The Islamic Traditions' History of Just War

By: Beyza Yazici

April 28, 2022

Spring 2022 Student Symposium: REWA Minors

There are preconceived ideas of the Islamic approach to violence and war, and even more so in the different traditions of Islam: the Shia tradition is more in line with just war theory; Sufism is the nonviolent tradition; and Wahhabism is the more violent tradition. Throughout this paper, my goal is to analyze where these traditions came from and what kind of historical context they emerged in in relation to just war theory. The importance of the society, culture, and history of the context in which traditions formed is critical to understanding their interpretation and use of Islamic sources. This paper will look into important events that impact these different traditions, specifically in terms of their views and justifications of war and violence.


Mohammad Jafar Amir Mahallati. “Terrorism and Shi‘i Theologies of Martyrdom, Nonviolence, and Forgiveness.” In Ethics of War and Peace in Iran and Shi'i Islam, 186–207. University of Toronto Press (2016).

Carol E. B. Choksy and Jamsheed K. Choksy. “THE SAUDI CONNECTION: Wahhabism and Global Jihad.” World Affairs 178, no. 1 (2015): 23–34.

Fred M Donner. “The Sources of Islamic Conceptions of War.” In Just War and Jihad: Historical and Theoretical Perspectives on War and Peace in Western and Islamic Traditions. ed. John Kelsay and James Turner Johnson. New York: Greenwood Press (1991): 31-70.

Alexander Knysh. Sufism: A New History of Islamic Mysticism. Princeton University Press (2017).

Nico Romerijn-Stout. "Jihad and Just War: A Comparative Analysis," Writing Excellence Award Winners. Paper 14. University of Puget Sound (2010).

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