On 3 February 2011, Robert Gleave, Professor of Arabic Studies at the Institute for Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter gave a public lecture at AKU-ISMC. The title of the talk was “Cutting and Killing: Legitimate Violence in Islamic Thought”. Professor Gleave presented research in progress from his AHRC and ESRC funded three-year project "Legitimate and Illegitimate Violence in Islamic Thought", part of the Global Uncertainties Programme . This project examines the legal reasoning of Muslim jurists and ethical thinkers by which acts of violence are justified or condemned.
At AKU-ISMC, Professor Gleave identified three types of justification for violence. Firstly, violence can be seem as ritualistic, establishing communal norms and values through ritual actions. Secondly, the justification can be consequentialist, with the end seen as justifying the means. Thirdly, and perhaps most pressing from a contemporary point of view, violence can be justified from an essentialist perspective, with violence seen as an appropriate response to injustice.
Given the nature of the topic, the question and answer session with the speaker was very engaging. Some among the audience argued that the conclusions of the talk required a more critical scrutiny. Questions were also asked concerning the speaker’s methodology and use of data and the relationship between texts and behaviour.
The talk was attended by a diverse group of participants, including an internet audience from Africa, Asia, Europe and North America.
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Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations