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A little truth on the other side?

Reader comment on item: Jihad and the Professors

Submitted by Richard Boltuck (United States), Nov 1, 2002 at 16:27

This article brilliantly documents that historically and to many Muslims today "jihad" encompasses offensive and imperialistic warfare. That, of course, is transparently true when one considers the Taliban and its sympathizers, Al Qaeda, the tribal areas of Pakistan, and other radicalized Islamists -- of which there are seemingly many. It is likely true of many Wahabists and radical Shiites in Iran. But then, as Dr. Pipes notes, there are also masses of Islamic secularists who participate in broader Western civilization and who endorse moderation.

Is there not then a legitimate second definition of jihad that may mean "inner struggle"? Put differently, when an Islamic Harvard student, for whom offensive warfare is not in the cards, says, in essence, "to me, Jihad means inner struggle," who can say that is wrong? He is confronted with both a religious obligation to embrace jihad and secularist reality that offensive, imperialistic warfare won't promote his career plans (or less cynically, would seem contextually immoral). Hence, he interprets jihad in a way allowed by modern Islamic secularism to reconcile the two.

Granted, it is disingenuous to simply deny historical meaning, or the meaning accorded the term by other Muslims -- but there surely is a sense in which a modern secular Muslim could make an honest statement that jihad means inner struggle.
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