Jihad: Behind The Mirror

Jihad in the media has become a controversial issue. Explanation of Jihad is conflicting, and much debate centers

Jihad in the media has become a controversial issue. Explanation of Jihad is conflicting, and much debate centers upon interpretation of its true meaning and forms. Although the word “Jihad” is elaborated more than 1400 years ago, till now it is still a foggy term.   

“Jihad” is an Arabic word which means the act of striving, applying oneself, struggling, and persevering. In the dictionary of Islam, it refers to the religious duty of Muslims to maintain the religion. It is a holy war waged by Muslims against enemies of Islam. Often appears in the Qur’an to refer to the act of striving to serve the purposes of God on the earth which called “striving in the way of God (al-jihad fi sabil Allah).” A person who engaged in Jihad called Mujahid. Sometimes, Jihad represents great pillar in Islam, though it occupies no such official status. According to John Esposito, the term Jihad in Islam describes both violent and nonviolent meanings. Simply, it can mean striving to live a moral and virtuous life. It is an inner spiritual struggle referred to as “The Great Jihad.” The other meaning is “The Lesser Jihad”, is an outer physical struggle against the enemy of Islam. It may take a violent or non-violent form.

    The inner Jihad is the greater one. Its greatness came from its hardness. It is the struggle against desires and power of lust, anger, and evil ideas. Mainly, striving all satanic ideas to place all of them under the dictates of reason and faith in obedience to God’s commands. Prophet Muhammad said, “the mujahid is he who makes  jihad against his nafs (ego) for the sake of obeying God.” Further, he said:

The strong one is not the one who overcomes his people, the strong one is he who overcomes his nafs.”

Moreover, it is not limited to specific time and place, but in every time and place to reach purification. Even in a very small decisions Jihad al-nafs is required. For example, drug abuse is forbidden because it is harmful to health and Mind. Breaking a drug addiction is difficult but not impossible if the addicted continue to strive the self. However, by the time, jihad al-nafs will be easier to the point of not feeling it.                                                                   

The Lesser Jihad is an outer physical struggle and a holy war. A question can be raised here; would you be willing to die for your beliefs, whether Jewish, Christian, Buddhists, or whatever belief you hold?.

If you don’t die for the belief you hold, then why do you hold to the belief?

Why would you renounce something you are basing your life on and pretend to believe in? Sue Blackmore said: if it came to it, like the suffragettes before me, I would fight even die for my freedom. Through the ages, Christian, Buddhists, and Jews have all died for their faith. When it comes to Islam, it often has been taken as terrorists and extremists ideas. The concept of Jihad has been hijacked by many political and religious groups over the ages to justify violence. Meanwhile, if Jihad in Islam is required, strict rules should be applied.

For instance, innocents such as women, children, or invalids never be harmed, and any peaceful overture from the enemy must be accepted.

And if they incline to peace, then incline to it [also] and rely upon Allah . Indeed, it is He who is the Hearing, the Knowing.” [Quran.com/8/61]

Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. Allah does not like transgressors.” [Quran.com/2/190]

Sulaiman bin Buraidah reported on his father’s authority; that Prophet PBUH said:

Fight in the name of Allah and in the path of Allah and with him who disbelieves in Allah fight and do not be treacherous and do not be dishonest about booty and do not deface (in killing) and do not kill a child ….” [Sahih Muslim]

All in all, Jihad is not what you see on TV or read in the newspaper, nor what prepared to be known. Further, it is a way of striving to maintain purification and life, a way to preserve safety. Both inner safety to live in a proper way, and outer safety to live in peace.


  1. Engaging religion education book by David Mattew
  2. The Guardian
  3. Sunnah.com