Friday, September 18, 2009

The Spirit of Jihad -----by Syed Junaid Hasan

Ours is an age of intellectual shallowness where we suffice ourselves with what we hear from the news media and its parade of so called "experts". We lap up whatever is thrown to us in the way of crudely edited sound bites and sensationalist headlines under the delusion that being "informed" somehow makes us more enlightened than even the wisest men of old. Given this atmosphere, it goes without saying that our perception of reality has been seriously tampered with. Our perception of the Islamic concept of Jihad is no exception.

In order to get past this middle of hack journalism and stereo typical imagery, we will ask how Jihad, as a religious and spiritual reality, has been viewed by the vast majority of Muslim adherents through out the vast majority of their history.

The Islamic world view sees man as the appointed representative of God on earth. And just as there is perfect harmony in the heavens, so has man been charged with maintaining harmony and equilibrium here on earth to reflect that of the heavens. This is by no means an easy task, and requires much striving and effort in obeying the word of God, directed both internally and externally, to ensure that justice and mercy endure during man's short time in this physical realm. It is exactly this effort and striving, which are the essences of the word Jihad. Just as there are countless aspects of human existence, so are there innumerable facets of human Jihad.

Jihad is the struggle to remove all those things from one's life that incur Allah's displeasure, and to replace them with those things that will gain His acceptance. Jihad is the struggle against one's inner self and it's bestial inclinations. It is this struggle, in fact, which the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) dubbed "the greater jihad." Having lived in the world for at least a few years, it is not hard for us to see why this is so. All the havoc that humans cause on this planet can be said to spring from those villains in our hearts, against whom the Prophet (peace be upon him) declared this great Jihad. These villains include: arrogance, avarice, pettiness, selfishness, jealousy, greed, self-delusions, and vain passions. Further more, Jihad is the struggle to replace these villains with goodly traits, such as mercy, honor, humbleness, generosity, gentleness, dignity, and other qualities that are aptly described as "heavenly."

Jihad is the struggle to fulfill the rights and responsibilities of one's family as well as those who are close, such as neighbors and relatives. To make sure that one does not harm either with his hand or his tongue. In the same token, Jihad is the struggle to forgive the wrongs of others, to over look their misgivings, and hide their faults.

Jihad is the struggle to help the needy, the orphan, the widow, and the homeless by sacrificing our wealth. It is to show love and gentleness to our young ones, and respect and dignity to our elders. It is to protect the honor and property of every single member of society, whether man or woman. Jihad is the struggle to speak out against injustice, to help the victims of oppression, to ensure that everyone is given just measure, regardless of gender, ethnicity or religion.

Ultimately, Jihad is that struggle in which we are willing to give our lives in the name of Allah so that these ideals will ensure and bring peace and justice to countless others, thus truly bringing the harmony of the heavens down the earth.

Though we can only skim the surface of this vast ocean, the essence of Jihad is tied to our very existence. For if we were to ask what the purpose of our creation is, then it is no less than a struggle, a Jihad, to submit our will to our Creator, thereby achieving peace and unity with the rest of the cosmos in celebrating His Majesty and Glory.

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