Peace, Jihad & Conflict Resolution

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Zainab Alwani

Keywords

Abstract

The international seminar on Peace, Jihad & Conflict Resolution, jointly
organized by AMSS, IIIT, and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organization (ISESCO), was hosted by the Center for Muslim-
Christian Understanding (CMCU), Georgetown University on November 2-
3, 2002. 


The seminar’s goal was to bring a deeper understanding of the place and
position of religion in general, and Islam in particular, toward the dynamic
concepts of peace, jihad, political violence, and military conflict. The seminar
got off to a lively start on Saturday morning with introductions presented
by Dr. Jamal Barzinji (vice president, IIIT). Welcoming remarks were
made by Dr. Ahmad S. Weld Abah (chairman, ISESCO Executive Council),
Dr. Louay Safi (AMSS president), and Dr. John Esposito (CMCU director).
The opening session was followed by an inspiring speech by Dr. Taha Jaber
al-Alwani (president, Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences
[GSISS]), on “Concepts between Islamic and Western Worldviews: Jihad as
an Example.”
Al-Alwani analyzed the meaning of peace, jihad, and conflict resolution
from an Islamic jurisprudential perspective by examining how these concepts
are governed by the values of tawhid (unity of God), tazkiah (purification
of humanity), and ‘imran (establishing a values-based civilization).
He discussed how practicing and establishing peace is obligatory for all people,
because Islam considers humanity to be one family. Since most of
Islam’s jurisprudential rules are based on peace, according to al-Alwani,
“both peace and jihad have different levels, and each one should be fulfilled
by individuals, family, and society.” He characterized jihad as: “There is no
other concept that will match the meaning of peace in Islam except jihad,”
and argued that “jihad is based on different levels: to struggle is the major
meaning of jihad, in order to elevate oneself to a higher level, they must
strive.” The concept of conflict resolution implies that many stages should
be applied and negotiated before resorting to war.
Thirty-two papers were presented in eight consecutive panels during
the 2-day seminar. The panelists approached the issues from theoretical perspectives
and sociopolitical experiences in order to overcome stereotypical
discussions and superficial impressions. On the first day, the following subthemes
were analyzed in four panels: “Jihad, War and Peace in the Islamic
Authoritative Texts,” “Positive Attitude toward the ‘Other’,” “Religion: A
Tool for Conflict Resolution,” and “Religious and Cultural Roots of War
and Peace.”
These panels drew attention to the need of developing an authentic
methodology that deals objectively with religious texts and history. In the
first panel, Dr. Jamal Badawi (St. Mary’s University, Canada) offered a new
vision in his analysis of how some misunderstood verses and ahadith have
left a negative impact upon the nature of Muslim and non-Muslim relations.
He addressed such questions as: “Does Islam teach hate toward others?” ...

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