Islam is a Deen (religion) which means peace and not only deals with the spiritual aspects but also provides guidance for Mankind on how to lead their entire life. In order to be a Muslim, one has to lead his/ her entire life in accordance with the Divine Law, which is specified by Quran and Sunnah. Islam’s teachings are of harmony and peace. Muslims are taught to practice religious tolerance by respecting other faiths. Somehow, however, these teaching are misunderstood and terms like ‘Extreme’ and ‘Violence’ are associated with Islam in light of the concept of Jihad. This is a misunderstanding for which one must first understand some of the most basics terms of Islam:
- Islam: means a commitment to live in peace through submission to the Will of God (Allah).
- Muslim: is a person who makes a commitment to live in peace through servitude to Allah.
- Jihad: means struggle against evil, internal or external of a person or a society
- Mujahid: is a person who engages in Jihad for the sake of Allah according to the Quran (Muslim’s source book for guidance) and Sunnah (the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Mujahidin is the plural of Mujahid.
- “Islamic terrorism”: There is no such phrase or term in the Islamic source books of the Quran or the Sunnah and has no place in Islam.
- Sunnah: Sunnah is the preferred way of the Prophet Muhammad that includes his teaching. The sources of the Sunnah are authentic Hadith (reports of the Prophet’s sayings, doings and approvals) collections.
What is Jihad?
In the light of Islam, Jihad means to make an effort, to struggle and to strive for a noble cause. There are three types of Jihad that Islam highlights and the struggle associated with each is different, although they are all in the cause of Allah (God). All types of jihad are aimed at promoting peace in society and their details are mentioned as follows:
I. Internal Jihad
Islam places great emphasis on correcting oneself which is why the struggle for self-reformation has been classified as a major Jihad. Here, Muslims are told that there biggest enemies are worldly temptations such lust, greed among many others, and they are commanded by Allah to strive against their own whims and wishes. Muslims are told that, as a result of this endeavour, they will be able to transcend from an ‘animalistic’ state of existence i.e. living for immediate gratification or gain to a more disciplined state of moral control. This type of jihad is obligatory on every Muslim throughout his life.
II. Jihad through knowledge
This form of jihad deals with spreading the word of Allah which is the message of Quran. In short, Muslims are commanded to spread the truth (Islam’s message) wisely, in a tolerant manner with due respect to the beliefs of others
16:126 – Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and goodly exhortation…;
6:109 – And revile not those whom they call upon beside Allah, lest they, out of spite, revile Allah in their ignorance. Thus unto every people have We caused their doing to seem fair. Then unto their Lord is their return; and He will inform them of what they used to do.
It prohibits the use of any coercion or force,
2:257 – There should be no compulsion in religion. Surely, right has become distinct from wrong; so whosoever refuses to be led by those who transgress, and believes in Allah, has surely grasped a strong handle which knows no breaking. And Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.
According to the Qur’an anyone who devotes his time, effort, wealth or knowledge to the cause of righteousness is practising Jihad-e-Kabir. This is also obligatory on all Muslims.
III. Jihad through Arms
This form Jihad can only be performed when the Spirit of Islam is threatened and the oppressors cannot be contained through peaceful measures. Jihad through arms is classified into two categories:
(a) Jihad in Advance or Iqdami Jihad
This Jihad is undertaken in case of extreme persecution againstMuslims. For instance, if Muslims are being forced to convert to non-Muslims, or are being stopped from practicing Islam or if a peace treaty is among Muslims and non-Muslims is not honoured by non-Muslims or any other similar instance then offensive jihad is undertaken.
(b) Jihad in Defense
If a Muslim state or Muslim worship place are physically attacked by the enemies, then the Muslim are permitted to wage jihad. And this is called Jihad in Defence.
(2:191- And fight in the cause of Allah against those who fight against you, but do not transgress. Surely Allah loves not the transgressors.)
Further on, there are clear directions in what can and cannot be done in a battle fought by the Muslims.
- Civilians who are not fighting against Muslims are not to be attacked or killed at all.
- Crops or other sources of food and water and cattle or other animals are not to be destroyed.
- Hospitals, orphanages and other places of safety and refuge are not to be destroyed.
- Mosques, churches, synagogues or other places of worship are not to be destroyed.
- Women, children, old and disabled are to be left untouched.
- If the aggressor stops the aggression or offers a treaty it should be accepted and the fighting stopped forthwith.
- Fleeing oppressors need not be pursued to any unnecessary length and should be allowed to return to their home.
- Prisoners of War should be treated with respect and their basic needs be fulfilled and they should be freed or ransomed as soon as possible after the battle.
These instructions are clear evidence that Islam seeks to restore peace and not to promote aggression.
What Does Islam Say about Terrorism?
The term “terrorism” does not exist in the Qur’an or in the Sunnah. If, however, the terms “terrorist or terrorism” are derived from a verb used in the Qur’an, such as 5:33 describing a “Muslim’s” terrorist acts, then it is condemned in clear terms with the promise of severe punishment. Islam is a religion and a way of life that does not separate politics from religion. Islam is a religion of mercy, unity and most importantly peace with one’s self and others, to defend not to fight. Allah said in His Book the Qur’an:
“ALLAH does not forbid you from showing kindness and dealing justly with those who have not fought you about religion and have not driven you out of your homes, that you should show them kindness and deal justly with them. ALLAH loves just dealers.” (Qur’an 60:8)
“Fight in the cause of ALLAH against those who fight you, but do not begin aggression. For ALLAH loves not aggressors.” (Qur’an 2:190)
“If they seek peace, then seek you peace and trust in ALLAH for He is the Hearer, the Knower.” (Qur’an 8:61)
“… and let not the hatred of others make you avoid justice. Be just: that is next to piety; and fear Allah, for Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do.” (Qur’an 5:8)
“But (remember that an attempt at) requiting evil may, too, become an evil: hence whoever pardons (his foe) and makes peace, his reward rests with Allah- for, verily He does not love transgressors.” (Qur’an 42:40)
“The good deed and the evil deed are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then lo! he between whom and thee there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a bosom friend. (Qur’an 41:34)
Based on the above mentioned information it is clear that Jihad is very different from an act of terror just as Islam is different from terrorism and Muslims are not the same as terrorists. A terrorist has no religion; hence, he or she should not be labelled as ‘Muslim Extremist’ or ‘Islamic militants’. These terms are not only offensive to the ones who practice Islamic faith but they also provide a protective umbrella to these militants. Furthermore, no one can claim to undergo Jihad whole ignoring the Islamic commands pertaining to Jihad. Regardless of what these militants of ISIS, TTP, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and other such organizations claim, they are not practising the Jihad. As a consequence they should not labelled as Jihadi militants as they are not worthy of being called Mujahid – one who undergoes jihad. It is therefore well advised that western media should stop referring to these terrorists as Jihadis as they have nothing to do with Islam.