“Jihad is about the outward defence of Islam”. Evaluate this statement. (12 marks)

Colour Code:

  • Blue – Your argument 
  • Red – Argument against 
  • Purple – Response

Jihad is understood in two different ways; the inner struggle to follow the teachings of Allah or the outer struggle to defend the faith of Islam. There is much debate surrounding which one should be emphasised the most.

On the one hand, the inner struggle of the individual is the better way to understand Jihad. For most Muslims in the world today, there is rarely a requirement to defend their faith with force; particularly if they live in a society which isn’t involved in conflicts. The reason for this is that any attack on their religion would become a matter best suited for the police. Equally, if someone was to feel that their faith was being challenged in an academic sense, this would never necessitate violence.

On the other hand, the “Lesser” Jihad is perhaps the best way to comprehend the concept of the struggle. A quote from the prophet Muhammad states: “The person who struggles so that Allah’s word is supreme is the one serving Allah’s cause”. This could be interpreted as a call for Muslims to keep the message of the Qur’an alive when it is under threat. As a result, force might be required for this to be achieved as long as it conforms to the rules of a Holy war. The reason for why the outer struggle should be regarded as the right interpretation of Jihad is that without it the message of Allah might have ended up corrupt or lost entirely. This was especially vital during the early age of Islam as the threat of invasion or civil war was a constant concern.  

Conversely, the struggle to perform the 5 pillars and study the Qur’an must now be more important. Islam is the fastest growing world religion and therefore there is no longer the same worry about losing the true word of Allah. Instead, practicing Salah or completing Sawm is far more relevant to the lives of Muslims today meaning Jihad should be about the inner struggle almost all the time.

In conclusion, both interpretations clearly have their place. Muslims should retain the right to defend themselves against aggressors if necessary but it should be recognised that for any one individual, the Greater Jihad will almost certainly be the most relevant way to think about the term.

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