Jihad is an Arabic word with meanings such as “striving against all odds, making efforts, and endeavoring.”…
Before all for a Muslim, on the one hand jihad basically means to find oneself spiritually. This is only part of the truth. On the other, jihad is to help another to find himself or herself in a spiritual manner. For this very reason jihad is of ultimate significance in Allah’s perspective.
Jihad means eliminating the obstacles between people’s hearts and God to let them meet Him once more and enduring every kind of hard- ship and trouble for this sake. (1)
Jihad is striving to attain one’s essence by exerting oneself and resisting adversities that go against the flow of life; we term this ‘the greater jihad’. There is also the version of jihad made for the sake of letting others meet their essence; and we term this ‘the lesser jihad’. (2)
Al-jihad al-asghar (lit. ‘the lesser jihad’) is not only fighting in battle. This kind of understanding would narrow the scope of jihad unjustly. The scope of jihad — without any exaggeration at all — is as great as the distance from the East to the West. Sometimes even a word or a silence, a grimace or a smile can be regarded as jihad if these deeds are carried out sincerely for Allah. Likewise, any kind of endeavor — even the lesser one to transform the condition of the community into a better one as far as possible — must be considered as jihad.
Efforts for family, relatives, neighbors, and finally the whole of humanity are basically the lesser jihad. This jihad is in some respect mundane.
The spiritual aspect of jihad, which is known as ‘al-jihad al-akbar’, is about fighting against one’s own nafs (evil-commanding self) and Satan. Without these two, jihad lacks its validity and balance. Our knowledge and understanding of jihad is — like every religious practice — from the Prophet Muhammad. ….
Basically the lesser jihad is to perform established religious duties while the greater one is to do them in a sincere and conscious manner. It is difficult to refrain (which is called al-jihad al-akbar) from immoral human qualities such as hate, enmity, jealousy, egoism, arrogance and so on, which are the deadly enemies in our spiritual development. (3)
The Qur’an provides various ways of thinking about jihad in terms of its essential idea: there is a jihad of stimulating people to recognize themselves; a jihad of maintaining a bond with the entire existence; a jihad of standing up to animal desires; a jihad of letting the people we address realize self-conquest: taking a stance against all evil feelings and passions that debase a person such as enmity, grudge, hatred, lust, rancor, worldly passions, and jealousy… [There is] a jihad of letting everybody adopt a lofty ideal; a jihad of overcoming all fears and expectations; a jihad of accepting this world as a waiting lounge for the afterlife and thus living in this world in accordance with the next; and many more jihads… (4)
(1) F. Gülen, Yol Mülahazaları, Işık Yayınları, İzmir, 2012 (first edition 2007), p. 24; F. Gülen, Ümit Burcu, Işık Yayınları, İzmir, 2012 (first edition 2005), p.130, first published as En Önemli Vazife, http://www.herkul.org/kirik-testi/en-onemli-vazife/, access date 03.03.2016.
(2) F. Gülen, Fatiha Üzerine Mülahazalar, Işık Yayınları, İzmir, 2012 (first publication 2002), p.83; F. Gülen, Sonsuz Nur, Işık Yayınları, İzmir, 2012 (first publication 1994); F. Gülen, Işığın Göründüğü Ufuk, Işık Yayınları, İzmir, 2012 (first publication 2000), s.57. is part was first published as an article in Sızıntı, August 1999, V 21, n. 247.
(3) F. Gülen, Asrın Getirdiği Tereddütler, v.3, İzmir: Nil Yayınları, 2012, p.194 (first edition 1992)
(4) F. Gülen, Kendi Dünyamıza Doğru, İzmir: Nil Yayınları, 2012, pp. 113-114. (first published as ‘Dar bir Zaviyeden Düşünce Sistemimiz’, Yeni Ümit, v. 7, n. 49, 2000)
Source: F. Gülen, “A Perspective Muslims’ Responsibility In Countering Violence” First published in Belgium, 2016 KU Leuven Gülen Chair for Intercultural Studies. Edited by Dr. Ergun Çapan
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