Jihad in Islamic Philosophy aims at making a peaceful, constructive, moral, and spiritual struggle in order to maintain righteousness and welfare of humanity. This struggle is based on principles that look forward to creating an environment, so that every person's conscience, language, and pen enjoy freedom to convey his message.
Jihad aims at ensuring peace in society, protecting human rights, repelling oppression, exploitation and establishing peaceful coexistence in all countries of the world. But whenever any anti-peace forces bereft of knowledge and wisdom get ready for waging war, planning destructive conspiracies against social peace and prosperity, and publicly making war tactics, then Jihad means to make an armed struggle against the enemies of peace and security and their war centres, so that the environment of peace and security can be restored in the society.
The word ‘Jihad’ is derived from ‘Jahd’ meaning ‘expansion’ or ‘Juhd’ meaning ‘hardship or struggle’. So Jihad in the light of these two roots means the pious work that demands great strength and endurance of all sorts of difficulty and hardships. In addition, the word ‘Jihad’ is also used in the sense of doing extravagant performance in any work.
As per the juristic view, Jihad is used in a broader sense. The thinkers have made several definitions of Jihad in accordance with their respective thoughts and times. However, given the requirements of the modern times, it can be well defined that “Jihad means to exert one’s overall power, wealth, life, and mental capacities in order to preach Islam, upholding the truth, and above all earning the pleasure of Allah Almighty”.
Jihad is essentially waged with the three objectives; (1) liberating the creatures of Allah from the clutches of the colonial forces and exploiters and empowering them with the blessing of freedom, (2) upholding the word of Allah Almighty and repelling disorder, sedition and corruption and (3) eliminating every form of exploitation, establishing justice in the earth and guaranteeing democratic rights of the sons of Adam [peace be upon him] i.e. the all human beings of the world.
According to the Arabic dictionaries, the hundreds of war-related words, proverbs, terms and structures—that were used in the Arabian countries—left an impression of brutality and terrorism. To reform the militias, Islam abandoned all such words, proverbs and regarded the defensive war as “Jihad”. Thus, the word "Jihad" from the Islamic point of view means to exert all capabilities to achieve high and useful objectives, such as establishing peace, eliminating corruption, oppression, violence and deviation. But today in the various parts of the world, due to the radical and terrorist acts being perpetrated in the name of Jihad and Islam, the concept of Jihad is being misunderstood and misrepresented.
With the conception of Jihad emerges an impression of blood-shedding and warfare. The reason is that unfortunately, the ideology of Jihad today is considered as opposed to the ideology of peace and non-violence. In the western media, the word ‘Jihad’ is used as an alternative to murder and terrorism. English words have a great deal of practice in generalizing this misconception of Jihad. However, ‘Jihad’ in its literal or juristic meaning in the Quran and Hadith, never means ‘war’ or ‘holy war’.
Historic facts, however, witness that the European rulers themselves started using the term of “holy war” in order to provoke the religious sentiments of the people and include the Church in the war. Later on, the same meaning without any investigation gained popularity. The purpose of inventing this term was basically to incite the emotions of religious sects and use them for war.
Categorically speaking, Islamic Jihad does not offer the idea of fighting, slaughtering, and blood-shedding. In the holy Quran, there are about 35 verses on the subject of Jihad, out of which 31 verses deal neither with historical nor with terminological meaning of ‘Jihad’. In these 31 verses of the Quran, the word ‘Jihad’ has totally different meanings; none of which refer to killing, conflicting and fighting. And there is no verse in the Quran where the words ‘Jihad’ and ‘Qital’ have appeared together. Jihad and Qital are two different words, which are not gathered together anywhere in the Quran. It should also be noted that Jihad mentioned in the Quran has a concept of defensive war.
Jihad is not the name of aggression and war, but according to the Qur'anic meaning, it is the name of self-defence. Similarly it is also important to note that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and fought various forces for 13 years in his life. He waged all these battle in self-defence. Muslims did not wage their own war, nor did they first attack the enemy. The most powerful argument of this comprehensive and broader meaning of Jihad is that the command of Jihad in the Quran was first revealed in Mecca, but the permission of ‘Jihad by sword’ was not allowed. The mountains of oppression and violence were laid on the companions of the Prophet, but even then they were not allowed to take up arms to save their lives. They were persuaded to hold patience until Allah Almighty created for them the way to the freedom from oppression.
Despite this prohibition, five verses related to Jihad were revealed in Makkah. They are (1) Surah Al-Furqan, 52:25 (2) Surah al-Ankabut 6:92 (3) Surah Al-Ankabut 29:8 (4) Al-Ankabut 69:29 (5) Surah Luqman 15:31. These five verses were revealed in Mecca before emigration [The Prophet’s Hijrat towards Madina] but despite the command of Jihad, the companions of the Prophet were not permitted to take up arms in their defense. If Jihad had meant “the armed war” or “fighting with weapons”, the Prophet (peace be upon him) would have ordered his companions to wage “Jihad by sword” immediately after the revelation of the verses mentioned above. However, there is complete agreement among all the scholars that “Jihad bilQital [i.e. Jihad by fighting)” was allowed after the Prophet’s emigration towards Medina. Why? The simple answer is that Jihad does not mean “war” or “fighting”. But it is militants and terrorists who are using some words and phrases of the Quran and Hadith in the sense of terrorism, militancy and killing, so that they can achieve their nefarious ambitions.
If we ponder over the historical background, reasons and circumstances of revelation [Shane Nuzul] of these verses, we will come to know that in all these verses, Jihad means “the promotion of knowledge”, “spiritual evolution”, “intellectual struggle”, and “spending in charity”. Yes, when a war of aggression is waged against any nation; only then it is allowed for it to fight back in its defence. The UN and international law also allow it; and this is the right of every country and every nation of the world.