Holy War

A holy war is a war fought by religious followers who believe they are fighting because it is the right thing to do. They believe that God wants them to fight and is ‘on their side’.

In the 11-13th centuries, Christians fought a series of wars called ‘the Crusades’. They believed that God wanted them to fight to free holy places in Palestine.

Task: Watch this video.

Whilst some Christians believe that all war is wrong, others believe that there are some times when God would want you to fight. They take inspiration from the following quotes.

Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

Matthew 10:38-39

… love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Matthew 5:44

For Muslims, war and defending the innocent has always been a part of Islam. However, certain conditions must be met for the war to be considered justified. It must:

  • be for reasons of defence
  • be declared by a religious leader
  • be a last resort
  • avoid harming innocent civilians
  • not be fought to gain land
  • not cause women to be abused or raped
  • treat enemies fairly, including enemy soldiers
  • be stopped as soon as the enemy asks
  • not target property

Jihad is the belief that Muslims should fight against evil. This could be a moral fight or it could be a war. Muslims believe that war is only justified if it is to defend Islam. This is then described as Harb alMuqadis, or a ‘holy war’. This can involve:

  • preserving the freedom of Muslims to be a part of Islam
  • defending the religion if it is being threatened
  • defending Muslims or innocent people against attack

And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

Surah 9:5

Task: Explain what the Conquest of Mecca/Makkah is and what happened.

Task: Complete the following 12 mark question. Use the sentence starters if you would find them helpful.

‘Holy war can never be justified.’
Evaluate this statement. In your answer you:
should give reasoned arguments in support of this statement
should give reasoned arguments to support another point of view
should refer to religious arguments
may refer to non-religious arguments
should reach a justified conclusion

  • Most Christians would agree with this statement because… They believe this because…
  • However, other Christians would disagree with this statement because… They believe this because…
  • Muslims would agree/disagree with this statement because… They believe this because…
  • My view on this statement is…
  • In conclusion…

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