What Does Jihad Really Mean To Muslims?

  The Christian scholar Ira G. Zepp, Jr. explained the term of Jihad that the essential meaning of

  The Christian scholar Ira G. Zepp, Jr. explained the term of Jihad that the essential meaning of Jihad is the spiritual, psychological, and physical effort we exert to be close to God and thus achieve a just and harmonious society. Jihad literally means striving or struggle and is shortened for Jihad (to fight). In a sense, every Muslim is a Mujahid, one who strives for God.(1) It has been translated into English as “holy war”, something which often suggests using force to impose Islam on others, rather than a legitimate self-defense. However, “Jihad” actually means in Arabic “Making all possible effort” or “Striving hard” and struggling. This is by no means restricted to war and military fighting, for which the specific word used in Arabic is “Qital”. Both words are used in the Quran. The wider perspective and connotations of “Jihad” may be clearly felt in these verses:

   And as for those who strive hard in Our cause, We shall most certainly guide them to paths that lead to Us, and, behold, God is indeed with the doers of good” Quran.com/29/69.
  You can also follow the hashtag #MyJihad on Facebook. One of the meanings of the word jihad is to defend one’s self and human rights. Muslims could practice force to defend themselves against the combatants, not the civilians. Nothing in Islam says to impose Islam by force or to declare war against non-Muslims everywhere.  Non-Muslims have never ceased to exist within Muslim countries and in the whole world throughout history, including the time when Muslims enjoyed an enormous political and military power. The prominent jurist Ahmad ibn Idris al-Qadafi (d. 684H/1285) stated that:
   Any Muslim who commits an act that hurts a non-Muslim (i.e in Islam called Dhimmi referring to a person who has rights on Muslims by pacts and Islamic constitution) even with saying an offensive word, or backbiting against him(/her), or causing him(/her) any harm –such a Muslim would be violating the guarantees secured by God and the conveyor of His message and the religion of Islam” (2)

  Muslims are urged to conform to the general rule of peace and cooperation with all if there is no war, no aggression.

   And if they incline to peace, incline to it as well, and place your trust in God; verily. He alone is All- hearing, All knowing! And should they seek but to deceive you, behold, God is enough [security] for you.” Quran.com/8/61
“Islam” and “peace, (salam)” come from the same Arabic root, since Islam aims to secure peace within one’s own self and with all others.
   O You who have attained to faith! Enter wholly into peace and do not follow Satan’s footsteps”   Quran.com/2/208
  To sum up: Terrorism cannot be the legitimate “Jihad,” which strictly observes the legitimacy and morality of the means, which also strictly observing that legitimacy of the goals and ends. Targeting the non-combatants and civilians and committing such enormous killings and destructiveness through clandestine operations, which are fulfilled with blazing bitterness, rancor and malevolence, cannot be attributed to Islam, whose Prophet declares:
   I am no sent as a curse, I am but sent as a mercy” [Sahih Muslim].

For more, check the statistics: Terrorism Is a Real Threat…But the Threat to the U.S. from Muslim Terrorists Has Been Exaggerated.


(1) ‘A Muslim Primer”book,the Christian scholar Ira G. Zepp,Jr, p,133:135

(2) Al-Qarafi, Ahmad ibn Idris, al-Furuq, ‘Alam al-Kutub: Bierut, n.d., vol.3 p.14

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