2. (a) Explain Muslim understandings of jihad (struggle). [25]

Jihad is the struggle to strive to do what's right according to the shari'a. A sunni Muslim scholar has identified four types of jihad: One type of Jihad is known as the greater Jihad, which is arguably the most important amongst many Sunni scholars; it's an inner struggle that involves fighting/ striving each day to present the best character against your nafs-inner self/ soul which controls your deepest thoughts and ultimately our actions, another type of Jihad is jihad of the word; striving to speak truth everyday, another is jihad of the hand; striving to do right and prevent evil according to sharia, and the other is jihad of the sword; holy war.

The Prophet Muhammed stated in a Hadith that "The mujahid is someone who makes jihad against himself for the sake of Allah", and so Muslims believe they should take care of the greater jihad first and foremost. Sufi Muslims live their lives very strictly according to this hadith. They call their journey through life a jihad against the nafs, so they strive each day to fight the evil urges from within such as selfishness and hypocrisy to live a virtuous life for the sake of Allah. They believe that there are several stages which one goes through to get closer to God. Through each stage, they struggle against an inner thought e.g selfishness to overcome their nafs which gives them freedom in their lives e.g routine is gained. Not all Muslims follow these orders, however, as they see it as bid'ah- it was introduced to the religion after the time of Muhammed so it's not authorised in the word of Allah. 

The other type of Jihad is known as the Lesser Jihad- this is an outward struggle to live an Islamic life that can be done without violence. In some areas of the Qur'an, there are references to violence- these verses require careful interpretation by the ulama to be understood due to the context of the tribal system in which they were revealed as well as the issue with translating the Quran from the Arabic dialect used at the time. At the time of Muhammad,  battles and raids against tribes were necessary and Muhammad would engage in them to fight against local tribal enemies e.g Battle of Badr. He did, however, preach that women, children or crops shouldn't be hurt or damaged in lesser jihad.

When it comes to interpreting verses from the Quran, context is very important as some may see verses 2:190-193 and understand it literally without context, and conclude that lesser jihad calls for war. For example, the Quran…


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