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‘Jihad’ is most misunderstood term: Malaysian law professor

“Islam sets clear guidelines as to when war is ethically right, and clear guidelines as to how such a war should be conducted. Simply put, war is permitted in self defense, when other nations attacked an Islamic state, and when Muslims are oppressed.”

Ahmadiyya Times | News Watch | Int’l Desk
Source/Credit: Sun. Star Davao
By Malu Cadeliña Manar | August 4, 2011

THE word “jihad” is the most misunderstood term in Islam, said a Malaysian professor of law at the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Prof. Rohimi Shapiee, member of the faculty of law at the UKM, said the word “jihad” has been misused and as a result, many people associate it with war and terrorism.

Shapiee is one of the speakers during the Sixth Southeast and East Asian Teaching Session (Seats) on the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) held July 24-31 at the UKM, who discussed with more than 30 participants from different countries in Southeast Asia the session on the armed conflicts and the humanitarian principles of Islam.

Shapiee said that linguistically, “jihad” means striving, whether for good or for evil.

“Its general meaning signifies resisting and opposing the oppression, persecution, or standing up to a dictator,” he explained.

Jihad, he added, is a struggle both to improve and expand Islam, “but not necessarily through violent means.”

“The greater Jihad is an exertion in Allah’s path through one’s heart. The use of sword or the ‘jihad of the sword’ is actually considered as the ‘lesser Jihad’,” the professor said.

For him, referring “jihad” as the “holy war” is “inaccurate.”

“Warfare is only justified under certain conditions and it is only in the context of a sanctioned religious war,” he said.

The professor, using a verse in Qur’an as basis, stressed that “war should only be fought for noble motives without seeking any earthly reward.”

“Islam sets clear guidelines as to when war is ethically right, and clear guidelines as to how such a war should be conducted. Simply put, war is permitted in self defense, when other nations attacked an Islamic state, and when Muslims are oppressed,” he said.

In times of armed conflicts, the Muslims, especially the soldiers, pursue what they call as “humanitarianism”, defined by Wikipedia as an act of kindness, benevolence, and sympathy extended universally and impartially to all human beings.

Shapiee said that “Islam, since Day One, stresses on universal humanitarianism.”

He stressed in his report the important aspects of Siyar or the Islamic international law during wars or armed fighting.

Siyar is defined as those rules and practices the Shari’a allows in international relations.

“Siyar is also the extension of Shari’a designed to govern the relationships of Muslims with non-Muslims at a time when Islam came in contact with them,” the professor said adding, “Islam did not claim to be totally a new system but it is a perfected system of religion and law.”

For him, the IHL or the Law of War or Law of Armed Conflict has developed in order to mitigate the effects of the conflict. It also limits the means and methods of conducting military operations. Its rules oblige combatants to spare civilians and those who are no longer participating in hostilities, such as soldiers who have been wounded or have surrendered.

The “humanitarianism” as an important element in the IHL is also the basics of the Siyar, according to the professor.

“Humanitarianism can be found in the teachings of all religions and moral standards,” he said.

At least 31 participants from 10 countries in Southeast Asia and East Asia attended the week-long training organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross, together with the Faculty of Law of the UKM.

Of the five participants from the Philippines, two were from Mindanao: one a journalist who has covered the wars in the region and another a professor on International Law at a state-owned university.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on August 05, 2011.

Read original post here: ‘Jihad’ is most misunderstood term: Malaysian law professor

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