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Islam: Understanding the religion

Did the Qu’ran or the sword accomplish the spread of Islam throughout the world? To me, the answer is obvious. It grew through the power of the Qu’ran, but to many the doubts are beginning to creep into their minds. After the events of September 11th, the media has been using Jihad as a replacement for the word terrorism. However, the people have no idea that the word Jihad is completely different than the word terrorism.

Jihad, a holy war, when this word is heard, terrorism is a synonym which first comes to mind. So, what does the word Jihad truly mean? According to many Islamic Scholars, Jihad actually does not mean a holy war, it really means; “to try one’s utmost to control one’s own bad desires and intentions.” This is the real Jihad, which is concerned with establishing Maruf (right) and removing Munkar (evil) from our lives and from society. This demands the use of any means to achieve this goal, and in some circumstances even give our life for the cause of Islam. Still, this does not give the green light to kill innocent people, which is a punishable sin.

In addition to understanding Jihad we now should analyze the other side, terrorism. A major problem in discussing terrorism is establishing a definition. Terrorism can be described as the unlawful use of fear or force to achieve certain political, economical, or social aims. This definition is not anywhere near the same as the definition of Jihad. The use of terror to achieve goals is not a new idea in history it has been happening for years and even centuries. Modern Terrorism still has some elements of terrorism from the past. However today, terrorism poses a threat to innocent people, and is a serious threat to democratic forms of government (U.S.A. and Israel).

Nevertheless, the use of Jihad to justify acts of terror still happens. The western world has a very little background about Muslims. Academically, too, Islam was not put with other faiths such as Christianity and Judaism, but with Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. After the events of September 11th, we began to see many generalizations about Muslims due to the lack of knowledge about the religion. It is like if all you see is headlines about the Mafia, and all Italians are now considered to be in the Mafia. Islam is a religion of mercy so it does not permit terrorism. In the Quran, God has said: “God does not forbid you from showing kindness and dealing justly with those who have not fought you about religion and have not driven you out of your homes. God loves just dealers.” (Quran, 60:8). This shows the strictness and the intolerance against, the killing of innocent lives, in Islam.

Nonetheless, Jihad still is apart of everyday life for some people in parts of the world. The Arab-Israeli conflict, which has been going on for almost two years now, is a great example. This to me is considered a Jihad because we are fighting oppression against an armed army, which refuses to stop killing Palestinian civilians. This is my opinion and I do not force it on anyone, but if the Israeli army can murder innocent civilians, then when a Palestinian retaliates it should not be considered terrorism because you must fight fire with fire.

Furthermore, the misuse of the words from the Quran is happening to back up terrorism. This is wrong and should not happen, but numerous terrorist groups use this as a tool to convince people what they are doing is right. However, the knowledgeable person who has read the Quran will not be able to be fooled by this. Misusing words from the Quran diminishes the purpose of reading the Quran, which is not only reading but also understanding.

In conclusion, the word terrorism and Jihad have so many differences, and people must begin to get knowledge about this area of Islam. The media must start educating people about Islam on the news so that we do not have misunderstandings and wrong thoughts about Islam. If we begin to do this and people start becoming open-minded, we will have less discrimination and hate crimes. As long as there are differences between people we will have problems, but it is how we deal with it, that will decide the world’s fate.

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