SHARIAsource Pakistan and Maldives Editor Adnan Zulfiqar recently published an article in the West Virginia Law Review about how changing views of jihād as an individual duty versus a collective one have challenged the state’s jurisdiction over legitimate violence:
“Jurisdiction over Jihad: Islamic Law and the Duty to Fight”
A serious deficiency in the current discourse on jihād involves the failure to adequately evaluate competing jurisdictional claims over lawful violence, specifically warfare. This article makes several contributions to fill this gap. First, it utilizes pre-modern historical sources to construct a detailed understanding of how the duty to fight functioned in classical Islamic law. Second, it reveals how a variety of factors caused jihād to shift from a collective to individual duty and the impact this has on state jurisdiction over violence. Third, it provides a new reading of colonial resistance, suggesting a predilection for statist frameworks among actors engaged in anti-colonial jihād. Finally, the article analyzes a pivotal 20th-century fatwā (advisory legal opinion) that reframed the classical jihād-duty, making it a perpetual obligation required of all Muslims. The article contends that this reframing led to the state losing oversight over jihād and lawful violence, contributed to the militancy of non-state actors and created distorting effects in Islamic law’s interpretation and application, with consequences that continue to manifest.