: "How does the Islamic faith respond to the problems ofviolence, i.e., destructive behaviorto oneselforto others by persons who thus believe that they are thereby serving and surrendering to God?" The word islam3 stems from the root salâm, "peace." The literal sense ofthe word is to be liberated from something or to gain peace in respect to it. Those who participate in this act of surrendering to the Divine are called Muslims, and through submitting one's will to God's Will, one gains safety from error, deviation, and corruption. One is integrally tied into the Divine Unity and is in harmony with the Divine. With this in the background, alThe shahadâh was established during the early period of the Prophet's missionary work. The belief that "There is no God but God, and the Prophet Muhammad is the final Messenger" was hostile to the religious practices of the Arab Bedouin culture. What distinguished the new Muslim converts was that they publicly affirmed the shahadâh and rejected contemporary cultural and religious norms of idolatry. After each reference of the beloved Prophet Muhammad, it is the custom in islam to recite or write "peace be upon him" (or pbuh). The actual Arabic benediction is sa'ala allahu alayhi wa salâm sometimes written in English as SAWS. For the sake ofnon-repetitiveness and to make it easier for the reader's eyes, this paper will not include that benediction after each reference. I use the word islam with the lower case "i" to indicate the personal piety of surrendering to the divine and the journey of making one...


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