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Pieces of Eight


 

Political Science Professor Examines Jihad

By Erica Plouffe Lazure

The emergence of jihad as a war strategy and its effects on global stability is the focus of a new book written by an East Carolina University political scientist.

Jalil Roshandel’s book, Jihad and International Security (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), examines the religious origins of jihad and its relatively recent foray into politics and warfare.

“My argument is that jihad is a new act of war, although the term was religious in nature, it’s a new form of war, and it’s jeopardized international security, including the security of the Islamic world,” Roshandel said.

Roshandel, who directs ECU’s Security Studies Program in the Department of Political Science, co-wrote the book with Sharon Chadha, an independent Middle East scholar. Roshandel arrived at ECU in August.

The goal of this book, he said, is to offer a historical and political perspective on the emergence of jihad for a general audience. After Sept. 11, many of the books Roshandel came across about jihad and its role in the Islamic faith were highly academic, or overtly religious.

“We tried to avoid using academic jargon, but have sourced the book so it could be used for political science, international relations, and defense and security studies courses,” he said.

Roshandel, a native of Iran, said he grew up in around two interpretations of jihad: the first is the idea of jihad as self-purification; the second is a call against others to rout out infidels. After Iran was invaded by Iraq in the 1980s, Roshandel saw that jihad served as a mobilizing force for political war, as seen later in Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan, rather than an introspective cleansing of the “infidel” within.

While Americans and the rest of the western world have felt their stability threatened, Roshandel noted that security everywhere, including Islamic nations, has been affected by jihadists.

“Iraq, Indonesia, Somalia…are they safer now than they were 30 years ago?” he said.

“By the act of jihad, they have jeopardized international security and have made life much more difficult for millions of Muslims.”

4/23/07
This page originally appeared in the Dec. 8, 2006 issue of Pieces of Eight. Complete issue is archived at http://www.ecu.edu/news/poe/Arch.cfm.