Some thoughts in jihad

October 1, 2006 at 4:14 am (Dr. David Cook, Islam, Islamism, Religion, Religions, The United States, Theology)

Many people focus on the martial aspect of jihad. But maybe we are ignoring the other side of the coin, as it were, with regard to jihad. Is there is a non-martial aspect to jihad?

Some Muslims say that jihad is violent is non-violent. The former is the lesser jihad, the armed attempts by Muslims to exterminate injustice, establish the supremacy of Islam, and to protect Muslims from (supposedly) external attacks (that is, attacks in self-defense). The latter is the greater jihad, which refers to internal reformation, spiritual development, faithfulness to obligations imposed by Islam, and other internal aspects. But as Dr. David B. Cook of Rice University expertly explains in his book Understanding Jihad, this is a recent innovation and has no justification in the fundamental sources of Islam at least for the impression given that this has always been how Islam believed in and practiced jihad.

But this does not mean that there may not be non-violent means to help accomplish jihad’s goals (the supremacy of Islam and establishment of a worldwide Islamic state). Could organizations like CAIR, Muslim agitation for special treatment, insistence on respecting Islam, legislation permitting Islamic ways and laws – can these also be considered to forms of non-violent warfare? A psychological and fifth-column aspect?

Then, if we focus on jihad-by-violence only, are we missing half of the problem? This has certainly got me thinking. And I think—and I could be wrong—that this threat, this jihad without force that seeks to accomplish the very thing jihadis who blow themselves up seek to accomplish, is what Oriana Fallaci may have been warning us about.


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