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     JIHAD in Islam*


What Does Jihad Mean?

The Etymology of Jihad

Linguistically, the Arabic word "jihad" means a striving or a struggling which is exerted by a person. And that is why Arabs call the hardworking student a “Mujtahed” which means he is exerting “jihad/juhud” to be good at school. Moreover, The Quran, the Holy Book of Islam, used the term “Jihad”-Strive- to describe some efforts of non-Muslims:

"We have enjoined on people kindness to parents; but if they STRIVE (JAHADAKA) to make you ascribe partners with Me that of which you have no knowledge, then obey them not..." (29:8; also 31:15)

 In the above Qur'anic verse, it is non-Muslim parents who strive (jahadaka = perform Jihad/ juhud) to make their Muslim child ascribe partner with God.

Another Quranic Quotation is:  Therefore listen not to the Unbelievers, but strive (perform Jihad) against them with this Quran by utmost strenuousness.” (Qur'an 25/52).  The Almighty God is ordering the prophet to strive (perform Jihad) against the unbelievers not with sword or power but rather with the words of Quran which leads to calm fruitful dialogue and intellectual meeting. And that really proves the peaceful way Islam used when talking to others.

No Holy War in Islam:

Based on the above linguistic explanation supported by Quranic verses, the term Jihad means strive which affects every aspect of life and can not be limited to war related acts. Moreover, there is nothing in Islam called Holy war or Holy Jihad. As a matter of fact, it is UNHOLY to declare and initiate war. Yes, in Islam there is something called defensive war or defensive strategic mobilization to protect the citizens of the Islamic nation since some wars might be inevitable.

Unfortunately, some writers and translators of the Qur'an and other Islamic literature translate the term "jihad” as “holy war” and that might be due to the reflection of the Christian usage of the term "Holy War” which refers to the Crusades occurred hundreds years ago, or it might be because some people conveniently ignore the real fact.     Finally, the Arabic words for "war" are "Harb" not “Jihad”.


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Islam & violence