In light of the rampant extremism and militarism around the world, nothing proves more dangerous than the manipulative alteration of truth to reach certain political ends. In the final analysis, it is this tactic that facilitates the demonization process that blurs ideologies and beliefs in the West and Islamic world. And, no concept is more abused by both sides than the concept of Jihad.
To the Muslim extremists and their cronies, jihad is a narrowly defined license to fight their perceived enemies (including Muslims, as is the case in Somalia) even if that leads to committing atrocities against innocent civilians. And to the Western extremists and their cronies, Jihad is a religiously sanctioned perpetual holy war led by irrational militant non-state actors sworn to destroy Western values and civilization.
However, Jihad is a complex concept deeply embedded in Islam. It is an Islamic principle that all Muslims who adhere to the teachings of their religion embrace. And, contrary to prevalent post 9/11 perception, the concept does not connote senseless violence against innocents or suicide bombing.
While the concept projects different relevance to different people, the Arabic word means to strive or struggle toward achieving a higher aim which includes the "struggle in the way of God." It also means self-defense; and to strive against injustices, and to attain the ultimate goal of Tazkiyatul Nafs or purification of the soul - morally, spiritually, and ethically. Indeed it is this latter aspect, the jihad with oneself as one resists temptations and strives against his/her evil tendencies, which Prophet Muhammad referred to as "the Greater Jihad." Because, purification of the soul or simply self-purification is an around-the-clock process in which one engages in a steadfast introspection.
Despite the human being's great achievements in the fields of science and technology; in the compilation and standardization of knowledge, and, yes, in the art of its dissemination, humanity still remains in an embryonic if not an imbecilic stage when it comes to morality and ethics.
Human beings, though endowed by their Creator profound faculty that renders them superior to other known creatures, they are given by that same Creator the capacity or the freewill to bring themselves to "the lowest of the low". Needless to say it is this latter capacity that inspires human vices and wickedness - extremism in all its forms and manifestations (socially, economically, politically and religiously) and the ever-increasing appetite to exploit others; to kill and destroy.
The human being remains a profound enigma and a paradox of clashing potentialities. As we surpass the animals in the realm of intellect and wisdom, we surpass them in savagery as well. There is no animal group that plays "war games" and makes deliberate plans to oppress or annihilate others while they are bellyful - all in the name of ideology, religion, economic exploitation, strategic opportunism, or simply racism.
So when the Prophet was referring to a particular aspect of Jihad in such high regard he was not merely offering an opinion. Rather, he was pointing to what the majority of the Muslim scholars consider the peak of piety; to a process that, according to the Quran, leads to the ultimate salvation.
As He does throughout the Quran in order to put emphasis on the message that follows, in the Chapter Al-shams (The Sun,) God swears multiple times; in fact, more than any other time: "(I swear) By the sun and its glorious splendor; and by the moon as it follows it; and by the day as it reveals it; and by the night as it conceals it; and by the sky and what built it; and by the earth and what smoothes it out all over; and by the soul and who gave it balance and order, and inspired it with the capacity to turn to disobedience and the capacity to fear God; Verily, whosoever purifies the soul attains the highest of success, and verily whosoever corrupts it descends into utter failure!" And the engine that drives this process is known as Taqwah (sincere fear and devotion to God.) It is through Taqwah that one attains profound God-consciousness which cultivates one's capacity to self-police against all evil.
So how could such noble concept get so distorted? How come the robe-wearing extremists of the East and the suit-wearing extremists of the West are the ones who hold monopoly on the definition of Jihad?
In the past years of the on-going global political discontent, one persistent warning has been systematically ignored - when militant politics takes over the stage, reason makes run for exist. This was a period when people were generally herded toward one side of the argument or the other. Two nihilistic manifestos dominated the political discourse and brought the world closer to a self-fulfilling prophecy known as the "clash of civilizations": the global war on terror and the global Jihad.
The former was based on an erroneous premise that "political Islam" in all its manifestations is anti-democratic and anti-Western, and, as such, should never be afforded a space in the market place of ideas. They insisted that such movements were dangerous fronts for Muslim militants with sinister transnational "Jihadist ambition" who were set to destroy the West; because, they simply hated it for its freedom and economic success. Therefore, they were to be met at wherever their incubation place was - with "preemptive" force if they were based in foreign lands and by draconian policies if they were stationed in the West.
The proponents of this view work hard to conceal two particular facts that dismantle their claim by default: the success of the Turkish political system lead by a democratically elected Islamist government, and the millions of Muslims who live peacefully in the US and various parts of Europe in spite of ever-growing Islamophobia.
The latter, on the other hand, was based on an opposite yet equally erroneous premise - that the West is collectively bent on destroying Islam...by occupying the Islamic world; exploiting its natural resources, oppressing its peoples and Westernizing Islamic values. And as such Jihad against them is not only right, but the moral thing to do.
The proponents of this manifesto, such as Al Qaeda, selectively use the confrontational rhetoric often used by their counterparts in the West-secularist and evangelical Zionists-to lend credence to their claim. And they, too, work hard to conceal two particular realities: that Muslims are afforded more rights in the West than in most of the so-called Islamic countries when it comes to practicing their religion freely and establishing Islamic institutions; and also that the Obama administration is adamant about its desire to improve relations with the Muslim world.
Back to the abused concept: Until Jihad is openly discussed and deciphered both in the Islamic and the Western world, and its true nature is widely unveiled, the abuse of the concept for self-serving political ends will inevitably continue and so would its unjust violent expression.
Abukar Arman is a writer who lives in Ohio.
Remember they (disbelievers) will always complain about the believers until you do what they do?
They (the disbelievers) are responsible for creating terrorists, gangs, and extremists in the world in order to fulfill their objectives and satiate their greed (a characteristic displayed by the non-believers throughout history).
So, do not waste your time talking to them about your religion. If they trash talk about your religion, leave them until they change the topic.
Those who assoicate partners with God and have no certianty of faith, and deny signs of the partnerless God are myopic and the worst of created beings. They will be the companion fire forever. Read my lips in this regard!!!
1.As long as the criminal politicians are our leaders the extremism will live.
2.Illegal Iraq war was the biggest terror.
3.And as long as the west supplies arms and weapons to these extremists(it's not given to good people to defend themselves) to achieve their goal of globalization. Also THINK about WHO IS BENEFITING FROM THESE EXTRMISTS ACTIONS.
4.REMEMBER THIS IS ALL ABOUT MARKETING AND BUSINESS.
Romesh, why don't you ask your fellow men to stop burning people for practicing their religion. Why is that man eater Modi (Gujrat minister) gets elected again and again? So preach to others once you have fixed your issues. Unless, others don't care what you think.
It is silly to blame "Extremists". If muslims don't control those "Extemists", then all muslims are considered as Extremists. Currently, one finds musim world not interested in controlling their "Extremists"; rather they act as silent supporters or closet supporters.
Frankly, it is silly to have academic style debtaes as muslims try to do, when they want to evade the real issues.
You want non-muslims to change their perception of muslims, then change your practises; otherwise you are wasting time in discussing the subject as you are unable to convince anybody. Conflict contiues; and don't assume that muslims will be winners in the end. Historically, muslims have been losing wars for the last 500 years or so; all the mighty Islamic Empires vanished long before western imperialism / colonialism vanished.
1 must understand the reason of Why the Prophet pbuh sent letters to the rulers of the superpowers Persia and Byzantium, asking them to Convert to Islam or Pay Jaziya or to Get ready for War
Islam is not merely a religion and all wars fought under the its Banner were not defensive, but one needs to a Political, economical and military analyst and a sociologist to understand them properly
Islam is a Socio-Eco-Political system
4:75 And how could you refuse to fight  in the cause of God and of the utterly helpless men and women and children who are crying, "O our Sustainer! Lead us forth [to freedom] out of this land whose people are oppressors, and raise for us, out of Thy grace, a protector, and raise for us, out of Thy grace, one who will bring us succour!"
if there is oppression by classes or a system that abuses the people weather the people are indiffrent to it or not Islam seeks justice not where it rules but also in other realms.and also to protect its own geographic integrity and act pre-emptively at times
4:75And how could you refuse to fight in the cause of God and of the utterly helpless men and women and children who are crying, "O our Sustainer! Lead us forth [to freedom] out of this land whose people are oppressors, and raise for us, out of Thy grace, a protector, and raise for us, out of Thy grace, one who will bring us succour!"
Economic Bycot of the meccans leading to Badr to Uhad to Ahzab to khaibar to Fall of Mecca,bin Ziyad in Spain, Bin Qasim in Sindh, fought not only against oppression of the rulers against their subjects but also to crush the conspiracies against Islamic Empire being supported from there.
The picture is