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Jihad And What It Really Means

Part of Belief and Beyond Belief

Take in this expert panel discussion on the idea and meaning of the word ‘jihad’.

‘Jihad’ is a controversial word, often closely linked to religious terrorism, with Muslim scholars debating its meaning to this day. This talk explores its varying translations, from ‘striving in the way of God’ to ‘Holy War’ and looks at how its historic meaning has been applied to modern day struggles.

A panel of Islamic scholars, religious experts, activists and religious leaders debate the meaning of ‘jihad’ and how it is harnessed. Featuring:

- Sunny Hundal, journalist, editor of the political blog Liberal Conspiracy, columnist for Hindustan Times, author of India Dishonoured, a board member of the charity Aik Saath and Ambassador for Sharan Project.

- Abdel Bari Atwan, the editor-in-chief of Rai al-Youm, an Arab world digital news and opinion website. He was the editor-in-chief of the London-based pan-Arab newspaper Al Quds Al Arabi from the founding of that paper in 1989 until July 2013.

- Humera Khan, a freelance consultant and researcher and co-founded An-Nisa Society in 1985, an organisation managed by women working for the welfare of Muslim families. She has written numerous articles for various publications including Q-News, The Guardian and The Independent.

- Sara Silvestri, senior lecturer in Religion and International politics at City, University of London. She is also an Affiliated Lecturer with the University of Cambridge, where she obtained her PhD and where she is a Bye Fellow of St Edmund’s college. Dr Silvestri has published and engaged in outreach work on Muslim political mobilisation, religion and public policy, Islam, migration, terrorism and multiculturalism in Europe. In 2015 she co-authored a study on the role of religion in conflict and peacekeeping for the British Academy.

- John McHugo, an honorary Senior Fellow at the Centre for Syrian Studies at St Andrews, and a board member of the Council for Arab-British Understanding and the British Egyptian Society. He has also written on legal aspects of the Arab-Israeli dispute and advised Tim Farron, when he was leader of the Liberal Democrats, on Palestinian issues. He is the author of numerous books including A Concise History of Sunnis and Shi’is.

This event is chaired by Remona Aly, a journalist with a focus on faith, lifestyle and identity. She writes for The Guardian, and presents on BBC Radio. She is Director of Communications for Exploring Islam Foundation which specialises in PR campaigns and resources on Islam and Muslims across media platforms.

Dates & times

This event has passed.


Royal Festival Hall
Level 5 Function Room, Green side, Royal Festival Hall


Included in Pass

need to know

This event is included in both the Saturday and Weekend Passes, and is part of With God On Our Side... Religion and War Weekend.