Striving in the Path of God: Jihad and Martyrdom in Islamic Thought

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9780199730933: Striving in the Path of God: Jihad and Martyrdom in Islamic Thought
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In popular and academic literature, jihad is predominantly assumed to refer exclusively to armed combat, and martyrdom in the Islamic context is understood to be invariably of the military kind. This perspective, derived mainly from legal texts, has led to discussions of jihad and martyrdom as concepts with fixed, universal meanings divorced from the socio-political circumstances in which they have been deployed through the centuries. Asma Afsaruddin studies in a more holistic manner the range of significations that can be ascribed to the term jihad from the earliest period to the present and historically contextualizes the competing discourses that developed over time. Many assumptions about the military jihad and martyrdom in Islam are thereby challenged and deconstructed. A comprehensive interrogation of varied sources reveals early and multiple competing definitions of a word that in combination with the phrase fi sabil Allah translates literally to "striving in the path of God."

Contemporary radical Islamists have appropriated this language to exhort their cadres to armed political opposition, which they legitimize under the rubric of jihad. Afsaruddin shows that the multivalent connotations of jihad and shahid recovered from the formative period lead us to question the assertions of those who maintain that belligerent and militant interpretations preserve the earliest and only authentic understanding of these two key terms. Retrieval of these multiple perspectives has important implications for our world today in which the concepts of jihad and martyrdom are still being fiercely debated.

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About the Author:


Asma Afsaruddin is Professor of Islamic Studies and Chairperson of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at Indiana University, Bloomington. She is the author of The First Muslims: History and Memory (2008) and Excellence and Precedence: Medieval Islamic Discourse on Legitimate Leadership (2002).

Review:


"Asma Afsaruddin's Striving in the Path of God is a major accomplishment in the study of non-legal jihad literature Afsaruddin is able to write about an astonishing range of material over centuries with subtlety and erudition, taking great care to contextualize historically semantic shifts in the terms she studies .This book's scope makes it an ideal introduction to the literature for graduate students or advanced undergraduates."--Journal of Religion and Violence


"Asma Afsaruddin's Striving in the Path of God is a signal contribution to the burgeoning literature on jihad. While jihad is the central concept explored in this book, Afsaruddin links it with two other concepts integrally related to the Islamic ideal of righteous 'striving' or 'struggling': martyrdom (shahada) and patient forbearance (sabr). The result is a much more contextualized and nuanced treatment of the idea of jihad in Islam and a much more holistic understanding of what 'striving in the path of God' requires than is presented in the vast majority of studies."--Journal of the American Oriental Society


"Afsaruddin's book is a valuable and brilliant contribution to current scholarship on this topic for she places the misunderstood notions of jihad and shahada in a far more suitable theoretical and historical context."--Journal Storia del pensiero politico


"Afsaruddin's book makes a significant contribution to works of Islamic ethics on war and peace... It is a helpful text on tafsir and hadith literature, and the contextual analysis of the Qur'an more generally. Most importantly, however, the book invites sustained reflection on scholarship as a learned practice of inquiry and reflection."--Journal of the American Academy of Religion


"This text makes a significant contribution to increasing our understanding of how the meanings of theological ideas evolve over time and space. It is rich in primary source material, systematic in its presentation, sharp in its analysis, and persuasive in counter-balancing the purely martial theorizations of jihad."--American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences


"Asma Afsaruddin's Striving in the Path of God is the most comprehensive and instructive treatment of jihad to date. A holistic reading of texts dealing with jihad and its correlates--sabr (patience, forbearance) and martyrdom, it traces diverse interpretations of those terms, right through to the present day. This is a must read for anyone seriously interested in Islam and current events."--Tamara Sonn, Author of Islam: A Brief History


"This book is erudite, comprehensive, authoritative and balanced, based as it is on a meticulous and thorough analysis of the concepts of jihad and martyrdom in key Arabic sources--the Qur'an, hadith, commentaries and books extolling the virtues of jihad. Especially impressive is the book's extensive coverage of all kinds of contemporary fatwas and speeches. This work is an invaluable tool for understanding jihad, past and present."--Professor Carole Hillenbrand, University of Edinburgh


"Asma Afsaruddin's remarkable book, Striving in the Path of God: Jihad and Martyrdom in Islamic Thought, constitutes a major contribution... (T)his profoundly impressive and learned book... ought to find a place on the syllabus of any class on war, ethics and intra-scholarly debates in Islam." --Journal of Islamic Studies


"This book will challenge the field to reconsider much of its assumptions about the very nature of jihad and martyrdom... We are very lucky to have it. It will be indispensable in any discussion on the relation of piety to violence in Islam and will be very useful for discussions on this question beyond the circles of specialists in the study of Islam." --Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft


"Asma Afsaruddin's Striving in the Path of God is a major accomplishment in the study of non-legal jihad literature... Afsaruddin is able to write about an astonishing range of material over centuries with subtlety and erudition, taking great care to contextualize historically semantic shifts in the terms she studies... Such careful treatment of this material will, hopefully, push scholarly discourse on jihad and martyrdom beyond such concerns as just war theory, opening up new trajectories..." --Journal of Religion and Violence


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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2013. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. In popular and academic literature, jihad is predominantly assumed to refer to armed combat, and Muslim martyrdom is understood to be invariably of the military kind. This perspective, derived mainly from legal texts, has led to discussions of jihad and martyrdom primarily as concepts with fixed, universal meanings divorced from the socio-political circumstances in which they have been deployed through time. This book, however, studies in a more holistic manner the range of significations that can be ascribed to the term jihad from the earliest period to the contemporary period against the backdrop of specific historical and political circumstances that frequently mediated the meanings of this critical term. Instead of privileging the juridical literature, the book canvasses a more diverse array of texts - Qur an, tafsir, hadath, edifying and hortatory literature - to recuperate a more nuanced and multifaceted understanding of both jihad and martyrdom through time. As a result, many conventional and monochromatic assumptions about the military jihad and martyrdom are challenged and undermined. Asma Afsaruddin argues that the notion of jihad as primarily referring to armed combat is in fact relatively late. A comprehensive interrogation of varied sources, she shows, reveals early and multiple competing definitions of a word that translates literally to striving on the path of God. Seller Inventory # LIB9780199730933

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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2013. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. In popular and academic literature, jihad is predominantly assumed to refer to armed combat, and Muslim martyrdom is understood to be invariably of the military kind. This perspective, derived mainly from legal texts, has led to discussions of jihad and martyrdom primarily as concepts with fixed, universal meanings divorced from the socio-political circumstances in which they have been deployed through time. This book, however, studies in a more holistic manner the range of significations that can be ascribed to the term jihad from the earliest period to the contemporary period against the backdrop of specific historical and political circumstances that frequently mediated the meanings of this critical term. Instead of privileging the juridical literature, the book canvasses a more diverse array of texts - Qur an, tafsir, hadath, edifying and hortatory literature - to recuperate a more nuanced and multifaceted understanding of both jihad and martyrdom through time. As a result, many conventional and monochromatic assumptions about the military jihad and martyrdom are challenged and undermined. Asma Afsaruddin argues that the notion of jihad as primarily referring to armed combat is in fact relatively late. A comprehensive interrogation of varied sources, she shows, reveals early and multiple competing definitions of a word that translates literally to striving on the path of God. Seller Inventory # LIB9780199730933

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