Issue Overview: Jihad

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1 Issue Overview: Jihad By Bloomberg, adapted by Newsela staff on Word Count 645 TOP: Members of the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad display weapons while praying before walking through the streets in a march with supporters on August 12, 2005, in Gaza City, Gaza Strip. Photo by Spencer Platt. BOTTOM: Graph by Rand Corp. Islamic extremist groups such as al-qaeda and Islamic State call their violent campaigns jihad a holy war waged on behalf of Islam. Mainstream Muslims argue that jihad is mostly a spiritual experience involving internal struggle. In this view, violent jihad is allowed only in extreme cases, and it must be approved by legitimate authorities. Nevertheless, the militant jihadis are winning recruits. The Situation The number of groups engaged in violent jihad grew from three in 1988 to 49 in 2013, according to a study by Rand Corporation, a global policy nonprofit organization. The goal of these violent jihadi groups is to create their idea of purified Islamic societies. They say they want to practice Islam as Prophet Muhammad s early followers did. These early followers are known as the Salaf. Like all Islamists, jihadis support rule by sharia, the rules and laws laid out mainly in the Quran and in the record of the prophet s life. But unlike some fundamentalist groups, jihadis embrace violence. In Arab countries, scholars and religious officials who are closely connected to the government have condemned jihadis.

2 But the association of these officials with the government has led many citizens to ignore their views. Some scholars argue that jihadis are on sound theological footing, but many Muslims dismiss these theories. The Background Jihad literally means to make an effort. It can include spiritual, verbal, scholarly or military attempts to serve God. The concept of the just war a war that is deemed morally justifiable is explored throughout Islamic texts. It appears first in the Quran when God permitted Muhammad and his early followers to fight their persecutors in seventh-century Arabia. In recent years, resistance, liberation and terrorist leaders have taken up the idea of military jihad. In the late 1980s, jihadis pushed Soviet forces from Afghanistan. Non-Afghan Muslims who had fought with them returned to their home countries to continue holy war. Among them was Osama bin Laden from Saudi Arabia. His group, al-qaeda, complained of U.S. aggression in the Middle East. It declared war on the U.S. and its allies in 1998, and killed almost 3,000 people in attacks on the U.S. on September 11, The Argument Some jihadis say that Muslims should fight until all non-muslims convert or submit to Islamic rule. Others frame their military campaigns as defensive, aimed at purifying Muslim lands of non-muslim aspects or reclaiming territory once under Muslim rule. Both positions contradict the view of mainstream scholars that jihad is justified only to defend Muslimruled territory from attack or protect persecuted Muslims. Jihadis have taken it upon

3 themselves to declare war, even though it s a well-established view among scholars that only genuine political leaders have this power. Critics also denounce jihadis for killing civilians, a practice forbidden in Islamic texts. Defenders of jihadis have responded by saying that these citizens were collateral damage, accidentally killed while going after the real enemy. Rand estimated that the number of jihadi fighters climbed to as many as 105,000 in 2013, from 1,900 in Studies of captured and former jihadis show that they have a variety of motivations. They may want to achieve recognition, belong to a group, experience adventure or vent frustration whether over a personal, political or economic grievance. Many jihadi recruits found the idea of martyrdom particularly appealing. One study concluded that volunteers generally don t come from strong religious backgrounds. According to one theory, many are attracted by a new doctrine holding that the Muslim nation faces a fundamental threat and Islamic law requires every able Muslim man to defend it. The Internet has given contemporary militant groups a way to reach more potential supporters than ever. The biggest jump in recruitment started in 2010, about the same time as the Arab uprisings, which weakened government control in parts of North Africa and the Mideast. That gave jihadi groups opportunities to expand.

4 Quiz 1 One central idea of the article is that there is conflict among Muslims about whether the violent jihad of extremist groups is based in religious law. Which of the following selections BEST supports the main idea above? Like all Islamists, jihadis support rule by sharia, the rules and laws laid out mainly in the Quran and in the record of the prophet s life. It appears first in the Quran when God permitted Muhammad and his early followers to fight their persecutors in seventh-century Arabia. Jihadis have taken it upon themselves to declare war, even though it s a wellestablished view among scholars that only genuine political leaders have this power. Studies of captured and former jihadis show that they have a variety of motivations. 2 Read the following sentence from the section "The Argument." The biggest jump in recruitment started in 2010, about the same time as the Arab uprisings, which weakened government control in parts of North Africa and the Mideast. Does this sentence support a central idea of the article? Why or why not? Yes; it explains one cause of the increase in jihadi fighters. Yes; it illustrates one perspective of violent jihad. No; it does not relate to the political reasons for jihad. No; it does not illustrate the desire of jihadis to be martyred. 3 Which statement BEST reflects one of the author's beliefs? Military jihad is morally justified by the passages of the Quran that allow Muslims to fight their persecutors. Jihadis have manipulated the teachings of the Quran to suit their personal desire for martyrdom. Social media and Internet access have played a critical role in increasing the number of jihadi supporters. The practice of violent jihad is acceptable when Muslims seek to defend their territory or protect other Muslims.

5 4 Complete the sentence. The author of the article is MOST concerned with: accurately detailing Islamic religious law asserting that jihadis have a sound theological argument presenting a balanced account of differing perspectives about jihad understanding why more people are choosing to follow jihad

6 Answer Key 1 One central idea of the article is that there is conflict among Muslims about whether the violent jihad of extremist groups is based in religious law. Which of the following selections BEST supports the main idea above? Like all Islamists, jihadis support rule by sharia, the rules and laws laid out mainly in the Quran and in the record of the prophet s life. It appears first in the Quran when God permitted Muhammad and his early followers to fight their persecutors in seventh-century Arabia. Jihadis have taken it upon themselves to declare war, even though it s a well-established view among scholars that only genuine political leaders have this power. Studies of captured and former jihadis show that they have a variety of motivations. 2 Read the following sentence from the section "The Argument." The biggest jump in recruitment started in 2010, about the same time as the Arab uprisings, which weakened government control in parts of North Africa and the Mideast. Does this sentence support a central idea of the article? Why or why not? Yes; it explains one cause of the increase in jihadi fighters. Yes; it illustrates one perspective of violent jihad. No; it does not relate to the political reasons for jihad. No; it does not illustrate the desire of jihadis to be martyred. 3 Which statement BEST reflects one of the author's beliefs? Military jihad is morally justified by the passages of the Quran that allow Muslims to fight their persecutors. Jihadis have manipulated the teachings of the Quran to suit their personal desire for martyrdom. Social media and Internet access have played a critical role in increasing the number of jihadi supporters. The practice of violent jihad is acceptable when Muslims seek to defend their territory or protect other Muslims.

7 4 Complete the sentence. The author of the article is MOST concerned with: accurately detailing Islamic religious law asserting that jihadis have a sound theological argument presenting a balanced account of differing perspectives about jihad understanding why more people are choosing to follow jihad

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