• Jeffrey Stout;
  • Shari`a reasoning;
  • divine law governance;
  • jihad;
  • comparative religious ethics


This essay illustrates the kind of moral analysis Jeffrey Stout advocates in Democracy and Tradition by way of examining a conversation among Muslims that took place between June and December 2002. Their debate centers on al-Qaída's legitimacy as God's chosen defender of Islam, which is called into question due to the tension between al-Qaída's military tactics and the concepts of honorable combat held within the Islamic tradition. This giving and taking of reasons in both defense and detraction of al-Qaída's tactics demonstrates the living reality of Islamic tradition—the ongoing process of striving to discern God's will in light of communal agreements about the authority of certain texts and the validity of established rules for interpreting them.