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8 Religio-Political Leadership and the Promise of Paradise

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Chapter Summary

Leadership displays the familiar binary opposition between young and old, both before and in Islam. Before Islam, leadership was entrusted to the old, but in Islam the young began to assume positions of leadership and replace their elders in key positions. The divide between the young and old is reflected in two contrasting views regarding their respective fighting ability in war. The first view stresses the vigor and physical strength of youth. It is supported by some traditions of the Prophet. The second view emphasizes the experience, endurance, forethought, and prudence of middle or old age as against the inexperience and rashness of youth. The reward awaiting martyrs slain in the way of God is touted both in the Koran and ḥadīth. While placing great emphasis on military jihad, the Prophet still seems to give precedence to filial piety. This chapter also provides definition of the age of majority.

Keywords: age of majority; binary opposition; filial piety; jihad; leadership

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