Saturday, July 14, 2012

Jihad in the Contemporary World

This article is written by one of our authors  Shashank Sahay and  Ashika Daga.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed herein do not reflect the views of this blog and the article is meant only for research purposes and neither does the author nor the this blog intend to hurt the sentiments of people of any religion or belief, whatsoever.)

JIHAD- what does it mean?

Historically, Jihad means Holy War. For 1400 years, Muslims always understood the meaning of Jihad as Islamic Holy War. Every Islamic scholar, Mullah, Maulana and  Imamare of the same opinion regarding this meaning of JIHAD. Technically, Jihad is a war against the non-Muslims (Jihad al-kuffar or Jihad against disbeliever; and Jihad al-munafiqeen or Jihad against hypocrites) only, since Muslims are forbidden to fight the Muslims. Hundreds of books have been written by the Islamic scholars (Islamic Chintabid) on Jihad and everybody unanimously used the word Jihad as the religious war.  In the Islamic history, more than 80% of the texts are filled with Holy War (Jihad). Early Islam was spread in the Arabian Peninsula solely by these holy wars. Islam was propagated as a religion by series of wars/battles –both defensive as well as offensive. As many as 78 historic battles were fought by Prophet Muhammad himself, and out of 78, only one (battle of Ditch) was a defensive war, and the rest were simply offensive wars.  Did the Muslim soldiers
go to Syria, Iran, and Egypt to fight defensive wars?  What about those great historical battles– Battle of Oho’d, Battle of Bad’r, Battle of Khayber, signing of peace-pacts such as “Hudaibya Peace Pact,” etc.?  Were those wars fought with the so-called struggle only?[1]  (Image taken from here.)     

Prophet Mohammed and his successors initiated series of offensive wars against pagan Arabs, Jews, Christians, etc., to spread or to impose Islam by force as well as to seize the abundance (booty) of these lands. A great majority was converted by force, and people of Arabia did not have freedom to choose. After Prophet Muhammad gained enough might in his force while in Medina, the tradition was to send an invitation of Islam to various Arab Tribes or countries.  A typical invitation to the people of the book (Christians and Jews) was: “Embrace Islam, or pay the poll-tax (Ziziya), or fight to death. Hundreds of pages of authentic Islamic history of wars can be written in which thousands of lives were lost; tons of human bloods were shed. The question that arises is that-
 Can a “holy war” or a “peaceful struggle” as defined, be a reason for all these?[2]

The MODERNISTS' Interpretation of Jihad
The Islamic dissertate on Jihad can be divided into two main categories: the modernist perspective and the fundamentalist perspective.  Presenting the modernist perspective, Moulavi Chiragh Ali contradicts the prevalent belief amongst Muslim and non-Muslim thinkers that "religious war of aggression is one of the tenants of Islam, and prescribed by the Quran for the purpose of proselytizing or exacting tribute." On the contrary, Ali believes that Jihad was not ordained to be an offensive and proselytizing war against Darul-Harb,( is a term  referring to those countries where the Muslim law is not in force, in the matter of worship and the protection of the faithful and Dhimmis. i.e Jews, Christians and Sabians. Territories that do have a treaty of nonaggression or peace with Muslims) declaring that "all the fighting injunctions in the Quran are, in the first place only in self-defense, and none of them have any reference to make warfare  offensively. In the second place, it is to be particularly noted that they were transitory in nature, and are not to be considered positive injunctions for future observance."[3] The crux of Ali's argument lies in the belief that Islam is not an aggressive religion. He argues that although the Prophet was persecuted throughout his lifetime, but never initiated a war of aggression against Darul-Harb. The mission of the Holy Prophet's life was not to wage war, as he was only ordained to enlighten the world to the message of Islam. History is witness to the various parts of peace and compromise that were reached between the various Arab tribes and the Prophet. War was only launched in response to a breach of a treaty, as was the case with the famous, “Treaty of Hudaibia”. Ali also contends that the verses of the Quran that are usually presented in support of Jihad as an aggressive war are misquoted and misinterpreted. In particular, he argues that they have to be read as a whole and in context of the times of the Prophet. He also believes that the rules of interpretation are violated by selectively reading the injunctions of the Quran to support a certain point of view. He points to an established rule while interpreting the Quran, that if there are two injunctions on the same issue, one conditional and the other general, then the conditional one is given precedence. Citing these aberrations, Ali argues that the injunctions relating to an aggressive war against Darul-Harb have been misinterpreted and read out of context.

Innocent Muslim Guy Memes
(Kindly expand the picture to read the entire text)
JIHAD- In Today’s Society
In the holy book Quran, the word Jihad has been used 33 times, describing its importance and prophesying the need for faith, repentance and righteous deeds. September Eleventh’s horrific episode has come as the big thunder out of the blue to strike the core meaning of Islam. Since then, Islamists have been busy defending Islam, which according to them was hijacked by “militant Islamists”.  For quite a while, they spent time in their futile efforts to make Islam a peaceful religion. Now they are busy again to give a wishful new meaning to the conflicting word “Jihad”.

Today, Jihad is the world's foremost source of terrorism, inspiring a worldwide campaign of violence by self-proclaimed jihadist groups :-
  • The International Islamic Front for the Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders: Osama bin Laden's organization;
  • Laskar Jihad: responsible for the murder of more than 10,000 Christians in Indonesia;
  • Harakat ul-Jihad-i-Islami: a leading cause of violence in Kashmir;
  • Palestinian Islamic Jihad: the most vicious anti-Israel terrorist group.
Sadam Hussein in court, speaking during
his trial
As renowned writer Edward Said argues, although U.S. government and organizations like Human Rights Watch are concerned about bringing Saddam Hussein to trial against humanity, nothing is said against U.S. policy which fully supports Israel's bombing of civilian targets, a crime punishable according to the Fourth Geneva Convention. He questions why is the case that Sharon, Barak, Peres, and all the other leaders whose routine assaults on civilian and human rights constitute the longest-standing and longest-unpunished set of war crimes in history, are never brought to trial or why aren't their actions labeled as religious fanaticism? In the late twentieth and twenty first centuries the word jihad has been used repeatedly by liberation, resistance and terrorist movements to legitimate their cause and to motivate their followers. Many Muslims believe that the conditions of their world require a jihad. The Muslim world is dominated by corrupt authoritarian governments and wealthy elites. The elite in countries such as Pakistan is a minority concerned solely with its own prosperity. [4] Western governments are perceived as supporting oppressive regimes and exploiting the region's human and natural resources, robbing Muslims of their culture and their options to be governed according to their own choice and to live in a more just society. Many believe that the restoration of power and prosperity requires creation of more religiously oriented states and societies.[5] A radicalized minority advocate militant jihad in order to liberate Muslims at home and abroad. Islamists will have to realize the fact that they live in a globally interdependent world. And the need to interpret religious ideology in the contemporary world order is essential. Fundamentalists should ask themselves whether the boundaries of Dar-ul-Harb and Dar-ul-Islam are still maintained or not. The level of corruption, poverty, illiteracy in the Muslim world far surpasses that of the Western world. In such a situation how can the fundamentalists claim to enlighten the rest of the world when their own house is covered with dark clouds? Further, it should be noted that the fundamentalist interpretation of Jihad, provided by revivalist Muslim scholars are a direct by-product of the turmoil and the crisis of identity suffered by the Muslim world in recent times. In an attempt to understand the predicament of the Muslim world, Muslim thinkers largely came to the conclusion that it is the deviation from the Muslim ways that has led to this plight.[6]

It would be wonderful were jihad to evolve into nothing more aggressive than controlling one's anger, but that will not happen simply by wishing away a gruesome reality. To the contrary, the pretense of a benign jihad obstructs serious efforts at self-criticism and reinterpretation. The path away from terrorism, conquest and enslavement lies in Muslims forthrightly acknowledging jihad's historic role, followed by apologies to jihad's victims, developing an Islamic basis for nonviolent jihad and (the hardest part) actually ceasing to wage violent jihad. Unfortunately, such a process of redemption is not now under way; violent jihad will probably continue . In modern society, where Muslims and non Muslims co exist together in common grounds, it should be the duty of everyone irrespective of its religion to cooperate co ordinate and live peacefully with sentiment of trust and respect for one another attached. [7] Humanity is poised now to get rid of all kinds of belief system that has crippled the humankind and which never allowed us to rich for a higher plane. This would help in abrogating terrorism and reestablishing peace across the world once again. This should be people’s real JIHAD.

This article is written by one of our authors  Shashank Sahay and  Ashika Daga.

 Shashank Sahay is pursuing BA.LLB from School of Law, Kiit University, Bhubaneswar and is currently in 2nd Semester. So far he has managed to write research paper and articles on issues ranging from homosexuality, AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Millitary Act), JIHAD to status of marital rape in India. Apart from writing research papers, his interests include MUNning (model united nations) and playing Football.

[1] Ali, Moulavi Chiragh. "The popular Jihad or Crusade: According to the Muhammadan Common Law". Contemporary Debates in Islam. An Anthology of Modernist and Fundamentalist Thought. Ed. Mansoor Moadell. Ed. Kamran Talattof. London, MacMillan Press Ltd., 2000. p. 114-61.
[2] Burgat, Francois. Face to Face With Political Islam. London, I. B. Tauris 2003.

[3] Ayesha Saeed and Ayesha Nawaz- Jihad in the contemporary world order.
Said, Edward. "The Gap Grows Wider." Islam the Modern religion (1997)
[4] Lewis, Bernard. The Crises of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror. London: Phoenix, 2004. p.25-32.
[5] Khadduri, Majid. War and Peace in the Law of Islam. Baltimore: John Hopkins Press, 1955. p.55-83.
[6] Jihad in the American Courtroom.", 13 March 2003. Focuses on Middle East studies specialists' legal testimony.
[7] The Islamic Threat: Myth or Reality. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. p. 2-5.

Keywords: Jihad in the Contemporary muslim law World, Modernists Interpretation of Jihad, quran law, Hudaibia, Darul-Harb, Moulavi Chiragh Ali, islamic law india, Darul-Harb, Shashank Sahay kiit university

1 comment:

  1. Jihad is meant to be a struggle for your faith, not murdering or killing people. While almost all religions are guilty of forced conversion, that does not make it correct, nor does it make that type of action a necessity of that particular faith. What people seem to miss about Islam is: One- you are supposed to submit to what you believe God's laws are. Two- Conversion is not compulsory. In the Second Sura, it says that, "...there shall be no compulsion in religion...." . How clear do people need that to be. All Jihads which result in wars which are aggressive are haram or forbidden. Only a war that is defensive in nature, and in that is a last result because all else has failed, is allowable. Of course governments and empires justify their wars. That does not make them in any way a submission the the path of harmony as God has given humanity the facilities to see and understand. Hypocrisy is also mentioned many times in the Quran, as is people twisting religion and uses religious pretense for actions which are not in any way, walking the path of submission to Allah. My name is John Charles Heiser... you can find me on face book....