What does Jihad mean? Why do some people explain jihad as “the holy war”?

The word jihad is often interpreted as “holy war” in Western languages. (1) Such an interpretation stems from the efforts to show Islam as a religion which spreads by the force of weapon.

Jihad is the name given to every activity and movement on behalf of Allah (SWT). It means endeavoring to make justice superior and dominant. In other words, jihad has to do with action in Islam; it is power for Islam to act.

The word jihad is often interpreted as “holy war” in Western languages. (1) Such an interpretation stems from the efforts to show Islam as a religion which spreads by the force of weapon.

However, the translation of the word “jihad” is not “war.” To fight for the sake of Allah (SWT) is also a sort of jihad but in general, terms this word includes any kind of activity and action to make the religion of Allah go everywhere.

While Muslims were in jihad for this lofty end, non-Muslims and especially colonialist countries made “unholy wars” and shed blood in Asia, Africa, Europe, and America. (2) History is full of examples about it. Under the name of “geographical discoveries,” discovery of raw materials in Asia, Africa, America, and making those people into slaves by organizing evil-intended expeditions to those fertile lands exhibit some people’s philosophy of war.

These people are in a dense activity of propaganda to hush their shameful acts up. It is because of the effect of this propaganda, when the word jihad is mentioned, some immediately associate it with a “barbaric Turk” with a sword in his hand, who is about to slaughter a misbeliever who rejects Islam, or an “Arab terrorist !” with a Kalashnikov in his hand. (3)

The Western writers who attack Islam by using jihad as a pretext are in a manner, which expresses itself in the phrase “both guilty and powerful.” The event below shows their situation clearly:

One of the British soldiers during Britons invasion to Africa says to his friend, “These are savage people! When I killed one of them, he bit me!” (4)

Sources

1-Ebu'l Ala Mevdudî, Jihad in Islam, Islamic Publications LTD, Lahor, p.1; Rudolph Peters, islam ve Sömürgecilik ( Islam and Colonialism), Trans. Süleyman Gündüz, Nehir Pub. ist.1989, p.29; M.J. Kister, "Land Property and Jihad" , Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, Leiden, 1991, XXXIV, 276; W. Montgomery Watt, Islamic Political Thought, Edinburgh, p. 14; Ahmet Özel, islam Hukukunda Milletlerarası Münasebetler ve Ülke Kavramı (International Relations In Islamic Law and The Concept of Country), Marifet Pub. Ist. p. 64

2- Mevdudî, Jihad in Allah's Cause, The Journal, XIV/4 December, Mekke, 1986, p.14

3- Peters, p.30

4- Muhammed Gazali, Fıkhu's-Sîre, Daru'l-Kalem, Dımeşk, 1989, p.214

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