Source: New Age Islam
Understanding the True Concept of Jihad in Islam
By Mushtaq Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander, New Age Islam
8 July 2022
A Peaceful Society Can Be Created Only By Creating and Fostering the Spirit of Tolerance towards Diversities
1. Jihad has been the most misunderstood term and concept of Islam.
2. Many groups have hijacked this term to wrongly justify their violent actions.
3. Jihad contains a number of meanings but does not mean violence and killing, whereas term Qital conveys this meaning.
The True Jihad: The concepts of Peace, Tolerance and Non-Violence in Islam
Author: Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
Publisher: Goodword Books, New Delhi, India
Pages: 108 Price: Rs 125
Jihad has variegated meanings. It means struggle and efforts. The term Jihad is used in the Quran to convey a number of meanings. But various violent groups have appropriated the term Jihad and named their violent struggles as Jihad. This appropriation has led to the development of violent perception about Jihad. So Jihad has got a negative connotation in the eyes of the common masses.
Further numerous killings of innocent humans are being carried out in the name of Jihad, so a general understanding has developed about Jihad, its contours, meanings and execution.
Jihad, as a religious term of Holy Quran, having been appropriated by violent groups has rendered the religion of Islam almost synonymous with war. Although there is a great contradiction between the principles of Islam and practices of Muslims, still Islam is getting a bad name. The perception of the common masses is not to be blamed because violent groups have named their armed struggle as Jihad and conducted the same in the name of Islam.
Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, spent his whole life explaining that Jihad does not mean violence. His whole corpus of writings is a manifestation of the fact that Jihad does not mean offensive or armed struggle, but nonviolent means of conflict resolution. Maulana explains quite well how the battle of trench and treaty of Hudaybiyyah were executed to avoid war. Islam lays down quite specific rules about the violent battles, that fighting Qital is to be carried out between combatants only. No civilian, innocent, women, children and even trees are to be harmed during the course of this violence. It is something that certainly cannot be achieved in our times. So Maulana Khan in the Preface of this book very aptly explains this fact, “In former times, fighting was confined to the battlefield; the only sufferers were those engaged in the battle. But today, the spear and sword have been replaced by mega bombs and devastating long range missiles, so that killing and destruction take place on a horrendous scale. It is th entire human settlement which has now become the global arena of war. Even the air we breathe and the water we drink are left polluted in war’s aftermath.” (P-11)
So given these very facts, the world has reached a stage where an end of war is the only solution. Hence we are left only with the option of avoidance of war, “It wold therefore be no exaggeration to say that in present times a violent struggle is not only a hard option but it is not in practice useful. Whereas non-violence is not only an easier option, but is also highly effective and result oriented. Now, a peaceful course of action is not just one of the possibilities: it is the only feasible and result-oriented option.” (P-24-25).
So peace in Islam is the rule while war is an exception, as it should be in any civilised system. Maulana cites the example of treaty of Hassan Ibn Ali (RA) that ended the bloody tussle between clans of Banu Hashim and Banu Ummayah. Hence peace needs courageous stalwarts who can rise above their petty interests and keep in mind the bigger goals that only peace can usher. Also non-violence triumphs as compared to violence and history bears a witness to it. The curious case of Mongols who destroyed the Muslim world and ultimately got converted to Islam in peaceful and non-violent manner, is an example of the same non-violent process.
Maulana emphasizes opting for Jihad e Nafs (fighting and resisting the baser instincts and vices of the individual) and Jihad for Dawah (reaching out to non-Muslims with the message of Islam). Both these Jihads are very essential but there is quite little emphasis on them. Fighting in the sense of physical battle is permitted only under few special circumstances and that too when coercive religious persecution is operative. But now the times have changed and persecution on the basis of religion has been abolished. So this type of fight too has lost its relevance.
Most of the ideologues for armed struggles do not understand the contemporary times and spirit of Islam. Another problem is that peace has been rendered synonymous with justice, whereas for Maulana they are exclusive. Peace can exist without justice too, as has been depicted through the treaty of Hudaybiyyah. But the failure to understand this very concept has rendered some groups to initiate violent struggles in the name of securing Justice. It certainly has rendered the world bloodier.
The world has been created diverse, but few intend to render it exclusive and homogenous. This has led to bloody tussles, because humans are diverse and they are supposed to tolerate and enjoy diversity. The differences are to be celebrated and tolerated, as Maulana aptly remarks, “A peaceful society can be created only by creating and fostering the spirit of tolerance towards diversities. In this world, unity is achievable only by learning to unite in spite of differences, rather than insisting on unity without differences. For their total eradication is an impossibility. The secret of attaining peace in life is tolerance of disturbance of the peace.” (P-99).
This small booklet of Maulana is an important addition to the hotly debated topic about Jihad, its meaning and essence in our contemporary times. It describes the correct interpretation of Jihad and condemns the violence in its name. It is an essential read for anyone interested in understanding the true concept of Jihad in Islam.
The manner in which the Maulana has espoused this concept leaves little room for criticism and alternative interpretation, other than what Maulana Khan has explained in this very text. The need is to circulate this text, so that attacks of Islamophobes can very well be rebutted.
A New Age Islam columnist, M.H.A. Sikander is Writer-Activist based in Srinagar, Kashmir