Are Jihadis not anti-Quranic?

via Dr. TS Girishkumar published on April 8, 2006

The term “jihad” had become synonymous with fear and trembling in the world today. It presents a picture of a bearded Muslim with bloody sword and knitted cap, thirsty for the blood of all humans other than the Muslims. None other than the Muslims could be held responsible for this picture, and if at every night a child gets nightmare of this, I should say, that it is only natural. The Muslims do nurture some kind of vengeance to others, for reasons we do not know very well, and we see them going around the world with bombs and guns killing people who do not know why all such things take place.


Some times the term jihad is translated into English as a ‘holy-war’. If it is to be called holy, then it must have some transcendental or at least theological purpose or end. It must be sanctioned by the text that such people consider as authority. In short, it must be serving God in their belief systems. This put me into doubt, is it possible for any religious text to command people to go on killing others, just because they do not accept your belief system? Can any religious text be so brutal and inhuman? Will such religions be really called religion, given the very concept of religion, as the expression of man’s transcendental longing for the higher, the supernatural, which found expression in different ways given the different existential situations in which man found himself from time to time? Indeed, I being a Hindu am influenced by the saying of the old: ”Ekam Sat, Vipra Bahudha Vadanti” which means, “there is only one truth, albeit scholars narrate it differently.” It is impossible for a Hindu mind to even conceive of such a thing as religion, and this is for sure.


And yet I see so many Muslims around me, and all of them are not jihadis, at least explicitly. Implicitly if a Muslim supports a jihad or not I am unable to say, but explicitly, all of them do not support killing. And yet, there is this phenomenon called jihad, haunting us like the specter of Communism, as Marx and Engels states in the manifesto of the Communist party. This made me to look into the holy text of the Muslims, to look for the concept of jihad and what I found is entirely a different story, and to my mind, this makes the jihadis anti-Islamic, and anti-Muslim, if it is the Queran that they follow as a holy text.


The term jihad simply means to ‘exert’. Ijitihad could be understood as the exertion of the intellect, which is a recognised source of Shariah, the Islamic law. Majid Khadduri, an Iraqi academic says that Muslim jurists speak about four different ways in which a believer in Islam may fulfill his jihad obligations and they are by his heart, by his tongue, by his hands, and by his sword. This position had some affinity to the Indian way of treating a person by Sama (advice), Dana (gifts or offerings), Bheda (Scolding), and ultimately, when none of these can work, Danda (beating). No one shall resort to the last resort, until all other forms of approaches utterly fails. Indeed, the question of sword comes at last, even in the laws of the Shariah.


Dr. Rolland E Miller, a Lutheran Missionary who worked in India from 1953 to 1976 speaks about two types of Jihads. There is a spiritual jihad and a physical jihad. The spiritual jihad is the greater jihad and the physical jihad is the lesser jihad. Spiritual jihad is a battle against sin and Satan conducted by an individual by living a pious life. Here, an individual has to fight the jihad from within to purify himself from the influence of all evil etc. the physical jihad is exertion for righteousness, and even a warfare for righteousness. If what is meant by righteousness is killing non-Muslims, and then such jihadis are totally wrong and baseless. Prophet Mohammad himself says that the highest of jihad is to “speak the truth in the face of unjust ruler”.


A Beirut academic, Yousuf Ibish say that the greatest jihad is against ones own animal tendencies. It is an internal jihad of striving in the path of God to overcome ones animal ness, and this is called jihad-al-nafs. The lesser jihad, which is fighting for his community when the community is attacked becomes only as a duty of defense (jihad-bi-al-saif). This is simply any man’s right to defend himself, his family, and his property etc. 


Undoubtedly, the wars launched by the Muslim dynasties such as the Umayyads, the Abbasids, the Fat imides, the Ottoman etc. were no jihads, given what Queran say. And when some of the Muslims go to the extent of calling the atrocities of Mohammad of Ghazni, Mohammad of Ghori, Babur, and other Muslim invaders of India as jihads, they are totally against their own holy text, the Queran.


Thus, given what I understand of the idea of jihad from the Queran, the modern jihadis are not followers of Queran. They are indeed not Muslims in the real sense of the term. They could best be termed as people with mental derangement or lunatics, something is wrong with their mental make up and they are simply troublemakers. They would in any way be troublemakers, with either this name or the other. When some pundits of Islam interpret all atrocities as jihad, even their own God is not going to save them.


Finally, if the Muslims do interpret Queran to justify all terrorism as jihad, then I should say that such people have no right to call them belonging to any thing by the name of religion, religion means certain things, and this indeed is against the very concept of religion. To this extent, Islam cannot be called a religion, one must find some other name for it, and Paki(pure)stan is by no means Paki as they named it.


Dr. TS Girishkumar, Reader, School of Social Sciences, Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam Kerala, India.

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