JIHAD is a Term often misunderstood and associated with radical militants. The arabic word is wrongly misinterpretated as “Holy War”, although there is no such thing in islam. Holy war is something undertaken to forcibly subject others to certain religious doctrines, which is forbidden in Islam.
The arabic word “Jihad” means a struggle or striving and applies to any great effort on the personal and social level. It is striving to do good and remove injustice and evil from oneself and the society. This exertion of effort can be spiritual, economic, social or political. For example, one of the highest level of Jihad is to stand before a tyrant and speak a word of truth. Restraining oneself from wrongdoing is also a form of Jihad. It is a broad concept that includes opposing evil inclinations within oneself, opposing injustice through peaceful means, efforts to improve the quality of life in a society as well as the striving by military forces on a battlefield in defence of the community or oppressed people. Jihad is not synonymus with war and it certainly does not involve terrorism. Armed Jihad is not an option for muslim individuals or groups and can only be declared by the muslim head of state. Moreover it must never be fought for wordly gain, conquest or revenge. Muslims may only engage in battle to protect people’s lives, properties and freedom.
Jihad has conditions of restraint that distinguishes it from any other kind of warfare. They can be summarised as follows.
** Muslims must not begin hostilities. They must strive for peace as much as possible.
** All treaties and agreements must be observed as long as the enemy observes them.
** Muslims must fight only those who fight against them; non-combatants are not to be harmed.
** Weapons of mass destruction must never be used and collective punishment is strictly prohibited.
** Self-defense is not considered jihad if muslims are striking back in revenge.
** Hostilities should be ended as soon as the other party is inclined to peace