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The Prophet Muhammad’s Eighty-Six Military Campaigns

I recently began rereading David Cook’s excellent work, Understanding Jihad, published by the University of California Press in 2005. Cook is Associate Professor in the Department of Religion at Rice University and author of five scholarly books on Islam. I first read it nearly a decade ago and had forgotten how engaging it is as he traces the historical development of jihad in the Islamic world. I was quickly reminded when, coming only to page six, I read the following: “It was in this context that jihad arose, and the campaigns to gain adherents and control territory constituted the focus of the community’s activity during the last nine years of the Prophet’s life. Muhammad is recorded as having participated in at least twenty-seven campaigns and deputized some fifty-nine others- an average of no fewer than nine campaigns annually.” The Prophet Muhammad participated in or sanctioned eighty-six military campaigns? The number is striking. Particularly when one considers that Professor Cook is referring to the founder of one of the world’s great religions (with 1.6 billion current followers). Continue reading