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What is Jihad

Never has there been a word more misrepresented in the media than Jihad. Humans have been fighting and
killing each other for millennia, developing ever more effective ways and enhancing technology to facilitate
this killing. People fight to defend themselves, or to attack others. Wars are fought for land, tribe, nation,
legacy, fortune, religion, independence, or resources like water and oil.

Islam addresses fighting and warfare, laying down rules for when and how it should occur. Islam does not
allow wars for material gain, taking other people’s resources and lands, or to convert people from their
religion. Islam does not sanction the invading and pillaging of the past, nor the colonialism of the present,
which all lead to enslaving and impoverishing the conquered people.

Muslims are required to follow the Islamic rules of warfare, if they were to go to war. Examples include: no
killing of innocent people, no killing of women and children, no burning of crops or trees, only fight those that
fight you, no wanton destruction. Jihad, then, is the striving of Muslims when they go to war and are
governed by these laws. Primarily there are two types of Jihad. The first is when Muslims rally to fight and
expel invading armies from their land. Examples are when the Crusaders invaded Palestine during the
eleventh and twelfth centuries, or when the Mongols invaded Central Asia, Persia, Iraq and Syria in the
thirteenth century. This defensive Jihad aims to protect the citizens and their land by pushing the occupiers
out.

The other type of Jihad is only undertaken by an Islamic State. Its aim is to eradicate ‘fitna’ (injustice and
oppression) where it is exists in other places, and replace unjust and oppressive ruling with a just rule under
the auspices of the Islamic State. There are three parts to it: first, to invite the people to accept Islam by
explaining the Islamic belief and what Islam has to offer people. This is done by dialogue and discussion and
maybe over some time. Secondly, the people are invited to unify with the Islamic State, whether or not they
become Muslims, enjoying peace, justice, security and protection, thereby ending the injustice and
oppression. Historically some non-Muslim peoples opted for this option, which is in exchange for a small
yearly tax (taken as a token in exchange for their protection, since they are alleviated from contributing in
other financial ways to the society, as the Muslims are obliged to do). The third and final course of action
after the first two have failed is war. Such a war is called Jihad and it has its rules, like no wanton destruction
or targeting of civilians. When an Islamic State goes to war, it can never be for money, land, or riches –unlike
the current and past colonial occupations of the last two centuries.

Jihad is often seen by Western people as barbaric, as a result of the propaganda constantly pushed by the
government and media to portray Muslims as bloodthirsty, massacring killers, bent on forcing the world to
change their religion. They have even coined the phrase ‘holy war’ for Jihad to encourage this false opinion.
However, an Islamic State would commit to the Islamic foreign policy, showing the world what Islam really is
and how Islam can truly make their lives and society better, even if they do not become Muslim. Jihad is a last
resort in this process. The Islamic belief is never to be forced upon people once land is taken, with 1400 years
of history bearing testimony to this.