Jihad is often wrongly translated as ‘Holy War’. Jihad means ‘to struggle in the way of Allah’ and as Greater Jihad is the personal struggle made by every Muslim to devote his or her life to carrying out Allah’s will.
The most excellent jihad is the uttering of truth in the presence of an unjust ruler. (Hadith).
Lesser Jihad: many Muslims believe that the fight against evil and the preservation of Islam may sometimes justify going to war. This is described as Harb al-Muqadis: a Holy War.
The Prophet was asked about people fighting because they are brave, or in honour of a certain loyalty, or to show off: which of them fights for the cause of Allah? He replied, ‘The person who struggles so that Allah’s word is supreme is the one serving Allah’s cause’ (Hadith).
Islam teaches that self-defence is a just cause for war, but Muslims are forbidden from being the first to attack.
Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors (Surah 2:190).
A war cannot be described as jihad if:
- the war is started by a political leader rather than a religious leader;
- an individual person declares war without the backing of the Muslim community;
- the war is aggressive not defensive;
- peaceful ways of solving the problem have not been tried first;
- the purpose of the war is to force people to convert to Islam;
- the purpose of the war is to gain land or power;
- innocent women and children are put at physical risk;
- trees, crops and animals have not been protected;
- the war involves the destruction of homes or places of worship.
Jihad is a way to peace and the purpose is to create a society where Muslims can worship Allah in peace. If the enemy offers peace, then Muslims too must put down their weapons. Muslims are highly critical of any struggle or fighting between Muslim countries as this is completely goes against the concept of jihad.