Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


“war against the unbelievers”

“Jihad is used to mean struggle by means of the tongue—preaching and exhortation—and to persevere despite the obstinate resistance of some unbelievers to the beliefs and ideals of Islam. Removing all misconceptions and stereotypes in clarifying the image of Islam held by non-Muslims, building a trusting relationship and working with them in ways that accord with their way of thinking, are all primary forms of Jihad. Similarly, establishing a strong community and nation which can fulfill all physical needs of its people, thereby creating for them conditions in which the message will be heard, rather than being lost in the strife and struggle of everyday life, are requirements and form a basic building block of the Jihadic concept. These foundations fulfill the Qur’anic injunction, “Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: and these it is that shall be successful.” [3:104] Until this is accomplished the conditions of Jihad remain unfulfilled.”

The Islamic Supreme Council of America


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The Islamic term “Jihad,” or “struggle,” which is commonly translated as the “war against the unbelievers” is not an inherently violent concept. However, many political and religious groups including Islamic splinter groups have adopted this concept to justify various forms of violence, which continue to negatively impact the significance of “a peaceful battle for self control and improvement” that Jihad truly promotes. If military action is required to protect their faith against threat and there is no peaceful alternative, Islam permits the use of force with very strict rules of engagement which prevent violence against innocents, and advocates the acceptance of any peaceful proposals from the enemy if they arise. In the Qu’ran and Prophet Mohammed’s teachings, Jihad is described as internal and external efforts to promote the faith of Islam – political/religious groups abusing these core values further contributes to misunderstanding this religion, associating Islam with these acts of violence, which misleads the public.

  • Premise 1: The significance of Jihad is commonly misinterpreted.

Like most religious texts, scholars have extracted conflicting explanations and translations through their interpretations of the Qu’ran, and it is not challenging to imagine opposing perspectives on the significance of Jihad.

  • Premise 2: Justifying violence with Jihad contradicts the ideals of the concept, which are inherently peaceful.

This is an interpretation in itself, through this perspective Jihad does not promote violence and is not perceived as a declaration of war towards other religions. Promoting Islam and acquainting people with it through dialogue and kind persuasion is the “first type of Jihad in Islam”, in contrast to the belief that Jihad can be achieved by force. This is referred to in the Qu’ran where Allah I says, “so obey not the disbelievers, but strive against them (by preaching) with the utmost endeavor with [the Qu’ran]” [25:52].

  • Premise 3: Political and religious groups who have misinterpreted the Jihad and used it to justify acts of violence have contributed to feeding stereotypes and further enhancing the misconceptions about violence associated with Muslims. 

According to the Islamic Supreme Council of America, Muslims act kindly and justly towards members of other faiths except in two circumstances – firstly, if they dispossess Muslims of their legitimate land-rights and secondly, if they engage in hostile behaviour towards Muslims or show clear intent to do so because of their religion. In Islam it is the duty of the Muslim ruler to declare Jihad as a defensive action to repel such attacks.

  • Conclusion: Using Jihad to justify acts of violence abuses its core values of peace and misleads the public into associating violence with Islam and its followers as a result of misinterpretation.

The critics of Islam insist that Islam and Muslims are openly hostile and intolerant towards communities other than their own, which results from their exposure to the results of misinterpretation which have resulted in violence. They refer to the Qur’anic verses that urge the believers to fight the infidels, point to the battles of early Islam, and now, the contemporary stereotype of the Arab “terrorist”. It remains true, however, that Islam is still often imagined as threatening, fanatical, violent and alien by significant sections of the world’s media, and its peaceful principles are often overlooked.

Validity, Truth and Soundness


  • Assuming that acts of violence are a result of misinterpretation, Premise 1 can be accepted as true as it suggests that the concept of Jihad is commonly misinterpreted and denied its fulfillment of ideals when it is mistreated and abused.
  • Premise 2 can also be accepted as true by those same standards, which suggest that Jihad is not an inherently violent concept, but misinterpretation has led to painting this religion in a negative light.
  • Premise 3 can be more easily contested as Jihad might not be the only factor that affects how Islam is perceived, there may be other elements involved. However, it can be accepted as true as religious Muslim behaviors may often trace back to belief in Jihad, whether it implies violence or not.
  • The conclusion draws attention to the consequences of misinterpreting Jihad, explaining its effects on the public, who may associate the religion with violence. This may be seen as true when taking into account real events that have shaped society’s view on this culture and its values, building on their stereotypes.
  • Since all premises can be seen to be true, the argument’s form is valid, and is therefore sound.


  • Books about jihad appear at the end of the 8th century and the beginning of the 9th century, after the great conquests had ended. It was in the end of the 19th century with the “al-Nahda” the Arab and Muslim renaissance, where jihad was no longer referred to as a purely religious notion, but instead a secularized one – or more accurately a cultural idea. It became “a fight for the transformation of society” or “for progress”.
    Misinterpretations of Jihad trace back to the 1970s, when several groups began campaigns to overthrow the Arab World’s regimes and establish Islamic states.The US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 also helped produce a new generation of jihadists, eventually leading to 9/11. In conclusion, the notion of jihad is much broader than simply that of “the war against the unbelievers,”in Islam it is first taken as religion and civilization – a virtue. In a military sense, it is generally seen as defensive, as is also the case for both its religious meaning and its cultural development.
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