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Islamic World

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When the Soviet Union collapsed and the cold war came to an end, the world felt as if it were on the edge of unlimited peace and prosperity. Unfortunately, new issues came to light, such as terrorism. Terrorism is defined by Title 22 of the United States code, section 2656(d) as "the pre-meditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by sub national groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience." In light of recent terrorist activity in the West, the danger that Islamic terrorism poses to national security and civilian safety has been brought to attention.

The Islamic world does not view the West favorably. Some extremists, such as the Hizballah, view the United States as "the Great Satan." Although unannounced violent actions against civilians is called terrorism by the West, Muslims view such behavior as religious duty. Most terrorists are viewed within their individual countries as radicals, although some have benefited from gaining wide-spread approval in their region. With popular support behind them, these extremists have declared a holy war, a jihad, against the West, Israel, and all sympathizers of the two. In the jihad, terrorism has been the most used weapon against the enemies of Islam.

Although terrorism has been magnified throughout the world recently, jihad is nothing new to Islam. Although jihad did not immediately play a significant role in Islam, the idea of striving for a spiritual good always has played such a role. Jihad does not necessarily involve violent or physical actions. Jihad, when applied correctly, always includes a change in one's self and mentality, and may involve a giving up of material property, social class, emotional well-being, and comfort for the salvation and worship of al-Lah.

The jihad includes an extensive amount of striving for righteousness. Even in contemporary terrorist actions, recruits for suicide missions are trained for righteousness and trained in the matters of personal piety and holiness. Because jihad is a spiritual matter, spirituality is of utmost importance to all who are recruited to join any jihad. One common misunderstanding concerning jihad is the inward nature of jihad. The West tends to think of jihad as a call to outward or external activity, but in the Islamic mind, jihad is a call to all individuals to prepare their hearts and souls to be holy in preparation for their personal sacrifice. The internal nature of jihad does not ignore a need for acts. In the Quranic verse 3:30, God tells believers that acts reflect the soul of their authors, which explains why jihad is widely represented in the minds of Muslim and non-Muslim individuals in the acts committed in the name of Islam, such as acts of terrorism.

Although jihads contains many underlying values, such as equality, peace, and purity, the most important value of jihad is justice. Muslims view justice mainly in the realm of social interaction. An example of social interaction where justice is an issue would be a court trial, family accountability, and particularly government interaction. When these social institutions become seemingly unjust, it is then that the call of jihad seems most logical. The West's understanding of jihad as a holy war is a misnomer. The war provoked by jihad is not holy in and of itself. War is purely an attempt to bring holiness through infinite justice. It is ironic that Islam is sometimes held to be a synonym for terrorism, when the very word Islam comes from the root word salaam in Arabic, meaning peace.

Even though Western Islamic apologist claim that the Quran does not justify any form of violence, in certain cases Islam tolerates, permits, and encourages war and war-like acts. According to the Quran, Muslims must always oppose oppression, but if there is ever a way to avoid war or violence it must be taken. Most of the problem of jihad in Arab and Islamic nations is clarifying who is eligible to declare jihad. On the issue of who is permitted to declare a jihad, the Quran is unclear. Sometimes Muslims acknowledge the ability of spiritual leaders to declare jihad, some give the ability to certain government officials, and some to leaders of the military.

Even in war, however, Muslims must treat their adversary, regardless of their national or religious origin, with basic human respect and civility. Islam condemns brutality against any human being, particularly women, children, widows, and all of society's helpless. As long a civilians maintain neutrality in war, even they cannot be tolerated by Muslims as victims of war or spoils. History has generally proved that Muslims are rather diplomatic at war. After conquering a region, Muslims do not regularly enslave, mistreat, or forcefully convert the conquered. Even societal traditions and regional customs are usually untouched by Muslim victors after a successful jihad.

According to Islam, differing religious or cultural values do not demand a jihad. In fact, the Quaran directly prohibits the killing of individuals simply over ideological differences. The question arises of why there is Islamic terrorism. Some politically and economically focused terrorists use Islam and the principle of jihad for their own cause. Many Muslims recognize such selfish distortions of the Quran. Many Muslims are also quick to point out terrorist actions by Christians in Bosnia, Ireland, England, Germany and Spain, and by Jews in Israel, Palestine, and Lebanon.

Some terrorists and their organizations which murder civilians call themselves martyrs. Those who kill civilians in the name of Islam or the name of jihad, who think of themselves as martyrs should reconsider. Their act is actually strongly stated in the the verses of the Quran to be condemning of their own soul. Islamic terrorists are ignoring the Quran. Instead they blindly follow the opinion of their corrupted leaders. They are oppressed by their own rulers that use both the principle of jihad and their subject's human sacrifice for political gain. There is no doubt that extremist views of jihad are enabled by the traditional Islamic view of war. War is seen in much of the Islamic world as evil, yet completely necessary. The Islamic view of war is based more in the long-time culture of the Arab world than in the Quran, although war is permitted by Muhammad.

In the modern world, jihad terrorism is most often carried out by terrorist organizations that are state funded. Unlike the Quranic reasons for jihad, these groups use violence as a means for spreading national ideologies rather than spiritual justice. Examples of the nations that are known to sponsor terrorism are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Syria, and recently, Afghanistan. These nations support Islamic terrorism either directly or by provisions of



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