Critique of Orientalists’ Perspective on the Significance of Jihad in the Expansion of Islam

Document Type: Original Article



The rapid spread of Islam at the time of the Prophet has attracted scholarly attention, in particular that of orientalis ts. They maintain that different factors were of significance in the spread of Islam at the time of the Prophet, but emphasis is laid on the importance of war and jihad. This s tudy commences with a brief survey and classification of views held by orientalis ts on the mechanics of expansion of Islam and proceeds to present an assessment and a critique of views on the profound ties between spread of Islam and jihad and their discrepancies with Islamic theoretical foundations and his torical evidence. The article comes to an end by explication and clarification of two issues: the poll tax (jizyah) levied on ‘the people of the Book’1 and ‘basic jihad’,2 both misrepresented as imposition of beliefs and resorting to exercising force in spreading Islam. It is said in the final section that the poll tax in ques tion is levied by the Islamic s tate for rendering certain services to the people of the Book and basic jihad is a kind of defending the ‘rights of God’3 and human rights and elimination of impediments to people’s choice of belief.