every faith has its jihad

I recently received a forwarded email from my mom - you know the kind of email, one of those emails that have been forwarded one too many times, garbled almost beyond recognition. Usually I hit the delete key without even looking at it, but this time I didn't. It might have been the subject line 'WORTH READING . . .You might NOT see this in a newspaper', the fact that it was from my mother (she knows I don.t read forwarded messages) or because I was bored but I actually read this one.

What I read was rather disturbing. I won't reprint the email here, as many readers probably despise forwarded messages as much as I do. The email, in its substance, equated Islam with Wahhabism and then made the claim that the Muslim faith was out to remove all 'non-believers' in the world. It was likely written by an average American, Christian-Conservative who believes in American-Right, the American President, and that 911 was the result of Muslims in general. In it's essence the article presented a widely held 'American' view of the Islamic faith.

I think a large part of the 'misconception' of the Islamic faith that is represented in this article is just stereotyping by the media and the result of propaganda. Just because a person is Muslim and he is involved in a largely national struggle doesn't mean that Islam endorses that struggle. That many religious men use their religion to justify war or a political movement within their own nation is obvious and this has been the case throughout history. Any national religion can become a medium to reinforce the beliefs of the society in which that religion lives.

Often when we read about a Jihad in the military sense it is speaking of a defensive war. This is really the only kind of military Jihad the Qur'an is said to teach. The bloody Jihad's we are hearing about in Iraq are or Afghanistan and the Middle East are what? Are those military attacks against the United States? No country has invaded or attacked the United States. Palestine did not invade Israel. Most Islamic Jihad.s that we hear about have been declared justly, protecting their country, according to Qur'an 2:190, "Fight in the cause of God against those who fight you, but do not transgress limits. God does not love the transgressors".

It is very interesting to note that the form of Islam that this author is describing is Wahhabism. This form of Islam is considered heretical by many traditional Islamic scholars and is not representative of mainstream Islam. It is the state religion of Saudi Arabia and the faith that justifies many terrorist acts, but again, this is not representative of mainstream Islam. Saying Wahhabism is representative of mainstream Islam would be like saying a very nationalist/radical Christian sect is representative of Christianity in general. Or like saying Bush is representative of the American population.

The author of that article does not understand the meaning of Jihad. Islamic jihad is a really a struggle for the Islamic belief and an effort to spread that belief. For an Islam it could be a struggle to live a righteous life for God, or to do well in school for God. So what would be a Jihad against non-believers? Wouldn't it be a struggle by those of the Islamic faith to convert non-believers to their faith? Isn't this a basic tenet of every faith?

resist propaganda,


interesting reading: