With a Maharashtra court’s observation that a person cannot be branded as a terrorist merely for using the word “jihad, the word jihad once again has become the focus on the media. As per the judge, Jihad, a word, the very sound evokes terror in human minds, has greater meaning, but meaning that even Muslims are unaware of! Let’s examine what Jihad is and how it has become a threat to the whole human population on earth.
The literal meaning of Jihad is struggle or effort. Muslims use the word Jihad to describe three different kinds of struggle:
1. A believer’s internal struggle to live out the Muslim faith as well as possible
2. The struggle to build a good Muslim society
3. Holy war: the struggle to defend Islam, with force if necessary
There are many opinions on which is greater among these three. Though a few people claim that the main meaning of Jihad is the internal spiritual struggle, most of the Islamic writings interpret Jihad as a military struggle.
Jihad and the Prophet
The internal Jihad is the one that Prophet Muhammad is said to have called the greater Jihad. But the quotation in which the Prophet says this is regarded as coming from an unreliable source by some scholars. They regard the use of Jihad to mean holy war as the more important.
What can justify Jihad?
There are a number of reasons, but the Qur’an is clear that self-defence is always the underlying cause. Permissible reasons for military Jihad:
- Strengthening Islam
- Protecting the freedom of Muslims to practise their faith
- Protecting Muslims against oppression, which could include overthrowing a tyrannical ruler
- Punishing an enemy who breaks an oath
- Putting right a wrong
The Qur’an on Jihad
The Qur’an has many passages about fighting. Some of them advocate peace, while some are very warlike. The Bible, the Jewish and Christian scripture, shows a similar variety of attitudes to war.
Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors.
To those against whom war is made, permission is given (to fight), because they are wronged;- and verily, Allah is most powerful for their aid.
Therefore if they withdraw from you but fight you not, and (instead) send you (Guarantees of) peace, then Allah Hath opened no way for you (to war against them).
But if the enemy incline towards peace, do thou (also) incline towards peace, and trust in Allah: for He is One that heareth and knoweth (all things).