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Posted on Thu 26 October 2017

Letters to the Editor: Definitions of jihad

SIR – Your news report headed “Family go to court over name of baby Jihad” is right in saying that jihad can mean self-denial and a battle against sin – but that is not its primary meaning.

Hans Wehr’s Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic defines it as “holy war against infidels, as a religious duty”, and the Encyclopaedia of Islam understands it as “the spread of Islam by arms [as] a religious duty upon Muslims in general”.

A number of progressive Muslim scholars have attempted to limit this to a defence of Islam when it is in danger and to a struggle against social evils, but it is by no means certain that this definition commands the support of the masses. Jihad remains an area where radical reform is necessary if the Islamists are to be answered effectively.

Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali

London W1

Published in the Daily Telegraph, Thursday 26 Oct 2017

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