Terrorism is one of the most common threats in this contemporary world. The World Economic Forum has placed it in the top three global problems with climate change and global water crisis. Historically the term “terrorism” described state violence against citizens during the French Revolution. Oxford Dictionary defines terrorism as “the use of violent action to achieve political aims or force of government to act”.
Islam is one of the leading religions of the world. “Islam” is an Arabic word that came from “Aslama” which means submit (to God) and Islam means submission. Islam is defined as the religion of the Muslim, a monolithic faith regarded as revealed through Muhammad (Sm) as the Prophet of Allah. Prophet Muhammad (Sm) proclaimed Islam in the 7th century. Now Islam is the world’s second and fastest-growing major religion of the world. The followers of Islam are now over 1.7 billion, which is 23% of the world population.
There are five main pillars of Islam. Jihad is one of the most important tenets of this religion of peace. The literal meaning of jihad is struggle or effort and it means much more than holy war. Muslims uses the word jihad to describe different kinds of struggle:
A believer’s internal struggle to live out the Muslim faith as much as possible.
The struggle to build a good Muslim society.
Holy war – the struggle to defend Islam with force. if necessary,
Prophet Muhammad (Sm) said that the internal jihad is the greater jihad.
Terrorism is a recent term of the world affairs. History shows us that terrorism was described as state violence against citizens during the French Revolution. So in the early period of Islam there was no existence of terrorism.
Scholars Paul Wilkinson defined terrorism as “a deliberate attempt by a group to create a climate of extreme fear to intimidate a targeted social group or government or commercial organisation forcing it to change it’s behaviour”.
According to Walter Laqueur, “terrorism constitutes the illegitimate use of force to achieve a political objective when innocent people are targeted”.
From the scholar’s definition it is clear that the term terrorism is actually used as a way of gaining political objective, not religious. Scholars described the causes of terrorism on three perspectives:
Psychological perspective: those who engage in terrorism for purely personal reason based on their own state of mind.
Ideological perspective: ideology is defined as the belief, values or principles by which a group identifies its particular aims and goals. For example, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) is motivated by a political ideology to oust the UK domination from Ireland.
Strategic perspective: Basically terrorism has emerged for this kind of reason. When the results of peaceful attention of politics failed then the terrorism is better option that was first used in the French Revolution in 1789.
The concept of terrorism came from territorial to global phenomenon in 1968 by the hijacking airlines. And increasingly it was continuing, July 22, 32 Jewish air passengers were held hostage for 5 weeks in Rome, Italy, September 4 Tel Aviv bombing 1 killed 71 wounded and many single attacks were conducted by individuals or groups. The chronologically listed, 507 incidents of international terrorism took place between January 9, 1968 and April 26, 1974 – a period remarked by a rising trend in international terrorist activities. It should be mentioned that between 1968 and 1989 the incidents of terrorism were rare approximately 1.67 per year, but after the Cold War it increased by 200% that 4.38 per year. There were no single religious terrorist group in that time. In the 80’s only 2 of 64 terrorist groups in the world were animated by religious faith. Today there are a number of groups in the world marked as terrorist groups. Such as ERP, FAL, FAP, FAR in Argentina, Red wings, ALN, VAR, UPR in Brazil, MLN in Uruguay, the FLQ in Canada, PFLF, SLA in the USA, IRA, ETA in Northern Ireland, ILO, PFLP, ELF, ISIS, AL-QAEDA in the Middle East, Taliban, Japanese Red Army in Asia all are known as terrorist groups. They all have a particular ideology or interest. Some of them are political, religious or territorial.
Now this article focuses on that Islam doesn’t support terrorism. Islamic jihad focuses on an inner spiritual struggle and is strictly against violent actions. Jihad also means the Holy war. Islamic scholar Sufyan-al-Thawri claimed that jihad is only a defensive war, not violence or terrorism. But some like Al-Qaeda, ISIS are really terrorist groups that named themselves as Islamic groups.
They attack and kill non-believers and unfaithful people even though they are women and children. But Islam strongly discourages torture on women and children. This group uses suicide bombing that is considered as a great sin in Islam. They create a climate of extreme fear for general people, which also are not supported by Islam. They understand jihad in different ways and claim their activities as Islamic jihad.
It is the matter of concern that world’s, especially Western, political leaders define jihad as terrorism. They are always trying to establish this concept that Islamism is Terrorism. They are spreading this belief in people’s mind and people begin to sniff about Islam as terrorism. They should prevent terrorism, not Islam. And we all must prevent terrorism.
According to description of Jihad and Islam, this kind of thinking is totally wrong. So this type of thinking should be changed by the world’s leaders and clearly differentiate between Islam and terrorism.
Today people are enough concerned about this matter. They are always trying to accept real things. So it is easy to judge that Islam and Terrorism are not the same.
Md Moshiur Rahman, Department of International Relations, University of Rajshahi