What Is Jihad? Obviously, a Reflection of Islamophobia
It looks increasingly as though the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria caliphate is on the decline, being beaten back and losing territory, recruits and lives as a concentrated and cooperative counter-attack sees them backed out of territory they once triumphantly declared as theirs alone. So that is a commanding success story. But wait; their predecessor Islamist terrorist corporation al-Qaeda is regaining strength even as it drains from Islamic State. Islamism is a pestilence that will refuse to die. Its warriors may, in numbers, but those they breed before they become 'martyrs' are infected with the very same pathology; it seeps into the faithful from the Koran.
- The Arabic word "jihad" is often translated as "holy war," but in a purely linguistic sense, the word " jihad" means struggling or striving.
- The arabic word for war is: "al-harb".
- In a religious sense, as described by the Quran and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (s), "jihad" has many meanings. It can refer to internal as well as external efforts to be a good Muslims or believer, as well as working to inform people about the faith of Islam.
- If military jihad is required to protect the faith against others, it can be performed using anything from legal, diplomatic and economic to political means. If there is no peaceful alternative, Islam also allows the use of force, but there are strict rules of engagement. Innocents - such as women, children, or invalids - must never be harmed, and any peaceful overtures from the enemy must be accepted.
- Military action is therefore only one means of jihad, and is very rare. To highlight this point, the Prophet Mohammed told his followers returning from a military campaign: "This day we have returned from the minor jihad to the major jihad," which he said meant returning from armed battle to the peaceful battle for self-control and betterment.
- In case military action appears necessary, not everyone can declare jihad. The religious military campaign has to be declared by a proper authority, advised by scholars, who say the religion and people are under threat and violence is imperative to defend them. The concept of "just war" is very important.
- The concept of jihad has been hijacked by many political and religious groups over the ages in a bid to justify various forms of violence. In most cases, Islamic splinter groups invoked jihad to fight against the established Islamic order. Scholars say this misuse of jihad contradicts Islam.
- Examples of sanctioned military jihad include the Muslims' defensive battles against the Crusaders in medieval times, and before that some responses by Muslims against Byzantine and Persian attacks during the period of the early Islamic conquests. The Islamic Supreme Council of America
To the faithful, jihad, the most basic element of Islamic values -- the principle of conquest through one method of prosetylization or another, either by convincing non-Muslims that Islam must become their future guiding light, or destroying the lives of those who evince no interest in Islam as a universal religion eclipsing all others -- is one that is revered and acted upon. Those who battle the conquistadors of Islam who betray humanity through terror and gore, may feel that jihad will become a spent force, but if it does it will only be a temporary solution.
Al-Qaeda, in the wake of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant ascension, was thought to be finished once Osama bin Laden was sent to his maker, and the group faced the prospect of being forgotten instead of being feared at the appearance of a usurper Islamist jihadist phenomenon far more brutal and proud of it. But we are informed otherwise as it continues to gain strength in the Arabian peninsula, in Libya and in Syria as jihadist militias transfer allegiance back again to al-Qaeda.
ISIL itself is considering the necessity of its senior planners disappearing underground temporarily while followers in the West are given encouragement to hit hard, just where they are, through either organized attacks or using any opportunity for a lone inspired jihadist to strike a blow for jihadist triumphalism, spreading panic, fear, terror, and death. And then intelligence in the West muse about the likelihood of the two cohorts, ISIL and al-Qaeda, overlooking rivalries to strike a common front; their objective is, after all, the very same.
The Internet as a recruitment tool of the first order is indisputably efficient, and would-be jihadists throughout Europe are awaiting instruction. Even while Europe is bracing itself and awaiting the eventual return of the battle-seasoned former members of their disparate communities returning to embrace jihadist opportunities there. Terrorist groups find purpose in jihad; it is elemental to their existence even beyond the call from the Koran. What the West terms as radicalization is Islam appealing to its faithful to act upon their ideals.
Wars between and among Muslim states have a purpose beyond the physical pleasure of striking blows against neighbouring enemies. Those deadly conflicts arouse that passion of obligation to jihad as from wars surface those terrorist groups the world has grown to fear and dread. Hezbollah out of Lebanon's conflicts, al-Qaeda evolving out of Pakistan's plans for Afghanistan, and Islamic State from sectarian massacres in Iraq and Syria.
|A Kurdish soldier defends the city of Kirkuk against an ISIS advance, July 2014. Spencer Platt/Getty Images|