Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Jihad?!

” What if something you believed to be a basic liberty interfered with another’s freedoms? “

A human right is a right that is believed to belong to every person regardless of race, sex, nationality or religion. They are rights which include, but are not limited to, the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, and freedom of opinion and expression. They are rights which we, as free people, often take for granted. However, what if something you believed to be a basic liberty interfered with another’s freedoms? Would that qualify as a human right? Who is at liberty to make that decision?

Like any religion, Islam is comprised of several schools of thought. However, amongst Muslims there seems to be a fundamental principle that all believers heed: Jihad. In the 21st Century, Jihad has taken on a very specific connotation. It is a frightening and scary word which the Western World associates with terrorism. But is that what Jihad really means? Does everyone who adheres to the Islamic faith want to take over the West?

“Modern Jihadi ideology and politicized Islam interpret this struggle as a military one. ”

The word Jihad literally means “struggle” and is said to compliment Islam’s five pillars, or foundations, serving as an honorary sixth. While some Muslims understand Jihad as a struggle within, modern Jihadi ideology and politicized Islam interpret this struggle as a military one. Islamic doctrine cites several reasons that would justify military Jihad, such as strengthening Islam, protecting Muslims against oppression, protecting the freedom of Muslims to practice their faith, righting a wrong and punishing an enemy who breaks an oath. In short, Muslims have the right to defend themselves against anything that encroaches on their belief system.

These goals, at first glance, do not necessarily fit with a liberal Western mind, but are their implications really so terrible? It’s only natural for a country or religion to have a “retaliation policy,” or simply put, a law code. Even the United States has laws protecting its citizens from dangers to their liberties. In fact, the lack of such, one could argue, would promote anarchy! Furthermore, the first amendment explicitly states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Is it not hypocritical for the government to suddenly restrict precisely that?!

“So why is Jihad different?”

So why is Jihad different? Why do we feel comfortable denying Muslims this “human right?” While in doctrine Jihad may not sound incredibly threatening, by today’s standards it means much more. Salafi Jihadists believe that they can use violence and terrorism to service their political objectives. They do not believe that Jihad is a passive and defensive struggle, but rather one that can and should be approached from the offensive. The crux of the problem stems from their willingness to harm others. This means to an end is simply unjustifiable!

Human rights are meant to protect an individual’s liberties, not harm them. And thus, if someone’s freedom of religion interferes with another’s physical wellbeing it cannot be upheld. Jihad, in it’s Salafi interpretation, should have a zero tolerance policy. There is no room to defend it as a personal liberty, nor as a human right. It is a perversion of religion and justice and has no place amongst civilized people.