Anyone supporting, commissioning, and preparing terrorist attacks does not do it alone. For this mission to be complete and efficient, these individuals usually work sometimes as overlapping members or networks. In the context of these connections, they work cooperatively with other smaller groups or individuals who are ready to serve them. Jihadi is one such group, although they differ from the terrorist community as they lack a hierarchical or formal structure. The group, however, operates in a well-knitted pattern, which acts as a connector to other individuals to envision communication for the sake of meeting a goal. Another difference between the Jihadi group and other radical Muslims is that they tend to propagate violence through action and speech. However, this group also has extremists who prefer to propagate or support violence but have not been part of the violent team. From their dynamic, interrelated elements occurring as other radical networks, the group has influenced the Middle East since 1970 enormously.
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Jihad is a term that is widely used by the western media and politicians, although, at times, its use is inaccurate. In Arabic, this term means to struggle and efforts, and therefore, when translated into Islam, it refers to a person’s internal struggle. The strive is centered on building a good Muslim society against baser instincts or a faith war directed against the unbelievers. According to Jihadists, violent struggles are essential in terms of eradicating obstacles with the aim of restoring the rule of God on Earth while defending the Muslims as a community. Many Muslims do not use this term in public discussions, as it has a wrong perception. This terminology has been associated with acts of illegitimate violence, and that is why religious Muslims are distancing themselves from using the term in public.
Some parts of the world have experienced a series of wars, with the main perpetrators being of Muslim descent. For instance, the Indian country has experienced violence which Dabbous and Islam refer to as Muslim-Hindu. There has been a Christian-Muslim war across various nations in the world, dominating the Indonesian country, one of which is located in the Middle East. Sri Lanka has witnessed aspects of the Muslim-Buddhism war; Iraq encountered the Shia-Sunni violence, which can as well be referred to as Islamic terrorism. Various journals and news have documented conflicts that are considered sectarian or even religious, all of which occur due to Muslim influence. Therefore, the conflicts seen to dominate the conflicts in the Middle East in the context of Shia-Sunni and Islamic religions should as well address the aspect of Jihad.
At the heart of any Islamic religion or territory, there is the operative principle of the desire to create, if possible, by force, the religious activities of Muslims. The same conception is real from the Golden Age during the time of Muhammad in Medina and the 1970s to the present, in the context of influencing the Middle East and the world. Since the 1970s, Islam has strived to emphasize the aspects of establishing a true Islamic state in the Middle East and the execution of caliphate concerns. However, there has been a division as to whether to embrace the aspect of the caliphate and if it’s essential. Therefore, there is still a struggle as to whether the ideology should come on by force. Radicals such as al-Qaida and al-Nusra consider the caliphate to be established through long-term goals, while other influential persons such as Zarqawi and Baghdadi value the formation of the caliphate as their primary goal. The arguments between these two Islamic movements demean and go against each other hence swaying the beliefs of the Muslims. These arguments, which have been controlled by the Jihad’ gave birth to the need to hijack the media.
From the Middle East, the Jihad did influence the media, partly for their agenda, while not being conformed to their special focus. The trend occurred as a rejection of secular rule and also was concerned with embracing a state which excludes personal power and corruption. As a result, the Middle East has for many years been immersed in revolutions and conservations that value modernization. These issues have given forth tension of conflict in the context of, among others, the writings of Ali Shariati and al-Afghani and occur similar to the violence noted in Latin America.
Observing issues of conflicts occurring between Palestine and Israel and that which occurs during the Iranian Revolution, the phenomenon of religion becomes a reality. The influence, such as that of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, which occurred from the concept of territorial control, has been redefined by the Jihad’s struggles and the supporters to be reinterpreted to appear as one rooted in religious issues. That has then been noted to cause enmity between the Muslims and Christians because the work of transformation and interpretation of every war has influenced the way people view Muslims. It means, therefore, by the influence of the Jihad’s way of thinking, the Middle East becomes an area through which Christians and Muslims have and are still at war. The influence of this group gave rise to various revolutionaries.
Jihad’s Influence Started in Egypt in 1981
No doubt, the modern Jihadi, although not as effective as it used to be, has direct roots in the 1970s’ acts. During this year, various groups started to campaign as a way of overthrowing the Arabians World’s regime, with a need to establish the Islamic states. The influence of the Jihad and their fans to wage war was in line with a booklet entitled Al-Farida Al-Ghraib. The group’s main aim was to ensure there were no obstacles to the creation of their religion. They went to the extreme of killing anyone they thought would be an obstacle to achieving their mission. For instance, the al-jihad group, which was led by Mohammed Abdul Salam, went to the extreme to assassinate Egypt’s President Sadat in 1981, a few years after its formation.
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The group received power because the Muslims neglected them to carry out their mission in the manner of violent struggles. In this regard, the Muslims considered them to be engaging with their inner strives, working against their baser instincts. During this period, Jihad considered the need to fight against the local Muslim regimes instead of dwelling on eliminating the non-Muslim threats. This was essential because the Jihad knew if they managed to control their locals to submit to their wants, the external threats would not be a threat.
There has been a reinterpretation of how Muslims live, and with the influence of Jihad, the perception controls the residents. The movement formed by the Palestine Liberation Organization, which was also influenced by the Jihad in 1964, had the intention of representing all the Palestinians to be independent, whether they were Muslim or Christians. The contradiction which this movement brought about the militant Muslim groups, which letter resulted in the intifada in 1987. The Jihad, therefore, has caused the need for religious reinterpretation, which has created new realities of removing the first issues of conflict, making the Muslims as a religion to be rejected.
The Jihad community was first launched in Egypt in the 1970s, and after accomplishing their mission of killing Sadat, Abdul Salam’s group started to move out of the country. They were being pursued, and therefore, they had to check on a safer haven to continue with their mission. The most convenient destination for them was Afghanistan because, in this country, the Jihad’s battlefields were being created. This was a battlefield for the Jihad because they were fighting against the 1979’s Soviet invasion. At that time, the U.S had its Gulf Arab allies, and therefore they joined hands to fight the Jihad. As a result, young Muslims were being encouraged to move to Afghanistan so that they could defend their people against the Soviet Union’s power. The unfortunate reality is that the local government backed the young Muslims who, by that time, were fighting to defend their territories.
The young Muslims who joined this group was also motivated by the fatwa. These were religious rulings that were publicized by a Palestinian-Jordanian clerk by the name of Azzam Abdullah. That means, Jihad was allowed in Afghanistan, and this made any other Muslim country facing aggression adopt the concept of this group. Therefore, every abled Muslim individual had to own this duty as a way of defending their territory. This means the Jihad influenced all the Muslims to be warriors who would defend their territory, even if it was through fighting and killing.
Azzam grew to mentor many other members of Muslim, including Osama Bin laden. This terrorist came up with al-Qaeda as a dread group following an article Osama wrote for the Jihad. It is through this individual that a base involving thousand of foreign fighters was formed by the name mujahideen, and they became fighters in Afghanistan. There was a war against this group and their leaders, including the cleric, who later was killed in a car bombing, leading to global jihadism. The Soviets, by the year 1989, left Afghanistan, and therefore those who had joined the fighting group through they had triumphs making many go and try what they had learned in their countries. It is through this that the Jihad movement managed to influence the neighboring countries, with one intention of fighting as a way to resolve their religious demands. The Jihad experience then was exported to Tajikistan, Bosnia, and Chechnya, where all the Muslims learned the need to defend their interest against the non-Muslim people and army.
Influence on Other Nations
Currently, there is still war, which was initiated by the Jihadists but is still affecting many nations, including Syria. In this nation, there is concern about who is dominating the discourse, a fact which reveals that the war will still continue, as it was rooted in the Jihadists’ visions. The Egyptian and the Saudi Arabian individuals have since combined powers to form the World Islamic movement working against the Crusaders and the Jews. It was from this that the group joined in signing a declaration that aimed at fighting the United States and its allies. The al-Qaeda members came out to make various attacks against the U.S and before the U.S counter of overthrowing the Taliban regime, which had hosted in a sanctuary the Al-Qaeda leaders. It was the initial humble background of the Jihadists which gave rise to al-Qaeda and the war series against the superpower country.
The military technique that these people had received made them embrace new tactics. Under the guidance of Abu Musab, who was a Jordanian militant, the jihadists and other Muslim groups started to make videos of beheaded civilians. The subsequent acts were the al-Qaeda’s offshoots which were formed in the Middle East and developed to form a group known as Islamic State in Iraq. Various groups which attracted the concept of Jihad and created battlefields to safeguard their interests have since been created, including the Islamic State leader, who is struggling to seize control. They have so far managed to hold a large swathe in Syria and launched an offensive group in Iraq. It is through here that the capturing of Mosul was done and the formation of the caliphate. The fights that countries have witnessed, whether physical or spiritual, involving Muslims and other religions have been created by the Jihad movement, which became vigorous in the Middle East.
How Jihad’s Influence Has Affected the Islamic Religion
It started with the successful succession of the terrorist movement by the name Salafi-Jihad, then the Islamic State in Iraq, and then the Syrian ISIS movement, before the emergence of the Islamic State (IS). Foreign fighters were the main facilitators of these movements and their respective succession. However, their existence continued to corrupt the world’s minds and tarnished their image as a religion. For instance, most the Asia countries consider Islam a threat because there has been continued recruitment of Jihad members in Iraq and Syria. Such recruitment made some governments arrest people who intend to go to Jihad, exhort donations, or engage in the facilitation of the recruitment process. This is the intention so that the Jihad infrastructure can be blown out. To make it even worse, the jihad group, which the majority have been the Muslim people been noted to launch attacks on churches. They have therefore gone further to have inter-communal strife occurring between the Muslims and Christians as well as attacking the Christian priests.
Such attacks mean one main thing Muslims are supporters of Jihad and war-related movements to fight for their interests. They do this by embracing the terrorist image, and therefore, the world views Muslims as supporters and part of the terrorist against other religions. Even though the countries around the Asia and the Middle East regions have varying power in controlling terrorist groups, they make every effort to combat this community. For instance, there are strict laws governing the way the Muslims operate with keen consideration to whether there are any members of terrorist groups emerging from them. That means the regions where Islam is rampant are closely associated with terrorism, a fact which shows that the religion is feared to be a cultivator of terrorists.
The world has a specific view of Muslims; for instance, they perceive them as fanatics. This occurs from the idea that Muslims as a religion have strict guidelines of how people should live, although there are various diversity controlling them. Jihad as a group influenced the followers to be devotional to the extent that they were forced to be as loyal as they could. The practice of religion is then done in unison as agreed by the leader, which replicates the way the Jihad leaders led others to follow their commands even if it appears to be inhuman.
The world understands this group to be a group of people who are violent. Some Muslim leaders do not tolerate the aspects of violence, and therefore they condemn this idea as much as other religions do. They even ask whether the bombing of a building in Oklahoma by a Christian means all Christians are terrorists. However, news stories about Islamic terrorism, basically from Jihad and other violent Islamic groups, have tarnished the image of the Muslim community. The majority of non-Muslims believe that Islam upholds the concept and ideology of Jihad, which they consider to be a holy war that is fought directly against non-believers. However, for the Muslims themselves, the aspect of Jihad is personal, which occurs in the context of the internal struggle of a person’s morals. On the contrary, the non-believers, through these acts, view them as people who are fond of killing others in the name of protecting their religion.
Jihad, in another perception, occurs as a social struggle for defense and justice which the Islamic community honors. The Quran, on the other hand, according to Gardner, allows the aspect of war and the need to expand the community of Islam. Much worse, there are set limits to the conversion and expansion of Islam, which reveals that the conversion of people should not be forceful, or through battle, and the livelihood of those who are noncombatants needs to be protected. However, there is no buy-in to this perception because, from the inception of Jihad, the Muslim community has been known to be violent.
In conclusion, the Jihad movement has greatly affected the people of the Middle East and, in the end, has affected the way people perceive them. Jihad was a group formed in Muslim-dominated countries, including Egypt, where they killed all those who acted as an obstacle to their religion. The Muslims want their religious principles to be honored by everyone and even if this will happen by force. They are radical in their beliefs and honor what their leaders say, a fact which has evoked a negative perception of them by non-Muslims. However, the determination and struggle they have were implemented on the battlefields, where the fighters were majorly Muslims defending their interests.
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Daniel, Augusto and Gagliano, Jeffrey. 2020. “Addressing the Combined Threat of Violent Jihad and Cultural Jihad”. International Journal of Security Studies 2(1):1-29. Web.
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