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Striving For the Cause of Allah: How Islam Defines Jihad, Its Types and Order

Striving For the Cause of Allah: How Islam Defines Jihad, Its Types and Order
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By Mohammad Youssef

The concept of Jihad in Islam stems from the basic roots of this religion as it represents one of the fundamental tasks that every Muslim should consider and observe.

Probably, no other concept has been widely misunderstood or distorted like the concept of jihad. This is not only due to ignorance and lack of knowledge, but it is also because of premeditated and systematic effort designed to tarnish Islam’s image and distort its reputation.

Jihad is basically and widely presented as a military strife against enemies of Allah and religion, however, jihad cannot be limited to this explanation, a close and more attentive inspection of the term reflects diversified meaning that goes far beyond this direct implication confined to military aspects.

It goes as far and as deep as fighting within the individual to train himself to always enjoin the good and forbid the evil.

The concept of Jihad in Islam has always been a controversial issue, not only in the Western circles or among the ranks of enemies, but also within Islam itself. The reason is due to the circumstances that have surrounded the Dawa [or call to Islam], and the accompanying propaganda aiming at distorting Islam, or the different rather contradictory explanations presented by some jurisprudents [fuqahaa].

The concept of Jihad as misunderstood or misrepresented by the West is not a good or desirable one, it aims not only at distorting the concept itself, rather the whole religion!

The Western circles, notably a group of thinkers and writers, and the mainstream media have published volumes in presenting Jihad as a mere military act which involves butcheries, massacres and bloodshed. They basically aimed at spreading Islamophobia to keep their population away from embracing Islam after many have done that and of the fear that more and more westerns would convert to Islam.

Definition of Jihad

The Arabic word ‘Jihad’ is derived from the root word ‘juhd’ which means ‘power’, ‘labor’ or ‘struggle’. Doing one’s utmost to reach a goal or attain an achievement. It also implies the person, and here the believer who sacrifices his life or properties and belongings in the path of Allah and for his sake only. Doing this for any worldly gain would make him lose the status of a martyr who is promised the eternal paradise ‘janna’.

Jihad is not only limited to the military struggle as it also encompasses other aspects, here we can talk about two kinds of Jihad:

Greater Jihad and lesser jihad; greater Jihad is the Jihad that takes place within the person himself where he struggles to maintain himself straightforward in the path of right and good.

A very important and much quoted tradition is what Prophet Muhammad [PBUH] used to tell his companions as they go home after a battle, “We are returning from the lesser jihad [the battle] to the greater jihad,” the far more urgent and momentous task of interdicting wrongdoing from one’s own society and one’s own heart.”

The lesser Jihad is the Jihad against the enemy in the battlefield where a Muslim engages in a military confrontation to defend people, properties and human values. No wonder at all that the first is called a greater Jihad because it generates the second and brings up the individual to uphold and defend the divine values that all people agree upon like justice, equality and peace.