Its sad how the true meaning of a particular concept is so badly put into another context to mean something totally opposite, full of negative connotation and misleading from its original theme.
In present day, because of some literalist (those who interpret religion in dry, literal way denying any intellectual engagement), misleading people by hijacking the peaceful religion of Islam - we are in this position of seeing totally negative and wrong meanings introduced to a number of purely peaceful religious terms. Sadly enough, following the same footstep, the media has also hijacked the word 'Jihad' from islamic terminology.
Just today when i came up the word, Peaceful Warrior, the thought just occured to me that a Jihadist can most suitably called a Peaceful Warrior.
How?!! - you wonder with disbelief perhaps. Be assured, i don't blame you for your disbelief, given the current world reality, relentless propaganda and media stunt.
Well check the true meaning of Jihad. It purely means inner struggle. And ask any realized person 'what is the most tough and difficult war to engage with', and you will get the answer that its against our very illusory self (nafs, ego: our 'i').
I quote from USC-MSA Compendium of Muslim Texts: "Jihad is an Arabic word the root of which is Jahada, which means to strive for a better way of life. The nouns are Juhd, Mujahid, Jihad, and Ijtihad. The other meanings are: endeavor, strain, exertion, effort, diligence, fighting to defend one's life, land, and religion.
Jihad should NOT be confused with Holy War; the latter does not exist in Islam nor will Islam allow its followers to be involved in a Holy War. The latter refers to the Holy War of the Crusaders.
Not only in peace but also in war Islam prohibits terrorism, kidnapping, and hijacking, when carried against civilians. Whoever commits such violations is considered a murderer in Islam, and is to be punished by the Islamic state. during wars, Islam prohibits Muslim soldiers from harming civilians, women, children, elderly, and the religious men like priests and rabies. It also prohibits cutting down trees and destroying civilian constructions."
Since Jihad truly and foremostly means this inner struggle, the effort - so a Jihadist or the person who engage in Jihad is definitely a warrior. Infact a warrior of higher rank. Also there is recorded tradition by Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, who mentions internal Jihad or inner struggle as the foremost struggle or al-Jihad-al-Akbar.
Now why the other word, peaceful?
Because the inner struggle itself leads to purification of self. and surely, the person who purifies himself or herself is the abode of peace. Once we are at peace with ourself, we can be peace with others, with world. Unless one have something within, one can not give it back to others. So peace within is a pre-requisite to share it.
Remember the beautiful words of Jesus Christ, blessed be his soul, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27).
Now inner struggle, the Jihad transforms one to achieve this inner peace. and one of the meaning of Islam is also peace. Thus a Jihadist in its true essence and meaning is the Peaceful Warrior.
I hope soon the terms Jihad and Jihadist regain back its true essence of meaning, coming out of the dark shadow of this obsessed so called terrorist and terrorism terms. And for that its the Muslims who have to work hard to demonstrate in their life this Jihad, this inner struggle and by raising words of awareness about those people who try to hijack the religion and distort its meanings as they wish.
May we all become a Peaceful Warrior and overcome our illusory self or ego before we cry and lament unto Lord on the Day of Judgement by uttering, Ya nafs! Ya nafs! and accuse our illusory ego for our sorrowful state. May that Peace Divine reside in us at the end of our struggle. Amen!
November 2006| Singapore
The post's title, peaceful warrior is inspired from an inspirational movie by the same name Peaceful Warrior.