Sheikha Sajida explains it all for you at Al-Jazeera. She begins her answer by saying that the concept of jihad has been — you guessed it — “misinterpreted by the Western media,” and it just goes downhill from there. But this is a good example of how in appearing to put a good face on things, or at least attempting to, an Islamic apologist actually confirms the legitimacy of jihad violence in the service of Sharia supremacism.
What is Jihad? We keep hearing this word even in our media, however, regardless to the negative portrayal the main stream Western media provides, I”m sure many Europeans and Americans, as much as I, don’t know the exact meaning of the word.
Is it terrorism? Is it carrying weapons to attract more adherents to your religion?
Or is it carrying weapons to fight the infidels, like what the Muslims used to do some 1400 years ago?
Steve B. from the States
The concept of Jihad has been misinterpreted by the Western media as what some refer to as “religious militancy”, in ther words, using weapons to fight for the cause of one’s religion, regardless of whether fighting is against a true enemy or not, and regardless of weather it’s justified and being carried out against the right target or not.
Sure. The Western media made up the idea that jihad was religious militancy fought with weapons. Osama bin Laden works for the New York Times, after all, doesn’t he? But as you’ll see, the Sheikha herself doesn’t object to jihad with weapons in every case. Read on.
But “religious militancy”, even if I”m opposed to it, doesn’t arise from vacuum. Human history has many examples of people becoming extremists and carrying weapons to fight dictator rule or bad social circumstances.
In other words, I may be opposed to it, but it may be justified.
“Religious militancy” in my view, is the outcome of extremism, which had been attributed to many factors including poverty, suppression, dictator rule, injustice, unemployment”¦ etc.
In this the Sheikha sounds just like most Western analysts and government officials. Never mind the relative affluence of most jihadists, as has been amply documented by many studies we have noted here over the years. But the main object of her statement is to shift attention away from anything in Islam that might be giving rise to violence. And of course, nobody much is willing to consider the possibility that such elements of Islam might exist.
Despite continuous attempts to link Jihad to militancy, or so-called religious militancy, the concept of Jihad, carries a totally different meaning.
The word Jihad means to fight or struggle in the way of God, and the verb “fight” here is not limited to “fight” using weapons, it can be fighting to become a respectable and successful Muslim, fighting one’s greed, fighting one’s evil intentions by praying and fasting regularly. It means fighting for the cause of Islam, which still doesn’t mean aggressive warfare. Jihad can be by tongue, by words and by knowledge.
It “still doesn’t mean aggressive warfare,” except when it does — again, read on.
It can be carried out by being a successful and an effective member in the society.
But Jihad using weapons, exemplified in the Palestinians” fight against the Israeli occupiers (which is definitely justified) is the only meaning the West stress in their interpretation of Jihad, linking it to terrorism and militancy, and limiting its meaning to “killing the enemies of Islam” in an attempt to further shatter the image of Islam and its followers, whom they always portray as “evil souls”.
“Evil souls.” I don’t know who she is claiming to quote here, but in any case her position is completely ludicrous. The aggressive warfare carried out by the Palestinians against Israel, including evidently jihad martyrdom attacks on civilians, is “definitely justified,” while it is “the West” that has “limited” the meaning of jihad to “killing the enemies of Islam,” all in a dastardly attempt to ruin Islam’s pristine image.
Well, I’ve got news for you, Sheikha. It isn’t “the West” that has ruined Islam’s image by focusing attention on jihad violence. It is Osama bin Laden, and the 7/7 bombers, and the 3/11 bombers, and the Bali bombers, and the perpetrators of the Beslan massacres, and jihadists from Nigeria to Thailand to Indonesia who have focused attention on the meaning of jihad that involves killing, and tarnished the enemies of Islam. “The West” doesn’t give two hoots about the meaning of jihad as inner spiritual struggle, Sheikha, because your inner spiritual struggle doesn’t explode all over a bus and kill innocent civilians.
Do you want to improve Islam’s image, Sheikha? Then stop railing against “the West,” and work to eradicate whatever you might consider as illegitimate “religious militancy” from the Islamic community — if there is indeed any Islamic religious militancy that is not justified as far as you’re concerned.
But it gets even worse:
Another point I need to stress here is that while Jihad is linked to Muslims and Islam- militancy, extremism and terrorism on the other hand are not limited to Muslims, we have Jewish and Christian militant groups, terror organisations and extremists.
Theodore Hertzl, a Jew, was the founder of terrorism in occupied Palestine. And we have the American Christian terrorist Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma bomber. But those who wish to ruin the image and the world’s respect for Islam focus only on Muslim terrorists, as if the world’s followers of Islam are all terrorists.
Unfortunately, while religion should be a weapon to mobilize and unite people, it had always been misused throughout human history.
But of course Herzl was not a terrorist at all, or an observant religious Jew. McVeigh, as useful as he continues to be to those who issue sly justifications for jihad violence (like this one), never attempted to justify the OKC bombing according to Christian religious principles, and his actions were of course never endorsed by any Christian sect — in stark contrast to Osama bin Laden’s Qur’an-filled communiques, and the wide acceptance of jihad violence in the Islamic world.
One might expect this sort of thing from Al-Jazeera. But Sheikha Sajida’s reply could just as easily be talking points for the mainstream media and a good number of prominent conservative news outlets as well.