Today, I feel there is a need to elucidate a sensitive term often used worldwide - JIHAD. I believe that this particular word as such has been misinterpreted and wrongly used by most. The use is such that it has now become a global term and an icon of fear and hatred. But in fact this word is such a beauty in itself that each and every being is one way or the other associated and involved with it.
Jihad, an Arabic term, is a religious duty of Muslims. In Arabic, the word jihād is a noun meaning "struggle." Jihad appears frequently in the Qur'an Sharief and common usage as the idiomatic expression "striving in the way of Allah (al-jihad fi sabil Allah)" A person engaged in Jihad is called a Mujahid, the plural is Mujahideen.
According to scholar John Esposito, Jihad requires Muslims to "struggle in the way of God" or "to struggle to improve one's self and/or society." Jihad is directed against Shaitan's inducements, aspects of one's own self, or against a "visible" enemy (I repeat "Visible").
The four major categories of jihad that are recognized are
Islamic military jurisprudence focuses on regulating the conditions and practice of Jihad as-sayf, the only form of warfare permissible under Islamic law. This is where the confusion arises.
- Jihad against one's self (Jihad al-Nafs),
- Jihad of the tongue (Jihad al-lisan),
- Jihad of the hand (Jihad al-yad), and
- Jihad of the sword (Jihad as-sayf).
The term has accrued both violent and non-violent meanings. It can simply mean striving to live a moral and virtuous life and fighting injustice and oppression against Islam. The relative importance of these two forms of jihad is a matter of controversy.
Our beloved Prophet (S.A. - Peace be upon Him) is said to have regarded the inner struggle for faith the "Greater Jihad", prioritizing it over physical fighting in defence of the members of the global Islamic community.
In Modern Standard Arabic, Jihad is one of the correct terms for a struggle for any cause, religious or secular. For instance, Mahatma Gandhi's struggle for Indian independence is called a "Jihad" in Modern Standard Arabic; the terminology is applied to the fight for women's liberation also.
Mahabarata and Ramayana too were the perfect examples and there are a thousand lessons to learn out of them.
Jihad is the way of life. The way to live.