British Muslims must reclaim jihad

All British Muslims engage with jihad every single day.

But not in the way you might think…

The meaning of jihad has been lost in translation

If you do a Google image search for ‘jihad’ you will be presented with thousands of pictures of bazukas, bullets and bombs. Young men travelling to fight with ISIS are referred to a jihadis.

As a result even well educated British people think that jihad is synonymous with extremism.

But jihad is an Arabic word which literally means ‘to struggle against sin’.

So for me forcing myself to pray after a long day at work is jihad. Turning down a cold, refreshing beer on a hot summers day is jihad. Trying not to stare at an attractive woman in the street is jihad.

But holy war is jihad

I’m sure people will tell me that there are different types of jihad, and that some of them involve violence but we have better words to describe them:

  • Don’t use the term to describe acts of terrorism – the proper term is murder.
  • Don’t use the term to describe holy war – the proper term is war.

By describing heinous acts as jihad it makes them appear to be Islamic, when they would be more better described as the crimes that they are.

This would have the effect of distancing ordinary Muslims from criminal acts apparently carried out in their name.

Words can change their meanings

Just think of wicked, sick and gay

As Muslims the best thing we can do is not to stop using the word (it is already too widely-used for people to stop) but to use it for things that really are jihad.

A good way to start is to use #myjihad and #reclaimjihad on social media to tell people what jihad means to you.

One comment

  1. 1) Yusuf Ali, one of the foremost English translators of the Quran, described jihad as “the earnest and ceaseless activity involving the sacrifice (if need be) of life, person or property in the service of God” (3rd ed., 1938, p.444, note 1270).
    2) Book n. 56 of Sahih al-Bukhari, the most reliable Muslim source after the Quran, is dedicated to jihad, defined as “holy fighting in Allah’s cause (with full force of numbers and weaponry) and it’s given the utmost importance in Islam [through which] Allah’s word is made superior” (Darussalam ed., 1997, p.44, vol.4). In that book (hadith 2797), the prophet Muhammad, perfect example for all Muslims to follow, stated “I would love to be martyred in Allah’s Cause and then come back to life and then get martyred, and then come back to life again and then get martyred and then come back to life again and then get martyred”.
    3) What you refer to in your post is the concept of “greater jihad”, which comes from a hadith (of da’if grade at best) in the 10th-11th century. David Cook, professor of history of Islam at Rice University, in his book “Understanding Jihad”, writes “No Muslim, writing in a non Western language (such as Arabic, Persian, Urdu), would ever make claims that jihad is primarily nonviolent or has been superseded by the spiritual jihad. Presentations along these lines are ideological in tone and should be discounted for their bias and deliberate ignorance of the Muslim sources and attitudes toward the subject”.
    The Islam you believe in seems to be very different than the real Islam, I wonder why…

    Like

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