Concept of Jihad in Islam
What radical groups are propagating is not Jihad but terrorism
By: Muhammad Asgar Khan
Jihad is one of the most important basic teachings of Islam and is considered as a medium to achieve greatness, glory, and sovereignty. On that basis, Jihad is compulsory on every Muslim and enforced until the day of Judgment. The term Jihad etymologically is derived from the Arabic word Jahada which means “Work wholeheartedly”. Jihad is considered as a rule that must be followed by Muslims as it is confirmed that in holy Quran the term has been specifically mentioned as much as forty-one (41) times in various Surahs; 8 times in the Meccan Surah (the Surah revealed in Mecca on Prophet Mohammad p.b.u.h) and 33 times in the Madaniyah Surahs (The Surahs revealed in Madina after hijrat) with the intention that Jihad is a basic concept for Muslims in their lives.
As opposed to the popular notion, Jihad in Islam is not merely an act of violence directed indiscriminately against the non-Muslims; it is the name given to all struggles which a Muslim should launch against all evils in whatever form or shape these appear. One of the controversial aspect of Jihad is Qital fil sabilillah (killing in the way of Allah) which is often misquoted by extremists. However, the Qital in Islam is not an act of mad brutality against non-Muslims or any creature. It has its material and moral functions, i.e. self-preservation and the preservation of the moral order in the world. The very first revelation of Quran giving permission to wage war against the evil forces sums up the aims and objects of Qital in Islam:
“Permission to fight is granted to those who are attacked, because they have been wronged- god indeed has the power to help them- they are those who have been driven from their homes unjustly only because they said: ‘Our Lord is Allah,’ if Allah did not repel the aggression of some people by means of others cloisters and churches and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is much invoked, would surely be destroyed. Verily Allah helps one who helps Him. God is indeed powerful and mighty. ” (Quran; 22:39)
While in another Surah it is written that “The believers fight for the cause of God, while those who reject faith fight for Satan. Then fight the allies of Satan; verily weak indeed is the strategy of the devil”. (Quran; 4:76)
In this Surah it has been made clear that those people who fight for self- glorification or for the exploitation of the weak are in fact friends of the devil; whereas those who raise arms to curb tyranny and aggression, to eradicate evil from the human society, fight in the way of Allah. Mere fighting is not, therefore, Jihad in Islam; it is the noble objective alone which makes it a sacred pursuit like devotion and prayer.
Since the 9/11 when the world trade center was badly attacked and destroyed by the terrorists in the name of Islam, the wave of Islamophobia spread all over the world. Now after the two decades the Islamophobic attitude got strongly embedded in society and Jihad which actually meant “to struggle” is being synonymously used for terrorism. The politically motivated terrorist who uses Jihad as an apparatus to kill and to oppress the people has nothing to do with the Islam and its basic teachings. Islam has purified even war of all its cruelty and horrors and has made it a “reformative process” to deal with all evil that exists in a society.
So great is the respect for humanly feelings in Islam that even the destruction of enemy’s crops or property is strictly forbidden. The Calipha e Rashidun closely followed the teachings of Allah as well disseminated the Islamic teachings. The first Caliph Abu Bakr (Allah be pleased with him) sent letter to his army while sending her on the expedition to the Syrian borders is permeated with the noble spirit with which the war in Islam is permitted. He said:
“Stop, O people, that I may give you ten rules for your guidance in the battlefield. Do not commit treachery or deviate from the right path. You must not mutilate dead bodies. Neither kill a child, nor a woman, nor an aged man. Bring no harm to the trees, nor burn them with fire, especially those which are fruitful. Slay not any of the enemy’s flock, save for your food. You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic services; leave them alone.”
While in another event, it is said that once at the time of conquest, a girl was brought to al-Muhajir Abu Umayya who had been publicly singing satirical poems about first Caliph of Islam Abu Bakr Siddiq. Muhajir got her hand amputated. When the Caliph heard this news, he shockingly wrote a letter to Muhajir in the following words:
“I have learnt that you amputed hands of a girl who had hurled abuses on me. God has not sought vengeance even in the case of polytheism, which is a great crime. He has not permitted mutilation even with regard to manifest infidelity. Try to be considerate and sympathetic in your attitude towards others in future.”
The term Jihad which means a struggle that Muslim should launch against all evils in the society and within us has been synonymously used as terrorism is totally bogus and misinterpreted. In many cases, the misinterpretation is a product of western world which tactically defamed Islam to continue its occupation in the Muslim countries, after some misguided Muslims launched a war against the world and used the concept of Jihad as an apparatus to kill those whom they consider a threat towards the community while the concept of Jihad is wrongly presented & interpreted by those nocturnal preachers who have some hidden interest. Such preachers usually misguided the youngsters and compelled them to move on the wrong path for their own latent interests, as no real Islamic preacher who even owns a little knowledge of Islam never misinterpret the concept of Jihad and never ask any Muslim to move on the path of terrorism as both concepts are contradictory in nature.