What Jihad Really Means

What Jihad Really Means

Performing jihad is doing good deeds.
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This quarter I am taking a class called Introduction to the Middle East. Basically, we use historical moments in the Middle East to pinpoint how things like ISIL or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict came about.

During one of my lessons, we discussed the origination of the word jihad.

Jihad originally meant expanding Islam through violence. Waging war was considered a way of displaying God to different portions of the world. But before we start throwing up our hands and saying that Breitbart was right all along, it is important to recognize what type of world this was. It was a conquest era. Every empire at this time was trying to expand their boundaries and become more powerful than their neighbors.

However, as the world transitioned to a more stable era where empires were not constantly trying to conquer each other the word jihad also changed. Religious scholars realized that jihad does not need to be violent anymore and instead wrote new doctrines explaining what Jihad is.

Jihad became a community duty and not an individual duty. There are also two forms of jihad. There is lesser jihad, which is fighting. But there is also a greater jihad. This means expanding Islam through good deeds. Someone is performing jihad by being pure, by praying, or by volunteering. This is the form most Muslims follow.

As recent events have shown, small select groups like ISIL and Al Qaeda have dissented from this definition of jihad and have manipulated it to justify their own violent actions.

But it is important to remember that this is not the majority's view of what jihad means.

Words are important. It is how we communicate with each other and express our beliefs and positions.

So when we discuss contentious topics like ISIL and discuss what “all Muslims” believe, we should educate ourselves about other people’s cultures and their histories.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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To Everyone Who Hasn't Had Sex Yet, Wait For Marriage, It's The Right Move

If you have not had sex yet, wait.

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Premarital sex is not a new concept, no matter how much people like to pretend it is. You can trace scripture and historical texts back thousands of year to see that lust and fornication have been a problem since… well, since we humans have been problems.

They tell you in sex ed that sex causes you to form a bond with someone. They throw some big chemical names at you that are apparently in your body and cause that emotional attachment to happen, then you move on (or back to) how important condoms are and why STDs are so scary.

As a middle schooler or teenager, you can't understand what it means to become permanently connected to someone as a result of a quick, physical act.

If you haven't even had your first kiss, you really can't imagine what it's like to develop such a complex and intimate connection with someone because you have yet to feel the butterflies in your stomach from a kiss. So you really don't know what it's like to have a whole different type of feeling in your stomach.

You never forget your first love. It's one of the most cliche things you consistently hear, but it's true. Ask anyone. I guarantee your parents can still spurt out their first love's name in a few seconds. And most people never forget their first time. I know all my friends can recount that often awkward and slightly terrifying moment as if it happened an hour ago. When you mix those two, especially if you are in your teens, oh boy.

You never forget that. No matter how hard you try.

Everything you hear about sex is true: it's amazing, fantastic, life-changing, etc. There's a reason people have done it as frequently as they do, for as long as they have. But every time you sleep with someone, you leave a piece of yourself with them. Every time you choose to take that final physical step with someone, you cannot go back and collect that piece of your dignity and soul that you left with someone.

So, imagine what happens when you break up with someone you've slept with. Or that you just hooked up with. You have given someone a little slice of yourself forever. And you can never get it back. And imagine what happens when you do that multiple times. You give a piece of yourself to five, 10, 15, 20 or more people. Then you meet the person that you want to spend forever with. And you no longer have that whole part of you. You've given pieces away, and you can no longer give those to the love of your life.

So, save those pieces for your future spouse.

If you have not had sex yet, wait. If you have, consider not giving more pieces of yourself away to people who are not your spouse. Sex was created to be between two spouses, nobody else. So we need to try to maintain its integrity.

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From The Christian Girl Who Visited A Mosque And Had Her Perspective Changed

Getting to know your neighbor...

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In today's current political climate, it feels as though it's harder than ever before to understand our neighbors. We often cannot look beyond the headlines we read in the news and actually talk to each other: it is difficult to separate political propaganda from the people we encounter daily.

One group in America that faces particular discrimination is Muslims. Whenever ISIL commits horrific acts, people in the United States suggest extreme measures such as banning all Muslims from entering the country. While I understand the skepticism, I think that it is of the utmost importance that we all recognize that the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful and ISIL does not represent their beliefs.

The KKK calls itself a Christian group, but they represent the exact opposite of Biblical teachings; the same is true of Muslims and the Quran. ISIL has completely distorted the teachings of Islam and misrepresents Muslims around the world.

I am currently taking a class on the Middle East, Arabs, and Islam. Over the weekend, my class and I visited the local mosque in Waco. The people there were generous enough to let us partake in their breaking of the Ramadan fast along with other Christian churches and members of a Jewish temple. It was a moment where we were all able to come together and see each other as people who simply have different beliefs.

I identify as a Christian, so I obviously do not believe the same things as Muslims. However, I have discovered that many of our beliefs and teachings are similar to those in the Muslim faith. Adam and Eve, Abraham, Moses, Noah, and even Jesus are all mentioned in the Quran. There are striking differences between Christianity and Islam, but there are also several similarities.

At the end of the breaking of the Ramadan fast, I left with a feeling of peace and reconciliation. I realized that events like this that involve sharing our cultures and religions with each other is a start to ending bias. Our neighbors may not look like us, or even have the same beliefs as us, but we are all people in search of happiness and a better life. In the end, love will always trump hate.

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