As described by Etim Okon (2013) , the major jihad includes acts for internal spiritual cleansing, self-denial, mortification, suppression and psychic annihilation of man’s lower nature and sinful instinct. These are personal battles that all Muslims have to go through in order to fully submit themselves to Allah. Meanwhile, the minor jihad calls for acts against those who do not believe in Allah, the infidels and the hypocrites. This facet of jihad calls for Muslim unification to defend the Muslim community against the forces of the enemy (Okon, 2013). Minor jihad can take a violent form or a non-violent form, depending on the branch of Islam being discussed.
Jihad is an Arabic word that means “exerted effort”. It is mentioned in the Qur’an and projected as exerting effort to change one’s self to the better which is seen as each person’s most difficult jihad. This concept of jihad and the betterment of one’s self is almost unknown to non-Muslims specially westerners who refer to jihad as the holy war and terrorism. What people fail to realize is the multi dimensions of jihad which consists of two parts: the greater jihad which is actually considered the highest form of jihad and used in a moral, ethical, and spiritual sense. Jihad is viewed by Muslims as the struggle to overcome personal temptations and worldly temptation and the struggle to becoming an overall better Muslim.
The West tends to think of jihad as a call to outward or external activity, but in the Islamic mind, jihad is a call to all individuals to prepare their hearts and s... ... middle of paper ... ...t it perceives that the terrorism it wages against the West is an integral part of its religion. The West in general and the United States in particular cannot ignore it and should therefore unite their efforts in an attempt to find different means of countering this kind of Islamic terrorism. But, the main success or failure of these terrorist groups does not depend on their religious commentary or authority. It lies in their ability to gain legitimacy from the general public or from the greater part of it in each Muslim country, as well as in the Arab world in a whole. The need for public sympathy and support is a crucial element of every terrorist group without regard to its ideology or political affiliation.
While holy war may be part of the struggle of Muslims, it is not the entirety of Jihad. In its primary sense, Jihad is an internal struggle to rid oneself of debased actions or inclinations and devote oneself to achieving a higher moral standard through prayer, study, and spreading the Islamic Faith, since it is of universal validity (Peace 2). With the use of the word Jihad by men such as Saddam Hussein or Osama bin Laden, many people believe that Jihad highlights the violent nature of Muslim people. However, in its pure form, Islam is not at all violent. Muslims are taught to fulfill Jihad through four methods: the heart, the tongue, the hand, and the sword (Jihad 2).
In the days after September 11, 2001, American leaders rushed to portray Islam as a peaceful religion that had been "hijacked" by a fanatical band of terrorists. One hopes that these assurances were merely tactical—that nobody was meant to believe them and that they were meant to assure the Muslim world that the inevitable American reprisals were not directed at their religion as a whole. If the world Muslim community perceived America as attacking Islam in general then the duty of every Muslim to fight for his religion—the duty of jihad—would have been invoked on a broad scale. The war against terrorism, instead of simmering with occasional flare-ups, like the Cold War, would have boiled over into a global conflagration, with the Muslim countries of the world—1.2 billion strong—mobilizing against America and the West. Muslim apologists also rushed forward to assure the public that Islam was a peaceful religion.
There are also some groups that may believe the same basic definition of Jihad, but interpret it or apply it drastically differently within their own religion. There are two better known or accepted definitions of which Muslims refer to as the “greater Jihad,” and the “lesser Jihad.” “Greater Jihad” is defined as the internal spiritual struggle of one’s self in submission to Allah, the struggle of moral reformation, and converting others to Islam; while the “lesser Jihad” is considered the external, physical endeavor of an Islamic obligation to take up arms against the nonbeliever infidels in defense of the faith against tyranny and persecution. In the Sunni’s historical belief of the “greater Jihad,” Mohammed is thought to have told his followers returning home from war that they had, “returned from the lesser jihad of struggle against non-Muslims to a greater jihad of struggle against lust,” per Menhab Khans’ article on Modern Gangha. This is believed to be the first time the “lesser jihad” and the "greater jihad" had been differentiated. According to John Heit, the “greater jihad” is also then further divided into three types of internal struggle: “One, Jihad of the Heart (the struggle for moral reformation and faith); two, Jihad of the Tongue (the struggle to proclaim God's word abroad; right ... ... middle of paper ... ...hese young men found solace and inspiration in the works of the Iraqi Muslim Brother Muhammad Ahmad al-Rashid; who demonstrated a sensible mind toward political action, but also stated that jihad with the sword- the way of the true Muslim-was inevitable.
The effort may come in fighting the evil in your own heart, or in standing up to a dictator. Military effort is included as an option, but as a last resort and not "to spread Islam by the sword" as the stereotype would have you believe. The Qur'an describes Jihad as a system of checks and balances, as a way that Allah set up to "check one people by means of another." When one person or group transgresses their limits and violates the rights of others, Muslims have the right and the duty to "check" them and bring them back into line. There are several verses of the Qur'an that describe jihad in this manner.
Due to violent acts by radical Islamic terrorist groups, the Western world has grappled with defining the Quranic term Jihad. The World Trade Center attacks on 9/11 have only exacerbated their confusion. It is important to understand what the word “Jihad” means before one can analyze how it being interpreted or misrepresented by the west. In Islam, Jihad refers to a duty that muslims must fulfill, or a religious duty. It could also mean the fight against someone’s negative emotions as referred to in the Oxford Islamic Studies or it could mean the struggle against nonbelievers.
Sometimes, violent acts come about without any warning or previous threats (“Of True Muslims and Terrorists”). Islam is a proselytizing religion, which means it uses violence to convert people to its faith. This is because, in the ... ... middle of paper ... ...ReferenceDetailsPage/ReferenceDetailsWindow?failOverType=&query=&prodId=WHIC&windowstate=normal&contentModules=&mode=view&displayGroupName=Reference&limiter=&u=nysl_li_schhs&currPage=&disableHighlighting=false&displayGroups>. "Introduction to Religious Terrorism." Terrorism: Essential Primary Sources.
Webster’s Dictionary defines Jihad as “a holy war waged on behalf of Islam as a religious duty or a crusade for a principle or belief” (1). Often, media depicts Jihad in the same manner—as a vicious clash between two very different peoples, each of whom believes that righteousness, and in many cases God, is on their side. From this interpretation and our daily media intake, one may reasonably assume that Jihad refers to nothing more than violent acts, or “holy wars.” While there is no precise definition of the term, the meaning of Jihad is far more complex. In fact, the term Jihad generally refers to the struggle one must undertake as one “strive[s] in the path of God” (Church 110). That struggle is defined both externally and internally.