Volume 2, Issue 3, 2014
The Permissive Nature of the Islamic War Ethic
The Islamic war ethic of today is a tension between the ethic of necessary (even required) self-defense and something more militaristic. The Islamic war ethic is fundamentally permissive in two ways. First, the causes for self-defense are construed more broadly than causes for defense in other religious war ethics or in secular jus ad bellum. Second, classical Islam recognizes a prerogative of offensive war to eradicate polytheism and secure Islamic dominion. Empirical evidence suggests that this permissive war ethic influences the preferences of Muslim states for war or peace. Compared to non-Muslim states, and especially to Christian states, Muslim states have a higher propensity to initiate armed conflicts with other states.