Jihad is one of the most controversial concepts in the Islamic political thought. This paper shed light on two dominant trends in the theories of Jihad in Modern Islamic World. Modernist thinkers, on the one hand, were concerned with political consequences of waging Jihad against the Western Powers and devised a theory intended to avoid the implementation of Jihad doctrine in the modern international arena. This “avoidance theorists” conducted meticulous research on the history of early Islam and forcefully concluded each and every wars and conflicts fought by the prophet Muhammad and his disciples were acts of selfdefense. By doing so, modernist thinkers presented Islam as an entity reconcilable with international laws and norms. Fundamentalist thinkers, on the other hand, criticized the modernist thinkers and its “subservient” style. Fundamentalists are not opposed to the “defensive” nature of Islam but expanded the concept of “defense” beyond the ordinary bound and redefined it to encompass fighting to root out the un-Islamic political and social institutions and entities from the earth. Although political implications of the two trends are diametrically opposed to each other, theoretically they are mutually supporting, at least in part. Modernists have paved the way to supremacist notion of Jihad by definitively approving the historical acts of war by the early Muslim nation as totally defensive and righteous. Fundamentalists rode on this theory and expanded the realm of the “defense” to such an extent that even most of the offensive warfare can be legitimized as “defense” in the context of eternal struggle for the sake of the cause of spreading Islam.
2014 The Japan Association of International Relations