Friday, February 02, 2007

Meaning of Jihad

As far as the word Jihad is concerned there is a misconception not only among the Non-Muslims, but also among some Muslims. What most people think is that any war fought by any Muslim for any reason, whether it be for his personal gains, whether it be for political gains, whether it be for language or whether it be for colour, it is called as Jihad. Jihad does not mean any war fought by any Muslim; Jihad comes from Arabic word “Jahada” which means to strive to struggle; so Jihad basically means to strive or struggle.

In Islamic context it means to strive against one’s own evil inclinations, it also means to strive to make the society better, it even includes striving in the battlefield to fight in self-defense and it also means to fight against oppression and tyranny. Therefore, it means to strive or struggle.

Many people have the misconception that Jihad means ‘Holy War’. The Arabic word for Holy War is “Harbum Muqaddasah”. If you read the Holy Quran, no where in the Quran, not even a single verse, and no where in the authentic Ahadith of Prophet (peace be upon him) is the word “Harbum Muqaddasah” mentioned. There is no “Harbum Muqaddasah” at all. The translation of Jihad is not ‘Holy War’ at all.

This word ‘Holy War’ was first used by the historians to describe the Crusades of the Christians: who spread Christianity and who killed thousands of people in the name of Christianity. As the Austrian Catholic philosopher, Hans Koechler points out, “Literally, "holy war" is the translation of the Latin term bellum sanctum which was used to describe a " crusade " against the "Saracens" in the Middle Ages; thus, this notion was part of the doctrine of the Roman-Catholic Church over many centuries." Unfortunately many (such as the western media, Non-Muslims and even some Muslims) translate Jihad as ‘Holy War’. It is a mistranslation and this mistake needs to be rectified.

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