By Bushra Tarrar

Its tragic that West has mutilated the meaning of Jihad and associated it with terrorism, so have they labeled the freedom movements in Kashmir, Gaza or any other struggle by the Muslims. The basic force behind all this is the Zionist agenda supported by the Neo-Cons for obvious ulterior motives. But a greater tragedy is that the Muslim scholars have not made any committed effort to educate the people not only in the West but in their home countries too.

The literal meaning of ‘Jihad’ is struggle; struggle could be for any morally and ethically acceptable goals and objectives. To eliminate poverty, illiteracy, disease or any other evil can be termed as Jihad. The normal accepted perception of Jihad is to fight in the battle field to defeat the enemy, but one thing must be borne in mind that Jihad can only be waged either in self defence or for the liberation of the oppressed and aggrieved. But jihad can never be waged to capture territory for expansion.

Also jihad cannot be waged without a state decree and that state must be based on the Islamic principles, the head of the state should be able to fulfill all the requirements laid down in the Quran and Sunnah.

People from within a Muslim state can wage a struggle to establish a shariah compliant government but this would be more in line with a political movement. If such a movement is denied space then the struggle becomes more aggressive and militant in nature. Therefore, Islamists when choked have no other option but to resort to force. In most cases militancy is through constant denial and use of brutal force by the people in power.

It is the greatest tragedy of the last and the present millennium for Muslims internationally not to have adopted a uniform jihad policy and to have left it to splinter groups or organizations to frame jihadi policies and to make others act on them. Whereas the major developed countries, which happen to be non Muslim, act in unison in political, economic, military and social matters, the Muslim countries mostly act singly or selfishly. The existence of sects, royalty, class division and illiteracy in the Muslim countries, all foreign to Islam, have stood in the way of adoption of unified policies and programmes by them. Resultantly, this has given an excuse to the powerful countries to label true jihadi Muslim movements terrorist or anti-humanity and have given them a chance to dominate or crush the Muslim countries where the jihadi organizations were based or to dictate to the Muslim governments.                                                               

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The word ‘terrorism’ has yet to have a universally acceptable definition but in general terrorism means the threat or use of force against civilians or the armed forces for political purposes. Groups of terrorists, acting singly or jointly, engage in bombings, killings, hijackings, skyjackings and large-scaled destruction of property. The dimension of suicide attacks and bombings has been added to the regular terrorist efforts in the 20th and 21st centuries. Now international terrorism is on the rise as one state arranges terrorist mission in another state. Or one state masterminds mid-air explosion of planes in international air space as the US blamed Libya of it several years earlier. The US also blamed Afghanistan of promoting terrorism through Al-Qaida of causing suicide plane attacks on the world trade centre and the pentagon in 2001. She, together with other world powers, attacked Afghanistan and replaced the Taliban Afghan government. India and Pakistan have blamed each other for government-sponsored terrorist attacks and have been close to fighting a war. So has Sri Lanka blamed India of supporting the Tamil tiger’s guerrillas in the country.                                                                                  

The United Nation has taken note of international crime that threatens the foundations of all states. Terrorism has, thus, become" one of the most dangerous forms of international crime.”on the other hand, members of the Irish liberation  movement against the United Kingdom, the Kashmir’s liberation movement against India, the Palestine liberation movement against Israel and the Chechen liberation movement against Russia  claim that they have  attacked opposite government forces and their supporters to win freedom.

In the absence of a proper definition one man’s terrorist is another person’s freedom fighter. Today in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kashmir, Palestine and some other places the occupation forces label the resistance as an act of terrorism though they are all fighting to liberate their lands. USA, The UK, NATO, India and Israel are all occupation forces.

Within the cloak of the freedom fighters have hidden their agents like TTP who apparently act to liberate the land but in essence are targeting the innocent people. Their lives and properties are hit wantonly where ever they may be. Fight for liberation means struggle against  cruel rulers  to regain lost territories or religious, economic or other freedoms, this fight is basically a political movement but at times get militant when force is applied to curb it.                                      

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Jihad means the exertion of efforts for the cause of ALLAH. "True jihad must begin in the heart of every individual against the evils of his /her own soul. This is the greater jihad (Jihad-e Akbar) without which the jihad of the sword, the lesser jihad is simply a warfare. "society is nothing but a conglomeration of individuals, and the reform of society on Islamic or ideal lines is necessary before any jihad is waged to obey the main Quranic injunctions:

  • Kill them until there is no persecution .
  • Fight against those who stop others from following the way of ALLAH.
  • Fight against those who treat helpless women, man and children cruelly.
  • Fight against those who fight against you and turn them out of the places taken forcibly from you.

The holy prophet (may peace be upon him) once advised Muslims strongly that they should carefully measure the strength of the enemy and make the best preparations before attacking him.

In this sense and the sense of the foregoing paragraph, jihad is justified:

  • when the individuals and society are rightly reformed.
  • when all forms of the preparations on the social, national and international levels have been made to defeat the enemy.

Unluckily, the different Muslim societies and jihadi organizations did not take the requisite steps necessary for the supremacy of truth, justice and fair play in jihadi struggle against evil, injustice and cruelty.

Firstly, in the present-day world context, they did not initiate movements to remove and replace the dictatorial and monarchical governments in the richest and largest Muslim countries in the Middle East the common people in these countries have not been properly educated, nor have they been given their due share in the governments. The defence of these countries is weak and dependant on the very western powers that are responsible for the creation of Israel. Science and technology are in the wrong order, and education, on the whole, is out of tune with modern requirements. The prime aim, for example, of the Al-Qaida organization should have been the reform of the Arab regimes and societies. This could have thrown up people-friendly governments and would have contributed to the raising of joint Arab armed forces capable of throwing out Israel from the Palestinian territories.

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Secondly, the jihadi organizations and their supporters, for example, in Pakistan did not set in motion movements against corruption, illiteracy, governmental and administrative inefficiency in different forms. Clearly, the common people could have risen to great heights if these organizations, together with them and their leaders, had started jihad against political, social and economic evils in the country .our industry and agriculture could have been in excellent shape. Our science, technology and general education could have been of the finest order .our armed forces could have depended on a solid economic base for a long and decisive war against the enemy. True independence and democracy, with an educated population and booming economy, would have been possible. Then the armed jihad, after the social jihad, would have been more practicable and more in accordance with the advice of the holy prophet.

Ijtihad means making the greatest effort to discover fresh religious truths. Both ijtihad and jihad mean supreme endeavour. Ijtihad is the application of reason to the holy Quran and Sunnah to determine solutions of the problems of the changing times. A mujthid is the person rightly qualified to apply his reason or interpret religion for the solutions of new problems.  many Sunnis have held, rather wrongly, that ijtihad is not possible now as a true mujtahid cannot be the found after the founders of the four Sunni schools of thought,*that is, since A.D.825.this pattern of thinking should now be reversed for the improvement of individual and social life. After a speedy revival of ijtihad, new explanations of jihad should be put forward in accordance with the changed circumstances in its global perspective, the new balance of power in different parts of the world and the methods or modes of jihad that can truly make Muslims successful and victorious. In no case should jihad appear to have methods and aims of terrorism. Jihadis should be able to root out individual and social evils inside the country, and then they should strike hard on the enemies inside the country and outside within the scope of the Holy Quran, Sunnah.

Bushra Tarrar is a graduate of The Punjab University. She has written two books,. Ruh-e-Qayadat (Spirit of Leadership) and Tahafuz-e-Bint-e-Hawa (Protection of rights of the daughter of Eve) in Urdu that won her a place in the circle of Urdu writers.

She also writes regular column for Urdu Newspapers. She comes from an agriculture family that is active and firmly believes in the social uplift of the people.