Post: Justification for ‘Holy War’

Those who advocate killing others in the context of a ‘Holy War’ often seek justification for their acts in religious texts.

 In the light of the recent rise of extreme groups such as IS (Islamic State), I have looked into some of these texts myself.   The following forms Chapter Three of  Abraham’s Children: Jew Christian Muslim, Commonality and Conflict.

Throughout the history of humankind there have been wars, despite all the horrors that follow in their wake. As a consequence of these horrors, whether individual death and suffering, destruction of wholesale communities, or widespread ecological damage, war has never been embarked upon lightly. Apart from being assured of reasonable success, rulers needed to have good reason or a just cause, for taking their people into battle. In other words, when is it justifiable to take up arms against an enemy? Furthermore, once engaged in battle, what are the ethics of war? What weapons should be used and how? How should property, prisoners, non-combatants and particularly women and children be treated?

In response to these questions there has developed in all traditions a ‘Just War Theory’.