The politico-economic interests of states – behind the contemporary

politico-economic interests of states – behind the contemporary combats – to
topple unfavorable governments abroad, to seek easy trade deals, to utilize
natural resources across the world and to establish a desired world order make
the modern wars not the holy wars. Holy wars are fought to propagate or
suppress a religion against those are considered as “Enemies of God”.

Existence of wars can
be traced back to the point when competition and conflict emerged as social
concepts running parallel with cooperation. Human societies and nations have
fought wars on various grounds i.e. religious, political and economic. The wars
fought on religious basis were termed as Holy Wars which are quite different
from the Modern Wars being witnessed today. Unlike the Holy Wars, Modern Wars
remain considerably political and economic in nature. These are not derived by
any pure religious rivalry or agenda. According to the Encyclopedia of War, out
of all known/recorded historical conflicts, only about 7% had religion as their
primary cause, and of that percentage, 4% were related to Islam. In several
conflicts including the Israeli–Palestinian conflict,
the Syrian civil war, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,
religious arguments are overtly present but variously described as fundamentalism or religious extremism depending upon
the observer’s sympathies.

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In Classical Antiquity develops the
notion of a pantheon with a divine
“division of labour”. Now, Ares was
“war personified”, but while Ares received occasional sacrifice from
armies going to war, there was only a very limited “cult of Ares”

While early empires
could be described as henotheistic,
i.e. dominated by a single god of the ruling elite or more directly by deifying
the ruler in an imperial cult,
the concept of “Holy War” enters a new phase with the development
of monotheism

In early Christianity,
St. Augustine’s concept of just war (bellum
iustum) was widely accepted, but warfare was not regarded as a virtuous
activity. According to historian Edward Peters, before the 11th century
Christians had not developed a concept of “Holy War”. During the 9th
and 10th centuries, multiple invasions occurred which lead some regions to make
their own armies to defend themselves and this slowly lead to the emergence of
the Crusades, the concept of “holy war”, and terminology such as
“enemies of God” in the 11th century.

While technically, the
millennium of Muslim conquests could be classified as “religious
war”, the applicability of the term has been questioned. This happened
many times throughout history, beginning with Muhammad’s
battles against the polytheist Arabs
including the Battle of Badr (624), and
battles in Uhud(625), Khandaq (627), Mecca (630)
and Hunayn (630).

.Religion is one of
the most sensitive issues and, although every religion encourages the idea
of peace and tolerance, almost no one remains in peace or tolerates anything
when it comes to their religion. History is full of religious wars and some of
them have continued for years and killed many. 
The Battle of Badar, fought on 17 Ramadan, 2 AH in the Islamic calendar)
in the Hejaz region
of western Arabia,
was purely of religious based. Muslims fought against non-believers for the
sake of Islam. 14 Muslims were martyred in this battle.  Battle of Uhad and Battle of Hind were also
of religious based and were fought by Muslims against non-believers.

The Second War of
Keppel was fought in 1531, in the land of Switzerland as a result of religious
conflicts between Catholic cantons and Protestants.  It was a rough
estimate at that time that 7,000 Protestants and 2,000 Catholics fought this
war and in the end, more than 700 people died including a majority of

Lebanese civil war was
very particular and different from other religious wars, as it was fought
between Sunnis and Shiites at the land of Lebanon. Both sides belong to
different ethnic groups of Islam and they both wanted the government control of
Lebanon. The Lebanese Civil War started in 1975 and ended and the end of 1990
and it was estimated that more than 150,000 people were killed in these
inter-country conflicts.

The Crusades is just a
catch-all title for the multiple religious wars and fights that were fought
between Muslims and Christians. These wars were due to the religious disputes
and controls over land in Jerusalem. The first war started in 1095 and lasted
until 1097, whereas the second war was started in 1097 and continued till
1127. Along with many other wars, it all stopped in 1303 when both war soldiers
shed blood of more than half a million civilians in the fight and the control
of that land was given to the Christians.

Years’ War is a series of religious wars, that was fought in between 1618 to
1648 in Europe, and at that time, most of the European countries participated
in these wars. This period of wars is the longest and most demolishing period
of fighting in the history of the world that left more than 800,000 deaths
including soldiers and civilians. These short period wars were also fought
between the religious conflicts in between the Holy Roman Empire, France,
Sweden and Spain.

being fought today are very different from religious wars. “Holy”
wars were waged with the objective of achieving religious goals like conquering
holy cities, expanding “holy” empires, etc. But, modern wars are waged by
nations to secure their Geo-political interests. Most nations who have been
involved in modern wars are Secular. War in
modern times has been the inclusion of civilians and civilian infrastructure as targets in destroying
the enemy’s ability to engage in war. Modern warfare uses the concepts,
methods, and military technology that have come into use during and after World Wars I
and II.

has been the cause of all the major wars in history. I have heard this text
recited like a mantra by American commentators and psychiatrists, London taxi
drivers and Oxford academics. It is an odd remark. Obviously the two World Wars
were not fought on account of religion”


states are indulged in fighting these wars to secure their politico-strategic
interests, to protect their investments, to seek maximum benefits out of other
countries’ governments and the trade opportunities available. Besides that, the
combat against terrorism is another idea that overwhelms the Modern Wars thus
making them apart from the Holy Wars.

with the politico-strategic interests lying behind the modern wars, it can be
clearly noted that the holy wars are totally a different thing. This is the
world of nation-states. Each of these states maintains specific political
interests attached with the developments across the globe. There are strategic
interests nourished by the modern nations to have a conducive political
environment in different regions. Amid these complexities, these nations
cooperate when required but also fight wars when desired. Examples of such
modern wars driven by politico-strategic interests are apparent.

U.S-led wars being fought in the Middle Eastern nations of Syria and Iraq.
These wars are not against the religion prevailing in the said region but to
secure strategic leverage and political hold there. U.S. desires a pro-American
Middle Eastern regime. That’s why it topples and installs governments in the
name of democracy. All this makes its modern wars different from the
traditional concept of Holy Wars which used to be purely religious like

Another example is the
presence of Russia, Turkey and Iran in the Syrian civil war. These states are
present and actively engaged in Syrian war to secure their political interest
of regional influence, hold and dominance against the United States of America.

Thirdly, Saudi Arabia’s
fighting against the Houti rebels in Yemen, is not purely of religious causes.
Its primary objective is to secure its strategic interests and to contain the
expansion of Iran. The Saudis believe the Houthis (which are Shia ) are backed
by Iran and the Saudis do not want another Iranian proxy army on their southern
border controlling most of Yemen.

Second thing that
renders modern wars separate from the holy wars is economic and commercial
arenas of interests.  States are engaged in trade within and outside
its borders. Powerful nations tend to secure their economic interests abroad
through the pacific tools of concessions and aid. But they also revert to
combative measures sometimes for this purpose. For instance, U.S. is still
ensuring its military presence in Iraq not because of fighting any holy combat
but to hold the country’s natural resources and exploit the maximum economic
benefit from them. Former president Barak Obama’s statement proves it true;

“Terrorists were
being allowed to overrun part of Iraq’s territory This poses a danger to Iraq
and its people  given the nature of these
terrorists, it could pose a threat eventually to American interests as


Experts on the region
question whether oil, terrorism or anything else justifies U.S. military action
in Iraq.

Similarly, China and
the United States of America are contesting in an undeclared and informal
combat in Africa to control the region’s natural resources for the future use
and excessive economic value. Africa has long been torn by conflicts driven by
sectarian enmities, power struggles, and disputes over colonial borders. With
the exception of Egypt, the entire continent falls under the purview of the US
Africa Command, or AFRICOM. Established in 2007, AFRICOM was responsible for
the 2011 intervention in Libya that backed the rebellion against the government
of Col. Moammar al-Gaddafi. AFRICOM troops have also been involved in fighting
Islamist insurgencies in Libya, Mali and Chad in subsequent years. While china
is present there for African diamonds, uranium deposits, rare metals, and
fossil fuels. Chinese investors have made substantial inroads into the
continent in recent decades, negotiating numerous construction projects, mining
rights and oil and gas exploration deals. Being the economic rivals, both states
are at war in Africa. This clearly makes these modern wars differentiated from
the holy wars which are fought for a religious purpose.

In another aspect,
modern wars are being fought to have access to the free trade deals and to
establish economic hegemony. That is what has been witnessed in the South-East
Asia in the recent months. US and China have come at daggers drawn to maintain
an economic hegemony in the said region. Southeast Asia, being the home of
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is hub of economic activity.
This brings U.S. and China – the two top world powers – in a contention of
modern nature which is not holy in any way.

Lastly, the modern war
against terrorism makes the contemporary combats different from the holy wars.
The latter were fought for propagation or suppression of a religion. This is
not the case with the modern fight on terrorism that is not against any
religion or religious ideology. In fact, these are against the thinking of
terror-spreading through excessive use of violence. Modern wars on terrorism
being fought in Afghanistan, Middle East and to some extent in Europe and
Africa are completely different from what is called as holy war. In such wars
the enemy is murdering humanity. Thus, it makes no sense whether he is a Muslim
or a Christian. Further, it gives him a new identity of a terrorist. This
justifies a modern war against him which works not on religious basis but in
the grounds of saving humanity from terror. Operation zarb-e-Azab, Operation
Al-Mizan, Operation Rah-haq in Pakistan are the examples of battles being
fought against terrorism but not to suppress or propagate any religion.

In conclusion, wars are
a reality. But they vary in their very nature defined by the agenda being
pursued behind them. When the agenda is religious, they are termed as holy wars
and when the agenda became economic, political and strategic; they are called
Modern Wars. Today, the world is experiencing the modern wars which rarely have
anything to do with the religious mindset. Nation states are devising and
fighting these wars to ensure the maximum economic benefits for them in the
form of favorable trade deals and free trade regimes. Further, the political
interests of maintain strategic leverages in various regions enable them to
shape their wars with modern mission which would not reflect spirit of any
religious or holy cause in them but purely material. All this obvious material
approaches of fighting wars today make them modern without becoming holy.