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Differences between Islam and Jihad

Introduction

In virtually all nations of the world today, the term Jihad has become synonymous with violence and disorder. Even Middle Eastern citizens who are well aware of the real meaning of the word jihad as revealed in the Qur’an often express negative sentiments when speaking about it. This is because international media organizations constantly attribute international acts of terrorism and murder to jihadists. It could be said that the word jihad has been hijacked by terrorists all over the world to justify their acts of savagery.

The word Islam actually means surrender to the will of God, and the word jihad is used in the Qur’an to refer to the process of struggling or striving to fulfill this mandate (Kiser, 2008). There is not much difference between the meanings of these two words as they both refer to the process of excelling in the service of God. Both words actually indicate that believers should aim towards maintaining purity and dedication to God in all circumstances. Indeed, it can be said that the notion of jihad is not just found in the Qur’an, but is also practiced by Christians, Hindus, and Buddhists. This is because all these religions exhort believers to struggle against internal sins, as well as external evil in society (Fatoohi, 2009).

There Are No Real Differences Between Islam and Jihad

There are no real differences between the words Islam and Jihad, but it must be pointed out that the latter has been accorded a negative meaning without cause in the 21st century. According to Khan (2010), the words Islam and Jihad both stand for the perpetuation of peace among citizens of the world. Few people realize that there is no mention of the expression holy war in the Qur’an. The word holy war was first used in 1095 by Pope Urban II, when he exhorted Christians in Europe to make a holy pilgrimage to Jerusalem in order to wage war and capture the land that Jesus Christ was born in (Tyerman, 2008).

The Qur’an actually mentions Jews in different passages, and also refers to Christians as People of the Book because of their dedication to the teachings of Jesus, Moses, and Abraham- all of whom are important prophets in Islam (Kiser, 2008). Muslims have actually co-existed peacefully with people of different faiths for centuries. According to Fatoohi (2009), Prophet Muhammad’s teachings, as recorded in the Sunnah, actually confirm that the first cases that will be tried, on the Day of Judgment, are those that have to do with the shedding of innocent blood. The Qur’an also condemns terrorist acts, and advises that believers who engage in them should be punished in the most severe way (Fatoohi, 2009).

In Islam, the word jihad actually refers to the process of dedicating one’s self to the service of God through external acts of mercy, as well as internal purification. According to Kiser (2008), there are different levels of jihad. A Muslim can wage inner jihad to fight evil desires and achieve high moral standards. A community can wage social jihad to deliver society from unjust rulers, or fight oppression (Kiser, 2008). Muslims are also expected to wage a physical jihad when their nations or communities are invaded by foreign tyrants. The physical jihad is recognized as the highest form of jihad because it could result in the death of the person who engages in it, and so calls for the ultimate sacrifice (Streusand, 1997).

The Qur’an states that physical jihad is only to be waged for defensive purposes, and not to terrorize the innocent citizens of other nations and faiths. There is no verse in the Qur’an that authorizes or encourages suicide bombing under any pretext. According to Fatoohi (2009), the Qur’an teaches that forcing people to convert to Islam by force is a crime that ought to be punished under the law.

Conclusion
The words Islam and Jihad can be said to be synonymous, as they both call on the Muslim believer to submit himself or herself to the will of God. Neither of them advocates that Muslims should wage war on citizens of other nations, or forcefully convert them to Islam. Both words encourage believers to strive to submit to higher moral values in the search of God, and operate in forgiveness and mercy when interacting with people from other religious faiths.


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5 Comments

  1. My names is Adolf Hitler and I had a private army of Muslims. Yet I still lost World War 2 with my Muslim Islamic army.

    Sieg Heil

  2. “It could be said that the word jihad has been hijacked by terrorists all over the world to justify their acts of savagery.”

    One has to wonder how “terrorists all over the world” could show such consistency in their “hijacked” version of jihad. What if they’re getting it from the same place?

    Qur’an 9:29- “Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah [religious tax] willingly while they are humbled.”

    If “the Qur’an condemns terrorist acts,” then extorting money from people at swordpoint must not qualify as a terrorist act in Joan Nyokabi’s eyes. Come on, let’s be honest: terrorist jihad is not different from Islam, it arises from Islam.

  3. A lot of white-washing and double talk.

    “Muslims have actually co-existed peacefully with people of different faiths for centuries”

    No so. Jews and Christians can leave within Islamic states as long as they pay the Jizya but they “did not enjoy certain political rights reserved for Muslims”.

    Would you like to live these lives?

    “In 1834, in Safed, Ottoman Syria, local Muslim Arabs carried out a massacre of the Jewish population known as the Safed Plunder.[24][25]

    In 1840, the Jews of Damascus were falsely accused of having murdered a Christian monk and his Muslim servant and of having used their blood to bake Passover bread.[26] A Jewish barber was tortured until he “confessed”; two other Jews who were arrested died under torture, while a third converted to Islam to save his life.”

    See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_under_Muslim_rule

    Dror

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References :


[0]Fatoohi, L. (2009). Jihad in the Qur'an: The Truth from the Source. Birmingham: Luna Plena Publishing. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Jihad-Quran-Truth-Source-Edition/dp/1906342067#reader_B009WFMSQI

[1]Khan, F. A. (2010). Commander of the Faithful: The Life and Times of Emir Abd el-Kader: A Story of True Jihad. Journal of the Islamic Medical Association of North America, 42(3), 126-128. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3708678/

[2]Kiser, J. (2008). Commander of the Faithful: The Life and Times of Emir Abd el Kader: A Story of True Jihad. New York: Monkfish Book Publishing. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Commander-Faithful-Life-Times-el-Kader/dp/0982324669#reader_0982324669

[3]Streusand, D. (1997). What Does Jihad Mean? The Middle East Quarterly, 4(3), 9 17. Retrieved from http://www.meforum.org/357/what-does-jihad-mean

[4]Tyerman, C. (2008). God's War: A New History of the Crusades. London: Belknap Press. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Gods-War-New-History-Crusades/dp/0674030702#reader_B002RI95F4

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