Jihad is based on the Arabic "Jahada", which means to strive for a better way of life. "Holy War; the latter does not exist in Islam nor will Islam allow its followers to be involved in a Holy War. The word refers to the Holy War of the Crusaders."
Mainstream news sources have made the term "jihad" synonymous in the minds of most western readers with that of "holy war". Although defence is clearly allowed as a lesser form of jihad it is clear that a "holy war" is not called for. In response to what must be centuries of repetition of the linking of the the two terms in western minds and also to recent events the Portland Rizwan Mosque held a lecture this Saturday that gave the correct meaning of jihad and the following are some thoughts gathered from this lecture
Jihad was explained to have three levels:
The first and most important is - Jihad akbar- that of the soul, where the striving is said to be internal.
The next level is that of the verbal where one is asked to raise a voice on behalf of unjust actions.
The last level and the least important is physical where defence is called for but is not transgresive in nature.
Islam in general:
When one saves a life they save all of humanity. When one takes a life, they kill all of humanity.
As regards other religions within a muslim state:
Muslims are commanded in the Quran to keep from harm the persons and houses of worship of other faiths. Under this the destruction of the Buddhist statues in Afghanistan was forbidden. The practice of forcing conversions is forbidden. Islam teaches the principle of universal brotherhood and requires that muslims respect the prophets of other religions.
As regards prisoners of war and women and children:
Prisoners of war are to be treated better then the guards themselves -like the Geneva conventions which were, as pointed out during the lecture, enacted many centuries after the Quran was written-. Women and children and all non-combatants are not to be abused.
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