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Hajj Muhammad Legenhousen


It is common to contrast pacifism with just war theory. Pacifism holds that all wars are wrong, while just war theory holds that under certain conditions, war is just. However, pacifism has also been interpreted as a commitment to peace and a rejection of war except in some but not all cases of self-defense or humanitarian intervention. The term "just war pacifism" or "contingent pacifism" has been used to describe the view that under the conditions of modern warfare, it is morally wrong to engage in war. It is generally recognized that in Islamic traditions of legal, political, and moral thinking, something analogous to the Western just war theory is prominent. In this paper, a comparison is made between Western and Islamic just war conditions. It is then argued that under current conditions, the criteria needed to provide a moral justification for just war in Islam fail to obtain for an important range of armed conflicts, and that this conclusion may be considered an argument for a conditional Islamic just war pacifism. The extent and limitations of this kind of argument are also briefly discussed. Finally, the example of Zaynab, the daughter of Imam 'Ali (peace be with them), is given as indicating the kind of resistance to oppression in harmony with the just war pacifism outlined in the paper.

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