By Reuven Firestone
Whereas there exists no proof to this point that the indigenous population of Arabia knew of holy warfare sooner than Islam, holy conflict rules and behaviors seem already between Muslims in the course of the first new release. This booklet specializes in why and the way this type of probably radical improvement happened. Basing his speculation on facts from the Qur'an and early Islamic literary resources, Firestone locates the starting place of Islamic holy struggle and lines its evolution as a reaction to the alterations affecting the recent group of Muslims in its transition from historic Arabian tradition to the non secular civilization of Islam.
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Additional info for Jihad: The Origin of Holy War in Islam
Because such a definition is framed by both ideological and legal criteria, even “jihad of the sword” is not quite equivalent to the common Western understanding of holy war. The present volume centers on the origins of holy war in Islam, while not intending to provide a full understanding of the meaning of the term in classical Islam. 22 My purpose, rather, is to trace the genesis and development of religiously sanctified war in the earliest Islamic period, whether that is categorized in Islamic parlance as jihad or referred to through other terminology.
47 To the pre-Islamic Arabian poet, fate cannot be avoided or escaped. It will find you wherever you may be, whether you fortify yourself in castles or even take refuge in the sun: The young man runs, but his fated death (himam al-mawt) reaches him. Every day brings the fixed term nearer to him. I know that my day will once reach me And I shall not care for my world any more. 48 What is inevitably fated in pre-Islamic Arabic poetry is the necessity of death, which is preordained. 49 One will meet one’s demise in a particular way at a particular place, so it is no use trying to avoid it by attempting to change the course of one’s own history.
This is an appropriate term for the Arabian Peninsula because it is surrounded by water on three sides and thus largely isolated from other lands and peoples. Its northern border, however, extends into the settled areas of the eastern Mediterranean region and Mesopotamia, and, as a consequence, cultural, economic, and social interaction always moved between the arid Arabian steppe and the Fertile Crescent. This movement, however, was restricted by the northern desert, which tended to keep large population movements, including invading armies, from moving southward.
Jihad: The Origin of Holy War in Islam by Reuven Firestone