Jihad

The Quranic Definition

One of the most manipulated concepts in Islam today is the concept of jihad.

The concept of jihad is indeed a Quranic one, but sadly, a false and twisted version of this Quranic concept has been used by terrorists acting in the name of Islam to commit various terrorist acts. These terrorist acts, which occur all over the world, aim at the indiscriminate killing of innocent people. They are being undertaken in the name of “jihad”. These non-Islamic acts have gone a long way towards distorting the image of Islam.

As with any religious concept, it’s correct definition lies in the scripture and not in the interpretation of humans. To fully understand the Quranic concept of jihad, it is essential to address the following issues:

1- The Quranic definition of the word jihad

2- What is “The cause of God”?

3- Are the ones who explode themselves in 'suicide bombings' really going to Heaven as they have been led to believe?

4- Does the concept of a 'holy war' have Quranic authorisation?

FIRST: The Quranic definition of the word jihad

The literal definition of the word jihad is: striving to achieve a goal, while the Quranic definition of the word is “striving with one’s self and one’s money in the cause of God”.

This Quranic definition is confirmed in a number of Quranic verses which speak of jihad. The following are some examples:

“The true believers are those who believe in God and His messenger, then attain the status of having no doubt whatsoever, and strive (jahadu) with their money and their lives in the cause of God. These are the truthful ones.” 49:15

“Those who believe, and emigrate, and strive (jahadu) in the cause of God with their money and their lives, are far greater in rank in the sight of God. These are the winners.” 9:20

“As for the messenger and those who believed with him, they eagerly strive (jahadu) with their money and their lives. These have deserved all the good things; they are the winners.” 9:88

p.s. the word “jahadu” is the verb form of the noun “jihad.

SECOND : The cause of God

Now that we have established that jihad means to strive with one’s self and one’s money in the cause of God, we need to determine what is the Quranic meaning of the phrase: “the cause of God”?

Striving to uphold the “cause of God” simply means striving to uphold all God’s commandments and a strive to condemn all God’s prohibitions. Hence, a jihad in the cause of God is a strive to preach and uphold God’s way and God’s Law. Since the word jihad has been manipulated to advocate violence and the killing of innocent people, it is necessary to establish, with clear Quranic evidence, that the “cause of God” does not allow unlawful killing or violence.

1- First, we must always be aware of the prime declaration in the Quran which states that God does not advocate sin:

"God never advocates sin. Are you saying about God what you do not know?" 7:28

2- Following from that, the Quran states categorically that killing any innocent soul is a gross sin:

"...... You shall not kill - God has made life sacred - except in the course of justice. These are His commandments to you, that you may understand." 6:151

"You shall not kill any person - for God has made life sacred - except in the course of justice. ....." 17:33

The prohibition to kill any innocent soul has always been the law of God, in the Quran and in all previous scripture:

"......, we decreed for the Children of Israel that anyone who murders any person who had not committed murder or horrendous crimes, it shall be as if he murdered all the people. " 5:32

3- God does not allow fighting (war) except in the case of self defence:

" .......... If they leave you alone, refrain from fighting you, and offer you peace, then God gives you no excuse to fight them" 4:90

"If they resort to peace, so shall you, and put your trust in God. He is the Hearer, the Omniscient." 8:61

“do not aggress; God dislikes the aggressors.” 5:87

4- God commands that there will be no compulsion in religion:

"There shall be no compulsion in religion ..." 2:256

"You have your religion and I have mine" 109:6

"Had your Lord willed, all the people on earth would have believed. Do you want to force the people to become believers?" 10:99

The commands in the above verses are very clear. The Quran confirms that belief must be attained voluntarily and not forcibly. If we are forced into becoming Muslims, there would be no credit due. The choice must be a voluntary one.

"Proclaim: "This is the truth from your Lord," then Whoever wills let him believe, and whoever wills let him disbelieve" 18:29

"You shall remind, for your mission is to deliver this reminder. You have no power over them" 88:21-22

The message of no compulsion in religion is once again emphasised in the above Quranic words.

5- Quran advocates pardon, forgiveness and tolerance:

"You shall resort to pardon, advocate tolerance, and disregard the ignorant" 7:199

"Tell those who believe to forgive those who do not long for the days of (meeting) God. He will fully pay everyone for whatever they have earned." 45:14

The Quran condemns the killing or even the persecution of people merely because they embrace a different religion. The Quran mandates absolute freedom of religion among all people. Respect and mutual co-existence must be exercised with those of other religions. The Quran urges Muslims to treat such people kindly and equitably:

"God does not enjoin you from befriending those who do not fight you because of religion, and do not evict you from your homes. You may befriend them and be equitable towards them. God loves the equitable." 60:8

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As all the above verses indicate, the Quran is clear in prohibiting all violence, unlawful killing and also forcing others into Islam.

Attacks on civilians and on innocent people around the world by these terrorist groups is a violation of all the verses quoted above. This is an act that is condemned by all religions including Islam.

THIRD : Are the ones who explode themselves in 'suicide bombings' really going to Heaven as they have been led to believe?

Suicide is a state of disbelief and loss of faith that is condemned by God throughout the Quran. In the Quran, God commands the believers never to despair or lose hope but in stead have faith in God and work for a brighter future:

" ............ none despairs of God's grace except the disbelieving people." 12:87

It is true that many of the youth who commit suicide bombing live in dire situations and there is no denying of their suffering and oppression. But there is no justification for breaking God's commandment. Oppression is not a reason to break God's law. On the contrary, oppression is a good reason to hold tight to these commandments and to show more faith in God. Two wrongs do not make a right.

Sadly, many young people in Islamic countries who get drafted into one of the terrorist groups, are completely brain washed to believe that when they explode themselves in what is known as “suicide bombing” that they die as martyrs and are sent directly to Heaven!

Young male youth, who are easy prey for the devious politically motivated preachers, are totally brain washed into believing that beautiful virgins are waiting for them in Paradise!

Those who kill innocent people in the name of Islam or in the name of God, and who think of themselves as martyrs, should think twice. Their act is categorically condemned by God as per the above verses of the Quran. These people are disobeying God's commandments and in stead upholding the fabricated claims of their teachers/leaders!

“You shall spend in the cause of God; do not throw yourselves with your own hands into destruction. You shall be charitable; God loves the charitable.” 2:195

“O you who believe, do not consume each others' properties illicitly - only mutually acceptable transactions are permitted. You shall not kill yourselves. God is Merciful towards you.

“Anyone who commits these transgressions, maliciously and deliberately, we will condemn him to Hell. This is easy for God to do.” 4:29-30

As per all the Quranic verses presented, we understand the following:

1- Killing an innocent soul is a great sin in the sight of God

2- Suicide in any form is condemned by God.

3- The Quran does not promise Paradise to those who commit suicide but rather warn of great retribution.

FOURTH : Is there such a thing as a “Holy War” in the Quran?

Various terrorist groups portray “jihad” as a “holy war”. The media in the west has been sucked up into accommodating or reporting this false interpretation.

In the light of the Quran, there is no war which is holy; not under any circumstances. In fact, the whole text of the Quran promotes peace rather than war. The word Islam itself is a derivative of the word “salam” which means peace.

There are times, and in specific circumstances, when the option of war is allowed. This stems from the fact that the Quran advocates opposition to aggression and oppression. And thus, in such circumstances war is allowed but only as an act of self defence, but never as an act of aggression.

Whenever there is a possibility to avoid war, then this alternative, as long as it is reasonable, must be taken.

"You shall prepare for them all the power you can muster, and all the equipment you can mobilise, that you may frighten the enemies of God, your enemies, as well as others who are not known to you; God knows them. Whatever you spend in the cause of God will be repaid to you generously, without the least injustice. If they resort to peace, so shall you, and put your trust in God. He is the Hearer, the Omniscient." 8:60-61

"Permission (to fight) is granted to those who are being persecuted, since injustice has befallen them, and God is certainly able to support them. They were evicted from their homes unjustly, for no reason other than saying, "Our Lord is God." If it were not for God's supporting of some people against others, monasteries, churches, synagogues, and masjids - where the name of God is commemorated frequently - would have been destroyed. Absolutely, God supports those who support Him. God is Powerful, Almighty." 22:39-40

The case made in the Quran for war, and perhaps the most important and often confused as a holy war, is the war “in the cause of God”. Fighting an oppressor or aggressor is fighting against oppression or aggression, thus it is fighting for justice and therefore in the cause of God.

”You may fight “in the cause of God” against those who attack you, but do not aggress. God does not love the aggressors.” 2:190

Clearly as the above verse states, fighting in the cause of God is a case of fighting an aggressor and thus is a case of fighting in self defence.

Fighting oppression “in the cause of God” is also the subject of 4:75

"Those who readily fight in the cause of God are those who forsake this world in favour of the Hereafter. Whoever fights in the cause of God, then gets killed, or attains victory, we will surely grant him a great recompense. Why should you not fight in the cause of God when weak men, women, and children are imploring: "Our Lord, deliver us from this community whose people are oppressive, and be You our Lord and Master." 4:74-75

Thus it becomes clear that the concept of a strive “in the cause of God”, is not restricted to the case of fighting a war “in the cause of God”, it is also about striving with one’s self and one’s money in the cause of God. This could be a strive to spread the “way of God”, or even giving charity as per the words:

“You shall spend in the cause of God; do not throw yourselves with your own hands into destruction. You shall be charitable; God loves the charitable.” 2:195

The underlined words confirm the relationship between spending “in the cause of God” and having that money spent towards charitable causes.

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To conclude, it is quite clear that the word jihad has been badly manipulated by those with political aims, and in violation of the Quranic truth. The word 'holy' has never been used in the Quran in connection with war. There simply is no reference anywhere in the Quran for what they call “holy war”.

There are times when war is permitted, but as we have seen in all the Quranic words, it is only permitted as a practise of self defence, and it is never called a “holy war”. Islam resolves around the concept of peace:

"If they resort to peace, so shall you, and put your trust in God. He is the Hearer, the Omniscient." 8:61