Islam & Jihad
By: Schezreh Nauman
What is Jihad?
- 'Jihad' is an Arabic word which translates to struggling or surviving. However, it's often translated as 'holy war'.
- Jihad has many meanings when it comes to the Quran and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad.
- The "peaceful" meaning of Jihad can refer to the internal & external efforts of a person to be a good Muslim.
- The "radical" meaning, however, is a violent concept referring to military action (mostly against other religions) in the name of Islam
Jihad in Sacred Texts
- "The true believers are those who believe in God and His messenger, then attain the status of having no doubt whatsoever, and strive (jahadu*) with their money and their lives in the cause of God. These are the truthful ones." 49:15
- "As for the messenger and those who believed with him, they eagerly strive (jahadu*) with their money and their lives. These have deserved all the good things; they are the winners." 9:88
*'jahadu' is the verb version of 'jihad'
When it comes to Prophet Muhammad's teachings of Jihad, he's often cited for considering the violent aspect of jihad "minor" or "little", while the "greater" jihad is the improvement of one's self.
Malcolm X and Islam
Peaceful & Radical Jihad in the Modern World
- Muslim extremists often use the radical meaning of Jihad as an excuse to kill, saying they are killing in the name of Islam.
- Peaceful Jihad is practiced often in the modern world by Muslims everywhere.
- To bring awareness to the difference of the two meanings of Jihad, many Muslims around the world are participating in a campaign called "MyJihad" by posting on social media what their Jihad is.
- This campaign is to bring awareness to the true meaning of Jihad that is practiced by the majority of Muslims.
Jihad in Other Religions
For example, Buddhism has something called the "Middle Way" which is the balance of all things in life (desire, money, impulses). An individual can achieve this by living their life in moderation. This is similar to the concept of Jihad because for a Buddhist to reach the middle way, they must struggle with overcoming their desires, etc. to be the best person they can be. Similarly, a Muslim must struggle, using all their internal & external efforts, to be a good Muslim.