Legitimate and Illegitimate Violence in Islamic Thought


Image from the Khaveranname, Iran, 882 AH. Tehran.Project Director:  Professor Robert Gleave

Rob Gleave is Professor of Arabic Studies at the University of Exeter. His main area of research is Muslim legal theory – the theory of how acts are classified as morally good or bad and legal and illegal.  Most of his work to date has involved the legal reasoning within the Shi’i tradition, and in the project he will be applying this to the issues of violence and its justification in various Muslim intellectual contexts. In particular, he will be examining how the various intellectual structures of Muslim scholarship (including the law, the state and messianic expectation) relate to the justification of violent acts. His past publications linked to the themes of this project include studies of the theory of violent punishment in Islam (the so-called hudud offenses) and jihad theory in Islamic law.  
More information about Rob Gleave.


Image from the Khaveranname, Iran, 882 AH. Tehran.

Research Fellow: Dr Istvan Kristo-Nagy

Before he started working on the LIVIT project, Dr. Istvan Kristo-Nagy worked as a researcher in Hungary, Italy, France, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, the United States and the United Kingdom. His main field of interest is the intellectual history of the formative period of Islam, and his research has been focused on Ibn al-Muqaffa's oeuvre. In the LIVIT project, he studies the rationale for state violence used against the individual, or a group of individuals, and conversely, the legitimacy of violence used by the individual or a group of individuals against the state. This subject is also linked to religio-intellectual justifications and condemnations for inter-religious and sectarian violence. The case of the persecution of the zanādiqa (Manicheans, other suspicious dualists and "free thinkers") gives an insight to these questions.
More information about Istvan Kristo-Nagy.


PhD student: Violence and Messianism in Islamic thought:

Ms Bianka Speidl joined us in January 2011.  Born in Budapest, Hungary, Bianka Speidl earned three MAs; in History, in Arabic Studies and in English Studies from the Pázmány Péter Catholic University (Hungary). She is working on her PhD about Messianism and Violence, focusing on contemporary Shīī political activism in Lebanon with special attention to the views of M. Ḥ. Faḍ̣lallāh (19352010) on force (quwwa), violence (unf), mission (dawa), and the belief among the imāmīya in the return of the vanished Twelfth Imām (al-mahdīya).  Bianka has studied in the Institut Bourghiba des Langues Vivantes, Tunisia; she has won scholarships at Universitá degli Studi di Napoli lOrientale, and at the Damascus University. After graduation she was teaching Arabic grammar and the History of the Arab World at the Pázmány Péter Catholic University. Since 2002 she has been working as a journalist, most recently at the Hungarian News Agency as a Middle East analyst. Besides teaching and journalism, Bianka has also worked as a translator, and among her latest works is The Invention of the Jewish People by Shlomo Sand. 



PhD student: Jihad Rhetoric in Scholastic and Popular Discourse

Mr Abdelghani Mimouni: Born in Algeria, Abdelghani (Tayyeb) has long had a fascination with the field of Middle East Studies. He has an advanced knowledge of Islamic sciences, including fiqh, hadith, usul al-fiqh, in addition to the questions of Islam and modernity, Islam and democracy, and human rights in the Sharia law system. He is also an advanced Classical Arabic specialist and fluent in most Arabic dialects.  He has earned his MA in Arab and Islamic Studies from Exeter University working on the theology of the Jihadi-Salafi trend. His PhD is on the concept of Jihad Rhetoric in Scholastic and Popular Discourse, with a provisional subject area of the development of Salafi ideology from the 1960s to the present-day. Abdelghani has also been teaching advanced Arabic grammar for many years in Syria, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. He also worked in Arabic proof-reading and modern editions of classical Islamic manuscripts as well as translation and interpretation.


Visiting Fellow: Dr Saud Al-Sarhan


Dr Al-Sarhan gained his PhD in 2011 focussing on the political theory in early Hanbalism, and has also published widely on modern Salafism of all types, security issues and Saudi affairs.  He has studied in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and the UK, spending some time at the University of Exeter for his doctoral studies.  His numerous publications in Arabic and English chart the history of Muslim doctrinal development from the earliest period to the present, with a particular interest in jurisprudence and political thought, and the history of Hanbalism.  As LIVIT Visiting Fellow he will be working on Jihadi Salafi thought and its modern manifestations.



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