Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Heather Ferguson

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Popular interpretations and academic scholarship tends to emphasize the relationship between jihad, military action, and communal violence. These reinforce a sense that violence is inherent to Islam. Investigations into the contexts where jihad has been deployed highlight how its use is often a call for unity believed to be necessary for political goals. Therefore, in order to deconstruct this belief, this thesis tackles instead the relationship between textual interpretations and historical actions, and how these varied across specific moments in time. The case studies examined range from the initial evolution of a theory of jihad in the late antique world, to the Crusades in the 11th and 12th centuries, to early modern dynamics of the Ottomans and Safavids, and finally to modern state-making projects in the Arabian Peninsula These examples seek to create a comprehensive picture of the intricacies rooted in jihad and the narrative that can be associated with a religion that is most often misunderstood. The effort to shed some light on the multiple facets of jihad is hinged upon how these case studies differ from one another, thus forcing the reader to question how they previously understood the modern day phenomenon of jihad. While the conversation will reiterate various themes and concepts as discussed in previous scholarship, it should push the boundaries on how jihad has been framed as a modern day extremist ideology.