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Opinions of Saturday, 12 September 2015

Columnist: Abdul-Karim Mohammed Awaf

Is jihad about killing?

Terrorism had always seemed a remote problem which would never catch up with us until recently when a Ghanaian youth made local and international headlines when he joined the much-dreaded terrorists group, the Islamic State (IS) in Iran. Indeed, Nazir Notei Alema’s decision to join the so-called jihadist group sent shivers down the spines of many.

Although, various Muslim clerics have unanimously come out to condemn any so-called Jihadist group that claims to be fighting for Islam, more education must be done at the community level to put the subject of jihad to rest. There are many Muslims in our communities today who do not understand what the concept of jihad means.

Concept of Jihad
Jihad is a beautiful concept that has been misused by extremist adherents or out of utter ignorance.

Religiously, Jihad has three types, as identified by Ar-Raghib in Al-Mufradat: (1) Jihad against an express enemy, (2) Jihad against Satan, and (3) Jihad against one's own self. The last two meanings are stated in several hadiths.

For example, Imam Ahmad in his Musnad and Abu Dawud in his Sunan reported Fudalah Ibn `Ubayd as narrating that the Prophet said: “A true believer is the one who strives against his own self in obedience to Allah”.
Ibn Taymiyyah defined Jihad saying, “It encompasses all sorts of worship, whether inward or outward, including love of Allah, devotion to Him, reliance on Him, submission of one's soul and property to Him, patience, asceticism, and continuing remembrance of Him. It takes all possible forms — physical, spiritual, mental, verbal, etc.”

Jihad in Islam is not necessarily synonymous with fighting; it has a much broader sense. Basically, it means to preach and defend what is right. Allah says, “And strive against them (i.e., advocates of falsehood) by means of it (i.e., the Qur'an), with the utmost strife” (Al-Furqan 25:52)” That is, refute false claims with every possible evidence. Obviously, recitation of the Qur'an has nothing to do with military actions. Therefore, not every Jihad should be about fighting. In essence, Jihad is a call for freedom

Forcing Islam on people
Embracing Islam under compulsion is unacceptable. Islamic Shari`ah is all based on free choice, and when free choice is lacking, one's conducts shall have no effect, whether in beliefs, contracts, commitments, etc.
Again , Allah says, “Had your Lord so willed, all who are on the earth would have believed altogether. Will you, then, (be the one to) compel people so that they become believers?” (Yunus 10: 99)

Renouncing Islam due to coercion
Similarly, when someone renounces Islam due to coercion, this renunciation shall have no effect. Allah says, “...except for one who has been compelled (to renounce his faith) while his heart remains at peace with faith” (An-Nahl 16:106).

It is self-evident that Jihad is not fighting, On the contrary, it means to preach and defend what is right and. Therefore, whoever thinks he or she can kill, all in the name of God, does so at his or her own peril.