Academics should be doing more to smooth relations between Muslim countries and the West by educating politicians and the public about jihad, according to a senior historian.
Richard Bonney, director of Leicester University's Centre for the History of Religious and Political Pluralism, argues in a new book that studying and understanding the varied contemporary views of jihad is central to mending the rift that has been created through recent acts of terrorism.
Professor Bonney, who is also a Christian priest, says: "The rift has come because of an understandable, but regrettable, concentration on the extreme fundamentalism interpretation of Osama Bin Laden and others, while ignoring the mainstream concept of jihad in Islam.
"While many people perceive it as a 'holy war' its real meaning is 'struggle', which can mean a moral rather than an armed struggle. A Muslim might say his jihad is something like being a good citizen and telling the truth. That is a long way from becoming a suicide bomber."
The Idea of Just War: From the Qur'an to Bin Laden will be published next year by Palgrave Macmillan.