The true jihad in the Qur’an
“Waging jihad” in Islam means to educate the other side, to teach moral virtue and to strive to turn people away from evil. Those who murder in the name of jihad are not acting in the light of the Qur'an.
The word jihad comes from the Arabic word “jahd.” Its meanings are 1) To work, to strive, to exhibit determination and persistence or self-sacrifice and 2) To control one’s lower self. On the basis of these definitions, waging jihad in Islam means to inform the other side, to teach people proper moral values and to turn them away from evil. In doing this, a Muslim must train his own lower self in the direction of moral virtue and train himself to be someone far removed from rage and hatred. In other words, what a Muslim engaged in jihad must do is to train himself on the one hand, and strive to teach people truth and goodness on the other. He must be a role model with his own moral values in order to spread love, peace and affection and to turn people away from evil.
The word “jahd” is never employed in any other sense in the Qur’an. Those who perpetrate slaughter under the name of “jihad” saying “Our point of reference is the Qur’an” are either lying or misinformed.
In the eyes of the Qur’an, those who are now slaughtering people in the name of jihad, taking their own lives as suicide bombers or inciting war are committing a grave sin, yet the great majority of these people are not even aware that they are contravening the Qur’an. That is because they have been led astray in the name of religion. They have their own faith in which there is hatred instead of love, rage instead of affection, enmity instead of brotherhood, horror instead of beauty and ignorance instead of art, science and culture. It is frighteningly simple to put a gun in the hands of someone who believes in such a faith and it is all too easy to tell them “This community is your enemy so go and attack it.” It is quite easy to incite them and shockingly easy to build communities of rage.
The false hadiths these people cite as supposed justification for aggression, and the verses of the Qur’an they misinterpret in the name of war, will be set out in detail in later chapters. There is one important point that needs to be remembered here; the great majority of radicals spread violence out of ignorance. They do not know the true faith. Most of them have likely never even read the Qur’an. That is why it is no use to condemn, curse, threaten, imprison or exile someone who kills under the misapprehension he is waging jihad. His problem is that he has not been educated with the Qur’an and has not understood the law of God. Since that is the problem, we have to accept the fact that so long as false education persists, there will also be radicals who are ignorant of what they do. If we realize that this is the problem, we can also grasp the fact that the only thing that those who spread violence and terror under the name of jihad need is true education.