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Jihad- the Word That Is Not Dirty at All

Misbah is a practicing spiritual Muslim. She wishes to spread the word of Allah and Islam throughout the world through her writings.



I am sure the word Jihad may have given you goosebumps at some point in your life. Jihad, the most misunderstood and misused word, or may I say the word that is abused mostly. It is not a bad word at all. It is a beautiful word but badly interpreted.

Sadly, Islam is the world's most misunderstood religion today. The religion which has the maximum misconception in the world today is Islam, and one of the reasons for these misconceptions about this religion I would say is the media. Today we find in the international media there is brilliant propaganda regarding Islam.

We find in the international newspapers, in the international magazine, on the radio channels, on the internet, there is propaganda regarding Islam, and the most misunderstood word regarding Islam, is the term Jihad. It is not only misinterpreted by Muslims due to the media, but it is also misunderstood by non-Muslims.

Today, most people, whether they are Muslims or non-Muslims, they think that any war fought by the Muslims for any reason, whether be it for personal gain, whether it be for a name, whether it be for fame, whether it be for honor, whether it be for land, any war fought by any Muslim is called as Jihad.

Jihad does not refer to any war fought by any Muslim for whatever reason. No, it is not like that. If you have been listening to this, I am sorry, you have been listening to the wrong.

Jihad is derived from the Arabic word "Jahada." Which means to strive and to struggle. Jihad in the Islamic context refers to striving and struggling against one's own evil inclination. Jihad also means to struggle to make society better. It also refers to striving and struggling against oppression. It also means to strive and struggle in self-defense. Jihad generally means to strive and struggle.

For example, if a student is striving and struggling to pass the examination. According to Arabic language, we will say that he is doing Jihad. Today, most orientalists translate the word Jihad as Holy War.

If you translate the term holy war into Arabic it is 'Harb Muqadasa' and this word “Harb Muqadassa“ appears nowhere in the Quran and nowhere in the Hadiths (sayings of Prophet Muhammad PBUH.) It sounds like an alien word. Jihad is an action that is for Fi Sabil l'illah (that means for the sake of Allah, to please Him) Do you believe Allah (God) can be pleased by the blood of innocent people? No, not at all, and not only in Islam. There is no religion that claims that shedding the blood of innocent people will please God.

The word Holy War goes back into history was first used for the Crusades. When the crusaders forced people to accept their religion of Christianity by force and unfortunately today it is used for Muslims and Islam.

Terrorism and Extremism has nothing to do with Islam

Terrorism and Extremism has nothing to do with Islam

What does Bible say about Jihad?

Is the word Jihad mentioned anywhere in the Bible? Yes, there is a reference to Jihad, but the word used is not Jihad. After all, Jihad is an Arabic term. Keep reading to know how the media, some extremists, politicians, and governments play divide and rule games with all of us.

Following are some verses from the Christian scriptures. I am amazed that nearly all religions talk about these struggles and strive as Islam says, but why the word Jihad is seen so negatively.

“Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the everlasting life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the existence of many witnesses..” Timothy (6:12)

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword”. (Matthew 34-35:10)

“I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race, and I have kept the faith..” 1 Timothy (4: 7)

“But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” 1 Peter (3: 14)

Jihad in Hinduism

These struggles are mentioned not only in the Torah, Bible, and Quran but also in Hindu traditions and scriptures. The Mahabharata is a great story of such a struggle.

In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna and Arjuna discuss the war. This is an excerpt from Mahabharata's most important book, the Bhagavad Gita. Arjuna has been accompanied by Krishna, a god.

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The most significant thing Krishna teaches Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gita, according to popular belief, is that "you should do your duty." Krishna ordering Arjuna to execute his duty as a Kshatriya and fight in the war is undoubtedly a significant topic in the Bhagavad-gita.

Symbolism in the Mahabharata - As Explained by Paramhansa Yogananda

“Therefore, Arjuna, you should always think of Me, and at the same time you should continue your prescribed duty and fight. With your mind and activities always fixed on Me, and everything engaged in Me, you will attain to Me without any doubt.”

— Bg. 8.7

As a result, the real point of the Bhagavad-gita is surrender to Krishna. Not carrying out one's responsibilities. Actually, one's responsibility is to surrender to Krishna, as Krishna closes His instructions to Arjuna in the Bhagavad-gita.

Abandon all varieties of religion and just surrender unto Me. I shall deliver you from all sinful reaction. Do not fear.”

— (Bg. 18.66)

There are many more good things to mention from Gita, but as Jihad is only seen as a fight. Then Jihad is very similar to what Krishna taught Arjun. What makes this any different than Lord Krishna teaching Arjun in the Bhagavad Gita that fighting is his dharmic duty? (Religious duty)

False Propaganda - Media Plays a Significant Role

When you turn on the news, there's about a 50% chance that you'll most likely hear the words ISIS, Holy War, or Jihad. The term jihad has almost become synonymous with the ideas of violence, hate and in reality, everything is not. The world needs to know the truth that's where I come in.

In this article, I am going to talk about the true meaning of the word 'Jihad'. It is an Arabic word that simply means to struggle or to strive in the way of God. In Islam, there are two kinds of jihad which are termed as

  • The lesser Jihad
  • The greater Jihad

The Lesser Jihad

The lesser jihad is that struggle which is fighting in self-defense and in self-defense only against those who have harmed them and tried to deprive them of religion and God. The Muslims were persecuted for 13 years at the time of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). They were stoned, tortured, and boycotted in many ways, but they persevered with patience until God finally allowed them to defend themselves against the opposers' violent actions. It was a temporary command for the Muslim people. What's interesting though is that when God allowed the Muslims to fight it was only to create a peaceful society that would grant each religion, liberty to practice and preach its own way of life.

Surah Al-Hajj Verse 40

Surah Al-Hajj Verse 40

As we see in the Holy Quran, Allah says, "If Allah did not repel the aggression of some people by means of others, cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft commemorated, would surely be destroyed. Allah will surely help him who helps His cause; Allah is indeed Powerful, Mighty." (Al Quran- 22:40)

Even when they (the Muslims) had to fight, Muslims were under the strict command of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) and they were never to be more unjust than the opposing army, was never to harm women and children, and places of religious worship. When we study the history of Islam we see that Muslims never attacked the offensive, but only in self-defense and in many cases demonstrated mercy and forgiveness on those who were unjust to their own civil liberties.

Please keep in mind, and it is really very important to note that Jihad is not a war to spread Islam, kill innocent people, and be involved in terrorist activities.

The holy Quran has very clearly stated that "Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things." (Al Quran Verse 2:256)

This means that no one can be forced to become a Muslim or follow our religion. Faith is a matter of one's heart and whichever Faith takes one closer to God should be followed.

What is Jihad? Public Interview and Explanation From Scholars

Two verses that are often mentioned to claim Islam as a violent religion

  1. Verse number 191 of chapter 2 of the Holy Quran is often mentioned to claim that Islam is a violent religion. In that specific ayat, Allah says: “And kill them wherever you confront them and drive them out from where they drove you out. (For though murder is sinful) wrongful persecution is even worse than killing. Do not fight them at the Masjid Al-Haram (The Kaaba) unless they fight you in there. If they fight you, then kill them; such is the penalty of the disbelievers.”
  2. In Verse number 193 of Chapter 2, Allah says: “And fight them until there is no more oppression and the religion is for God, but if they cease, then no aggression is permitted except against the transgressors.

Explanation of verses 191 and 193, chapter 2: The story behind these aayat (verses) is not clear to many. We cannot read a line from the book and can tell the whole story. No, we cannot do this, and if we do, it is unjust, very unjust. Verse 191 and 193 from Chapter 2 of the Holy Quran was revealed when Muslims on the Hajj pilgrimage were assaulted and slain by the non-Muslim Quraysh tribe, who had signed a pact with the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) promising not to attack the pilgrims. This ayat has nothing to do with the Jihad of this era, which actually is not even Jihad.

Even if you want to apply or relate this verse to today's reality, the word 'Fitnah' (Killing) is used in this context to mean 'persecution'. It refers to a situation in which an individual or group is harassed and intimidated for accepting as real a set of views opposite to those currently held, and for attempting to make reforms in the existing social order by preaching what is good and condemning what is wrong. Such a condition must be changed, if necessary, through the use of force.

Bloodshed is awful, but when one group of people forces its ideology on others and stops them from recognizing the truth, it commits an even more serious crime. In such circumstances, it is completely legal to use force to eliminate the oppressive group. Unfortunately, the media and some extremists today use these passages to brainwash people, and the media, of course, use this to generate hits and views.

Repeatedly, In Quran, Allah has said that it is best to forgive. Allah the Almighty has said in the Quran regarding forgiveness towards fellow beings. Allah says, "No matter how much they have hurt you. They should rather pardon and overlook. Would you not love Allah to forgive you? Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (Qur'an, 24:22)

The repayment of a negative deed is one equivalent to it. But, if someone forgives and makes things right, Allah will reward him. He certainly does not like wrongdoers. (Surah Ash-Shura, 40)

Unfortunately, the media and fanatics will never publicize such Quranic texts. This is what I want to tell you. As a Muslim, it is both my right and duty to enlighten people about my religion. I discussed these verses with Non-Muslim friends on the HP forums about two months ago. The world will only know when some educated Muslims will wake up and tell people what they don't know or are being misled about.

The Greater Jihad

Now the second and most important job for any Muslim is the greater jihad. What is this greater Jihad? This greater jihad is a war fought against oneself to reach closer to God by being an Allah-fearing man who avoids evil inclination and strives to be the finest Muslim possible. One of the most difficult jihads a Muslim face is the one against himself and how he conducts himself; if he can be just when everyone around him is unjust, and kind when everyone around him is cruel, then he is a true and good Muslim. This is what Islam and jihad are about.

It is sad, and, unfortunate to see that some Muslims and non-Muslims are unaware of the true meaning of jihad and create disorder in the world because they have been brainwashed to do so. Swords can win territories, but not hearts. Force can bend heads, but not minds.

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Types of Jihad You Might Have Never Heard of

I am sure most of the people who are reading this don't know anything about the following types of Jihad. And I can bet, you don't know. These are some of the greatest forms of Jihad. The world doesn't know about it. It should be explained to create awareness.

Jihad Bin Nafs:

Jihad al-Nafs (Jihad Bin Nafs) is the greatest form of Jihad. It is the war against evil ideas, desires, greed, rage, and insatiable imagination, lust, subjecting all of them to the dictates of reason and faith in obedience to God's laws, and lastly, purifying all satanic ideas and influences from one's soul.

This is termed the major struggle (al-jihad al-Akbar) because it is far more difficult than fighting on the battlefield because it is a war within, one must constantly confront foes that are hosted within his own existence.

"The struggler is the one who strives against his soul/self in obedience to God, the Mighty and Majestic."

— Hadith [Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah]

In the Last Sermon of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H), Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) warns us about the evil powers that might divert our attention away from the right things to the things that are forbidden in Islam.

He said, "Beware of Satan for the sake of your religion's safety." He has lost all hope of leading you astray in major things, so be wary of following him in small things."

Jihad Bin Qalam:

This jihad is based on knowledge. We can win any battle with the help of our wisdom. Knowledge is power. Qalam means pen in Arabic. The power of the pen. As I write this article, I'm struggling to make you comprehend what Jihad actually is? I am engaging in the greatest type of Jihad i.e, Jihad bin Qalam. May Allah grant me the finest reward for this, as I am doing it in His name to spread His words all around the world. May Allah also grant everyone the ability to learn and accept this information. Ameen!

Jihad Bin Maal:

The word Maal in Arabic means wealth. Jihad through wealth is referred to as jihad bin mal. It refers to spending your money in the way of Allah, for example. To better the social situations of those around you, to assist the weak and needy. To provide financial assistance to someone for the sake of Allah. To spend your money for a noble cause in order to please Allah.

Jihad bin Lisan:

Lisan in Arabic means tongue. The jihad by the tongue is the practice of speaking and maintaining the truth, speaking out against what is wrong and unethical, and spreading Allah's message and Islamic teachings. "The noblest jihad in Allah's path is a word of justice to an oppressive ruler," stated the Prophet Muhammad.

These are some types of greatest Jihad. The world doesn't know about it. I appreciate your time and effort in reading this article and learning more about Jihad. Jihad, in any form, is similar to the struggles taught by other religions other than Islam. This is not what the news media highlights in its headlines. Unfortunately, only a few Muslims will tell you this because most of them don't know how to explain and differentiate it, and some of them just don't want to get into any conflict.

Last Thoughts

In the end, I realize that the world can be a harsh place and that the name of Islam and the concept of jihad is improperly used by many misguided people, but with small efforts like this article, hopefully, we can change the attitude regarding it and put our efforts forward for a peaceful world.

What I have explained in this article is the best of my knowledge. May God continue to bless all of us with wisdom and knowledge. Ameen! I am pretty sure the word doesn't scare you anymore. So what is your Jihad?


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Quran, the Healer of Hearts

Types of Jihad

Jihad in Hinduism, Bible and Torah

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Misbah Sheikh

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