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attitudes towards war

Attitudes towards War

These icons indicate that teacher’s notes or useful web addresses are available in the Notes Page.

This icon indicates the slide contains activities created in Flash. These activities are not editable.

For more detailed instructions, see the Getting Started presentation.


Is it ever right to go to war?

  • Is it ever justified for a country to go to war?
  • Would you fight to defend another country?
  • Would you fight if your country invaded another?
  • Would you be prepared to go to prison rather than fight?
  • Would you fight to defend your family?

Write a paragraph to say whether you think it is ever justified to go to war. You could say ‘yes’, ‘no’ or ‘only in certain circumstances’, but you must explain your view.


Holy war

Christians have fought holy wars in the past. A holy war is fought for religious reasons, sometimes to spread a faith and sometimes to defend it. There have been examples of ‘holy wars’ between different Christian groups (for example, between Catholic and Protestant countries during the Reformation), where one believed that the other was destroying the faith and so should be stopped at all costs.

The most famous holy wars that Christians have been involved in were the Crusades which were fought to drive the Muslims out of the Holy Land (Israel) as it was the place where Jesus had lived and died and so they believed it should be a Christian country.

Find out more about a Christian Holy War.


Harb al-Muqadis

Jihad is the belief that Muslims should fight against evil. This could be a moral fight or it could be a war. Muslims believe that war is only justified if it is to defend Islam. This is then described as Harb al-Muqadis, or a ‘holy war’. Any war started for reasons of greed would not be Harb al-Muqadis.

War in Islam must only be waged according to the principles of Allah’s justice. If a Muslim breaks the rules of war which have been laid down then he will have to face Allah’s justice on the Day of Judgement.

Those who believe fight in the way of Allah, and those who disbelieve fight in the way of Shaitan (Qur’an 4:76)


What does it mean to defend your faith?

Imagine that you are a Muslim and your country is attacked by another which says that when they conquer you, you will be forbidden to worship Allah.

Is fighting against them Harb al-Muqadis? Why?

Imagine that you are a Muslim and a neighbouring country has a materialistic way of life which many young Muslims in your country are beginning to admire. You are afraid that they will turn their backs on traditional Islamic values, and believe that consequently the continuity of your faith is threatened. Is fighting against the neighbouring country Harb al-Muqadis? Why?


What are the similarities between the Christian idea of Just War and Muslim Harb al-Muqadis?

  • Could a war ever be claimed to be a just war by both sides? Explain your view.

Is terrorism Harb al-Muqadis?

Would the majority of Muslims in the world believe that the attack on the World Trade Centre was Harb al-Muqadis?

Refer to the rules for a Muslim ‘holy war’ in your answer.


An army chaplain

Some priests and ministers work in the Armed Forces. They are called chaplains. They work with both Christians and non-Christians. Their work includes:

  • praying with soldiers before battle
  • comforting the wounded and dying
  • documenting and burying the dead
  • teaching basic Bible skills when soldiers first join up
  • acting as a counsellor for any soldiers with problems
  • weddings and baptisms for army families
  • leading church services.

Is it morally right for a priest or minister to go to war? Explain your view.