The term Jihad is often defined as a “fight,” or a “holy war,” but it actually means a struggle, not just against others but against desire, ambition and human aspirations to follow what is preached by Islam. The Quran mentions “Jihad Fi Sabilillah,” or the “struggle towards the path of Allah.”
As Abul Ala Maududi, the political philosopher and scholar, explains the term in his book Jihad in Islam, which was first published in Urdu in the 1960s, “Jihad should be under guidance of the Quran and Prophet’s Hadith, otherwise it is not Jihad but violence.” [The Hadith, for those who don’t know, is a written record of the Prophet’s teachings].
Maududi explains: “Jihad in Islam is not merely a ‘struggle’. It is instead a ‘struggle’ for the ‘Cause of Allah’. The ‘Cause of Allah’ is essential for the term of ‘Jihad’ in Islam.
After all, the Holy Quran clearly says about Cain’s killing of Abel:
For that cause we decreed for the Children of Israel that whosoever killeth a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. Our messengers came unto them of old with clear proofs (of Allah’s Sovereignty), but afterwards lo! many of them became prodigals in the earth. (5:32).Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), the last prophet according to Islamic belief, also said “A believer continues to guard his Faith (and thus hopes for Allah’s Mercy) so long as he does not shed blood unjustly.” (Source: Bukhari/ Riyad-us-Saliheen)
Terrorism, in fact, is completely the opposite of Jihad. Any act of violence that instills fear in the minds of innocent people is an act of terror, particularly because this fear is not a fear against anything wrong, like corruption or theft. Instead, it is a fear of the powerful who wish to become more so.
Those who terrorize have forgotten that “Islam” means “peace,” and that the Holy Quran teaches tolerance towards other faiths and guides:
“There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is henceforth distinct from error. And he who rejecteth false deities and believeth in Allah hath grasped a firm handhold which will never break. Allah is Hearer, Knower.” (2:256)Yes, Islam does provide guidelines for war. But in those guidelines, the killing of women, children, the old and the weak is expressly forbidden. Even destruction of a standing crop or a tree is not allowed, as Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, the first Caliph, told Islamic armies:
“I instruct you in ten matters: Do not kill women, children, the old, or the infirm; do not cut down fruit-bearing trees; do not destroy any town . . . ” (Source: Imam Malik’s compilation of the Hadith “Kitab al-Jihad.”)The Prophet also said that no non-combatant can be killed by a Muslim army in any circumstances:
“Do not kill any old person, any child or any woman” (Source: The collections of Abu Dawood, prominent Islamic scholar, and Maulana Wahiduzzaman, translated by the author).
By Abu Zafar