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Meaning of Jihad

Meaning of Jihad (F. M. Quraishy) Some people erroneously assume that the word “Jihad” is synonymous with war and has been responsible for the spread of Islam. Had they consulted an ordinary Arabic dictionary they would have learned that the word is derived from “Jahd” or “Juhd” which means ability and exertion of power, efforts, endeavours or ability, in contending with an object of disapprobation. There are three kinds of Jihad: the carrying on of a struggle against the devil, against one’s own evil desires and against the attack of an enemy. Aggression is not allowed in Islam. Muslims are to fight only in self- defence. The Holy Quran says: “Permission to take up arms is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged and Allah, has indeed power to help them. Those who have been driven out from their homes unjustly, only because they said’Our Lord is Allah. . . .” (22:40). The verse permits Muslims to fight in self-defence for two reasons: those who have been wronged and those who have been driven out of their homes without a legitimate cause for no other reason than that they believed in One God. After years of persistent persecution in Mecca the Muslims migrated to Medina in search of peace but even there they were pursued and harassed. It was under these highly unfavourable circumstances that they were permitted to take up arms to save themselves, their faith and Muhammad (peace be on him) himself from extermination. If there were any people who had a legitimate cause to fight then they were none other than the Prophet and his followers; yet they are wrongly accused of waging war on others! The kind of Jihad which is binding on all Muslims to pursue with unabated zeal is the observance of the teachings of the Quran: “So obey not the disbelievers and strive against them by means of the Qur’an with a mighty striving.” (25:23).

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