A Critical Analysis of Firestone’s Hypothesis Regarding the Qurʾānic Legislation on Holy War

In: Al-Bayan: Journal of Qur'an and Hadith Studies
Mohammad Ali Tabataba’i Research Institute of Qurʾān and Hadīth Qom

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Maryam Velayati Faculty member of the Qurʾān and Hadīth University Tehran

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Reuven Firestone in his works on the concept of holy war in Islam has criticized the traditional resolution for the problem of disparity between the Qurʾānic verses on war and suggested a new interpretation of the relationship between the verses. This paper aims to reevaluate Firestone’s contribution by taking a closer look at his critique of the traditional theory as well as his alternative suggestion. This study shows that what Firestone attributes to the Muslim tradition is a mistaken projection of some modern views onto the early authorities. The ambivalent stance of Firestone towards the historicity of the early Muslim literature results in a loose hypothesis regarding the formation of the Qurʾānic verses on war which neither meets the traditional specifications, nor satisfies the criteria of the skeptic party of Islamicists.

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