Jihad: Historical Comparisons in African and Asian Experiences
The notion of “jihad” or struggle in the way of God has informed Islamic belief and social practice in ways that range from individual striving for improvement to holy war. The term has gained particular prominence during the past three centuries, during which leaders of social movements in Africa and Asia have declared jihad for purposes of religious renovation, struggle against invaders, and even struggles among co-religionists. Movements of jihad have included eighteenth-century movements in Senegambia, the rise of the Sokoto Caliphate in West Africa in the nineteenth century, the jihad of the Ottoman Empire during World War I, anti-colonial movements in twentieth-century Malaya, and aspects of Palestinian social struggles.
This panel brings together presentations that identify the range of visions of jihad that have competed and developed throughout the history of Islam. It emphasizes that these views have developed both within Africa and Asia, sometimes in distinctive directions. While the panel cannot bring a precise background to the jihadist movements that occupy the contemporary scene, it can show the complexity of the issue of jihad and that both discourse and practice in jihad have ranged all across the Islamic world.