What is Jihad According To Islam

What does the phrase “Jihad” mean?

Jihad is an Arabic word that can be interpreted as a “struggle”, “ability to strive”, or the exertion of one’s maximum effort to repeal the adversary by word or deed. One must also distinguish between a “lesser jihad” and a “greater jihad”. The greater jihad, and consequently the more essential one, is also called “jihad against self”, i.e., a struggle to control one’s own ego against bad inclinations and dispositions. It is a spiritual struggle to gain nearness to God and a lifelong conscious striving obligatory on every Muslim.

The “lesser jihad” is fighting in self-defence against an opponent that has begun an attack. It is also an endeavour to face an enemy who unlawfully evicts one from one’s house and encroaches on the freedom of the worship of God. Jihad is not intended to spill blood, incite disloyalty towards established governments, or disrupt peace in any fashion. All such acts are against the principles of Islam.

The Arabic word “jihad” originates from the verb “jahada,” meaning to strive or struggle. In Islamic vocabulary, it means to make an attempt and to strive for a worthy goal. The word is often used to describe any form of effort in the cause of Allah (God). According to Islamic beliefs, there are three basic types of jihad, and they all attempt to establish and maintain peace in society, as stated below.

Categories of Jihad

According to Islamic teachings, there are three basic categories of jihad:

Jihad-e-Akbar (jihad of the highest form).

This is the jihad (battle) for self-reformation. The struggle involves fighting our own temptations, like greed, desire, and other worldly temptations. This is the journey of a person from an ‘animalistic’ condition of existence, i.e., living for immediate enjoyment or gain, to one where his mentality is disciplined enough to exercise moral restraint. This form of jihad is obligatory on every Muslim throughout his life.

Jihad-e-Kabir (big jihad.)

This is the jihad of the propagation of the truth, the message of the Qur’an. The Qur’an also urges us to preach this word with wisdom, tolerance, and regard for people and their beliefs.

16:126 “Call unto the way of thy Lord with knowledge and goodly exhortation…”

6:109 And revile not those whom they call upon alongside Allah, lest they, out of wrath, revile Allah in their ignorance. As a result, we made their actions appear fair. Then to their Lord is their return, and He will instruct them in what they used to accomplish.

It bans the use of coercion or force.

2:257 “There should be no compulsion in religion. Surely, right has become separate from wrong; hence, anyone who refuses to be led by those who transgress and believes in Allah has surely gripped a sturdy handle that knows no breaking. And Allah is all-hearing and all-knowing.

According to the Qur’an, anyone who gives his time, effort, income, or knowledge to the cause of righteousness is practicing Jihad-e-Kabir. This is likewise required of all Muslims.

Jihad-e-Asghar (jihad of the lower level.)

This is the jihad of a defensive battle. The Qur’an has explicitly restricted this type of jihad to specified conditions while banning violations of any sort.

1. The war can only be defensive and not offensive.

(2:191) “And fight in the cause of Allah against those who battle against you, but do not transgress. Surely Allah does not like transgressors.

2. Muslims should have endured tyranny in the exercise of their faith and a threat to their lives.

3. Muslims should have been driven out of their homes; the teaching is to initially leave where the oppression is taking place, and if the oppressor attacks the Muslims to stop them from practising their religion in the new abode and also threaten their lives, only in these circumstances are the Muslims allowed to take up arms in a defensive battle.

Further on, there are explicit directions on what can and cannot be done in a combat fought by the Muslims.

Civilians who are not fighting against Muslims are not to be harmed or killed at all.
Crops or other supplies of food and water and livestock or other animals are not to be destroyed.

Hospitals, orphanages, and other places of safety and sanctuary are not to be demolished.
Mosques, churches, synagogues, or other houses of worship are not to be destroyed.
Women, children, the elderly, and the crippled are to be left unharmed.
If the aggressor stops the assault or offers a treaty, it should be accepted and the conflict should end forthwith.

Fleeing oppressors need not be chased to any unnecessary length and should be allowed to return to their homes.

Prisoners of war should be treated with respect, their basic requirements should be satisfied, and they should be freed or ransomed as quickly as feasible after the war.

Hence, it is extremely evident that the objective of any such conflict is still to restore peace and not to promote violence. It is vital to highlight that the initiation of such a struggle is not in the hands of Muslims but can only be launched by an oppressor fitting the aforementioned prerequisites.

Jihad and the Holy Prophet (S.A.W)

Prophet Muhammad’s (S.A.W) entire life was devoted to Jihad. Of this, a scant four months (about) were devoted by way of defensive engagements, and in them the purpose and objective are without doubt.

He spent the first 13 years of his prophethood in Makkah attempting to propagate the message of the Qur’an under harsh and fierce oppression, but he never raised a finger in response. He left Makkah for Madinah, but the Makkans continued to pursue him in Madinah. It was only when they initiated a struggle to kill Muslims in Madinah that a physical battle in self-defense was permissible, and even then only to the degree necessary to protect their right to live in peace and to worship God.

Once, when returning from a war (of the aforementioned sort), Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) reminded his followers that they were returning from the jihad of a lower order to the jihad of the greatest order, i.e., that they needed to resume the endeavour of self-reformation without any delay. wiki

On another occasion, the Prophet (S.A.W) remarked that out of all those who carry out jihad, the most elevated is the one who battles against his own inclinations (Ibne Maja, Kitabul Fitn).


What does jihad simply mean?

Jihad, (Arabic: “struggle” or “effort”) is also called Jihad.

When was jihad allowed?

update coming soon

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