by Jane Terry and James Broucek
Tuesday evening in Meyer Library, Professor James Broucek, an instructor in the Department of Religious Studies, discussed the major trends and turning points in the ongoing discussion of legitimate warfare in Islam. Introduced by Dr. Martha Finch, professor in Religious Studies, Professor Broucek talked about “The Just War Tradition in Islam” to students, faculty, and community members.
What does it mean to “fight in the path of God”? In response to the assertion that Islam’s sacred texts inevitably radicalize pious Muslims, Professor Broucek emphasized the diversity of judgments concerning legitimate warfare in the tradition of Islamic law. Muslim scholars have disagreed about whether or not Muslims have an individual obligation to fight wars, if offensive wars can ever be just, and who counts as a noncombatant. These disagreements stem from divergent readings of Islam’s sacred texts, prompted by changing historical circumstances. Muslim terrorists represent a contemporary response to the classic question of how to fight in the path of God. But they, like all Muslims struggling to live in submission to God, express judgments that are based on selective interpretations–not pure, unmediated transmissions–of classic texts.
Professor Broucek specializes in Islam and modern Islamic political thought in the Middle East.