Jihad

The next Inside Islam radio show, this Thursday, April 29th, will focus on jihad. Michael Bonner, author of Jihad In Islamic History: Doctrines and Practice,and Faisal Devji, author of Landscapes fo the Jihad: Militancy, Morality, Modernity will join the program to discuss the concept of  jihad, its history, and its manifestations in the world today.

One of the central images of Islam today, heightened especially after the 9/11 attacks, is that Islam is a religion of violence.  The picture in the media of this world religion is that Islam, unlike other faiths, condones violence, often citing verses from the Qur’an out of context and without explanation and focusing on an extreme minority of Muslims. Most Muslims, however, repeatedly emphasize that Islam is not about spreading fear and violence but about peace and tolerance.

An important aspect of the discussion is jihad, a concept that has been used and misused by numerous groups. Jihad in Arabic in the broadest sense means to struggle or strive and has both a military aspect and a spiritual aspect. However, even within the military context, there are specific rules and guidelines that must be followed that most Muslims agree are not being adhered to. Moreover, mainstream Muslims are more likely to emphasize the spiritual jihad, the internal fight to be a righteous and pious person–or the greater jihad as it is called– over the military jihad–or the lesser jihad.

Nonetheless, there are extremists who are misappropriating the term jihad to describe their actions, and they are the ones who receive the most attention. The next Inside Islam radio show will focus on the meanings of jihad and how it has been used and misused.

What is your reaction to the word jihad? Is it about military struggle or spiritual struggle? Are Al-Qaeda’s actions a jihad? Please share your questions and comments below and they may appear on the air on the next Inside Islam show.

One thought on “Jihad

  1. I always find it strange that people don’t read the Bible and realize how much genocide was committed in the name of God. When the Israelites left Egypt, they razed entire cities because God told them to do it. Women, children, animals, everything. If we want to make a fair comparison, do it fairly: include the numerous parts of the Bible that condone violence and war in the discussion, as well as historical events (The Inquisition, the Crusades, etc.) that were committed by people who followed the Bible.

    I believe this is where people get the most confused. They falsely separate out Islam as unique in its inclusion of violent subject matter and therefore conclude that all followers are violent, but ignore the fact that there are just as many if not more occurrences in the Bible with equally disturbing violence being described.

    The real question then becomes: At this point in history, what other factors are making radical followers of one religion commit violence more than radical followers from another religion?