A terrorist who kills innocent people can never be a jihadi.
Jihad is an Islamic term which means ‘to strive and to struggle’ – to strive against one’s own evil inclinations, in the battlefield (to fight in self-defence) and to strive to make the society better. Jihad also means to fight against oppression and tyranny, and to struggle for justice, truth and egalitarianism.
Many people have misconceptions regarding the word jihad – not only the non-Muslims but the Muslims too. The word jihad has been misunderstood and misused by different sects of our society – be it political diplomats, politicians, bureaucrats or even the media – the so-called ‘fourth pillar of democracy’ which even overrules the law sometimes and delivers its own judgements.
In the 21st century, media plays a pivotal role in every aspect of a democratic country. Media has become so invulnerable that it has ‘mediatised’ every patron of the society and finds itself above all.
Media has a good role to play in the spread of tradition, culture, religious beliefs and much more. It is also responsible for different misunderstandings – and the concept of jihad is one among them, which is being misused in full swing. Jihad is a sacred term which means to fight against one’s own sins, and also represents the fight within a soul to make it sacred.
Jihad is not a fight to kill innocent people or non-Muslims. On the other hand, the video below shows what’s wrong with people’s conception of the term:
Many people misunderstand that the violence by Muslims (for whatever reason) is jihad. Jihad can never include violence. Jihad is not even a ‘holy war’ (for instance, check out the Merriam Webster definition here) – it is a mistranslation. The Arabic term for ‘holy war’ is ‘harb muqadasa‘ or ‘harb-ul-muqadasa‘, which is nowhere mentioned, neither in the Quran nor in the authentic Hadith of Prophet Mohammad. This means that the Quran doesn’t say a word about the ‘holy war’.
The word jihad has lost its original connotation and has resulted in ideological and political discourses. Different people have different and fluctuating perceptions on jihad. According to me, it doesn’t mean to fight in the name of religion, but to fight for justice, against oppression, within our soul and to fight for the truth. One aspect of this striving can be fighting, but in the way of the almighty Allah and the Quran.
Unfortunately, non-Muslims and scholars translate jihad as a holy war, which is wrong. Even many writers, authors, critics, politicians and journalists misquote and misuse the term jihad and consider Islam to be a ruthless religion which says ‘kill non-Muslims’. The Encyclopedia Britannica does touch upon some aspects of this while describing the what jihad is.
Despite the fact that Islam is a tranquil and peace-loving creed, some Muslims and non-Muslims have misunderstandings regarding the different verses of Quran – and this is often a part of debates and discussions.
They say that the Quran says that ‘wherever you find a Kafir (Hindu), you kill them’. This Quranic verse is always in the limelight in the so called ‘news hours’ of media. Killing innocent people is strictly prohibited in Islam and is mentioned in the Quran beyond the shadow of a doubt. It says, “Whoever kills a person unjustly… It is as though he has killed all mankind, and whoever saves a life it is as though he had saved all mankind.” (Surah Al-Ma’idah [5:32])
Though the Quran, in one of its verses, says something akin to ‘wherever you find a Kafir, you kill them’ but the use of the term Kafir to mean Hindu is absolutely misleading.
If we consult the Quran, the Surah At-Tawbah [9:5] mentions the word Hindu nowhere. And secondly, people often quote it out of context to mislead and misguide the readers and listeners. To understand this, we delve into the context of this chapter of the Quran and the following verses. These talk about the peace treaty between the Mushriks and the Muslims of Makah which was broken by the Mushriks. A war ensued with the Muslims. The almighty Allah then gives them an ultimatum to set things alright, or else, face the consequences. And he commands the Muslims of Makah that if they kill you fight them back, and kill them in which ever state you find them. It is obvious that anyone who is fighting a battle will counter-attack and defend themselves.
The following verse (in which Allah also asks the Muslims to provide protection and asylum for the Kafirs willing to repent) also shows the mercy of Allah. The verse does not focus on killing non-Muslims. These show that it’s not Islam’s universal policy to kill non-Muslims or Hindus.
Whenever the word jihad is mentioned, cocked guns and unpinned bombs come into people’s minds. But this is all a misconception. Some people have discomfited the entire religion in the name of jihad.
A jihadi is not a Muslim with ammunition (baroodh), guns and bombs. They aren’t people who create chaos and havoc, either. A jihadi or a jihadist is one who has a good understanding of the Quran and obeys the authentic Hadith of Prophet Muhammad. One who kills innocent people in the name of jihad can never be a jihadi or jihadist.
Someone who is always truthful is a jihadi. Someone who fights for justice is a jihadi. Someone who protects women is a jihadi. Someone who stands for equality and justice is a jihadi.
Some say that a jihadi is a ‘Muslim terrorist’. The Oxford Dictionary defines a terrorist as ‘a person who uses unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims’.
Firstly, Islam does not allow any violence in the name of religion. But yes, a Muslim terrorist can be called a jihadi only when they obey the Quran and the authentic Hadith of Prophet Muhammad. However, they cannot harm or kill innocent people for any reason whatsoever.