When a Jihad is Not a Jihad
The New York terrorism trial of Yemini Sheik Mohammed Ali Hassan al-Moayad, who is accused of funneling money to Hamas and other militant organizations, took an interesting turn yesterday. Most Americans believe, in this post-9/11 world, that "jihad" means "holy war." But, as an expert witness testified at the trial yesterday, "jihad" has another meaning for Muslims. While on one hand, it can mean an armed struggle,
....it can also mean, as the defense prefers, the struggle for self-perfection and charitable work. "Anything that basically furthers the cause of Islam and is understood to be doing good," said the witness, Bernard Haykel, an associate professor of Islamic studies at New York University.
That was my understanding. I always thought the word Jihad had two meanings, one of which was synonymous with "effort" or "campaign"-- working hard for any good cause--as in a "jihad for mass education" or "jihad against Malaria." On a spiritual level, I thought Muslims viewed "jihad" as a concept having to do with an internal struggle against evil--the goal of which was self-purification.
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