Monday, August 13, 2012

Jihad Within

I find that one can read to the heart's content on subjects such as investigation, politics, law, medicine, and so on, but it is never anywhere near as fulfilling as speaking with an experienced person within that particular field.  Likewise, one can read all there is to know about Mormonism, Witchcraft, Atheism and Islam- But it does not beat the understanding one can develop after speaking about it with someone who actually practices.  It is, of course, vital to remain distanced to some degree, as well as to be well versed in one's own faith and prayed up; but if one is led to do so, a conversation on other beliefs with one who holds those beliefs is invaluable.
For instance: I have regular discussions with an older gent whom I'll call Ali.  This man is an Imam that lives here in the States in virtual exile.  Our discussions range from the day-to-day conversation of two friends, ("We can't get this rain to go away!" "Send it our way, all we've had is sun!"), to more focused political or theological discussion.  Some of our most interesting conversations have been about the finer points of Islamic theology, and perhaps most interestingly, the subject of Jihad.

In the event that some of our readers do not know much about Islam, allow me to backtrack and state that there are several pillars of the faith, and by pillars I am also referencing their "articles of faith."  There is the Shahada, or proclamation of faith- "There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger."  There are the prayers, for which every true Muslim must kneel on their prayer mats facing Mecca, repeating them a prescribed number of times.  There is the Hajj, which is a journey to Mecca that must be taken at least once in the life of a true believer.  There is the observance of holy days, such as Ramadan, during which a devotee may eat nothing during the daylight hours.  Finally, there is the Jihad.  (NOTE: I've only touched on some of the pillars of Islam; depending upon the sect, there can be many more.)

Jihad, according to Ali, can take three distinct meanings.  The first and most widely publicized is the holy war against Infidels- Anyone who is not a follower of their prophet.  (Some Muslim scholars now say that this form of jihad can take on the form of either words or weapons.)  The second, and less well known, is a holy cleansing war, in which those Muslims who are not unwaveringly devout are slain.  (Many Muslim scholars deny this, yet the teaching is found within the highest religious teachings reserved for prospective Imams.)  Third and lastly, the least reported is that of the internal jihad; the war all devout Muslims must wage against the sinfulness within.  Ali is now a political refugee for suggesting that this last type of jihad is all that is truly left to the Muslim.

While discussing this point, Ali said something that was very interesting in the "double take at the train wreck" kind of way.  He said:
"This is not so different from Christianity, you know."
The religious side of me immediately started shouting "Oh, he did NOT just say that!"  The analytical side of me was attempting to calmly say "Now wait- Let's hear him out."  In the chaos, my mouth got confused, and working completely independent of my brain, pulled off my best Porky Pig impression ever:
"Uh, b-dee, b-dee, b-dee, uh, uh... How so?"

He began to quote verses from the New Testament rapid fire, like some sort of spiritual AK.  "Take up your cross and follow Me"; "if any man wishes to be My disciple, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me"; "we are dead to sin and alive in Christ"; "for this reason, I crucify my flesh," and so on.  When all was said and done, I was left with two thoughts above all else.
The first thing that hit me was that this man knew the Bible better than I did, and that brought some major conviction.  There are people in other parts of the world that memorize every scripture from cover to cover so that it can then be passed on to the next eager believer.  I've got four or five Bibles within reach at any given time, and I can barely quote five or six verses with their references.
The second thing was that Ali; Islamic Imam, trained and brought up in the Qur'an and the complete Hadith collection at Mecca itself; was absolutely right.  How I'd missed it before, I do not know, but there it is.  Jihad means "holy war," and we do fight against our flesh daily.  The difference is that we as Christians rely upon the strength of the Holy Spirit to be successful; Muslims must attempt this in their own human strength.  No wonder so many prefer to focus upon the jihad against infidels- Dying in holy battle absolves all of their sins, as opposed to having to fight their own sin nature.

So, dear reader, there is a major open door for ministry to the Muslim world- The simularity between Islamic and Christian jihad against the human sin nature, and the differences therein.  Until that opportunity arises, though, let us continue our daily jihad against our own flesh.

God truly is great!


  1. I am not sure that your comment about Christians using the Holy Spirit and Muslims using free will is correct. Could you explain your basis for the contrast?

    1. I would be happy to, Bhodi, but I did not say that anywhere. I'm sorry for not understanding what you're saying. Could you maybe quote the section in question?


Feel free to comment on any post you like. We do ask that you remain courteous and family friendly, as people of all ages will be reading these comments. Thank you!

IMPORTANT NOTE: We welcome your thoughts, and look forward to any websites you wish to show us that may contain material relevant to the entry. However, please note that all comments containing a web address will be flagged for approval, and may not show right away.

Thank you again for taking the time to comment, and God bless you!