Philip Blanc, Class of 2002

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Philip Blanc

Thesis Title: "Judging Jihad:  a 9.11 Perspective."

Advisor: James T. Johnson

 
My project for depatmental honors this year was a study of Islamic tradition on the idea of jihad:  the origins of this idea, its place in mainstream Islamic thought on religion and the state, its development through the Middle Ages, and from the late nineteenth through the twentieth centuries to the present, the co-optation, transformation, and use of this idea by radical Islam to jusify warfare against western culture.  I paid particular attention to the 1998 fatwa, or religious ruling, issued by a group calling itself the World Islamic Front, composed of Osama bin Laden and four other leaders of radical Islamic movements in various countries, which drew from the idea of jihad the idea that it is a duty of all Muslims to attack the United States and its allies wherever and however they can.  My purpose was to explore the roots of this way of conceiving and using the jihad idea, to trace its development in Islamic radicalism, and to identify the tensions between it and the mainstream idea of jihad as striving in the path of God.  In a concluding section, I provided a brief critique, from the standpoint of just war thought, of terrorist activity as justified by the radical idea of jihad.