Western Misconceptions about the Concept of Jihad in Islam

Allah declares in the Quran: “As for those who STRIVE (JAHADU) in Us (the cause of Allah), We surely guide them to Our paths, and lo! Allah is with the good-doers.”[irp]

Islam is a peaceful religion but lots of misconceptions about Islam are being spread throughout the world through media, making it difficult for Muslims to live in different countries and communities. One of the religious duties of Muslims is known as Jihad. The term jihad has become a controversial word in today's world. In Arabic Jihad means resisting or struggle. A person engaged in Jihad is a Mujahid. The word is often repeated in the Holy Quran. Different Muslims and scholars have different beliefs about jihad. Lots of misconceptions about jihad are spread throughout the world. Due to western propaganda, people have started believing that jihad is nothing but violence and extremism. Struggle by a student for passing exams and getting the best education can also be considered as jihad by a student. Jihad is often translated as a holy war. In Arabic, war is known ‘Al harb’. The term of holy war is familiarized by the media. Jihad is not a violent concept but a religious one.

Allah says in Quran, “We have enjoined on people kindness to parents; but if they STRIVE (JAHADAKA) to make you ascribe partners with Me that of which you have no knowledge, then obey them not…” (29:8; also, see 31:15). There are four types of Jihad according to Muslim jurists, Jihad by heart, Jihad by hand, Jihad by tongue and Jihad by the sword. Jihad can be done in numerous different ways. To choose the right interest among two competing ones, it becomes jihad. Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) was asked by a man, “what kind of Jihad is better?” He replied, “A word of truth in front of an oppressive ruler”

Killing innocent people is a sin in Islam, regardless of their religion. The highest form of jihad is not physical; it is Jihad against on self (against the world desires). Allah is the most gracious and most beneficent. Allah is the creator of the universe, he blessed us with so many blessings and being a Muslim we should thank Him for everything. Once a Muslim puts Allah above all his worldly desires, wealth, loved ones, he often feels pressure. It is not easy to resist worldly desires. This struggle is also considered as Jihad. It may be a tough struggle for Muslims but the reward is generous.

The permission to defend the religion of Islam and Muslims is given in Quran. In early ages, Muslims fought many wars to save their religion from the enemies of Islam. The mission of Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) was to free people from exploitation and tyranny. After that, the people had the choice to follow Islam or not as they wished. Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) taught Islam to the world and his weapon was love, not violence. Muslims should participate and play their role in spreading the true meaning of Jihad and eradicate the misconceptions.

In the Quran, Allah specifically praises those who strive to convey His message: “Who is better in speech than one who calls (other people) to Allah, works righteous, and declares that he is from the Muslims.” (41:33)