On our program Turning to the Light this week we will be discussing the concept of ‘jihad’ in the Qur’an, what it means, how Islamic unity will come about through love and an intellectual struggle and what we can do to achieve that end, insha’Allah.
In verse 75 of Surat an-Nisa’ Allah commands believers to wage jihad, to strive in other words, in order to establish Islamic unity.
The verse reads, I seek refuge in Allah from shaytan,
“What reason could you have for not fighting in the Way of Allah – for those men, women and children who are oppressed and say, ‘Our Lord, take us out of this city whose inhabitants are wrongdoers! Give us a protector from You! Give us a helper from You!’?” (Surat an-Nisa’, 75)
It is therefore a compulsory requirement for every Muslim to wish for Islamic Unity and work for that purpose. However, there are people who misinterpret the ‘jihad’ commanded in this verse to mean war and hatred, and these people spread that hatred all around.
I therefore first wish to clarify what the concept of ‘jihad,’ which is misunderstood by some circles, really means.
For a long time now, some people have been educated with fanaticism and radicalism, and what they refer to as Islam has turned into a different religion to that in the Qur’an.
These people who emerge in the supposed name of Islam have in fact been left ignorant. They have been turned away from society and science, have misunderstood and misapplied the concept of jihad commanded in the Qur’an, and are still continuing to do so.
The concept of jihad that these people are taught equates to hatred and harm. These people, who abide by a faith of their own invention, attach no value to any person or living thing. There is no consideration, love or compassion in their souls.
As a result of all this, they detest everything. On the other hand, these people imagine that by acting on what they have learned, everything they do is good and right. They never think of the harm they do to their faith in particular, themselves, their families and their peoples.
In the Qur’an our Lord refers to this mindset that seeks to equate the Qur’an with bloodshed, enmity, cruelty, lovelessness and lack of conscience and that seeks to mislead people in the supposed name of Allah as follows:
I seek shelter in Allah from shaytan.
“Among them is a group who distort the Book with their tongues so that you think it is from the Book when it is not from the Book. They say, ‘It is from Allah,’ but it is not from Allah. They tell a lie against Allah and they know it.” (Surat al-‘Imran, 78)
The concept of jihad in the Qur’an is of course very different to what these people think. The word jihad stems from the Arabic word ‘jahd,’ which means to work, to strive, to exhibit determination and self-sacrifice. Another meaning is dominion over the lower self.
Jihad in Islam means to educate the other side, to teach moral virtue and to work to turn people away from evil. In other words, what a Muslim who wages jihad needs to do is to strive to teach people what is good and beautiful and true, to work to spread love, peace and altruism and to teach people to turn away from evil.
A Muslim’s second jihad is to be waged against himself. He will restrain his lower self by turning it away from evil, hatred and anger in order to be a virtuous person.
The concept of jihad revealed in the Qur’an is based on love. However, those who are unaware of that fact imagine that they are waging jihad by killing and the use of force.
There is no room for terror, killing, shelling people, suicide bombings or treacherous assaults on the innocent in the jihad revealed by our Lord in the Qur’an.
There is no room in Islam for slaughter, death, hatred, cursing and rage, things the fanatics and radicals live by.
Everything is dark in the hate-filled beliefs of the fanatics and radicals which have nothing to do with Islam. Their lives are full of hatred instead of love, anger instead of affection, enmity instead of brotherhood, horror instead of beauty and ignorance instead of art, science and culture.
It is easy to incite such people and produce societies of rage by putting a gun in their hands and saying ‘That community is your enemy.’
Condemning these people, threatening, imprisoning or exiling them is no of use whatsoever. That is because that false information in their brains cannot be eradicated through threats or guns. Even if the person departs, the idea remains.
A mistaken idea will continue to produce mistaken people. False information can only be neutralized through correct information, and the way to obtain correct information is the intellectual annihilation of false information.
As sincere Muslims, we too will be striving to do that, insha’Allah.
As you already know, the world Islam comes from the Arabic world ‘silm,’ the dictionary meaning of which is peace, to enter into peace, to abide by the truth, brotherhood, and contentment with Allah’s commands.
Verse 208 of Surat al-Baqara reads; I seek shelter in Allah from shaytan.
“You who have iman! enter Islam totally. Do not follow in the footsteps of Shaytan. He is an outright enemy to you.” (Surat al-Baqara, 208)
It is of course impossible for Islam, a word which means love, peace and brotherhood, to espouse anything other than these concepts. Indeed, when we look at the Qur’an we see that all its commandments and rules are based on love and peace.
Muslims, who abide by Islam, which means all these things, wish peace and well-being on one another by greeting each other with the words, ‘esselamü aleyküm,’ or ‘peace.’