What is Jihad?


The image of Muslim women in some people’s mind.

“Jihad” is a term often misunderstood and associated with violent radical militants. This Arabic word is frequently mistranslated as ” holy war,” although there is no such thing in Islam. Holy war is something undertaken to forcibly subject others to certain religious doctrines. As we have seen this expressly forbidden in Islam.


The concept of Jihad in peoples mind

The Arabic word “Jihad” actually means a struggle or striving within and applies to any great effort on the personal as well as the evil from oneself and from society. This exertion of effort can be spiritual, social, economic or political. For example, one of the highest levels of jihad is to stand before a tyrant and speak a word of truth. Restraining the self from wrongdoing is also a form of jihad. It is a broad Islamic concept that includes opposing evil inclinations within the self, opposing injustice by peaceful means, the exertion o effort to improve the quality of life in society, as well as striving by military forces on a battlefield in defense of the community or of peoples oppressed.  Jihad is not synonymous with war, as that is only one possible aspect of the term and it certainly does not include terrorism!

There is also jihad of the soul, which means striving to purify the soul, to increase its faith, incline it toward good and keep it away from evil. Then there is jihad through wealth, which means spending it in various beneficial ways, including charities and welfare projects. And there is jihad through the self  which comprises all good works done by a believer.

It includes the protection of societies from oppression, foreign domination and dictatorships that usurp rights and freedom, that abolish just and moral rule, that prevent people from hearing the truth or following it, and that practice religious persecution. Jihad endeavors to teach belief  in the one supreme God and worship of Him, to spread good values, virtue and morality through wise and proper methods. Jihad means striving for social reform and the elimination of ignorance, superstition, poverty, disease and racial discrimination. Among its main objectives is securing rights for weaker members of society against the impositions of the powerful and influential.

Armed jihad is not an option for Muslim individuals or groups. It can only be declared by the Muslim head of state and religious leadership. Moreover, it must never be fought for worldly gain, conquest or revenge. Muslims may only engage in battle to protect people’s lives, properties and freedom.

Compiled by Saheeh International

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