Essay on The Real Meanings of Jihad

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The concept of Jihad was not widely known in the western world before the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. Since then, the word has been woven into what our media and government feed us along with notions of Terrorism, Suicide Bombings, Hamas, Al-Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, and now, Jihad. Our society hears exhortations resounding from the Middle East calling the people to rise up in Jihad and beat back the imperialist Americans. Yet, if we try to peel back all of these complex layers of information we can we attempt to find out what Jihad really means. Webster’s Dictionary defines Jihad as “a holy war waged on behalf of Islam as a religious duty or a crusade for a principle or belief” (1). Often, media depicts…show more content…
The internal struggle was, however, always meant to be the nobler, finer action. It was more in line with peaceful mainstream Muslim practice, including “observing the Five Pillars of Islam and seeing the internal struggle as a complete way of life that should pervade and individuals day to day affairs” (Engineer). The great importance of this inner struggle led to its being dubbed as the “greater Jihad” (Church 111). However, Jihad’s age old association with violence was nearly unavoidable. Struggle can rather easily be translated into a call to conduct an external Jihad for the Islamic faith. For example, a verse in the Qu’ran states, “go forth, light armed and heavy armed, and strive with your wealth and your lives in the way of Allah” (Church 111). This verse clearly pairs Jihad (“strive”) with external violence (“go forth, light armed and heavy armed”) (Church 111). Indeed, violent Jihad was an obvious necessity because the Muslim community had always been a religious and political faction. Many lost their lives to spread and defend the newfound faith in Arabia and eventually to locations far beyond. Jihad’s association with violence and religious duty made it an ideal expression for Muslims to justify “lesser Jihad,” or the notion of external conflict, centered on the idea of spreading the faith (Church 112). Interpretations of Jihad have fluctuated greatly through history, widening the rift between its internal

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