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February 18, 2009

Distinguished Scholar at Library of Congress To Discuss Doctrines on War of Arab Medieval Philosophers, Feb. 25

Unlike the concept of jihâd in the Islamic world, the doctrines on war that were held by medieval philosophers writing in Arabic have received minimal attention.

Maroun Aouad, a distinguished visiting scholar in the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, will discuss the topic in a lecture titled "Arab Medieval Philosophers' Doctrines on War" at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 25 in Room 119 of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C.

Sponsored by the Kluge Center in the Library's Office of Scholarly Programs, the lecture is free and open to the public; no tickets or reservations are required.

According to Aouad, studies about jihâd, the duty required by Islamic law to wage war under certain conditions, are numerous. They are, however, of a limited interest, since they link the concept of jihâd to its restricted juridical and historical characteristics within a specific religion and civilization.

Much less attention, according to Aouad, has been paid to the doctrines on expansive war that were held by Arab medieval philosophers, who, like Averroes (1126-1198), were at times influenced by Plato. Those doctrines were grounded in pure reasoning and were not based on a revealed law. They raised problems and gave answers that are of a much more universal value and go far beyond the Islamic civilization. Aouad's talk will deal with these rational explanations and with their relationship to jihâd.

Aouad received a master's degree in law from the Université de Lyon and a doctorate in philosophy from the Sorbonne in Paris. He is the director of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique and has done research there since 1985. He has received numerous awards, fellowships and honors including the Delalande-Guérineau Prize given by the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres in 2004.

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world's best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another to distill wisdom from the Library's rich resources and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For further information on the Kluge Center, visit

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PR 09-033
ISSN 0731-3527

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