Analyzing terrorism: terminologies and conceptions of extremism, kharijites, banditry.
One of the most controversial issues all around the world is the terminology issue with regards to terrorism, which has become a common discussion among different people in all languages. Although they employ the same term, they differ in its meaning, and because they all tacitly approve of the numerous definitions of terrorism, its precise meaning remains vague. Yet, our religion is well-known for its accuracy in words and defining meanings, for there isn’t a nation that is as engrossed in the study of language, analyzing terms and their meanings, and tracing out their uses, as our nation. Because the term has become so vastly circulated world-wide, this study intends to explain terms related to this subject, its impact on cultural conflicts among nations, history and uses, what people mentioned about their meanings with reference to Sharia terms, and the tasks assigned to preachers and students in editing such terms.
The term’s meaning and impact on the two cultural conflicts – science of actual facts, and conceptual awareness – is a major entry point in narrowing down the dispute; for disputes usually arise either due to a diversity of competing conceptions, or ignorance of facts or reality; this is an agreed upon fact. As Ibn Taymiyah, may Allah have mercy on him, said: ‘Most conflicts among people are the result of heretical terms, and corresponding meanings’. He also said: ‘These positions must interpret overall terms with clarified interpreted words, and every word may likely be right or incorrect, thus, you must clarify the rightful implication instead of the incorrect one’. Rabo Burt said: ‘It is obvious that determining the meanings of words is of great use since disagreements between us often arise over an issue, and another debate arises over a subject, which makes us assume that debaters are at odds with each other, when they are actually in agreement, and if their words were to be identified to them, they would have realized that they share the same opinion’.
Moreover, humans’ judgment of ideas or people is based on ‘projection’. As some of the well-known scholars said: ‘Judging a thing is based on one’s preconceived notions’. Therefore, scholars emphasized that religious words and Islamic terminologies should never be kept relative or unedited, and tried their best to define them for several reasons: 1. so that these words would not be misused by any group in any way that might serve someone’s whimsical desires or corrupt beliefs; and 2. so that religious words would not and could not be interpreted in accordance with a current linguistic sense of a group or a sect, as numerous sects emerged prior to the codification of terminologies as a result of inaccurate linguistic inferences and subsequent habitual uses of it (as when such words are found in texts, or in scholars’ speech, and then misconstrued to match one meaning when Islamic law actually means otherwise). Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allah have mercy on him said: ‘He who does not understand the language of the Prophet’s companions which they used to communicate, or the language of the Prophet in which he addressed them, along with their habits in speech, tends to misinterpret words. Thus, many people grow up listening to their own generation’s terms, or habit and usage of words, then transpose these words to the word of Allah or His Messenger or companions and believe that Allah or His Messenger, or the companions intended the contemporary or habitual usage of these words. However, Allah and His Messenger and the companions mean otherwise’.
This is fully demonstrated in our modern time by the huge impact the media has in frequently modifying terms and using them to refer to things other than the originally intended meaning. Since our research relates to terminology issues, it is helpful to start with some introductions: First, a linguistic definition of terminology: Ibn Faris, may Allah have mercy on him, said: ‘It is the opposite of corruption of meaning’. Abu Al-Baqa Al-Kofawy, may Allah have mercy on him, said: ‘Terminology means carrying out the word from the linguistic meaning to another meaning to identify intent… Terminology is often used in science which gathers information from inference’. Al-Jurjani, may Allah have mercy on him, said: ‘Terminology is people’s agreement to name a thing with a name that modifies its initial meaning’. And it is ‘a word or symbol used to denote a scientific or artistic concept, or any work of special nature ‘. Secondly, the use of terms in cultural conflict: terminologies have become the tools in intellectual and cultural conflicts among and within nations; ideological opponents tend to be quite attentive to words and terms in their battle against other ideologies. When people wish to oppose truth, they tend to twist and alter words and meanings. Thus, terms become tools in any conflict because they are indicators of principle, doctrine, thought, and opinion; and defiling any such indicator severely endangers beliefs, opinions, or a nation’s concepts. Therefore, it is crucial in any conflict to preserve one’s own terminologies on the one hand, and refute other’s false terminologies on the other.
Furthermore, the use of terms in cultural conflicts by principle opposites is based on two aspects. First aspect: to use words and terms that have vicious underlying meanings and apply it to a belief, thought, doctrine or opinion they oppose, in order to make that said belief, doctrine or opinion detestable to people. The companions were opposed to this method: ‘The enemies of the Prophet Muhammad tried to make people detest him by intentionally misinterpreting the words revealed to him and to express those meanings that were not the best but verbally humiliating with the utmost vicious terms to mislead people; and this is the means used by any corrupt person’. If we look back at the prophets’ biographies, we find that they have always been accused of insanity or delusion, which were allegations intended to mislead people and make them loathed. Gilles Kepal, after viewing the term fundamentalism in both French and English, noted:
‘These two terms convey to the Muslim world intellectual tools which formulated an explanation of the special moments in the history of Catholics and Protestants. Respectively, we do not find a compelling reason for such conveyance. The history of intellectual conflict between Islam and the West, especially in modern times, reveals that the West presented several terms which were initiated in its own environment, and bear westernized meanings, concepts and historical backgrounds, and then applied the same terms to Muslims to represent some aspects of their lives, despite the large gap between Christianity and Islam, history and historiography, conditions and circumstances. Perhaps some of the clearest examples can be found in the following terms: fundamentalism, reactionary, medieval. Each of these terms symbolizes a doctrine or a particular case, but Westerners apply these terms to Muslims for reasons relating to global domination, colonialism and intellectual invasion. The historical background in Westerners’ minds makes them shun and abhor the term “fundamentalism,” due to the barbaric acts that have been committed by their fellow Christians in the name of religion, who were against scientific progress and development. Likewise, selecting this term and applying it to Muslims or to a range of them is definitely tendentious. This denotes that fundamentalism is commendable to Christians; whereas fundamentalism that refers to Quran is free from all these negativities. The careful comparison of each term, between our Arabic-Islamic history and European history, shows the absurdity in the use of this term in an Arabic reality. Islamic civilization in fact excelled in its espousal of Islam, yet modern European civilization suffered from rugged clergymen, and European dark ages known as the Middle Ages were the same ages in which Islamic civilization outshone all others.’
Second aspect: using otherwise virtuous rightful words to refer to meanings that would make them detestable to espousers of other contradictory concepts thereby allowing them to swiftly penetrate their thoughts and beliefs without being shunned. One example is the contemporary intellectual conflict in using the following terms: secularism, reformation, progressiveness, rationalism. The term secularism, which refers to separating religion from life, was attributed to science or to worldly life to make it more acceptable. But no matter how much one attempts to change or alter words and terms, it will never change reality. Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allah have mercy on him, said: ‘If names and images were to be changed, verdicts and facts would change too, thereby contributing to religion’s corruption, law’s alteration, and the disappearance of Islam; it didn’t benefit idolaters that they named their idols gods since they had nothing of the attributes of divinity in them.’ In sum, there is a correlation between these two aspect since delusion is based on the distortion of truth and the beautification of falsehood, and to distorted truth, one must embellish falsehood. As such, you’ll find those who condemn commitment to Islam and call it “fundamentalist” or “extremism”, and use the terms “enlightenment”, “rationality” and “progressive” to describe those negligent of Islamic verdicts. Here, we might also emphasize the connection between a nation’s reality, and its interest in religious words and Islamic terminologies. For when Islamic nations were strong, religious words were prominent, yet when the nation has become oppressed and conquered by enemies these religious words became shunned and abandoned, whereas the new Western terminologies came into high demanded, and the nations’ youths started to adopt their meanings and implications, repeating those phrases that denote development and urbanization. Looking back at Islamic history, we find that religious words have become alien in this day and age, especially with the tide of intensive media intended to formulate universal minds.
The problems arising from the misconception of the arabic term ‘terror’ and its true intended meaning.
There is a science to the study of words which centers on legal definition and a reason for knowing a word because it is part of a language spoken by the Lawgiver; and He has a specific intended meaning or signification. As for political, man-made, or other distorted religious and civilizations’ terms, the study is different, as every term has origins upon which it should be based. Definitional meanings related to linguistic and terminological evolutions are many including: ‘derivation, metaphor, portmanteau words, translation, and localization’. Hence, when studying any of these terms we must know the means by which it evolved; and if the term originated from a derivation, it is best to return to the origin of the word’s derivation. If through the method of portmanteau, for example, then we must revert back to the sentence which identifies that word in a blended sound and combined meaning and so on. The way many researchers use the term terrorism is incorrect as they rely upon the derivation of the word and fill their studies with encyclopedia and terminology references. The development of this term and its meaning was actually a product of localization to begin with and therefore requires a return to the origin of the culture from which this term was transferred in order to see how much the meaning is in sync with the Arabic word. After knowing the derivation we must imagine the meaning of the word in the origin of language to determine whether the term is the correct Arabic derivation of the foreign term.
Furthermore, the term terrorism was only one of several options, or was arabized differently in its localization, until the terminology settled on a single word. Other options included violence, crime, and terrorism until the latter was agreed upon; however, this agreement is not scientifically based, but is rather based on global media and translators’ purposes and objectives. Likewise the term secularism derived from ‘secular’ relative to science. The purpose of this localization is facilitating the acceptance of this description by linking it to science rather than the term ‘atheism’ or at least the localization of this term took into account the fact of the emergence of the western ‘atheistic’ approach, and that it is a scientific approach as opposed to church, which was against science and scientific progress. Nevertheless, the translation and localization of these religious and political terms that are related to the nation’s profound issues and arise non-scientifically. It is surprising to find the demand to face the flood of exotic terms in technology or machinery, yet not find its equivalent in facing tendentious terminologies in religious matters. It is important when translating a term into a foreign language to fully fathom the foreign inclusiveness of the term.
At the same time, in religious or intellectual terms we must refer to the intellectual and religious origins to comprehend the meaning of the term, know the religious history, the history of the use of the term, its evolution, and to be exact as to its context and specified time so as to demonstrate exact meanings and enable precise degrees of speech understanding. It is quite surprising to find someone analyzing the term terrorism, yet filling his texts with the Words of God and His Messenger which allegedly support this term, despite the fact that the people who originated the term never inferred it from Quran. Moreover, there is a huge difference between contemporaries’ use and reference to the Arabic word ‘rahab’ and its derivations (fright, terror, awe, reverence), and the use of this word in religious texts. For if we examine the word ‘rahab’ and its derivations from Quran and Hadith, we find great meanings of ‘awe’ or ‘veneration’ of Allah in worshiping him; Allah Almighty said: ‘O Children of Israel: Remember My favour upon you, and fulfill your part of the covenant, I shall fulfill My part, and have awe of Me. [Baqarah: verse 40]. And He says in describing his prophets, peace be upon them: ‘They used to vie with one another in good deeds, and they cried unto Us in longing and in fear, and were submissive unto Us’ [Al-Anbiya: 90]. Among the prayer that the Prophet used to pray: ‘Lord, make me grateful to you, praising of you, and fearful of you’. Fear can also be used to fend off evil and vice as Allah Almighty said: ‘Make ready for them all you can of force and of horses, that you may dismay the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others beside them whom you know not but Allah knows them.’ [Anfal: 60]. Placing fear in the hearts of whoever has committed a crime, or in those who are inclined to abuse the law, prevents oppression and deters criminals from repeat offences because of fear of penalties; this ensures the people’s security. Thus are the meanings you find derived from the Arabic word ‘rahab’ in various texts. And as for the vicious and prohibited actions like the assault of people or public and private crimes, Islamic law indicates precisely which words are legitimate and explains the provisions adopted in the discipline.
Historical use of the term.
Research suggests that the first use of the term ‘terrorism’ was at the time of the French Revolution when the word was used in France to describe a new governmental system which extended from 1793 CE to 1794 CE since, according to encyclopedic sources, France ruled a reign of terror which has become well-known throughout history. During this era, at least three hundred thousand people were unjustly arrested, and about seventeen thousand were officially executed on the guillotine, while many died in prison or without trial. This regime intended to establish democracy and popular government by eradicating the revolution’s enemies; and violent acts and persecutions became a terrorizing tool in the hands of that government; as such the word terrorism has acquired negative meanings in Western minds. However, the word was not wide-spread until the early nineteenth century when the Ross revolutionaries used it to describe their struggle with the government, at which point terrorism became a designation denoting strife against governments. Still, this term was spreading in accordance with the presence of events and their nature, which in turn led to differences in determining or defining the meaning of this term. Although the issue throughout the world has a legal façade, and the nature of the legal issues should be specific, it turned into a media catchphrase, and the use of the term terrorism has now sometimes become a kind of intellectual terrorism.
Furthermore, we may look at the meaning of the term terrorism in Arabic and Foreign Studies. First, the definition of terrorism in foreign studies: Oxford Dictionary defines it as: ‘a policy, or a method used to terrorize and scare off opponents, or opponents of a government, and the word “terrorist” generally refers to any person trying to support his views under threats or intimidation’. Definition of the Legal Committee of the Group of America, to prepare a treaty to counter terrorism and kidnapping: ‘acts that in itself can take the conventional images of crime such as murder, arson, and the use of explosives, but differ from traditional crimes in that they take the structure of a deliberate intent to cause panic, chaos and fear within an organized community, to bring about the destruction of social order, and increase misery, and suffering in a group’. And the United Nations resolution in (1999) defined it as: ‘any criminal act without a justified reason, and no matter who commits it and where it has been done, it is reprehensible’. Second, the definition of terrorism in Arabic Studies: the definition used by Cherif Bassiouni, and which the committee of regional experts that the United Nations organized their meetings at the center of Vienna in 1418 March 1988 approved of, said: ‘an internationally forbidden violent strategy; stimulated by ideological motives, that intends to instill terrifying violence within a slice of a particular community to gain access to power, or as propaganda to demand something or protest against oppression, regardless of whether these perpetrators are working for themselves, or on behalf of other countries’. The Committee in charge of Arabic League Council to conceptualize a joint Arabic concept of terrorism in 1989, defined terrorism as: ‘every organized violent act, or threat that instills panic, or pain through acts of murder, assassination, seizure of hostages, hijacking aircrafts, ships, explosives, or other acts that contribute to terror, chaos, and disorder which targets political objectives’.
From the numerous definitions of terrorism we can denote that it is an ambiguous and undetermined concept. The major reason behind the ambiguity of the term, including its varying definitions and numerous opinions, is ‘confliction of diverse doctrines or ideologies’ espoused by countries as acceptable life methods for their people. Thus, the debate should not revolve around the term ‘terrorism’ per se, but rather the origin of ideology, for peoples’ attitudes to life and living are a reproduction of this origin. Humans who use their intellect in estimations, will stray. ‘For nothing judges between humans other than a divine book, and if they use their intellect, the debate will never end’. The following is what some Western scholars have mentioned: The Federal Library of Congress research section states: ‘definitions of terrorism vary on a large scale, and are usually inappropriate, even terrorism researchers often neglect determining the term. However, any violent act regarded by the United States as a terrorist act, may not be regarded as such in another country, and the type of violence that distinguishes terrorism from other types of violent acts such as regular crimes, or armies battle crimes, can somehow be conveyed by terms that make it reasonable’. Multiple definitions often confuse any reader; although it is supposed to be precise and exact, it will appear to anyone reading these definitions of ‘terrorism’ that the term can possibly refer to various meanings.
In any dispute, we must have a reference with respect to judgments, and this reference must be agreeably righteous and honorable; such universalism can be found in the divine book: ‘For nothing judges between humans other than a divine book, yet if they use their intellect, the debate will never end’. Therefore, the issue of terrorism should have a fixed standardized reference which includes the issue’s various aspects. There should be a reference which we refer to in determining the reality of terrorism, denoting acts as acts of terrorism, identifying the causes that contribute to terrorism. However, it is unusual to use laws and constitutions to determine ‘terrorism’, since each country has its own laws. Therefore, law should not be used as a standard in ‘terrorists’ trials, especially since some of those charged with ‘terrorism’ have alleged ties to a religious perspective, despite the fact that all religions condemn terrorism; nevertheless, it might be good to Islam’s verdicts in such a trial in order to deter and prevent future terrorist acts. Even more, imposing a particular concept on a nation is kind of injustice if a particular concept was never fully defined.
Likewise, some terms do not correspond to their meanings. The particular term called ‘terrorism’ is too elaborate to be limited to a single term, for phenomena of aggression are vast with multiple aspects, yet if such aspects related to perpetrators, targets, and circumstances are generalized under a single term it would violate the meaning of the definition. On the other hand, some studies on terrorism do not even sustain an original concept. Thus, failure to specify a definition is the thing that urged all Arabic and Islamic conferences to discuss the issue to determine a specific definition. In a statement issued by the Doha emergency session of the ninth Foreign Ministers of Islamic countries held in Doha on 13/7/1422 it was stated: ‘Based on the Islamic Conference Organization treaty rules, under the United Nations’ supervision as the representative of all countries, the conference emphasized on its countries effective contributions to define International Terrorism without selectivity or double-standards, and address its causes and trace it out to achieve stability and security’.
Our religion is rich with specific designations, but using ‘terrorism’ as a term is not one of them. Such a term cannot designate religion because all religion itself rejects it, along with other designations which are not related to the core of religion but rather to individuals or groups who go off the straight path. As there are various religious designations, we’ll mention just four of them: extremism, injustice, kharijites, banditry and warriors. First: extremism means exceeding limits. Ibn Faris, may Allah have mercy on him said: ‘The Arabic letters indicate exceeding limits and measures’. From the Arabic word ‘ghala’: expensive, though ‘ghala’ as a concept means: to exceed. Hence, extremism is overstepping limits. Terminological definition of extremism: Ibn Taymiyah, may Allah have mercy on him, said: ‘Extremism is exceeding limits in a thing or an act which leads to praise or criticism to more than what it deserves, and so on.’ and Shaykh Sulaiman bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Abdul Wahab, may Allah’s have mercy on him, defined extremism using Ibn Taymiyah’s definition. Hafiz Ibn Hajar, may Allah have mercy on him, defined extremism as ‘militancy and exceeding limits in an act’. These definitions are similar and denote that extremism is exceeding religious limits. Shaykh Suleiman bin Abdullah said, ‘It is demonstrated by exceeding that which Allah ordered, which is tyranny that Allah forbade since Allah said: “and transgress not in respect thereof lest My wrath come upon you” [Taha: 81]’. This is because righteousness is neither excessiveness nor negligence, as the scholars have stated. Mutrif bin Abdullah, may Allah have mercy on him, said: ‘It good between two evils’. Thus, he who avoids excessiveness and negligence is guided.
How to apply extremism as a term: The descriptions that denote a violation of law are never generalized, for each term must specifically denote each different violation. Let us consider as an example the descriptions of idolatry (shirk), disbelief, immorality, and injustice. There are two types of shirk: one amounts to idolatry and apostasy and is deemed the ‘greater shirk’, while the other form simply refers to ostentation in good works and is termed the ‘minor shirk’. Hence, ‘major shirk’ as a term can never refer to other than an atheist. This also applies to the term extremism, for extremism as a term can never refer to anything other than an individual or a sect which exceeds limits in religious acts or beliefs. Imam Shataby, may Allah have mercy on him, said in reference to defining a sect which is excluded from Sunnis, ‘A sect becomes a sect by differing from the Sunni consensus in the overall religious conception and view of Sharia rules, not just in a partial conception’. Linguistic definition of injustice: Ibn Faris, may Allah have mercy on him, gives a definition of injustice: ‘Injustice consists of two parts in Arabic: the first part requests a thing, and the second a type of corruption and injustice refers to assault’. Terminological definition of injustice: it has numerous definitions that refer to the same meaning; Ibn Abidin, may Allah have mercy on him, said: ‘Every resistant sect that comes together and battles the people of justice believing in their so called righteous intentions and claims of governance’. Ibn Qudama, may Allah have mercy on him, said ‘a group from amongst the righteous people revolted against the imam, due to misinterpretation’. Thus, the meaning of this term is clarified in this sentence, and though some differ in determining restrictions, but everyone agrees that it refers to the revolt against the imam. Ibn Hubayrah, may Allah have mercy on him, said: ‘And they agreed that if a sect revolted against the imam due to misinterpretation, it is permissible to fight them until they repent’. Hence, it is clear that an aspect of the so-called terrorism was specified in scholars’ studies, and categorized in their books under the rubric of defending against assaulters. A definition of Kharijites is given by Ibn Faris: ‘The word Kharjite consists of two parts in Arabic: the first part means running out of a thing, and the second means different colors. We say: left out…’. A terminological definition of Kharijites: Ibn al-Najim, may Allah have mercy on him, said: “Kharijites are a resistant sect who revolted against Ali with an erroneous interpretation [that Ali fell into shirk and had to be killed] an interpretation that made them regard Muslims’ bloodshed and looting permissible, and accused the Prophet’s companions of heathenry’ Al-Nawawi may Allah have mercy on him, said: ‘Kharijites are a heterodox sect who believe that whoever commits a great sin becomes a heathen, and is eternally burned in hell, and hence they abuse the imams and don’t pray with them in congregations’. These Kharijites are not just historic but tend to reappear in various forms; the Prophet’s allusion to the sect that emerged in the time of Ali ibn Abi Talib, may Allah be pleased with him, is because of what they contributed to and the verdict and penalty is not limited to them, but to all those who share the belief structure relating to Kharijites. However the Prophet, peace be upon him, alluded to them to warn his companions in his time.
Banditry is defined by Ibn Faris as: ‘It consists of two parts in Arabic: one: looting; second: war; and looting is banditry’. A terminological definition of banditry is given Ibn Hamam, may Allah have mercy on him, who said: ‘Mercenaries who loot people, and slaughter and intimidate pedestrians’. And Ibn Abd al-Barr, may Allah have mercy on him, said: ‘Whoever instills corruption by looting and slaughtering pedestrians and violates honor is a bandit’. Al-Nawawi, may Allah have mercy on him said: ‘He is an powerful adult Muslim who, with a group of mercenaries, loots people and caravans and then flees’. Hence, these religious terms set verdicts and descriptions for each type of violation, and impact rulers’ religious commitment, for rulers who battle assaulters, Kharijites or bandits need to approach the Muslim community in the sense of religious righteousness in order to counter these issues.
In addition, religious terms were detailed, sufficient, satisfactory, and void of any dispute. Here is one example: Mecca statement issued by the Islamic Fiqh Council in the Muslim World League at its sixth session, held in Mecca by King Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud from 21 to 26/10/1422 AH 5 to 10/1/2002. This definition is inclusive of the religious verdicts of terrorism, where he says: ‘Terrorism is the aggression practiced by individuals, groups or nations assaulting humans’ ‘religion, blood, mind, wealth, and honor’ and includes forms of intimidation and abuse, unjustly threats and murders, and all that is attributed to banditry of looting and intimidating pedestrians, and every perpetrated violent threat or act, established to execute and individual or group criminal project individually or collectively, targeted to instill terror in people, or intimidation of harming or endangering their lives, damaging environment or any facilities and property, public or private, exposing a national or natural resources to risk; all of these are forms of corruption which Allah forbade. Allah said: “Seek not corruption in the earth; Allah does not love corrupters” [Al Qassas: verse 77].’ Allah has legislated a deterrent penalty to terrorism, aggression and corruption, and considered it a battle against Him and His Messenger: ‘The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter theirs will be an awful doom’ [Al Maeda : Verse 33]. This severe penalty is never found in any man-made law due to the seriousness of this assault, which is regarded in Islam as war against Allah’s limits. Moreover, the conference emphasized that one of the forms of terrorism is a country’s terrorism, and the clearest and most heinous terrorism is the one practiced by Israelis in Palestine, or practiced by the Serbs in Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Kosovo; this type of terrorism is the worst type as it endangers the security and peace of the world, and so it is allowed to confront such evils, in self-defense, by jihad.
I conclude here by defining the religious term ‘jihad’ – a term many Westerners have erroneously included under the term terrorism. Jihad’s definition, according to the linguist Ibn Faris, may Allah have mercy on him, is: “Jihad: from ‘juhd’ to exert oneself, and jihad is power.’ Allah said: ‘…those who find their best efforts…’ [At-tawba verse 79] and jihad also refers to solid land. Ibn Manzor, may Allah have mercy on him, said: ‘Juhd means power, as in I exert myself, and juhd is strife and power… And Jihad: exaggeration and exerting yourself in battle.’ Jihad’s religious definition is given by Ibn Taymiyah among others: ‘Jihad is to do your best in an act – and its ability – to achieve rightfulness and deter injustice’. Some scholars define it using a specific meaning of ‘holy war’ as the struggle to defend Islam, with force if necessary. The following are some definitions of jihad from juridical books: Al Ayney, may Allah have mercy on him, said: ‘In sharia jihad is a just war: the struggle to defend Islam, with force if necessary’. In Al Rodh Al Muraba jihad is defined as: ‘battling enemies’ and in the ‘Small Explanation’: ‘A Muslim battling a non-treaty enemy to call for Allah’s religion’ and this jihad is for the good of all human beings since it has no financial motives. Dr. Whaba Zahaile said: ‘Jihad is effort and struggle through peaceful means first; if that fails then one can resort to battle as a way to secure one’s country – if needed – for the wellbeing of all humanity in this world and the Hereafter, and every effort in this regard is a holy battle intended to please Allah’. After demonstrating the scholars’ definitions of jihad, he also said, may Allah preserve him, ‘It appears that supporting Islam is obligatory on all Muslims; therefore, the word “jihad” was used instead of “war” since it is a battle for a religious cause and not a war for aggression; jihad then is an Islamic word’.
In any case, overall meanings of jihad can sometimes be incomprehensible to people in the West or with secular ideologies. Fahmy Howeidi notes: ‘There are loaded doctrinal phrases and vocabularies in the minds of all Muslim, which are incomprehensible to non-Muslim Westerners and, when used, may leave one impression on a Muslim audience and an entirely different (and negative) impression on strangers and westerners… and one of those words is the word “jihad” or “conquest”… Jihad to Westerners is perplexing; often (mis)understood as nothing more than a “holy war”… Yet the words jihad or mujahid do not have accurate English or French counterparts, which led some fair translators to incorporate the same Arabic word written in Latin letters. Jihad is distinguished from battle and struggle by the multiplicity of its forms in the name of Allah, and loses its legitimacy if it is not for Allah’s sake; whereas battle or struggle may be for other means.’. Thus, the differences between the what is accurately termed ‘terrorism’ (which is unmotivated aggression), and ‘jihad’ (which is a just war or defense according to concrete principles of Islamic jurisprudence) are obvious. For terrorism is fundamentally different from jihad in everything: in reality and in concept, in its causes, divisions, achievements, and purposes, and its religious ruling wherein proper jihad is permissible while terrorism and aggression are clearly prohibited. Again, terrorism is a type of aggression which is used to intimidate innocent people, destroy their interests or lives, assault their property and honor and dignity, and corrupt land and is wholly rejected by Islam. Jihad, meanwhile, is designed to defend the sanctity of innocent people, wealth, and honor, and provide them with a more dignified life, rescue the oppressed and liberate their homes and countries from occupation or colonization. Islam has never ordered people to aggress, terrorize innocent people, or loot; but it has instead asked Muslims to prepare themselves for battle if unjustly attacked in order to protect their country, family and freedom – yet never to initiate aggression. Thus, jihad in Islam is legislated to defend Islamic territories, invoke righteousness, ward off injustice, and instill peace and security.
In short: Jihad in the name of Allah is sometimes necessary, yet terrorizing innocent people is a crime against humanity. Jihad is permissible, but terrorism is a forbidden aggression. There is major difference between them and only Allah the Almighty knows best. The duty of preachers and students towards religious terminology is to pay attention to every term they use. Ibn Abi al-Izz al-Hanafi, may Allah have mercy on him, said: ‘Expressing truthfulness with divine words is the way of the Muslims’. Scholars have said that there is no objection to addressing people with the terminologies they use, as long as they refer to a correct meaning. But the use of the term terrorism is often inappropriate since it does not always refer to a correct meaning. Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allah have mercy on him, emphasized the importance of using religious terms, and said: ‘The Mufti has to issue fatwas using religious words found in texts, for they include explicit verdicts, evidences, and contents that ensure righteousness, and lead him to the best statement in fatwa, since juridical designations are not as accurate when it comes to fatwa… Thus, religious texts’ terminologies are the most accurate, acute, and free of contradiction and confusions…but when these acute terms are exchanged with humans’ whimsical terms, the result is twisted and corrupt terms, full of confusions and contradictions…’ The point is that religious terms should guarantee best explanation. As for dealing with the contemporary world’s use of the term terrorism, I believe that Islam’s clear prohibition of aggression should be highlighted and demonstrated, so that Islam prevails in this debate.
Conclusion: I conclude this research by pointing to the most important findings: Terminologies have become a crucial tool in eliminating controversy, along with the use of scientific facts and awareness of conception. Terms have become tools in the conflict between civilization and intellectual development among nations and within nations; thus, when studying any term one must know the means by which this term was derived. The term terrorism was originally derived from Western culture, and dates back to the ends of the seventeenth century of the Common Era. A study of the term terrorism reveals that the concept is vague; there is an apparent contrast in determining the meaning and the definitions; there is lack of standardization such that words do not correspond to correct meanings.
Our religion has always defined and used words specifically so as to eliminate misunderstanding. Words such as ‘extremism,’ ‘assault,’ ‘Kharijites,’ and ‘banditry’ are all examples of this. Furthermore, current Sharia scholars have added a specific definition of the word ‘terrorism’ in light of the religious words to avoid confusion. Finally, because Westerners have wrongly attached the word jihad to the term terrorism, it now requires a diligent attempt on the part of sharia scholars to manifest the reality of the meanings of the word jihad in sharia in order to distance it from the heinous crime of terrorism.