Keeping Shari‘a and Reclaiming Jihad
Journal of Political Theology
Ten years after 9/11, America continues to face the challenge of terrorism and Muslims are increasingly being demonized by some segments of the American society. Due to constant anti-Muslim propaganda and fear-mongering by some lawmakers, political hopefuls, and others in the Christian Right, Islamophobia is on the rise. Islamic notions of shari‘a and jihad have been dubbed as the source of all evil. Attempts to ban the shari‘a by some states, and to equate jihad as “violent terrorism” are essentially rooted in ignorance of Islam, and a desire to construct a false sense security. Both the shari‘a and jihad, considered from the mainstream Islamic perspective, are spiritual notions meant for the betterment of the soul. Their abuse and misuse by some Muslims should not be construed as equivalent to their inherent spiritual meaning. This essay suggests that shari‘a is antithetical to terrorism, and jihad, far from being “holy war”, implies a constant spiritual struggle to do good and to be an upright citizen.