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 Godâ€Ÿs, 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.