Is 'Jihad' Terrorism ?

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ghulam muhammed
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Is 'Jihad' Terrorism ?


Unread post by ghulam muhammed » Wed Oct 21, 2009 3:46 pm


Fighting: A Human Reality

There have been many anthropological studies on war and fighting, and the conclusions are very similar. Not only have humans been fighting and killing for millennia, the act of fighting and killing is a human reality. The reasons for fighting and war differ. Some of these reasons include land, fame, fortune, religion, independence and resources. Humans have also fought to defend themselves and others, or to attack their enemies. In summary, war and fighting are human phenomena that are not specific to any particular race, ideology or religion.

In the modern world there are many wars, and they are mostly over resources. An example is the US and UK fighting for oil and strategic dominance in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Fighting & Islam

Islam, being a practical way of life, realises that humans fight and engage in war. Islam sets down rules for war, which are to be followed if Muslims go to war, examples include fighting for just reasons, no killing of innocent people, no killing of women and children, no burning of crops or trees, only fight those that fight you, and no wanton destruction. Abu Bakr who was the Prophet Muhammad's first successor and is considered to have been his closest companion said:

“Stop, O people, that I may give you ten rules for your guidance in the battlefield. Do not commit treachery or deviate from the right path. You must not mutilate dead bodies. Neither kill a child, nor a woman, nor an aged man. Bring no harm to the trees, nor burn them with fire, especially those which are fruitful. Slay not any of the enemy's flock, save for your food. You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic (or humanitarian) services; leave them alone.”

Many would argue that this is in contrast to certain Western nations when they invade countries; they tend to destroy the infrastructure of the countries causing more deaths than bullets and bombs (even the BBC reports that so called ‘smart bombs’ are not so smart, with only 40% hitting targets. Civilian deaths in the US/UK invasions are evidence of this). Then contractual awards are given to western companies to rebuild the infrastructure, making the invaded country pay for it - Iraq is a striking example.

Whilst certain western powers wage war and invade for what everyone knows to be for resources and places of strategic value, in Islam war is not waged for these reasons; it does not invade to rob, steal and make lands poor - quite the opposite.


The term most commonly used to describe Muslims fighting is Jihad, but it has been used politically to create fear of Islam and Muslims. Jihad has been linked to terrorism, however when the corpus of Islamic reference material is analysed, this cannot be further from the truth.

Jihad is when Muslims go to war, and it has its rules relating to it. Primarily there are two types of Jihad, defensive and progressive. Defensive is when Muslims rally to fight and expel armies from their lands which have been invaded. This concept is similar to article 51 of the UN Charter which states:

“Nothing in the present charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs….”

Examples include when the Crusaders invaded Palestine in 11th/12th century, and when the Mongols invaded Central Asia, Persia, Iraq and Syria in the 13th century. This defensive Jihad is to push the occupiers out and has nothing to do with terrorism; in reality it is a basic human right.

Progressive Jihad is practically undertaken by a legitimate Islamic State (no such state exists today) and is initiated for three main reasons. The reasons include removing oppression, defending the weak and implementing the justice of Islam. This is evident in Islamic history, John of Nikiou in 690 CE, who was a Coptic Bishop in Nikiu (Egypt), states,

“When Muslims saw the…hostility of the people to the emperor Heraclius because of the persecution wherewith he had visited all the land of Egypt…people began to help the Muslims.”

Additionally, the oppression and all forms of genocide would justify progressive Jihad.

Progressive Jihad has three parts to it. It first invites the people to accept Islam by explaining the Islamic belief and what Islam has to offer people. This is done by dialogue and discussion and can take some time. After this, the Islamic State then invites the people to live within the state and enjoy peace, justice, security and protection. Historically many non-Muslim peoples have opted for this option. This is in exchange for a small yearly tax. The famous letter from a Rabbi, after Europe’s persecution of the Jews, found in Phillip Mansel’s book “Constantinople ”, reflect this reality,

“Here in the land of the Turks we have nothing to complain of. We possess great fortunes; much gold and silver are in our hands. We are not oppressed with heavy taxes and our commerce is free and unhindered. Rich are the fruits of the earth. Everything is cheap and every one of us lives in peace and freedom...”

The third and final course of action after the first two have been followed is war. This war is called Jihad and in cases of genocide and extreme oppression it may be the first and only part of the process. It is the final part of a foreign policy used by the Islamic State, and as mentioned it has its rules, like no wanton destruction and killing of innocents. When an Islamic State goes to war, it is not for money, land, or riches, but to show people the justice and security of Islam. Heinrich Graetz, a 19th century Jewish historian expressed the ‘favourable circumstances’ under Islamic rule,

“It was in these favourable circumstances that the Spanish Jews came under the rule of Mahometans, as whose allies they esteemed themselves the equals of their co-religionists in Babylonia and Persia. They were kindly treated, obtained religious liberty, of which they had so long been deprived, were permitted to exercise jurisdiction over their co-religionists…”

This is unlike some western states, where Politicians claim they are fighting for so-called universal values, but in reality are fighting for resources and areas of strategic value. For example David Milliband, the British Foreign Secretary, said,

“Our party was created to fight for democracy and equal rights in our own country. We know we have further to go. But if we want to protect ourselves from terrorism at home, we need to defend and advance democracy and human rights abroad.”

Judging by the current reality of the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, nothing can be further from the truth. Islamic foreign policy however is truthful about its goals and history bears testimony to this. This is why Jews fled Spain in the Inquisition and ran to the Muslims of Istanbul who welcomed them, because they knew justice lived in Islamic lands. Zion Zohar, a Jewish Historian, expressed similar sentiments in his book ‘Sephardic & Mizrahi Jewry’:

“Thus, when Muslims crossed the straits of Gibraltar from North Africa in 711 CE and invaded the Iberian Peninsula, Jews welcomed them as liberators from Christian Persecution.”

Jihad is seen by western peoples and nations as barbaric and this is propagated to the masses, by politicians and the media, to portray Muslims as bloodthirsty killers. An Islamic State would commit to progressive Jihad, and will use war as a last resort - when diplomacy fails - to really liberate people from oppression. In addition to remove the tyranny of injustice and to show the people what Islam really is and how Islam can truly make their lives and society better - even if they do not become Muslim.

The Islamic belief is not forced upon people once land is taken, 1400 years of history bears testament to this. This is evident in the early testimonies of Christian leadership. Ishoyabth who was patriarch from AD 647 to 657, writes,

“The Arabs, to who God gave the dominion over the world, behave to us as you know. They are not hostile to Christianity, but praise our religion, honour priests and saints, and help the Churches and Monastries.”

The Qur’an & Fighting

The Qur’an discusses fighting and Jihad, the language used is emotive and can be seen as aggressive. However, the intended effect of these verses in the Qur’an are meant to evoke action, therefore in the context of fighting and war, the Qur’an would not say “Tickle their toes” or “Give them flowers”. What must also be realised is that the language is couched in restraining expressions such as “…and God does not love the transgressors” and “…be mindful of God” thus instilling an awareness of God in such actions and to remind that the essence of Jihad is to remove oppression.

In the Qur’an, Jihad is a noble concept that is considered as a mercy from God. Without it there would be no mechanism to protect Muslims and Non-Muslims, remove oppression and implement justice. In today’s reality of death and destruction, due to oppressive western foreign policy, some people argue that this concept needs to be revived to today.

The Results of Jihad

U.S. Brig. General William Looney’s following statement is an apt description of Western foreign policy,

“If they turn on the radars we're going to blow up their goddamn SAMs (surface-to-air missiles).They know we own their country. We own their airspace... We dictate the way they live and talk. And that's what's great about America right now. It's a good thing, especially when there's a lot of oil out there we need.”

Whereas the Islamic view describes another paradigm,

“And what is the matter with you that you fight not in the cause of Allah and for the oppressed among men, women and children who say, ‘Our Lord, take us out of this city of oppressive people and appoint for us from Yourself a protector and appoint for us from Yourself a helper’?”

Everyone wants to remove oppression and injustice. Islam does exactly that via Jihad and this can be seen in Islamic history. Contemporary pseudo-Islamic nations can not be used as a reference for Jihad and Islam as they do not implement and manifest the Islamic system. This is evident when their constitutions are analysed. It can only be concluded that Muslim world Governments implement and promote a system that is antithetical to Islam.

What, then, are the results of the Islamic foreign policy?

Reinhart Dozy, an authority on early Islamic Spain, explained the results of Jihad in Islamic Spain,

“…the unbounded tolerance of the Arabs must also be taken into account. In religious matters they put pressure on no man…Christians preferred their rule to that of the Franks.”

Thomas Arnold, commenting on an Islamic source, states that,

“…the Christians called down blessings on the heads of the Muslims, saying, ‘May God give you rule over us again and make you victorious over the Romans; had it been they, they would not have given us back anything, but would have taken all that remained with us.’”

Ulick R. Burke, a prominent historian specializing in the history of Spain, reached a similar conclusion,

"Christians did not suffer in any way, on account of their religion, at the hands of Moors…not only perfect toleration but nominal equality was the rule of the Arabs in Spain."
Adam Smith, the 18th century founding father of the modern capitalism, explains the impact of Islamic rule,

“The ruin of the empire of the Romans, and, along with it the subversion of all law and order, which happened a few centuries afterwards, produced the entire neglect of that study of the connecting principles of nature, to which leisure and security can alone give occasion. After the fall of those great conquerors and the civilizers of mankind, the empire of the Caliphs seems to have been the first state under which the world enjoyed that degree of tranquility which the cultivation of the sciences requires. It was under the protection of those generous and magnificent princes, that the ancient philosophy and astronomy of the Greeks were restored and established in the East; that tranquility, which their mild, just and religious government diffused over their vast empire, revived the curiosity of mankind, to inquire into the connecting principles of nature.”

Bernard the Wise, a pilgrim monk, visited Egypt and Palestine in the reign of Caliph al-Mu’tazz (866-9 CE). He stated that,

“…the Christians and the Pagans [i.e. Muslims] have this kind of peace between them there that if I was going on a journey, and on the way the camel or donkey which bore my poor luggage were to die, and I was to abandon all my goods without any guardian, and go to the city for another pack animal, when I came back, I would find all my property uninjured: such is the peace there.”

Reading the above, the reader must now ask “Does this sound like terrorism?”

The Cause of Terrorism

The history of terrorism and political violence demonstrates that it is cross-cultural, cross religion and is driven by a number of factors often born out of a sense of political injustice, occupation or invasion. An academic study by Professor Robert Pape, an Associate Professor at Chicago University, published in his book 'Dying to Win: The Logic of Suicide Terrorism', demonstrates that the advent of 'suicide bombing' is not unique to Muslims but is rather a generic human issue driven by a number of political factors rather than theological beliefs.

The study included the first complete database of every suicide attack around the world from 1980 to early 2004. The study found that:

• The world leader in suicide attacks was the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka – a Marxist, secular group.
• Two thirds of Muslim 'suicide bombers' have been from countries where US forces have or are still maintaining military forces.
• The presence of US forces is creating 'suicide attackers' in Iraq which was a country that had never previously had a suicide attack in its history prior to the 2003 invasion.

According to the study, political injustice provides a possible reason for the proponents of such attacks to justify such actions. It is therefore crucial that acts of political violence are analysed as a separate issue based upon the individuals who choose to engage in them.

The Professor states,

“The data show that there is little connection between 'suicide terrorism' and 'Islamic fundamentalism', or any one of the world’s religions. . . . Rather, what nearly all 'suicide terrorist' attacks have in common is a specific secular and strategic goal: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland.”

Regarding the July 2005 bombings in London, the British government was forewarned that its involvement in the catastrophic US invasion of Iraq had increased Britain's vulnerability to the threat of retaliation. The leaked report from the UK's Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC), which predated the attacks, warned:

"Events in Iraq are continuing to act as motivation and a focus of a range of 'terrorist' related activity in the UK".

In April 2005, a report drawn up by the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) entitled "International Terrorism: Impact of Iraq" was even more explicit, stating:

"We judge that the conflict in Iraq has exacerbated the threat from international terrorism and will continue to have an impact in the long term. It has reinforced the determination of 'terrorists' who were already committed to attacking the West and motivated others who were not."

It is essential to understand what role Western foreign policy has played in exacerbating the sense of political injustice and in driving individuals to undertake acts of political violence against those they perceive as aggressors. This is not a justification, but it does set a context for a discussion to find answers to contemporary political problems.

Rather than blame a whole community or its leanings towards Islam and its concept of Jihad, it is important to understand the political nature of the factors that drive such acts as opposed to solely attributing them to Jihad, which does not take account of the history of political violence across cultures, religions and ways of life.

Final Remarks

It has to be noted, that Muslims are simply human beings that believe in Islam, which is a comprehensive way of life that seeks to promote religious tolerance and social cohesion. The Islamic concept of Jihad is not indiscriminate terrorism, rather it is a mechanism that seeks to remove oppression and protect the innocent. In line with the teachings of classical Islam, Muslims do not – and should not – seek to violently attack non-combatants.

Muslims want to facilitate understanding and promote mutual peaceful coexistence. This however cannot be achieved without engaging in an open and honest discussion on what Islam really is. Outdated clichés of ‘Jihadi Terrorist’ can no longer quench the public’s intellectual thirst and a more nuanced and comprehensive discussion is now needed.

It was intended that this article would achieve just that.

By: Hamza Andreas Tzortzis

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Re: Is 'Jihad' Terrorism ?


Unread post by accountability » Thu Oct 29, 2009 6:01 pm

It is a good article, but it gives only one sided picture. It is a truth that muslims (arabs) whenever invaded were not so ruthless killers as crusaders and mongols.
But it is also a fact that they had invaded without provocation. Iran is the first example of such unprovoked invasion. Hazrat umer decided to invade Iran and sent his armies headed by saad bin abi waqas. So was the invasion of spain.
Crusade was a bit in response of desecration of church of holy sepulchre by fatmid ruler Hakim be amrillah.
Hajaj bin yousuf sent an expedition led by his nephew mohammed bin qasim to hindustan on the pretext of a looted arab ship by pirate. That was also un provoked attack. As Raja dahir had no control on those pirates.
Indian invasion by saljuks, turks, ghaznavis and mughals were all unprovoked.
After ruling spain for over three hundred years, when arabs were ousted, there was not single muslim left in spain for centuries. First muslim to visit the cardoba mosque was allama iqbal in early twentieth century after arabs.

The definition of jihad in above article is kind of self creation. Author is in for rampant assumptions and foregone conclusion.

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Re: Is 'Jihad' Terrorism ?


Unread post by Haggi » Thu Oct 29, 2009 10:08 pm

Dear accountabilty,
I agree with you totally, the article makes a good read but shows a lopsided view of the what is good in the world of Islam compared to other beliefs and their actions vis a vis the Muslims particularly the Arabs. Citing hand picked goodies do not make Islam as perfect, blameless,righteous as GM implies. Yes, I do not deny that there was a lot of of positive goodness in the history of Islam but citing but a few general views of them do not make this religion perfect and not come into further scrutiny and analysis of what faults it may have.

Islam's biggest faults lies (as in any other organised religions) is # 1 in the interpretations and mutual agreements on the holy script. After 1400 years we are still arguing about the term, meaning of Jihaad and its justification and rightful practice. The holy Quran has itself has not been a help regarding this subject because it has a lot of contradictorial views at different chronological orders which opens the door to various (mis)interpretations by a flock comprising of diverse Muslims ethnicity and schools of thoughts. Ie. The Arabs, the Mawalis
( meaning the rest of us), the Sunnis, the Shias, the Wahhabis, the Suffis, etc. etc. As to who is right and who is wrong is a question nobody has an answer nor will we will be able to reach a consensus.Its better to leave at our most used phrase in times of confusion and uncertainity, " Allah knows best".

Lastly, I would like add that I may not know the full meaning of Jihaad but I am 100% sure the killings of innocent fellow Muslims in bombing in Pakistan and Afghanistan going on right now is no Jihaad , no matter what the so called righteous group doing it says and that makes them terrorist with a capital T.

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Re: Is 'Jihad' Terrorism ?


Unread post by Aarif » Fri Oct 30, 2009 12:05 pm

I think the important question to answer out here is, should we mix up religion with war? The moment we start justifying wars in the light of religion, it gives others a chance to find faults with our religion. And to counter that we as muslims start justifying it in the light of holy Quran. This makes matters worse as people come up with another counter argument that no matter what, killing people in the name of religion is wrong. Originally jihad was fought as a holy war between the believers and the infidals who were harassing the believers and not allowing them to follow Islam as preached by the prophet(pbuh). In today's times we have various well accepted religions in the world. And almost all people follow one or the other of these religions. And as per their chosen religion they consider themselves as true belivers of god. E.g. christians believe that they are true believers and Christ is their saviour. According to them they are on the right path. So it is very important that we avoid this bias of believers and non-believers on the basis of our religion. As we say that Allah knows the best, we should leave the final judgement to him as mentioned by Haggi. Our duty should be to follow Islam in best possible way without misusing or misinterpreting it as a promotor of holy war. If a muslim country needs to wage a war and if it has a genuine reason to do so, it should goahead and fight one. But at no point it should use the religion to justify that war. The moment they do that, they are doomed.

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Re: Is 'Jihad' Terrorism ?


Unread post by accountability » Sat Oct 31, 2009 12:52 pm

Arif, Haggi, I agree. May I add, After fourteen centuries and so many wars, there are only 25% muslims in the world. This also is the result of inflated birth rate among muslim countries. Since last 50 years muslim population has more than quadrupled. All the muslim countries are embroiled in one or another conflict. Religious heirarchy is either very corrupt or totally ignorant, living in medeaval ages.
Individual freedom and justice is nowhere to be seen in muslim societies. In 21st century poeple are flogged, chopped and hanged for petty reason. Women are flogged for wearing trousers, man are flogged for not having hair cut or having hair cut.
It is noteworthy that europe came out of dark ages after shunning religious rulers, embracing secularism and freedom and justice. It led to unprecedented progress in every field of life. West after industrial revolouton and french revoloution has achieved tremendous progress in every spectre of life. They are planning to visit mars and venus and getting out of our solar system even our galaxy. Who knows one day we shall find some other inteligent species beside humans.which will alter the religion(s) and their interpretation for ever. It is not a fantasy, it seems possible every passing day.
Most of the muslim countries are recipient of west (christian)'s aid. West (christian) are feeding, nurturing, even managing their economies. Yet they despise them. They do not try to copy their success, but prove to be ungrateful lot by cursing them day in and day out.
Our delimna lies in our selves. While we are using every day pagan technologies, in agriculture, irrigation, production and fertilization. We are not ready to take this quantum leap into future by getting our socities tolerant, law abiding, and emanicipated. As long as we stick to medeavel religious rites and interpretation our status will not change.

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Re: Is 'Jihad' Terrorism ?


Unread post by salim » Sun Nov 01, 2009 11:27 pm

Very Well said!

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Re: Is 'Jihad' Terrorism ?


Unread post by TBG » Sun Nov 01, 2009 11:31 pm

Dear Bros,


If i can add my two cents. I think the reason for our backwardness and Europe's advancement is not only based on religious ideas, shunning or acceptance of beliefs but an underlying state thats created via education. Recently an article was published and 20% of world's population is Muslim which means 1 out of 5 people on earth are muslims. Now thats a huge number. But how many of these muslims are PHDs. Insignificant compared to other religions. In my opinion if we are to compare the muslims now to muslims of about 1000 years one of the main difference would be education. We somewhere along the line completely forgot to educate ourselves or forgot to learn. And it is this lack of education that takes us deeper into ignorance as we have forgotten to distinguish between right and wrong which is one of the main ideas we develop while we learn.

I sincerely believe that if we as a muslim ummah invest time,effort, money and our energies to only and only educate our communities we will see the clouds of ignorances disappear. Of course given where we are we have already lost 100s of years and we need to do something drastic on a huge scale. Even then i think it will take a few decades for us to start competing with other nations and communities.

I have many examples which only makes me believe that a lot of our problem's root cause if this ignorance. Just compare the no of universities in the muslim world compared to the west or even the non muslim countries in the East. How many universities in the muslim world are in the top 100 universities in the world. How can we then fight off these pagan beliefs, ridiculous cultural rituals and think outside the box.

We are only sticking to our rites and interpretations because we dont truly know what it means and we have not learned creatives and truly outstanding ways to differentiate between right and wrong.

If following Quran or RasulAllah's (saw) hadith was anything to go by then atleast whats been said about learning and acquiring knowledge is concerned we have failed miserably as an ummah.

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Re: Is 'Jihad' Terrorism ?


Unread post by qutub_mamajiwala » Wed May 10, 2017 4:58 am

The Link Between Islam And Terrorism, Explained ... -explained

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Re: Is 'Jihad' Terrorism ?


Unread post by Humsafar » Wed May 10, 2017 11:21 am

I wouldn't touch swarajyamag with even a ten-foot stick. Expecting this Hindutava rag to explain the link between Islam and terrorimsm is like expecting a rabid dog to explain the link between its bite and cure for cancer!!!!