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Team Dispatch

JIHAD: Defense of the Heart, the Tongue, the Hand, and the Sword
December 11, 1999

In the linguistic sense, the Arabic word "jihad" means struggling or striving. For instance, a student struggles and strives to get an education and pass course work; an employee strives to fulfill his or her job and maintain good relations with his or her employer; the odyssey strives to promote global awareness among youths, and so on.

Allah

The true name for the creator of the Universe is called Allah. He is merciful, the Beneficent, the Knowledgeable, the Protector, the Mighty, the God, the Provider, the Exalted, the Lord, the All-Knowing, the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing, the Magnificent, the Wise, the Loving, the First, the Last, and the Eternal.

The Koran mentions 99 beautiful names for Allah through which Muslims recognize Him, and His responsibilities for the whole Universe.

Many people ask why the term "Allah" is used instead of "God" and assume its use implies that Muslims worship a separate God. There is only ONE GOD - a belief held by followers of each of the three main world religions: Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

ALLAH is the Supreme Being, the one and only God. Allah is the same God worshipped by the Jews and Christians, and Arabic-speaking Christians also use this name when referring to God.

Arab, Muslim and Islam

Many equate Islam and Muslims to mean Arabs. Muslims may be any nationality. An Arab could be a Muslim, a Christian, a Jew or an atheist. Arabs constitute only about twenty percent of the Muslim population.

Jihad

Meaning to strive for a better way of life is an Arabic word, the root of which is Jahada. The nouns are Juhd,Mujahid, Jihad, and Ijtihad. Its other meanings are endeavor, strain, exertion, effort, diligence, and fighting to defend one's life, land, and religion.

Jihad is not a war to force the faith on others as many people think of it. There is actually an explicit verse in the Koran that says: "There is no compulsion in religion" Al-Koran: Al-Baqarah (2:256).

Jihad is not a defensive war, but a war against any unjust regime. If such an unjust regime exists, a war will be waged against its leaders, not its people. According to the Jihad, people should be freed from unjust regimes and influences so that they can freely choose to believe in Allah.

Koran or Quran

It is the sacred book of Islam and one of the world's most influential books. According to Islamic belief, God revealed the Koran in separate revelations to the Prophet Muhhammed, while he was living in Mecca and Medina. The canonical text was established A.H. 30 (A.D. 651-52) under the caliph Uthman. The revelations are divided into 114 suras (chapters]. The Koran is written in the classic Arabic language.
In the West, "jihad" is generally translated as "holy war", a usage the media have popularized. According to Islamic teachings, it is unholy to instigate war. Actually, the Arabic words "harbun muqaddasatu" translate to "holy war", not "jihad". Unfortunately, there are writers, some of whom are Muslim, and translators of the Koran, who have, and always will, maintain "jihad" to mean "holy war." This interpretation could reflect the Christian use of the term "Holy War", referring to the Crusades of a thousand years ago.

Throughout Islamic history, wars against non-Muslims, though political on the surface, were termed jihads to reflect their religious significance. It was a very common practice in the 18th and 19th centuries, in Muslim Africa, south of Sahara. The most notable example being the jihad of Usman dan Fodio, one that brought about the Sokoto caliphate in what is now northern Nigeria.

Islam maps out four ways one can fulfill the duty of jihad: by the heart, the tongue, the hand, and the sword. For the first, one must purify one's own heart by resisting wrong and overcoming evil temptations.

The Islam religion is promoted through the tongue and hand, and accomplished by supporting what is right and correcting what is wrong. And to fulfill the fourth way, Islam asks its followers to wage war on the unbelievers and enemies of the Islamic faith.

Once one has made up one's mind to put the Creator of the Universe (Allah according to the Koran) above all else, one often comes under intense pressures. It is not easy to resist such pressures and strive to maintain dedication and love of Allah over all else.

Muslims strive to replace tyranny, treachery, bigotry, and ignorance with justice and equity. They provide truthful knowledge and free people from the bondage of 'associationism' prejudice, superstition and mythology. Muslims remove immorality, fear, crime, exploitation, and replace them with divine morality, peace and education.

Like any other community, the world's 1 billion Muslims abhor violence and prefer to live in peace and security. Modern Islam sanctions war with other nations only as a defensive measure when their faith is in danger. The violent extremists, representing a fraction of this religious group, have caught the attention of the West.

POEM

Jihad Sounds of Home.
By Beyer, Marcel.
Magazine: POETRY, OCTOBER 1998.

They're playing jihad sounds of home
down in the courtyard, in the dark, like every
evening, the night sky keeps you awake
They're playing the Cairo cassettes their
cousin brought them, you are with the
shadows, with yesterday, with the silence
of last night, you're thinking of certain
cookies, of sofas, you don't know why,
you're thinking of unmade beds, and you see
how the clouds shift, you're thinking
of blue-film dummies, you are with the
shadowy images, with soap flakes and
snow, while the sounds below
grow wild because their cousin sings
along the next time, his rough
voice in the courtyard, in front of the garage, it
carries all the way to the fifth floor, to the
sleeping quarters. It sticks in the youngest one's throat,
he no longer has command of such sounds. What
are the parents to do, whispering is
hard for them. I know nothing of their
gutturals: Yesterday was hours of glance-fear
and a numb feeling in my arm. Since then
the numbness has remained, or the doze
is coming. They play until almost seven, between
the houses it's already dawning, soon the child
will wake up crying, it knows no other
sound. They play until almost seven, then
the courtyard falls silent. On the street the
first cars, you pass into a light sleep.

* Copyright of the publication is the property of the publisher and the text may not be copied without the express written permission of the publisher except for the imprint of the video screen content or via the print options of the software. Text is intended solely for the use of the individual user.

Islam goes beyond the individual and extends out into society and humanity in general. From the belief that individuals can only continue to improve themselves, not confined to themselves, but in their connection to their community, came the Koranic injunction "to enjoin good and forbid evil" (3:104). It is a duty which is not exclusive to Muslims, but one that applies to the human race who, according to the Koran, are God's vicegerent on earth.

Whether at peace or at war, Islam prohibits terrorism, kidnapping, and hijacking against civilians. Whoever commits these violations is considered a murderer in Islam, and must be punished by the Islamic state. During wars, Islam prohibits Muslim soldiers from harming civilians, women, children, elderly, and religious men, like priests and rabbies. Additionally, Islam prohibits cutting down trees and destroying civilian constructions.

The international community has come to agree, through the institution of the United Nations, on a body of human rights and interests which Islam has always endorsed.

The critics of Islam, however, insist that Islams and Muslims are openly hostile and intolerant towards communities other than their own. They refer to the Koranic verses that exhort the believers to fight the infidels, they point to the battles of early Islam and the eventual confrontation between the Crusaders and the Saracens or Moors, and now, the contemporary stereotype of the Arab "terrorist."

Removing all misconceptions and stereotypes in clarifying the image of Islam held by non-Muslims, building a trusting relationship and working with them are all primary forms of Jihad. Similarly, establishing a strong community and nation which can fulfill all physical needs of its people, and create conditions in which the message will be heard, rather than being lost in the strife and struggle of everyday life, are requirements and form a basic building block of the Jihadic concept. These foundations fulfill the Koranic injunction, "Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: and these it is that shall be successful." [3:104] Until this is accomplished the conditions of Jihad remain unfulfilled.

Vocabulary Box:

abhor - to regard with horror or loathing

injunction - the act of enjoining; the act of directing, commanding or prohibiting

viceregent - someone appointed by a ruler as an administrative deputy

The object of jihad is not the conversion of individuals to Islam but rather the gaining of political control over the collective affairs of societies to run them in accordance with the principles of Islam. Individual conversions occur as a by-product of this process when the power structure passes into the hands of the Muslim community. In fact, according to strict Muslim doctrine, conversions "by force" are forbidden, because after the revelation of the Koran "good and evil have become distinct," so one may follow whichever one may prefer (Koran), and it is also strictly prohibited to wage wars for the sake of acquiring worldly glory, power, and rule.

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