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Firas Al-Atraqchi: The Jihad of Peace

The Jihad of Peace

By Firas Al-Atraqchi

The word jihad is more poignant than ever.

Not because it means holy war; not because it means crusade or anti-western hostility.

Indeed, the word jihad is ringing loudly and boisterously these days because it refers to the struggle in men, and not between men.

The word jihad comes from the three-letter root of j, h, and d. The j, h, and d of jihad when grouped together mean 'effort'. Consequently, the word jihad means struggle, endeavour, undertaking, and journey. When someone is asked to perform his best in any endeavour, the common verb is jahid.

The world today faces a jihad of sorts: the jihad of peace. The word jihad, as originally used by the Prophet Mohammad, was meant to shed light on the incredible struggle and effort individuals, and mankind as a whole, must undertake to cleanse themselves of pains, illicit desires, anger, wanton and violence. It is easy to strike out in anger; it is easy to beat a child when he/she misbehaves. It is easy to roll down the window and curse the slow driver in the fast lane.

However, it becomes a jihad to restrain oneself from anger and employ patience, humility, and compassion to deal with situations.

The situation in Iraq requires patience, humility, and compassion, as do other situations around the world. That is not to mean that one must be weak in the face of oppression or injustice. One must combat injustice and evil in a determined and resolute fashion. However, in that regard as well, one must be careful not to instigate injustice, whether directly or indirectly, purposefully or unintentionally.

Increasingly, world citizens are standing up and calling for justice. They question the new dogma of 'guilty till proven innocent', which is the battle cry for the impending war in Iraq. Some citizens brave the merciless bashing of corporate-owned media and take on the jihad of learning the truth. Sean Penn, for example, on his recent humanitarian mission to Iraq, sought only to learn the truth: who are the Iraqis? Do they hate Americans? Are they terrorists? Is this military buildup and war rhetoric justifiable?

The media nicknamed him Hanoi Sean, in oblique reference to Jane Fonda's Vietnam visit in the early 1970s, which earned her the Hanoi Jane moniker.

Voices in the Wilderness, a humanitarian group with offices around the world, undertake several missions led by lawyers, doctors, and politicians to Iraq every year. They seek to learn of the humanity in the heart of the 'enemy' across the divide. They make no political statements save to call for the lifting of sanctions on the Iraqi people.

When they return from their missions they are labeled traitors and apologists for Saddam by the media.

Perhaps, the media, in the persistent effort to boost readership and viewership, have forgotten "Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God." Matthew 5:9.

The so-called refuseniks in Israel, who protested serving in occupied Palestine, because of the dire conditions facing the Palestinians, have rejected a court decree ordering them back into service. As a result, they must endure ridicule, scorn and loathing from other Israelis.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated for daring to embark on the 'peace of the brave'.

Peacemakers are brave. They are enlightened individuals who understand the common denominator in all mankind. Desmond Tutu, Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon, Martin Scorsese, former South African President Nelson Mandela, Kathy Kelly, Noam Chomsky, Robert Fisk, and Edward Said are just a small sample of those calling for peace and justice.

Polls around the world would seem to indicate that those in favor of war are rapidly becoming the minority.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, "despite all the threats and troop movements and political debates over who will contribute what in a military effort to unseat Saddam, the United States and its allies have not yet established a clear legal case to justify a planned invasion."

So why the rush to inflict damage and death?

Indeed, it is a jihad to overcome a rush to judgment and the desire to inflict pain.


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