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“The Monasticism of My Community is Jihad”: A Debate on Asceticism, Sex, and Warfare in Early Islam

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This article explores Muslim attitudes towards asceticism in the second/eighth and third/ninth centuries by examining the famous Prophetic hadith: “Every community has its monasticism, and the monasticism of my community is ǧihād.” The hadith serves as a lens for assessing several broader phenomena, including early Muslim views of Christian monasticism, the rejection of celibacy in Islamic culture, and the promotion of a new code of sexual ethics in the post-conquest Middle East—what this article terms the “second sexual revolution of Late Antiquity.” It concludes by presenting several accounts of Christian monks who converted to Islam and joined the ǧihād, as well as Muslim soldiers who converted to Christianity and became monks.Cet article analyse les attitudes des musulmans vis-à-vis de l’ascétisme aux deuxième/huitième et troisième/neuvième siècles en examinant le fameux hadith du Prophète : « Chaque communauté a sa forme de monachisme et le monachisme de ma communauté est le ǧihād ». Le hadith sert comme fenêtre pour évaluer plusieurs phénomènes plus larges, dont les points de vue des premiers musulmans sur le monachisme chrétien, le rejet du célibat dans la culture islamique et la promotion d’un nouveau code d’éthique sexuelle dans le Moyen Orient après la conquête – ce que cet article désigne par l’expression « seconde révolution sexuelle de l’Antiquité tardive ». Il conclut en présentant plusieurs récits de moines chrétiens qui se convertirent à l’islam et pratiquèrent le ǧihād, ainsi que des soldats musulmans qui se convertirent au christianisme et devinrent moines.This article is in English.

Affiliations: 1: St John’s College, University of Cambridge


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