Sunday, July 14, 2024

Jihad in Islam: A Brief Review for Non-Muslims

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“Jihad” is the most used term in relation to Islamic terrorism in the world. The various interpretations of the Quranic texts try to deviate the focus from the true intention to this global nightmare committed in the name of Allah. The Arabic verb “jahada” gives birth to the term Jihad. Thus, Jihad in true Islam literally translates to exertion, struggle, or strife in the life of a peaceful believer of Allah. Some Islamic clerics believe that the term indicates the internal strife of a devout Muslim. Usually, it encompasses a comprehensive struggle for justice and virtue in various aspects of life. However, its true essence is enacted by radicals that practice Jihad as a physical combat or religious war for justice against non-muslims.

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1. Jihad al-Nafs 

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The term signifies the internal struggle of every ‘peaceful’ believer in the word of Allah. The Jihad within oneself is known as Jihad al-Nafs. As per this, Muslims are required to commit to a life as per Islam’s teachings. This struggle inside a person to continue on a path taught by the Quran is termed as Jihad al-Nafs. Some Islamic clerics even promote this ‘Jihad’ to involve self-improvement and personal growth.

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However, this Jihad does not only represent the ‘peacefuls’ strife againsts personal weaknesses. Currently, it is interpreted as an externalized fight against temptation of all sorts by radical elements. Thus, it can be assumed to indicate the denial of human desires or needs by removing the presence of all pleasures from the world. Therefore, this term is now not about self-control against the desire to become a better human being. It has been misconstrued to mean the physical removal of anything that can prompt desire.

2. Jihad al-Shaytaan

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This Jihad refers to the struggle against the whispers of the ‘Devil’ or ‘Shaitan’. Some clerics state that this term deals with a believer’s ability to resist worldly temptations, doubts about Islam, and influences from sources that lead a devout Muslim astray from the path of Allah. Some believers even use this term to encourage mental fortitude and spiritual resilience.

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However, the modern interpretation of the term does not limit it to personal strife on the path of righteousness. Most often this term is used to publicly shame any action, speech, or way of life that does not conform to the camel-era version of Islamic lifestyle. Radicals and extremists use the label of Shaitan or Shaytaan to turn any evidence contrary to Islam’s beliefs into whispers of dissent against Allah. They ensure that the denial of logic is not just an internal but an external, physical act to support their version of Jihad al-Shaytaan.

Thus, radicals effectively translate this term to ensure physical violence against all things that they mark as propagating doubts in the minds of the ‘peacefuls’. Their version of this Jihad means physical combat against all things that they deem as determinantal to Islam. Extremists understand Jihad al-Shaytaan as a physical war against any provocation against Islam or Allah.

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3. Jihad al-bid’ah

This term defines the struggle against misconceptions or misrepresentations of the word of Allah. Some radical clerics define it as a struggle against the innovation of any practice that was not part of camel-era Islam. They believe that any thought or practice that is not listed in Quranic teachings should be resisted and even suppressed.

Although religious conversation is encouraged in Islam, the discussions should never lead to any new learnings or interpretation of the word of Allah. Therefore, this Jihad has taken on the form of denial of all things ‘modern’.

Most Islamists and extremists prefer to live in denial of science and technology. This denial of modernity is believed to be the only righteous way of living, as preached in Islam. Moreover, most radicals use their religion to deny modern education. They prefer the world of the dark ages that wholly conform with Islamic lifestyle. Therefore, they struggle against any new theories that challenge traditional Islamic interpretation. Additionally, this jihad has ensured that a devout Muslim will never feel at home in the modern world. This strife against the world results in the intolerance of extremists in Islam. Some clerics also use this Jihad to gain popularity. Consequently, they deny a modern, educated, and prosperous lifestyle that is not written in the Quran or sanctioned by them.

4. Jihad al-kafiroun

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This is the only Jihad that can truly be interpreted as a physical struggle. This term is a call to all believers to unite against non-believers. This term distinctly divides the world into two parts for all radicals and extremists, the world of believers and non-believers. Although Jihad is used in the Quran 40 times, none of those times show the use of ‘Jihad’ with the term ‘Kafir’ or non-believer. Therefore, this term was probably invented or interpreted at a later time. Some clerics misuse this term to incite violence against non-Muslims. Moreover, they ensure that this term, usually propagated as self defense, is the sword arm of Islam.

All it takes for a Muslim radical to take up arms is an Islamic cleric’s usage of this Jihad. The Islamic extremist can expertly flip any action of an individual, organization, or government into an act of war on Islam. This ensures that all devout Muslims have to support radical wars under the pretext of self-defense by Muslims or defense of Islam. Islam’s ethical guidelines are misused or misconstrued to ensure the world burns under the banner of Jihad. 

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‘Peacefuls’ state that Islamic teachings emphasize compassion, even in times of conflict. However, the Islamic world is yet to show any form of compassion to a ‘Kafir’ till date. Prophet Muhammad’s instructions to his armies highlight the ethical guidelines of warfare in Quran. The Quran states that mutilation is prohibited, yet they behead journalists or civilians whom they deem to have abused Islam in any form. ‘Peacefuls’ preach that Islam condemns harm to civilians, yet radicals hijack civil airlines and destroy residential buildings where women and children live. They do all this without even blinking an eye. They spout that Islam does not allow the destruction of property; however, temples and churches are destroyed in the name of Allah gloablly. In India, Islamic monuments are made by the destruction of ancient Hindu structures and temples. All of this displays the lack of humanitarian values in radical Islamists.

Extremists and radicals have ensured the words ‘Muslims’ and ‘terrorists’ go hand-in-hand. Therefore, all Muslims are viewed as radical elements by the world. They are all labelled as  an orthodox group that physically externalize every struggle preached in Islam. Moreover, while Muslims talk of ‘peace’; their radical segments propagate ‘war’ in the name of Allah. Additionally, all extreme actions by radicals can easily be justified by an extremist cleric that believes the same way as they do. Thus, it is not surprising that Muslims are now considered the global enemy of progress, prosperity, and peace.

 


 

References

  1. https://www.unaoc.org/repository/Esposito_Jihad_Holy_Unholy.pdf
  2. https://yaqeeninstitute.org/read/paper/jihad-in-islam-just-war-theory-in-the-quran-and-sunnah
  3. https://press.princeton.edu/books/paperback/9780691138381/jihad-in-islamic-history
  4. https://www.iium.edu.my/deed/hadith/muslim/019_smt.html
  5. https://www.alislam.org/question/what-does-jihad-mean/
  6. https://securitypolicylaw.syr.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Sadaar-Ali-Rehman.2005.Jihad-in-IR-law.pdf
  7. https://press.armywarcollege.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=2132&context=parameters
  8. https://islamqa.info/en/answers/20214/ruling-on-jihad-and-kinds-of-jihad
  9. https://mudahamatan.home.blog/2020/04/10/types-of-jihad-in-islam/
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