Transgress Not the Limits: Just War Theory in Early Islamic Theology


  • Jamie Sutton


Since the beginning of America’s “war on terror,” the permissible targets and methods of warfare within Islamic theology continue to be the subject of much discourse among a global audience. An examination of sources illuminates rich traditions of regulation applying to warfare in Islamic jurisprudence. These traditions range from distinction of legitimate targets to the proportionality of destruction, and taken as a totality, they represent a demonstration of concern for the principles of Just War Theory many decades before a codified western tradition of such began.

This essay offers a concise introduction to the classical regulations on warfare within Islamic jurisprudence along with their place in the modern context. While not an exhaustive effort, the paper offers an understanding of what these Islamic limitations on violence are and how they are circumvented in the modern context by extremists.