Jihad- Interpretation and Implication post 9/11

By Jaya Dwivedi

jihad-m-36771Jihad- A word if spelled out today, delineates mind-numbing and goose bumps engendering macabre devastations: some remember the WTC of New York getting reduced to rubble while some get scared by remembering the Mumbai attacks. Jihad is an Islamic term, meaning struggle, and a duty of every Muslim. It appears 41 times in Koran and has two most commonly accepted meaning: the “inner struggle” and the “outer struggle”. While the “Inner jihad” – commonly referred to as greater Jihad- is a struggle by a Muslim to fulfill his religious chores, the “Outer Jihad”- commonly referred to as lesser jihad- is the ‘Holy war’ to establish the rule of truth in the society.

So, how is it that this innocuous word of uberrim ae fide, turned into Satan itself? This paradigm shift in the perception of the world took place as a result of 9/11 attack by Lashkar-e-Taiba on the WTC, New York, marauding thousands of Americans’ lives, calling under remonstration the security system of the US, hitherto, had been touted as the best in the world. The ninth day of September of 2001 had begun just like any other day, but who knew that this day would entrench such an impact on the ensuing decades that an entire community will be feared of and its teachings shunned, in USA in particular and in the world, in general.

With a pace, even greater than the one with which the planes had collided the WTC, US Congress coalesced and passed fresh sanctions on Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the then President of US, George Bush, summoned various chiefs of military and parliamentary forces ordering them to find and catch Osama, dead or alive. But amidst all this, the American diaspora along with the world had already developed a pejorative view against Jihad and Islam. People began construing Islam as a religion of hatred and forced inroads. The ‘Outer Jihad’ was taken to be the true face of Islam, ignoring its holistic and virtuous teachings. What was justified by Osama was a war for the right of Muslims, ended up curtailing the creditability of a peaceful and harmless religion. Everybody, in totality, ignored the contributions of Islam and the Muslims and began ostracizing them per se. thousands of Muslims across the cities of USA were handpicked, manhandled and thrust into the Guantanamo Bay, without any fault on their behalf. Almost all of them had to spend a decade or so- for the trial took so long- without even being convicted for a single charge. Some had to go to the US with a glimmer of forging a bright future, some were proud citizens of America, and some other were mere tourists, but their lives ravaged and were left with deep lacerations that continue to pain as they leave no stones unturned to bring their lives again on a right track. Besides America, many other countries too developed an anti-Islam viewpoint laying various inhibitions and embargos on Muslims in their territory. No doubt that ‘Outer Jihad’ had never made its presence felt to such a dramatic level before 9/11 but true still, it is, that jihad’s pristine form got lost and what remained in everybody’s mind was just terror and terror and terror!

Before this untoward incident, Jihad didn’t face such ferocious and vehement snipes. That was a time when ‘Inner Jihad’ dominated the mindset of all those who knew Jihad, and was considered the true face of Jihad. Though, ‘Outer Jihad’ was extant and made its presence felt but it was at a picayune and trifling level. And even a layman- belonging to other religions- didn’t know what Jihad was all about. This world was theirs as much as it was ours.

11 years have passed since then. Many things have changed, Osama is no more to jeer and laugh at massacre of thousands and convey his views through Video tapes, USA and many other countries saw a various regime changes, but what has not changed is that anti-Islam viewpoint. With somewhat lesser degree, still the miasma of ostracism continues to haunt Muslims. What I feel is that because of the flaunt of a handful of Muslims, who waged out war against humanity under the pretext of ‘holy war’, why should the whole diaspora face the stigma and bear the burden,  thus forced to stay aloof? This is even bigger a punishment than what was meted out to Osama-bin-Laden.

Summing up, I just hope that the world changes its views and accepts the brighter side of Islam and its teachings, punishing only those who try to force their extremists’ views on the world.

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