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Unformatted text preview: Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations, Vol. 5, No.4, Winter 2006 41 Rethinking International Relations Theory in Islam: Toward a More Adequate Approach Mohammad Abo-Kazleh The legal foundation of foreign relations in Islam is based on Sharyah . The original sources of Sharyah are the Quran and the Prophetic traditions ( Sunnah ). Derived from Sharyah is the Fiqh or Islamic jurisprudence which covers the myriad of problems and issues that arise in the course of mans life. (al-Mawdd, 2002) Among the main issues which the contemporary Islamic jurisprudence attempt to deal with are foreign relations in Islam. Muslim jurists have developed different opinions about the organizing principle of foreign relations in Islam. Some (hereafter referred to as traditionalists) who were influenced by the realistic tendency of Islamic state, particularly during the periods of Conquest, believe that foreign relations in Islam originally depend on the attitude of non-Muslim groups or states toward Islam and Muslims. Therefore, the basis of foreign relations of Islamic state is fight, but under certain conditions. In contrast, other jurists (hereafter referred to as pacifists or non-traditionalists) believe that the origin of foreign relations in Islam is peace, because the Quran unambiguously states there is no compulsion in religion. (2: 256) Accordingly, the principle of war advocated by traditionalists is, non-traditionalists believe, not compatible with this unrelenting Quranic rule. The differences over the original principle of foreign relations in Islam are usually attributed to the fact that exegetes of the Quran most often diverge in their approach to analyze and understand the related Quranic verses, and this create a dilemma in Islamic jurisprudence. The problem is complicated because proponents of both approaches depend on Quranic verses to justify their claims. That is why there is a need to rethink international relations theory in Islam Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations, Vol. 5, No.4, Winter 2006 42 and to develop a more adequate approach through which peaceful and cooperative relations between Muslim and non-Muslim societies are perceived. The purpose of this paper is to deal with this issue through (1) examining the main assumptions of traditional theory, (2) investigating their validity; and (2) incorporating non-traditional opinions into a more cohesive approach as an alternative. I. Traditionalism and War Theory Traditionalism was the dominant approach of foreign relations in Islam because it provided the most powerful explanations for the state of Jihad, which was the regular condition of life during the period of Islamic Conquests. As an image of foreign relations in Islamic literature, traditionalism is based on two main assumptions. Firstly, the world is divided into two parts: bode of Islam and bode of war. Fight is the governing principle between these domains. Second, preaching Islam is the main goal of the Islamic state (historically caliphate state). This goal preaching Islam is the main goal of the Islamic state (historically caliphate state)....
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