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- Jihaad -

European languages usually translate the Arabic term jihad, as holy war'. Jihad is derived from the root jhd whose primary meaning is to strive or to exert oneself.

Its translation into holy war combined with the mistaken notion of Islam prevalent in the West as the 'religion of the sword' has helped to eclipse its inner and spiritual significance and to distort its real meaning. Instead recent distortions and even total reversal of the meaning of jihad as understood over the ages by Muslims have made it more difficult than ever before to gain insight into this key religious and spiritual concept.

Jihad is required to protect the faith against others; it can be performed using anything from legal, diplomatic and economic to political means. If there is no peaceful alternative, Islam allows the use of force as the last resolution, yet it God has set are strict rules of engagement. For instance innocents -- such as women, children, or invalids – should never be harmed, and any peaceful overtures from the enemy must be accepted.

In military action is therefore only one means of Jihad, and is very rare.

To highlight this point, the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) told his followers returning from a military campaign:

"This day we have returned from the minor Jihad to the major Jihad," which he said meant returning from armed battle to the peaceful battle for self-control and betterment.

In case military action appears necessary, not everyone can declare Jihad. The religious military campaign has to be declared by a proper authority, advised by scholars, who say the religion and people are under threat and violence is imperative to defend them. The concept of "just war" is very important in Islam.

To understand the spiritual significance of Jihad and its wide application to nearly every aspect of human life as Islam states, it is necessary to remember that Islam bases itself upon the idea of establishing equilibrium within the being of man as well as in the human society where he functions and fulfills the goals of his earthly life. This equilibrium, which is the terrestrial reflection of Divine Justice and the necessary condition for peace in the human domain, is the basis upon which the soul takes its flight towards that peace .

The very stability of Islamic society over the centuries, the immutability of Islamic norms embodied in the Shari'ah (God's Commandments), and the timeless character of traditional Islamic civilization which is the consequence of its permanent and immutable prototype are all reflections of both the ideal of equilibrium and its realization as is so evident in the teachings of the Shari'ah, that equilibrium which is inseparable from the very name of islam as being related to salam or peace.

And those who perform jihad for Us, We shall certainly guide them in Our ways, and God is surely with the doers of good. (Qur'an )

You have returned from the lesser jihad to the greater jihad. (Hadith)

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