Al-Qaida’s Propaganda: True Concept Of Jihad In The Philosophy Of Muhammad Iqbal – OpEd


Al-Qaeda’s “One Ummah” magazine has recently published a 4-page article titled “Jihad and Qital in the Philosophy and Poetry of Muhammad Iqbal” in order to justify their bogus Jihad and Qital. It is a distortion of philosophical arguments presented by Iqbal. 

Extremism and jihad are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but they have distinct meanings and implications. Extremism refers to a set of beliefs or practices that are far outside the mainstream of society, often characterized by a disregard for human rights, intolerance, and a willingness to use violence to achieve one’s goals. Jihad, on the other hand, refers to a struggle or effort to uphold and defend the principles of Islam, which does not involve the use of force. The purest form of Jihad in Islam is self-reflection in one’s own actions and deeds to make one better. 

Iqbal was a prominent philosopher, poet, and politician who is widely considered one of the most important figures in the history of South Asia. His views on jihad and extremism have been the subject of much debate and discussion over the years. However, his philosophy of jihad is grounded in his belief that the ultimate goal of human life is to achieve a state of unity with God. He saw the struggle to achieve this state of unity as the central purpose of human existence. According to Iqbal, this struggle can take many forms, including the pursuit of knowledge, the cultivation of virtues, and the striving for social justice.

Iqbal’s philosophy of the “inner jihad” or the struggle for self-improvement emphasizes on the importance of spiritual and moral development through the process of “self-reflection” while extremists ideology tends to focus on external factors such as political power and the imposition of a distorted interpretation of Islamic law.

However, Iqbal also believed that there were times when physical force was necessary to defend one’s beliefs and way of life. In such situations, he argued that the use of force could be justified as a form of jihad. However, he emphasized that such violence must be used only as a last resort and must be guided by ethical principles. Iqbal’s vision of jihad was not one of mindless violence or blind obedience to religious authority, but rather one of enlightened resistance against oppression and injustice.

Extremism, on the other hand, is characterized by a blind and uncompromising adherence to a particular ideology or belief system. It often involves the use of violence and coercion to achieve one’s goals, and it is typically characterized by a rejection of pluralism and diversity. Extremists believe that their worldview is the only correct one, and they are often willing to use any means necessary to impose their beliefs on others.

In contrast to extremism, Iqbal’s philosophy of jihad emphasizes the importance of reason and moderation. He believed that the use of force should always be a last resort, and that it must be guided by ethical principles. He also recognized the importance of pluralism and diversity, and he believed that all individuals and groups had the right to pursue their own beliefs and values.

Another important aspect of Iqbal’s philosophy of jihad was his emphasis on the importance of education and enlightenment. He believed that the key to social progress and development was the cultivation of knowledge and wisdom. In his view, ignorance and superstition were the root causes of many of the problems facing Muslim societies, and he believed that the only way to overcome these problems was through education and enlightenment.

Extremism, by contrast, often rejects education and enlightenment in favor of blind adherence to a particular ideology or belief system. Extremists may view knowledge and education as a threat to their worldview, and they may seek to suppress or control the dissemination of knowledge and information.

Iqbal also recognized the importance of ethical principles in guiding the use of force. He believed that violence must be guided by a set of ethical principles, including the principles of proportionality, discrimination, and non-combatant immunity. Extremists, on the other hand, often use violence indiscriminately, targeting civilians and non-combatants in addition to their intended targets.

While extremism and jihad may appear to have some similarities, they are fundamentally different in their approach to violence, pluralism, diversity, education, and enlightenment. While extremism can lead to destruction and chaos, jihad can be a force for positive change and progress, guided by ethical principles and a commitment to justice and peace.

The author is an independent researcher and Lecturer at National University of Modern Languages (NUML), Islamabad.

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