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Islamic Ideology (31 Jul 2019 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Jihad Does Not Mean War or Fighting; Urdu Translations Use Jihad and Qital in the Same Meaning Which Is Misleading

By S. Arshad, New Age Islam

31 July 2019

During the initial years of Islam, the holy prophet pbuh and his holy companions had to face resistance from the polytheists and Jews of Makkah. They had to suffer humiliation and torments at their hands. Despite all this they persevered on their faith and endured all the hardships. However, when the mischief and opposition from the Jews and the polytheists became unbearable and the prophet pbuh feared for life, he decided to migrate to Madina with his followers. But here too they faced stiff resistance and torments from the polytheists and Jews.  When the Muslims numerically became strong and the polytheists became hell bent on wiping out Muslims and Islam, they challenged Muslims to fight them. The Muslims finally fought and by the grace of God became victorious. At that time verses instructing Muslims to fight for their survival and not to fear and trust God. At the same time the Quran instructed Muslims to make compromises to avoid war and bloodshed. Hudaibiya Agreement is one of them when Muslims reached an accord. On every occasion the Muslims would try to maintain peace and observe patience at provocation. Before migration to Madina, the holy prophet pbuh endured humiliation and atrocities for the sake of God.

The Quran has enjoined Muslims to strive for the propagation of the faith and offer sacrifices and spend money for it. For this striving and struggle for faith, the Quran uses two terms. One is Qital and the other is Jahd. Qital was used for the battles that were fought during the initial years when the opponents of Islam were hell-bent on wiping out Muslims. The word Jahd (struggle or strive) has been used for peaceful propagation of faith both physically and financially. Jihad does not necessarily mean fighting. It means struggle or striving for the propagation of faith among non-believers. But in Urdu translations of the Quran both the words and terms have been used as synonyms or having the same meaning: fighting or war with non-Muslims. This created among Muslims and a section of ulema that jihad also means fighting or killing non-Muslims. Here are the verses that mention the word Qital (fighting):

“And fight in the name of Allah” (Al Baqarah: 244)

This verse was revealed during war between the Muslims and polytheists and so Muslims were enjoined to fight fearlessly.

“So when fighting was enjoined on them, they turned their back but few of them.”(Al Baqarah: 246)

“They fight in the way of Allah.”(Al Nisa: 76)

“Therefore, fight in the way of Allah”(Al Nisa: 84)

There are dozens of verses in the Quran that were revealed during the period of war and they enjoin Muslims on fighting because it was a matter of survival for them. In these verses the word Qital or its derivatives meaning fighting has been used. On the other hand, the Quran uses the word Jahd (struggle or strive) and its derivatives in dozens of verses meaning peaceful struggle or striving in the way of propagation of faith. But almost in all the verses where the word Jahd has been used it has been translated meaning fight. Here are the verses:

“Of course, those who bring faith and left home and fought (Jahadu) in the way of Allah. (Al Baqarah: 218)

In this verse the translation of Jahadu was done as ‘fought’ while the true meaning would be ‘strived or struggled’. Accepting Islam, enduing atrocities and leaving home for the sake of Allah is Jahd or struggle. So the word Jahadu means ‘endured hardships and strived’ and not ‘fought’.

Another verse is:

“Those who held themselves back at home and those who fight (Mujahidun) in the way of Allah both with self and money are not equal.”(Al Nisa: 95)

In this verse the word ‘Mujahidun’ means ‘those who strive’ with self and with money. Therefore, the person who spends money for the propagation of Deen is also a Mujahid (struggler) and the person who leaves home and travels for the peaceful propagation of Deen is also a Mujahid. It does not necessarily mean that one leaves home only for fighting for Deen. But the translation creates that impression.

“Those who accepted Islam and left their homes (Yuhajiru) and fought (Jahadu) with their self and money in the way of Allah and those who gave them shelter and helped them, they are their friends.”(Al Anfal: 12)

In this verse, the Quran mentions those who after accepting Islam faced hostility from the polytheists and Jews of Makkah and left home and those who gave them shelter and helped them in any way. Here leaving home and enduring hardships for the sake of Deen is jahd but the translation says that they fought. Here there is not context of war.

“And when a verse is revealed which enjoins (non-believers) to accept Islam and fight (Jahadu) along with his prophet.”(Al Taubah: 86)

Here too the word ‘Jahadu’ has been translated as ‘fight’ whereas it only means that after accepting Islam, one is obliged to accompany the prophet pbuh in all the endeavours for the propagation of Deen: He should endure hardships along with the prophet pbuh, offer every sacrifice needed and if there is a need to fight, he should also accompany in battles as part of struggle in the way of Deen. But the word Jahadu here does not necessarily mean ‘.fight’

The term ‘Jihadan Kabira’ is mentioned in one verse. It means ‘great struggle’.

“If we had willed we would have raised a messenger in every population, so do not obey the disbelievers and strive against them with great strenuousness with it (the Quran). (Al Furqan: 52)

Maulana Fateh Mohammad Jalandhary translates the word Jahidhum Bihi Jihadan Kabira as ‘fight them with full force’. While Abdullah Yusuf Ali translates this into English in the following words:

“Therefore, listen not to the disbelievers, but strive against them with utmost strenuousness with the (Quran).

Maulana Habid Shakir translates the verse into English in the following words:

“So do not follow the unbelievers and strive against them a mighty striving with it.”

Mohammad Pickthall’s translation is this:

“So obey not the disbelievers, but strive against them herewith with a great endeavour.”

The Urdu translators did not present an acceptable explanation of the term ‘Jihadan Kabira’ but only did a literal translation of the term.

What is Jihad-e-Kabir?

Jihad-e-Kabir is passive struggle which the holy prophet pbuh and his companions did during the Makkan period. They propagated the message of Islam and faced hostility and atrocities form the polytheists and Jews of Makkah. The holy prophet pbuh went to Taif to propagate of message and was badly injured but he did not say a word of curse to the non-believers. Hadhrat Bilal would be laid on the hot ground under the sun and a huge stone would be kept on his chest. Still he would say ‘Ahad’ ‘Ahad’. They were ostracised for three years. These are some of the examples of jihad-e-Kabir. In the above quoted verse, the Quran enjoins the Muslims of Makkah to do jihad-e-Kabir with the Quran. They should spread the message of the Quran to the non-believers and endure all the hardships and oppression in this endeavour without showing any hostility or aggression. They should make every sacrifice for spreading the message of the Quran. But the Urdu translators of the Quran translated the term ‘Jihadan Kabira’ as ‘fight with full force’ against the non-believers. And while translating the term, they ignored or missed the fact that the verse belongs to Surah Al Furqan which is a Makki verse. And Muslims were not in a a position to fight, even to defend themselves in Makkan period. Therefore, the word ‘Jihadan Kabira’ or ‘Jahidhum’ cannot be taken for fighting but passive struggle.

The meaning of the word ‘Jahd’ becomes more clear from this verse:

“And we advised  them treat their parents with care and love, and if they pressurise you (Jahadaka)to set up partners with me of which you do not have any knowledge, then do not obey them.”(Al Ankabut: 8)

This verse tells Muslims to treat their non-believing parents with care and love but if their parents pressurise them to worship false gods, they should not obey them. Here the word Jahadak means to ‘Pressurise you’ and not ‘fight with you’.

More examples can be cited from the Quran where the word Jahd means to struggle or strive and not to fight or kill. But the Urdu translators of the Quran have also almost everywhere translated the word meaning to fight or to kill. This error in the translation of the word Jahd has led to the wrong concept of Jihad among Muslims.

S. Arshad is a regular columnist for NewAgeIslam.com

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-ideology/s-arshad,-new-age-islam/jihad-does-not-mean-war-or-fighting;-urdu-translations-use-jihad-and-qital-in-the-same-meaning-which-is-misleading/d/119349

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  • Taha Deceiving is not explanation. Might be clear to you now.
    By Aayina - 8/13/2019 12:50:01 AM

  • Hats Off totally loses his mind when he sees Muslims advocating peace and nonviolence! The message of the progressive Muslims does not accord well with his war of hate and lies.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 8/9/2019 11:54:37 AM

  • most of the so-called moderate muslims are essentially dishonest, deceitful and treacherous. they always sugar-coat murderous intentions, verses and hadees. they try to make you believe that islam spread like pollen. they lie shamelessly when they insist that the Qur'an likes polytheists and idolators and kuffar and the jew and the christians.

    it hates their very guts. this hatred is internalized by moderate muslims as love.

    even the best meaning ones.

    moderation is never a virtue where honesty is needed.

    By hats off! - 8/9/2019 7:53:14 AM

  • OOOHHHOO.. I simply asked you to cover all round of subject in your article but you took it other way. 
    There is nothing for me to impress you or anyone else on this website. 

    By GGS - 8/9/2019 6:00:14 AM

  • GGS entire effort revolves roud flaunting his knowledge of terminologies to impress me. I have not translated the words myself. I only cited the translation of the scholars whom you call mufassir or mutarajjim or Ulama and showed that the meaning of the word jahd was done killing or fighting. It is the Ulama who used the word in a limited sphere that is killing. That's what I said that the word jahd has various meaning like patience, endurance sacrifice,service etc . And tell me is the conventional meaning of the word jahd is killing or fighting when the literal meaning is strive? What is Sharia terminology? Does the word jihad become killing non Muslim children in Sharia terminology. Whatever academic terminology you use it should be for the purpose of making the study of Quran easy and not for merely pricing yourself Superior to others and complicating matters. Muawwal, muqayyad majaz haqeeqat will be your academic tools not for the common Muslims. They will only see what end product you are giving them. And you may or may not agree my views in an article but you cannot say for others if they too do not agree with me. And also the objective of my writings is to discuss various aspects of Quran not showing my scholarship. I am not a scholar but a humble student of Quran and am proud of the fact that since 2006 Allah has made read His sacred book word by word a number of times. Whenever I rite in a topic I search the Whole Quran for relevant verses before writing. It's not done with a casual approach. You have definitely reasons to be envious of me. 
    By Arshad - 8/9/2019 5:15:55 AM

  • No translations of the Quran is Quran. 
    The Quran is only in its original form and that is Arabic. 
    Translations are based on human understanding. 
    Translation is the understanding of the translators who translate the Quran. 
    Tafsir is the understanding of Mufassir who explanation.
    One must understand this basic thing. 
    Translations are different in their approaches.
    Some are predominantly literal translations, some are explanatory translations, some are Ahkami translations etc. 
    One must decide first what one should read. 
    All the articles published on this website and translations of the Quran are not the Quran. Instead they are the understanding of the writers or translators. 
    In my opinion, the Quran can be understood well only in Arabic format because no human beings have power to convert the divine words in other languages as beautiful as is in the Quran. 
    But for guidance, understanding can be imparted to common people. Those who are interested in studying the Quran to be known as the schoalrs must learn Arabic so that they can refute and criticize the scholars of the past by dint of independency. 

    By GGS - 8/9/2019 3:11:44 AM

  • Can we say it so-called following of the Quran?
    all muslims claim to follow the path of Quran. 
    all present their arguments in their style. 
    all claim their rationality 
    but let me live with what i think is most perfect understanding based on the Quran.
    you claim for yours and they claim for theirs 
    i have read your arguments and theirs also 
    finally let me choose what is more rational according to me, 
    i am fool in your mind and you are intelligent in your mind - 
    let me live the life of fool. 
    you can choose what is rational according to you
    do focus more on converting me to your truth while i am happy with my truth.
    the story ends. anything else???

    By Talha - 8/9/2019 2:49:16 AM

  • Even the Prophet (pbuh) had no power to convince anyone and make them accept what he said.
    Truth remains truth even if no once accepts it and falsehood does not become truth even if everyone believes in it.
    By Naseer Ahmed - 8/9/2019 2:29:45 AM

  • The article avoids taking the dictionary meaning and relies only on the Quran and the sense in which the word is used in the Quran.

    The dictionary meaning is the meaning the Ulema have given to a word in their writings or as the word is commonly used and understood.

    For example, when you use the word Shaheed, it is invariably understood as martyr but the Quran never uses that word to mean a slain martyr but only to mean a living witness!

    The dictionary meaning is the meaning the Ulema have given and as it concerns Quranic words, we have seen that quite often the dictionary meaning is at variance with the meaning of the word in the Quran.

    The writings of the Ulema who have distorted the meaning of the Quran are therefore misleading. To understood the Quran one needs to read nothing except the Quran. Allah's Word is sufficient for understanding His Word and Message in the same manner as an infant does not learn a language from dictionaries, books of grammar or from teachers but simply from interacting with his/her mother or immediate environment. Allah has not made us dependent on the Ulema and their writings to understand His Book.

    By Naseer Ahmed - 8/9/2019 2:25:51 AM

  • Aayina sb, 
    in objective of criticism i have read that it is done to uplift the level of knowledge but provided it is done with sincerity witout preconceieved adversity. 
    you should select good scholar and do criticize but in sincere mood and if something is said by the scholar you should then accept him and not go to be stuck with the repetition of old criticism which has now been responded in irreftuable way. 
    kuffar and mushrikin too criticized in the era of the Prophet. they were experiencing everything through theri eyes but some of them continued to criticize after the facts had been clear to them. 
    i want to say that after being clear about something one should uplift one's understanding and level of knolwedge without bothering to remaining on the same path. 
    the quran replies mushrikin and kuffar and their criticism but you can read it and understand it making your mind free from the marketing of peace and hate. 
    the Quran is a book of guidance for the sincere and I do not know whether or not you are sincere. 

    By Talha - 8/9/2019 12:55:19 AM

  • One of the reasons that the articles fail to address the real problem is that we do not spend time on hard work. we simply take two three books even without struggling to cover all juzyiat correctly and start writing articles as if we were the only experts. 
    This is one of the grave mistakes of this push-button age, or in other words, intellectual dishonesty. This confuses other readers and lose its credibility. 
    One PHD student spends four to five years to solve one subject but we are here to write hundreds and yet we are unable to convince even our frequent readers such as Hats Off and Aayina etc.

    By GGS - 8/8/2019 11:22:18 PM

  • On Apostasy etc from my article: Pakistan blasphemes Islam   3 Sept 2012

     The Muslim conquerors adopted and assimilated many of the practices of the conquered territories. Muslim jurists found the legislative verses in the Quran far too little in comparison with Jewish and Christian laws. They therefore built an elaborate body of Islamic law using the principles of analogy and legal precedent to meet the requirements of governing vast territories with large non Muslim populations. The Law of apostasy, the law of blasphemy, the law of stoning adulterers to death and the practice of circumcision find no mention in the Quran but are found in Jewish and Christian scriptures. The Muslim jurists appear to have relied on the old and the new Testament for these laws although there is lack of sufficient and direct support from the practice of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) for such laws.

     From my article Who is a Kafir in the Quran? (Part 4) Defining Kufr 25 Feb, 2015

    The article discusses the very concept of Hadd punishments and the difference between  sin (kufr in the spiritual dimension) and crime (kufr in the temporal dimension) and why there is no Hadd punishment for apostasy in the Quran because it is a sin but not a crime.

     “Some forms of Kufr may appear to stride both the dimensions - for example, an apostate who turns hostile and carries on activities harmful to a section of the society or the state. Such a person can be punished for the harm that he has caused or can potentially cause but not for apostasy. Apostasy is merely incidental and irrelevant to the case as apostasy is not kufr in the temporal dimension.

    By Naseer Ahmed - 8/8/2019 11:22:08 PM

  • Arshad sahab says, "GGS the ulama of the past interpreted Quran and hadees according to the social and political situation of their age....."
    This lesson is very popular and we should give the credit of this knowledge to Ulama themselves.
    Arshad sb, the problem is; who are Ulama according to you? 
    Those who are Ulama according to me know this basic thing. 
    Another problem is to understand Ulama correctly. Very often people just read one set of texts and base their understanding of Ulama on that insufficient study. In my opinion this is intellectual dishonesty; with which you can agree to disagree with me.

    What are the principles to understand Ulama of the past? Their written words or their principles? 

    Arshad sb, you have made mistakes in your own article.
    Your entire article rovovles around a limited sphere of knowledge. Based on dictionary meanings you have drafted your arguments. 

    You should have worked hard to cover all aspects of the word Jihad otherwise your arguments can be easily rejected. 

    What is the objective of writing this article? If your article is not able to convince the audience, it means you are doing futile efforts. 

    While translating words, you should go through several ways; such as literal meaning, conventional meaning, Sharia terminology, mutlaq and muqayyad application, general and specific application, mushtarak and muawwal, majaz and haqiqat, with each having diverse areas of understanding. 

    By GGS - 8/8/2019 11:05:53 PM

  • What Quran said is not important, the way it is used to kill innocent is important, Mr Arshad is cheating to the people,mhis inner ego is allowing him to tell that Quran and Mohmmad are responsible for killing of innocent and who are against them. The book Quran( so called God booked, to mislead the people) is so weak that it tolerant its own criticism, that Quranic book God cannot tolerate criticism. Criticism and to be critical should be the fundamental right of human for it progress towards peace and prosperity but Quran God forbids and kill
    By Aayina - 8/8/2019 10:47:32 PM

  • Does knife means to cut only vegetable, it can cut throat as well, Quranic Jehad is like that, it does not matter it's means vegetable in your opinion for us as Hindus it our throat that will cut.
    By Aayina - 8/8/2019 10:33:52 PM

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