To most Muslims, “Jihad” has three meanings, or levels: First, there is “Jihad e Akbar,” or the “Greatest Jihad,” which is the lifelong struggle with self to resist temptation and, essentially, to always “Do the Right Thing;” Second is “Jihad e Kabeer,” which is to extend those values to family, neighbors and community, essentially live by “The Golden Rule;” Third, “Jihad e Asghar” is emphatically the last resort – to physically defend yourself/family/community is justified only to the extent of neutralizing the threat(s). In other words, there is no terrorism or “Holy War” version of “Jihad” among the genuinely moderate, peaceful and inclusive Muslims who abide by the Holy Quran’s edict, “there is no compulsion of religion in Islam.” Many believe that the “Holy War” version of Jihad was created and justified by Osama bin Laden around 1986 when he expanded this “defensive jihad” to be justified so long as “Infidels” had a presence in or occupied what he and Al Qaeda considered to be “Muslim Lands.” Ironically, what is needed most today is a jihad against jihad, or a peaceful struggle against a violent “Holy War.”
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