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Jihad Is Not About Killing Non-Muslims Or Converting Them, Here’s What It Actually Means

By Nimisha Agarwal:

Many non-Muslims, when they think about Jihad, picture religious fanatics on horses with a sword in one hand and a Qur’an in the other, ready to slaughter anyone who is against their religion. Au contraire, Islam prohibits extremism. Islam, in fact, makes of peace a special greeting which Muslims exchange whenever they meet by saying, ‘Peace be unto you’ (Assalamu ‘Alaykum). Muslims also utter this statement at the end of every prayer; they conclude their prayer by addressing those praying with them with the words: Peace be unto you with God’s Mercy! This is clearly stated in the the Qur’an:

“Those persons who go to the extremes in practicing their religion are cursed by god”.


Let alone non-Muslims, many Muslims also don’t know that. Perhaps, this is the reason why terrorist training camps aimed at converting innocent people into mindless robots, ready to be ‘martyrs of Islam’, are successful.

Then, what is jihad? Jihad, literally meaning ‘struggle’, can include anything that a Muslim does, from getting an education to simply eating or sleeping. Basically, jihad means ‘to live’. The central dogma in Islam is its absolute oneness in God. The prophethood of Mohammed was last in the lineage of prophets starting with Adam and including such prophets as Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus. In fact, the Qur’an mentions Jesus more times than Mohammed.

Jihadis – The extremists?

Jihad has been misinterpreted because of many reasons, mainly:

a) The action of Muslim extremists.
b) Attempts at public indoctrination by Islamophobes, who claim that the extremists are right and the rest of us are wrong, and finally,
c) A selective media that understandably focuses on the sensational.

In an October 4 issue of the New York Times, Muslims were shown performing prayers with guns and a caption that read, “Guns and prayers go together in the fundamentalist jihadi battle.” What they omitted, was that these Muslims were praying on a battlefield in Pakistan.

“Many of the trainees have not even read the Qur’an. They are told that jihad is something in which you kill non-Muslims to spread Islam and make Allah proud”, said retired inspector Suresh Khopde, who interrogated Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving terrorist of the terror attacks in Mumbai, two months after his arrest.

Permission to fight against aggression

Fighting for religion is, indeed, encouraged in the second chapter, which was given under circumstances of great provocation, but even in that it is distinctly laid down:

“And fight for the religion of God against those that fight against you, but transgress not by attacking them first, for God loves not the transgressors; kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out of that whereof they have dispossessed you, for temptation to idolatry is more grievous than slaughter; yet fight not against them in the holy temple until they attack you therein, and if they attack you, slay them, but if they desist, God is gracious and merciful; fight therefore against them until there be no temptation to idolatry and the religion be God‟s, but if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against the ungodly”

A really vague notion that I have come across is, ‘Allah was an evil man who forcefully deflowered girls’. What people don’t know is that Allah literally translates to God, and is a noun, similar to what Christians call ‘Lord’ or the Hindus call ‘Bhagwan’.

Lately, I have seen many communal posts, inciting hatred towards Muslims, referring to them as a symbol of terror. My question is, why Muslims? Why not all those selfish zealots who have manipulated this beautiful concept of jihad for their motives? Whenever terror attacks take place, why is it that the first thought that comes to our minds is, ‘Must be some Muslim?’

Accept the fact, no one likes war, including Muslims, except those humans who like creating feuds and spreading devastation for their vested interests.

You must be to comment.
  1. Babar

    Jihad means ‘to strive.’ Muslims are commanded by God to strive for good through words and actions.

    Contrary to popular belief, the Holy Quran was not revealed in one day – It was revealed few verses at a time. After the persecution of Muslims in Makkah for thirteen years, they escaped to Madina to save their lives and that of their wives and children. The verses about killing were revealed in the battlefield, when Muslims could no longer face torture at the hands of barbarians in Madina.

  2. shruti chandra

    There are a lot of similarities between Quran and Bhagwad Geeta only if we read them, only then will we can hope to remove the prejudices people have against Islam. Imagine people being scared of Hinduism only because it propagates war…..that’s precisely what is happening to Islam.

    1. TestOne

      Read the link what is written there

  3. sneha

    Thank you for writing this.

  4. Apoorv Singh

    ” Basically, jihad means ‘to live’.” Then why does Islam exempt disabled and elderly from the path of jihad?

  5. Babar

    The western media has blemished the image of Muslims labelling them terrorists while they are guilty of killing millions of Muslims in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Panama, Somalia, etc. In Iraq alone, 2.2 million Muslims have been killed, 500,000 of which were children. U.S. policy makers go as far as justify these killings, and then label Muslims terrorists.

  6. asd

    I might agree with you on your definition of jihad but that doesn’t change my opinion that Islam is a fundamentally (by fundamentally, I mean as is in quran and hadiths) oppressive, aggressive religion, designed to expand. (I know you have not talked about that specifically here but I feel your stance would be along the lines that Islam promotes freedom and equality). I would really appreciate if you would read this link (whole please) and share your views on these aspects of the religion ( apostasy, proselytization).
    Also please note that while there are discrepancies among various Islamic scholars, they are regards to the interpretation of the holy text, no muslim however will ever deny a single line of the quraan. The ‘liberals’ might at best try to find less aggressive interpretaions, but if they reject a single line of quraan, they are not true muslims, as the belief of quraan and hadiths being words of god and muhammed is a fundamental aspect of islam (Well there has been criticism of Hadiths, but still a majority seems to follow them).

    1. Babar

      You need to differentiate between the actions of Muslims and Islam, just as you do with people of other religions. I, for one, certainly do not blame Christianity knowing that the U.S. government has been murdering Muslims since decades for money, oil, and power. Blaming a religion for the actions of its people is like blaming a car for an accident.

      Nobody blamed Christianity when Clinton illegally occupied Iraq, imposed sanctions, and President Bush continued the oppression, killing a total of 2.2 million people, half a million of which were Children. No one brings Christianity in the middle when President Obama pounds Pakistan with drones and kills thousands of innocent civilians. No one talks about Christianity when innocent civilians are horrendously tortured in prisons like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, when the U.S. supplies Israel with 3.5 billion dollars in aid to kill innocent people in Palestine, including children and babies.

      The U.S. government has killed millions of innocent Muslims since decades in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Iran, Yemen, Libya, Panama, Somalia, among a host of other countries, and we still talk about Muslims and Islam being oppressive.

    2. asd

      You have sidetracked my point by giving the world events, while what I was referring to was only core religious ideology. Differentiating is exactly what I’m doing brother. I never blamed my opinion of Islam on actions of al-Qaeda and ISIS type of organisations. I know like you said, we cant blame Christianity for attacks on Iraq etc for they are done for oil/mony etc. And I am also aware that Al-Qaeda and ISIS like agencies have arisen because of this and are not the real face of Muslims. But my point is that even if these were not their, conflicts with religion would still happen as have happened throughout the history of Islam. Wherever the Islamic empire spread, the minorities were subdued. A non muslim may be allowed to live peacefully, but he can never, say marry a muslim, has to pay muslim tax (said so in quraan), dream to say become the king/president in an Islamic country. This is not the instance of few countries but the law of Sharia, as stated by Quraan. My problem is with the very source, Quraan and Hadiths. If you read the full page of wiki, you’ll have to agree that the Islamic law (as in Quraan) is not very kind towards leavers of Islam. The kindest interpretation of the lines in consideration would be “one who rejects Islam after accepting will burn in Hell/recieve grevious punishment”. And I’m excusing the Hadiths where it is made quite clear that apostates be killed. eg. “A man embraced Islam and then reverted back to Judaism. Mu’adh bin Jabal came and saw the man with Abu Musa. Mu’adh asked, “What is wrong with this (man)?” Abu Musa replied, “He embraced Islam and then reverted back to Judaism.” Mu’adh said, “I will not sit down unless you kill him (as it is) the verdict of Allah and His Apostle.” ” – Sahih al-Bukhari, 9:89:271

      Also see this “Throughout the history of Islam, proselytization of non-Muslims was recommended, while proselytization and apostasy of Muslims forbidden in a region ruled by an Islamic Sultan.”
      Islam was a way of life designed to spread, as it has done so and still doing.

      I never said Islam is the only religion that is wrong or Christianity/Judaism/Hinduism etc are perfect religions. Christianity at one point of time (colonial) was every bit as dangerous as Islam but fortunately after Renaissance, rational thought overtook it and now prevails in most part of the (pre)Christian world. People in the west mostly reject the bible or
      at least do away with the parts that are now out of place. Some verses in manusmriti are casteist and misogynistic but they are being done away with. But any serious muslim will not hear a word against single line of Quraan. So ingrained is the belief that Quraan is the word of God that no muslim will ever doubt a single sentence, and that my brother is a serious problem. That is the reason Islam is considered the religion of brainwashed, because of the strength of indoctrination and lack of scope of scepticism among its followers.

  7. Dilawar

    A wonderful article, which shows the reality of Islam and what is Jihad. These extremist tempt uneducated people by doing wrong interpretation. “I beg you to understand that Terrorism does not portray any religion”

  8. Aniket Pathak

    I would like to share a poem I had written on this topic.

    *Love Jihad*

    My men warn me of an atrocious fishy scheme,
    they say I will suffer if I act on my whim.

    Other men they say, with their fancy and flamboyance,
    will cash in on my stupidity and corrupt my compliance.

    I am their daughter, their sister, their honour and their pride.
    And they will kill me if I procreate for the men on the other side.

    They say my feelings are unholy, as I am a young maiden.
    And they are my watchful protectors, from the fraudulence of the satan.

    Dear father, dear brother,

    Am I just a toy for your honour and pride?
    Are men less evil, less misogynous on our side?

    Why should I bear a child for any man, in this world, a prison?
    Where there is no room, no hope for a life of reason.

    You should know, that once I did fell in love,
    did not care to which side he belonged.
    Lived truely in those few moments
    and then silenced before it prolonged.

    For I have to be dead to live at the mercy of your whims.
    Let the other men fancy all of their futile schemes.

  9. jaks

    dumb communists.. useful idiots

  10. Jakes

    Communists and Muslims the unholy alliance

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