Thursday, November 02, 2006

What Exactly is Jihad? (Part 1)

Allah said, "Enter into peace completely and do not follow the steps of Satan." (Al-Baqarah 2:208)

One of the largest misconceptions in Islam whether from Muslims or non Muslims is the word "Jihad" Many know it as holy war. May the truth be told, that is not the precise meaning of the word. It is an Arabic word that means to strive for a better way of life. The nouns are Juhd, Mujahid, Jihad, and Ijtihad. The other meanings are: endeavor, strain, exertion, effort, diligence, fighting to defend one's life, land, and religion.

1) Trying to balance between right and wrong.

2) Trying to fit in an environment that you don't feel you belong.

3) Trying to makes choices that wouldn't have consequences on anybody including you.

4) Trying to make this world, a better place to live in.

5) Trying to balance the mind, body and soul.

6) Trying to be true to yourself and to others.

7) Trying to resist issues that are going against you, stopping you from achieving your goal in life.

8) Trying to balance among your intellect, emotions and your spirit.

9) Working hard to earn a living.

Etc. etc. etc… All this is considered Jihad.

Jihad should not be confused with Holy War; the latter does not exist in Islam nor will Islam allow its followers to be involved in a Holy War. The latter refers to the Holy War of the Crusaders.

Jihad is not a war to force the faith on others, as many people think of it. It should never be interpreted as a way of compulsion of the belief on others, since there is an explicit verse in the Qur'an that says: "There is no compulsion in religion" (Al-Baqarah 2:256).

Jihad is not a defensive war only, but a war against any unjust regime. If such a regime exists, a war is to be waged against the leaders, but not against the people of that country. People should be freed from the unjust regimes and influences so that they can freely choose to believe in Allah.

Not only in peace but also in war Islam prohibits terrorism, kidnapping, and hijacking, when carried against civilians. Whoever commits such violations is considered a murderer in Islam, and is to be punished by the Islamic state. during wars, Islam prohibits Muslim soldiers from harming civilians, women, children, elderly, and the religious men like priests and rabies. It also prohibits cutting down trees and destroying civilian constructions.

The Qur'an, the most fundamental scripture of Islam, teaches sanctity of life, not violence. It enjoins peace, justice, and compassion as basic tenets for all of humankind and condemns violence and aggression in all forms. "God enjoins justice and compassion and giving freely to the next of kin, and forbids lewdness, wickedness and oppression.He admonishes you so that you may take heed" (An-Nahl 16:90).

In a society where human dignity was measured by race, ethnicity, color, status, and wealth, the Qur'an stressed the sacred bond of humanity binding all people. "O mankind, We have created you from a single pair of a male and female, and rendered you nations and tribes so that you might know one another. The most honorable of you in the sight of God is the one who is most conscious of Him. God is All-Knowing, All-Aware" (Al-Hujurat 49:13).

Even the concept of holy war is denounced in Islam because in Islam war can only be characterized as either just or unjust, not holy. The Qur'an permits only a just war, a war waged to remove tyranny and oppression, or in self-defense. The Qur'an is categorical in denouncing all wars of aggression.

"Fight for the sake of Allah those that fight against you, but do not attack them first. Allah does not love aggressors" (Al-Baqarah 2:190)

"Permission [to fight] is given to those against whom war is being wrongfully waged — and, verily, God has indeed the power to succor them." (Al-Hajj 22:39)

Allah also forbids Muslims from attacking anyone who allows others to live in peace:

"Thus, if they let you be, and do not make war on you, and offer you peace, God does not allow you to harm them." (An-Nisaa' 4:90)

"Hence, if they do not let you be, and do not offer you peace, and do not stay their hands, seize them and slay them whenever you come upon them: for it is against these that We have clearly empowered you [to make war]" (An-Nisaa' 4:91)

I can't stress on this enough that half is what Muslims that are shown in the media aren't doing what they're suppose to be doing. Honestly, they are going against the Prophet's (Peace Be Upon Him) teachings and the Qur'an.

This is what the Holy Book has to say about Jihad in war:

"And fight them until sedition and persecution are no more, and religion is all Allah's. But if they stop, then let there be no hostility except against the transgressors." (Al-Baqarah 2:193)

In the above verses the general Islamic commandment about armed combat is presented. Wars of aggression are specifically forbidden, but to fight self defense is not only allowable, it is an obligation to prevent occurrence of sedition and persecution in the land. This was commanded after the Muslims were thrown out of their own homes, got their belongings stolen and getting killed in Makkah.

"Call to the path of your Lord with wisdom kindly exhortation, and reason with them in the most courteous manner. For your Lord knows best those who have strayed from His path, and He knows best who are rightly-Guided" (Al Nahl 16:125)

The patience and self restraint of the Blessed Prophet were sorely tested:

At battle of Uhud the disbelievers not only killed his uncle Hamza but cut his nose and ears, then they cut out his liver. When the Prophet saw his uncle's body thus disfigured, he threatened retaliation. Then the above verse was revealed, in which the restraint and gentleness which has always been the Islamic way were confirmed and emphasized. When he last entered Makkah in triumph, he caused astonishment by forgiving his enemies.

"O you who believe! Do not Devour your property among yourselves wrongly; but trade by mutual consent, and kill not one another. Surely Allah is Compassionate to you." (Al Nisaa' 4:29)

In a time of war these disciplines were put by the Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him):

1) You may not harm a woman, a child or any old person.
2) You may not harm cripples.
3) You may not harm a man that works in the field. (Meaning a person who isn't fighting)
4) You may not cut down trees.
5) Strike only at those who have expelled you, who have stolen your rights, and riched themselves in your possessions.

To be Continued....

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