Most non-muslims and especially the media confuse fighting and war to mean Jihad. Jihad actually means ‘to strive or to struggle’.
Actually there are 3 categories of Jihad and they would be analysed below.
The first and most important is Jihad Alan-Nafs which means the personal struggle against one’s own shortcomings. For instance, abstinence from sex before marriage, indecent speech and dressing, immoral behaviour among others.
Second on the list is Jihad Alash-Shaitan which means the struggle against the temptation of Satan. For instance, praying at the regular solat periods with congregation in the masjid and not accumulating solat after their periods have expired.
The last category which most non-muslims barely have knowledge about is Jihad Alal-Kufr which is the struggle against those who do not let the Muslims live in accordance with Allah’s commandments and the sunnah of Prophet Mohammed pbuh. It is under this category that Islam allows the fighting in SELF-DEFENSE and in defense of Islam or on the part of those who have been expelled unjustly from their homes.
Islam condemns fighting based on the following criteria:
– AMBITION AND EXPLOITATION. Islam does not permit war which aims at capturing markets, acquiring materials or exploiting human labor and resources. In fact, Islam looks at humanity as one big family (Ummah). Islam ordains all believing people to cooperate inrealixing universal welfare and in abstaining from doing wrong. Islamic jurisprudence promises all humans absolute equality and justice regardless of race, sex or creed.
– OSTENTATION, the purpose of which is to magnify the pride and pomp of kings
Islam allows fighting as the last resort when human rights are violated, propagation of Allah’s message to mankind is obstructed and diplomatic solutions have failed to solve these oppressions.
Islam lays down strict rules of combat and prohibits harming civilians, monks, priests, nuns, old people, women and young children who are unable to fight. Islam also prohibits destroying of crops, livestocks, trees, and looting which usually follows conquest.