I read Taking Back Islam, edited by Michael Wolfe, mainly written by Muslims and intended for a lay audience (as opposed to an academic audience) - and it is a whitewashing of Islam. (I bought it only because it was 3 or 4 bucks in a discount store.) In the book several, predictable, references to Islam's allegedly peaceful nature are made, including the oft-asserted notion that 'jihad' means struggle, not necessarily 'holy war.' For example, I was quite disgusted by Shaykh Ahmed Abdur Rashid's article, "Six Myths About Islam," especially where he writes (p.44):
"Myth #5: Jihad refers to military confrontations..."
"We all know that the word jihad does not refer primarily to 'holy war.' Jihad literally means to strive or struggle."
From studying Islam, I know, historically and doctrinally, that is not true. But what about the word's literal meaning? How does that relate to 'jihad', the doctrine? In other words,does the doctrine accurately follow from the word?
The assertion that 'jihad', the word itself - doctrine aside - means 'effort' or 'to struggle' is a lie.
I will prove that is a lie by the best proof there is; a proof the Islamists and their sympathizers are not counting on and cannot refute if they wanted to.
After reading my fill of pro-Islamist propaganda and disinformation in this "Winner of the Wilbur Award for Best Religion Book of 2003" (which I subsequently threw in the trash) I decided to find out the real meaning of 'jihad' by the best way there is: I consulted my Arabic-English dictionary by Maan Z. Madina (Pocket Book, 1973). That is a little something the Islamists do not expect!
Arabic, for an English speaker, is like a language from another planet - the Islamists are aware of this language barrier and are exploiting it by planting disinformation about Arabic words and concepts in the minds of non-Arabic speakers. They, however, will not pull the wool over my eyes because I am learning their language.
Very briefly setting some context for the non-Arabic speaker: Arabic words are based on a root of consonants arranged in a pattern; adding letters to the initial root and changing the vowels changes the pattern and the word's meaning, as the words below illustrate. "Jihad' is a transliteration, so I figured out the Arabic-letter root and pattern and then looked it up and from there found 'jihad.' FYI, while looking at the Arabic words below: Arabic reads right to left and has short vowel markings which are generally not shown in print, so I cannot type them in, but they are shown in dictionaries.
From aforementioned Arabic dictionary (p.131):
جهد to strive, endeavor, exert oneself, labor; to overwork, fatigue, exhaust
Two points to make:
1)Those three letters are the basic root. Adding to it more letters and shifting the vowels makes words that have broadly related, yet specifically different meanings.
2)There is that definition we constantly hear - and that the Shaykh used. Well and good. Guess what? That word is not pronounced 'jihad.' It is pronounced 'jahada.' Hmmm.... now that's interesting....
In the next column, same page, we have the Form III pattern. When a word is fromed by this patern, according to Mary Bateson's Arabic Language Handbook (p.33), it means "to endeavor to do something" or "to direct an action or quality toward someone." That in mind, here is the entry from Madina's dictionary:جهاد fight(ing); jihad, holy war
There is the same root in Form III pattern now with a different (unseen) short vowel and an added long vowel. Guess how that word is pronounced? - 'jihad.' How about that - even the transliteration is in the definition! That sure answers the question: does the jihad doctrine accurately follow from the word itself?!
Notice also that the use of the Form III pattern itself also contradicts the assertions that "jihad" means "inner struggle" because when a word is put in this pattern its meaning regards action directed "externally" toward something outside the doer.
The Arabic word for 'striving' and the Arabic word for 'fighting'/'holy war'' have a common consonantal root, which hardly makes them synonymous. That, however is exactly what the likes of Shaykh Rashid - to English-speakers - pretend is the case."Jihad does not mean holy war," is the myth.
Besides, even if these liars could make a semi-credible case that "jihad" does not mean "holy war," then the question to ask them is simply: then what in Arabic does mean "holy war"? Afterall, are we to believe that a religion that has a history of military conquest has no such concept?
So Shaykh Rashid, how do you and your ilk explain a 'myth' of a definition being in an Arabic dictionary? Perhaps agents of the "Zionist-Crusader conspiracy" put it there?
In conclusion, anyone who says 'jihad' means 'effort' or 'striving' and not 'holy war' either, a) is full of shit; or, b) believed someone who is full of shit. Right, Shaykh Rashid?
Ain't infidels a bitch?! :)
P.S. - Not so incidentally, they pull this same deceptive trick when they say 'Islam' means 'peace.' 'Salam' means 'peace'; 'Islam' means 'submission'; again, the words have the same consonantal root, that's all.