The Defamed word- Jihad

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“Aye you Jihadi, go back to the land you came from”

“Jihadis are ruining the world, they should be jailed”

It’s quite often we hear of such usage of the word, usually on news channels, during the 9pm debates and sometimes in blogs here and there. But this mindless chanting of the word “jihadi” or “Jihad” to label anyone and everyone you believe is against your political ideology, is it really justified? What does the word even mean for heaven’s sake!

Well, let’s start with the basics, you might already get the vibe that this is an Arabic word, which it is (Jihad). And as someone who knows a thing or two about the Arabic language, and the linguistics of it, I can assure you that it is by no means a word that can be used to label terrorists or fundamentalists, because words already exist for such people; words like, terrorist and fundamentalist. Coming back to Jihad, the word finds it roots from a time 1400 years back when it was first used in the Qur’an (holy text of the muslims) “ja ha da” is the base on which the word is made, it very simply translates to: struggle or effort. Now yes, we all have heard that even at that time this word was ‘supposedly’ in the context of warfare in which it meant “killing the enemies of Islam”. Unfortunately this also comes across as a hoax, dig a little deeper into the history of Islamic warfare and you will find that the word “Qital” has been used when it comes to fighting the enemy. Qital is what took place during a war or as they call it in Arabic “harb or ghazwa”. Jihad does exist in this frame too, but only and only due to Qital, when you’re in the battlefield and you’re facing off ferociously, you need to put a huge amount of effort i.e. Jihad into keeping your foot firm, standing your ground. This effort that the warriors at the time put into their fights were termed “jihad fi sabilillah” an effort in the path of Allah, whether the wars were for protecting their territories, whether they were for a conquest, that’s a homework for you the reader to go study and read about.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s discuss how the defamation came about. The word was first time used in this way in 2001 after the 9/11 attack. From there on the word Jihad with an added “i” at the end was used to represent Muslim terrorists and acts of terrorism or extremism. Any human with a logical mind can very quickly decipher that terrorism has no religion; terrorists should not be referred to as being humans even let alone painting them to be affiliated to a path to salvation and peace. Regardless this trickled down and gradually reached India where acts of terrorism found themselves being adorned with skull caps and chant beads, they started being associated to a religion they started to be labelled as acts of Jihadis. As if the word “Atankwadi” wasn’t enough.

Now what’s the reason behind all of this? Islamophobia alone would not be a sufficient answer, after all this time people have now become comfortable with the use of words like “jihadi”, “salafist” etc. How lightly do we see people joking about Muslims and bombs, people who call themselves Muslims have committed acts of terrorism that is true, the people on the other hand almost anticipate that a Muslim is caught after every crime’s aftermath, especially in India.

What we fail to realise is that terrorists have no religion there have been many incidents where people who claim to be affiliated to “Hindu nationalist” organisations commit heinous acts against humanity. The crusaders claimed that they were Christians. What we should think thoroughly about is this, all religions no matter what the dissimilarities have only and only one message, that is of peace on earth and kindness to all. Anyone whether a man with a beard or a person wrapped in saffron is convicted of a crime against humanity; he is not a follower of any religion whatsoever and has no right to be affiliated with any. This is what we should all remember.

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