Jihad: Holy War. This is meaning of the word Jihad as it is interpreted by most Americans and non-Muslims, and rightfully so. The events of the past few years, or even the past decade, make it easy to draw conclusions about other cultures and religions. While most Americans have heard the word jihad broadcast on one of the uncountable news bulletins from Iraq, Israel, Palestine, Iran, or any other hot bed of Islamic violence, the vast majority do not know anything about the Islamic culture, let alone the true meaning of jihad. We are trained by the media to associate the word jihad with bloodshed, terrorism, and suicide bombings. It is not really trickery on behalf of the media, but rather the fundamental stretch of application that is employed by the Islamic extremists. Before we delve into this, let’s take a look at the meaning of Jihad.

Let us examine the term “jihad” from the perspective of a Muslim. The true meaning of jihad is “to strive for moral and religious perfection”. Now what exactly does this mean? This means living in accordance with the five pillars of Islam. For those of you not familiar with the five pillars, they are Confession of Faith, Prayer, Alms Giving, Fasting, and the Hajj. The Hajj is a pilgrimmage to Mecca that every Muslim must undertake at some point in his or her life. So back to our examination of the concept of jihad. You might be asking how people can misinterpret it as a Holy War when the meaning is so far from that. Well, there is more to the idea of Jihad.

Jihad is composed of two parts. There exists both an Internal jihad and an External jihad. The external jihad is the part that throws most Americans off track. Now the confusion of jihad meaning “Holy War” stems from what Muslims call the “Little Holy War”, or the external jihad. The concept of external jihad is fighting in the defense of Islam. Obviously, we see many Muslims refering to the jihad as cause for terroristic attacks, including 9/11. The key word, however, is defense. The term jihad cannot be used to label an offensive, as the Qu’ran lays out a law that force and violence are prohibited as a means to convert others to Islam.

“Defend yourself against your enemies, but do not attack them first. God does not approve of the aggressor.” -The Qu’ran

The quote above comes directly from the Qu’ran. As you can see, your fighting in the name of Islam is allowed, but strictly as a defense. This brings us to the stretching of the concept that is occurring today. We see terrorists and Islamic Extremists declaring jihad in taped messages, and claiming that their actions are valid in God’s eyes. Unfortunately, they are using the term to cover attacks which are certainly not defensive. Flashback to 9/11. While we have had conflicts with the Middle Eastern countries in the past, how have we threatened the Islamic faith? What provoked this attack? You can’t label the terrorism that is rampant today as jihad, because their is no defensive stance to it. Their actions are not sanctioned by God, even if you examine from their belief system. While one could make the argument that our Western way of life is starting to make its way to the Middle East, you cannot blame the choices of your children on us. We do not force our music, food, or clothing on the Islamic culture.

Islamic countries operate on the concept of Islamic Law. This means that all law is based on the Qu’ran. Many Islamic manuscripts have been written in order to layout the guidelines for armed conflict. Even these conflict with what is occuring today. Among the most important laws of armed combat is the prohibition of killing women, children, and non-combatants. Each and every terrorist attack volates these strictly layed out laws.

The main focus of the word Jihad is on the internal side of things. The internal jihad is the struggle within oneself to submit to the will of God, or in other words, the struggle to act as God would have you act, as opposed to how you want to act. To hammer home the point that this is the main form of jihad, I leave you with the Islamic name for internal jihad: “The Great Holy War”.

For an opposing viewpoint on the matter, you can proceed to this article by Daniel Pipes that was featured in the New York Post a few years ago.

Jason “J. Klein” regularly writes for the the College Critic blog that he runs by himself. The blog is updated regularly, and covers a broad range of topics.

Be Sociable, Share!