By: Kamoru Sodiq

Fellow readers, let me start-up this classy and flashy piece with the word on marble which states thus: “when the meaning of a word is unknown, abuse is inevitable.” Literately or ‘illiterately’, knowledge is a respecter of no-one. Even, celebrated and world-reputable scholars, despite their significant infallability status in wisdom, they are not immuned from committing verbal-assault, engaging flamboyantly in a misnomer usage of word and publicly flying-high the kite of ignorance. I have severally heard and seen where a sound-elite was dazed and dazzled with semantic interpretation, not only that, a disgracing moment where a first-among-equals public affair analyst was caught panting and sweating inside the hotbed of linguistic dichotomy and conceptual connotation.

Just as they usually say that, knowledge is light. I have certainly lived with that aphorism and I have also experienced the practical side of it throught-out my inter-relational sojourning in life. No doubt, knowledge is priceless, and that is why the holy book and wise-sayings are replete with anecdotes of the importance of knowledge. Knowledge is thus, the master-key that unlocks the door and bane of ignorance and mania. The reason and purpose of my sermon is predicated on one monumental and calumnious concept. Of course, the taste of the pudding they say is in the eating, permit me to invite you on an eye-opening, breathtaking and enthralling visit to the den of all-time most abusive, misunderstood and manipulative concept in Islam, arguably, the concept of jihad.

On a sincere note, whenever you hear the word jihad! What instantaneously rent your mind? Islamic holy war! Muslims killing Jews and Christians! Correct? You don’t mean harm and you ought not to be blamed because, that is what you are feigned to believe by the professional islamophobia network, anti-muslims memes and societal megaphone due to the influence of centuries-old western propaganda popularized during the Muslims defensive battle against the crusaders in the medieval time. Regrettably, quiet substantial number of Muslim writers, translators of the holy Quran and hadith ( holy writ) and Islamic literature often translate “jihad” as “holy war”. But even, philosophically, it doesn’t take a rocket-science knowledge or swore-creed to realize that we ought to critically evaluate what we read on internet, dispassionately sieve what we hear from the media and logically see that islamophobic memes aren’t telling the true story.

At this juncture, I wish to place on the record the deep concern and stern dissociation of Islam and Muslims from the criminals, terrorists and the self-styled “jihadist”, because, given the horrendous and devastated effects orchestrated by their actions and inactions in every high and low places. In Nigeria here, casting our way back to 2011 downward to 2015, I know, an average Nigerian and most especially Northerner will never find a place in his/her heart to forgive and forget the Nigerian second civil war, perpetrated by the ” spawn of the devils” called ” bokoharam.” To be blunt, the memory was uneventful and their commitment was unassailable. I heartily express my kudos to the garlantry and invincible army of soldiers led by General Tukur Buratai, who has proved to the whole world that the beautiful ones are still in our midst.

It should be pointed out that, the ill-wind (terrorism) is no longer a Nigerian phenomenon, rather,it has assumed the modern pathological challenge of our time, with its attendants global pollution demanding global solution. Pagging-through the blacklist and evil-register, history will never forgive the hard line Taliban in Pakistan, the evil-spirit called Islamic states of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Syria. The breeding-host of the vampire tagged Al- Qaeda in Afghanistan, the bloodthirsting Al-Shabab in Somalia, they are all notorious in the business of bloodbathing! Refreshing those sorrow days! don’t forget the Brussels attack, Paris attack, world-trade center attack, recently, the demon-sapien named Omar mateen, the fetish behind the Orlando massacre in America, though, I guess, the genocide answers the question of how can communities prepare for mass shootings! And load of satanic attacks here and there.

Unfortunately, those unscrupulous elements have enriched our modern lexicon by donating the word “terrorism” and making the road safe for it to crawl into our dictionary. You will agree with me that, terrorist have spiritedly threatened life and denied existence, and the only language they understand is death and destruction. Collectively, appreciable attempts and bold-steps have been recorded by the United nation (UN) and other leading-figures unrepentantly aiming at stamping-out the demonic concept of “terrorism” from our language vault. As the world match-forth and chant the say-no-to-terrorism and terrorism has-no-religion slogan, no one must be left out because, security watch is everybody’s watch. Holistically, those paragraphs cannot do justice to the pros and cons of terrorism, that will be a discussion for another day.

Although, the pristine and primordial Islam understood by Islamic scholars and academics is far removed from the public. And that is why, Muslims all over the world are experiencing the misfortune of keyboard warriors, who are wrenching the verses of Islam’s holy book out of textual and historical context. Pathetically, those distorted and amputated pictures of Islam are without doubt a calculated and mischievous representation and I’m sure that is what humongous percent of wailing-wailers are carrying around the way Jesus carried his heavy-cross in calvary. However, in ensuring that, people are moved past their negative and stereotypical images of Islam and stay uninfected by the blowharding bloggers, pompous pundits and islamophobia apollogist, all hands must be on deck. Be that as it may, setting the record straight and convincing doubting Thomases, what does “jihad” really connote using the spectrum of Quran, Hadith and linguistic?

However, from the linguistic and theological points of view, the word “jihad” is an Arabic word, it literally means “struggling or striving.” So, denotatively, it applies to any effort exerted by anyone, for instance, a student struggles to pass exam, an employer strives to fulfill his/her job, likewise, politician struggles to increase his popularity within his constituents. So, it is used by both Muslims and non-muslims. But theologically and essentially, jihad is an effort to practice religion in the face of oppression and persecution. The effort may come in fighting the ego in ones heart, or standing-up to a dictator. Military effort (just war) is included but inevitably and justifiably as a last resort and not to spread Islam by the sword as the media-warlords would have one believe. Meanwhile, Arabic words for ‘war’ are “Qitaal, Gazwa or Harb.”

Speaking meticulously on original sources, historical records and straightforward logic, I dare critic or truth-seeker to produce at least a verse where jihad is synonymously mentioned as “holy war” in the Quran? none is found! Just to buttress my point, Q 25: 52 “so obey not the rejecters of faith, but strive ( jahidhum) against them by it (Quran) with a great endeavour.” , Q 29: 6 ” And whoever strives (jahada), strives only for himself…” Q 29: 69 ” As for those who strive (jahadu) in us, we surely guide them to our paths…”, Q 41: 33, “who is better in speech than one who calls to Allah, works righteous and declares that he is from the Muslim.”, from above, jihad is seen as resisting pressure, staying steadfastly on the straight path, striving for righteousness and having courage to convey the message of Islam. As if to show the magnanimity of Islam, Q 41: 34 says ” The good deed and evil deed cannot be equal. Repel ( the evil) with one which is better, then, verily he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend.”

Expeditiously, the prophetic traditions have copiously and soundly unveiled the true and pure connotation of jihad. In one narration, the wife of the prophet Aishah asked, ” o messenger of Allah, we see jihad as the best of deeds, so, shouldn’t we join it? The prophet replied, “but the best of jihad is a perfect hajj ( pilgrimage to mekkah), (Bukhari 2788). Inquisitively, a man asked the prophet, should I join the jihad? The prophet replied, ” do you have parent? The man said, yes! The prophet said, then, strive by serving them.” ( Bukhari 5972), on another account, a man asked the prophet: “what kind of jihad is better? ” he replied, ” A word of truth in front of an oppressive ruler.” ( sunna an- nasa, 4209). Jihad is vividly and prophetically interpreted to mean among other things; performing pilgrimage, selfless sacrifice towards parents and standing-tall for truth especially in the face of a tyrant.

Without prejudice to the letter and spirit of the above-listed holy texts, sound-facts and mind-opening logic, it is self-evident that, jihad is never a destructive term but rather a super-ordinate hyponymy that is all-emcompassing. As noted earlier, whenever jihad (striving) inevitably and justifiably involves arms (war), it assumes another term called (Qitaal, Harb, or Gazwa) as established by the Quran, hadith and uncalumnious Islamic historical record. It is also praiseworthy to bear in mind that, according to true Islamic teachings, it is unholy to instigate or start war. But, if military jihad (just war) backed by the constituted authorities is the only hard way to transverse by, it is prescribly fought in the spirit of self-defense and moderation and not under the guise of aggression or oppression. Q 2: 190 says ” And fight in the way of Allah those who fight you, but transgress not the limits, truly Allah likes not the transgressors.” And historically, (this verse is the first one that was revealed in connection with jihad).

Most importantly, jihad is productive in theory and practice, jihad is to speak the truth, live the truth, reclaim the truth and stand firmly on the threshold of truth at all time. So, media-mafia, let live by the spirit of professional oath, avoid sensational journalism and constantly bear in mind that, “facts are sacred and comments are free”, islamaphobic-bloggers and anti-islamic memes, the end is gory and the justice is at hand; keypad-czars, posterity is calling! posterity is warning! Above all, let us realize the world cannot afford to loose peace. According to an adage, ” if you want to go fast, go alone, but, if you want to go far, go together.” True, the tension of terrorism is red hot, so, Let us all join hands together and say no to terrorism, the path is clear! the time is now! are we ready?

The world shall know peace…

Sodiq Qamorudeen wrote from Ile-Ife, Osun State

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