Jihad in Islam

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Mohammed -peace be upon him- was sent to introduce Islam as the last heavenly revelation, and confirming Jesus prophecy that a prophet will come after him. However, many believers of old religions saw the new religion “Islam” as a threat to theirs, thus they decided to fight it and its people in order to prevent people from embracing it. Therefore, when Muhammad-peace be upon him- invited people to embrace Islam he was fought and harmed even by his own people, his relatives; Not only him, but anyone who believed in his religion.

When people of Yathreb believed in the prophet’s religion, the prophet immigrated to them and established the first Islamic country.
However, since the country faced the danger of oppression, the Prophet was interested in having power to maintain the country and to protect Islam.

Muslims believe they are following the right path and since knowing Islam is a right for all people, it is Muslims’ duty to invite all people to embrace Islam and it is the people’s choice either to accept it or not. They know that some people will never give them the freedom of faith and of calling for their religion, Therefore Islam obligated (Jihad), which aimed to:

1) Protect Muslims and their lands against the injustice and the attack of non Moslems.
2) spread Islam to all people and protect it from those who want to destroy it.

Hence, What is jihad? Is it imposing Islam by force? Or is it an attempt to dominate the world?

In order to answer these questions we must consider two things:

1- the Islamic sources are the Qur’an and the Hadeeth, the prophet’s sayings, and we must distinguish between Islam and Muslims behavior.

2- this essay aims to provide a brief information regarding Islam, and if you want to know more, read books by unbiased writers whose works are based on the original sources of Islam.

The meaning of Jihad:
linguistically, Jihad means: effort, and in the Islamic law, it has its general and specific meanings:
Generally it means: the effort made for Islam by believing in it, spreading it among People, defending it,  practicing; like praying and pilgrimage etc.

Specifically it means: fighting infidels for spreading and defending Islam.

The meaning of fighting infidels:

Some people might think that Jihad means fighting non Muslims, and this is absolutely not true, the meaning of fighting infidels is:

1) Fighting to defend: Muslims fight who attacks and fights them.
2) Fighting to demand: Muslims fight in order to spread Islam.

The first type is legitimately a right for self-defense. However, regarding the second type one may ask: does it mean fighting whoever refuses to embrace Islam?
To answer this question we should clarify the kinds of disbelievers.

Disbelievers in Islam:

Islam classifies people who do not believe in Islam to three types:

1) Confederates
2) Free non-Muslims living under Muslims rules
3) Fighters

The first includes whoever has an agreement with Muslims, and Muslims should keep their agreement and never attack them.

The second includes whoever lives under the Muslims rule and pay the tribute, and Islam should protect him and his interests. Therefore, attacking or killing him is forbidden in Islam.

The third includes the enemies of Islam and they will be asked to choose between three options: embracing Islam, paying the tribute and live under Muslims rule or fighting. However, there is a possibility of avoiding these options by making a peace agreement.

Accordingly, Islam attempts to avoid fighting unless there is no alternative but fighting. However, fighting in Islam follows certain conditions:

1- Islam has forbidden killing children, elderly, or females. Killing will be only for those who attempt to kill Muslims.
2- During fighting, Muslims should not kill any one who embraces Islam or is protected by a Muslim; there are many incidents which verify Islam’s concern in avoiding bloodshed. For instance, the prophet –peace be upon him- was annoyed when he knew that a Muslim, a friend of him, had killed an infidel who embraced Islam during the war, and the prophet had condemned this act and forbidden it. Moreover, Omar, the second caliph, said to one of his friends: “in a battle, if you gave a gesture to a non Muslim and he understood it as a sign of safety and he threw his weapon and you killed him, I will kill you.” Another incident is when the prophet –peace be upon him- conquered Mecca after being attacked, harmed and banished by its people, a woman came to him and told him that an infidel entered her house and asked her to protect him and she agreed, the prophet replied: ” Om Hani, her name, we will protect your fugitive.” Thereafter, when the prophet met the people who had harmed him he told them: “go you are free.” And he forbade shedding their blood or taking their money.

3- When fighting, it is forbidden to attack worshipers and monks, or their temples and churches, nor force them to embrace Islam or to take a tribute from them. Therefore, if Islam seeks to impose religion by force then it will force them to be Muslims.

Hence, what we have mentioned above show you the following:

1- Jihad aims to protect Islam as a religion and Muslims as individuals.
2- Jihad is not seeking war to fight any disbeliever, but fight a certain group when Muslims are forced to.
3- In Jihad it is forbidden to kill non-combatants and innocent civilians.
4- Islam does not seek to eliminate other religions or cancel them.

Therefore, jihad is a mean for the Muslim strength, and it seeks to avoid injustice and aggression when using this force, and to make it a way of achieving peace and security all around the world.

You should distinguish between Islam and Islamic history. Islam is a pure heavenly religion which provides guidelines for the benefit of mankind in this world and hereafter. On the other hand, Muslims are human beings; some might make mistakes and do things against their religion.

Unfortunately, nowadays, Muslims are suffering injustice and oppression by international forces.  Consequently, some Muslims have made vengeful terrorist acts, which are not related to Islam, but a normal result of ignoring their rights either by Arabic or international systems.

In conclusion, Islam gives guidance on coexistence with Jews and Christians regarding marriage and dialogue. Moreover, the Qur’an is full of speeches directed to Jews and Christians, thus, Islam does not seek to destroy them, as it mentioned in the Holly Qur’an: “There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is henceforth distinct from error. And he who reject the false deities and believeth in Allah hath grasped a firm handhold which will never break. Allah is Hearer, Knower.” (256)( Surat Al-Baqra)

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