Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Reclaiming Jihad

What comes to your mind when you think of jihad?

You would be forgiven if it didn’t have positive connotations. The media and public discourses around jihad are framed by acts of political violence and killing, such as September 11th 2001.

The Muslim community have tried to correct such a gross misunderstanding of the word. They spoke of how jihad means struggle, a struggle for righteousness, justice and mercy. They spoke of how mindless killing could not be more divorced from the spiritual endeavour (both internal and external) that is indicated by the word jihad.

Jihad has so overwhelmingly been associated with violence and killing, that Muslims sometimes refer to it as the J-word, conscious that its very mention can cause concern.

But now it’s time to redefine jihad. To reclaim jihad.

When you think of the crowds in Tunisia, who changed global politics forever by ousting Ben Ali, think of jihad. When you think of the Egyptians, who through patience and adversity stood united and defiant in the face of a stubborn Pharaoh who fell like Ozymandias, think of jihad. And indeed, when you think of Libyans, who confront a dictator more than willing to kill his own people, think of jihad.

In fact, don’t just think of jihad. Think of the highest, most celebrated, most beloved, type of jihad. Think of the very pinnacle of the meaning of jihad.

This is not a matter of subjective opinion, but of theological truth.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

“The best jihad is to speak a word of truth in front of a tyrant ruler”

Every protestor took part in fulfilling this deeply profound prophetic teaching, and went to the very core of the meaning of jihad.

Every placard held in Freedom Square was ‘word of truth in front of a tyrant ruler’. Every blog written, every chant, even the moments of silence met the criteria.

Now, more than ever we should be reclaiming the beautiful word that is jihad.

NB: For those interested in the reference for the hadith, its quoted by several muhadith including Ibn Majjah on the authority of Abu Saeed, Ahmed and Ibn Majjah and Tabarani and Baihaqi on the authority of Abu Umamah and Ahmed and Nisa’i on the authority of Tariq Ibn Shihab.

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