Jihad is a part of Islam. Not just a part, an important and crucial part, just in case important is different from crucial.
Jihad is to exert yourself, meaning what you will not ordinarily do or find easy, you push yourself and get it done. Whatever this is must however be good because Islam is about goodness.
I remember one evening after fasting we were talking about a family that did not use to practice Islam although they say they are Muslims. The next morning the Mallam I was discussing with came knocking very early. He said “don’t you want Allah to give us paradise? Then why did we speak of those people and we did not try to preach to them. Let us go there now”. I told him I have neither brushed nor bathed, he said him too. Let us go, “it is Jihad”. That last sentence sealed it for me, and I followed him. That is what Jihad is, the things you may be lazy to do you pick up yourself and exert yourself and get it down.
Jihad is a fight against oppression, it is not easy but you do it. I remember one Ramadhan we were heading to Itikhaf, we heard the cry of Ifeanyi Eze, a cab man, as he was being beaten by the Police and he was screaming “Nigeria oh, Nigeria oh”, myself and my brother stormed out of his vehicle. My pregnant wife was in the car, Igho Hakeem Ohwojeheri was jumping in front of Police gun as if it was a toy. He told them this is my client you will step back. Did we doubt that we could have been shot dead on that spot, no. It was the Jihadi orientation that teaches us if you die stepping up against oppression Allah will reward you that kept us going. Ifeanyi Eze did not have to be a Muslim. That is Jihad for you.
Myself and Shehu Jimoh had our own experience. As we drove by a Police Station we see a Policeman with a gun and a koboko pushing a woman. I said Jimoh record this, as he was recording, the man started descending on the lady with Koboko. Without asking or discussing, both of us jumped down from the vehicle running towards an angry Police man with a gun as if we wanted to attack him. Why should we care when he was beating up a woman with Koboko in broad day light and no one, not even women around or the Police men and women in the Station came to her rescue AND we knew if anything happens to us Allah can use this to forgive us our sins and grant us success in the hereafter? That is Jihad for you. She didn’t have to be a Muslim and we didn’t even check if the Policeman with a gun was a Muslim.
I have restricted myself to these two because they happened in public. Every Muslim you see has his struggle for which he is fighting Jihad, don’t think that those of us who are forced to mention some of our good in public are the only ones, I consider us the worse among the bulk. Some it is bribe that is offered at the office while they are broke, others it is a lady that is exploding their head but they exercise restrain even if she was interested. Just anything can fit in provided it is something that was not easy for you.
Now where your problem is is that you insist Jihad is about killing non-Muslims and I ask you where did you see that? The famous Usman Dan Fodio Jihad was against fellow Muslims who were oppressing the people.
Am I saying we don’t fight wars and see them as Jihad? Why will I say that when anything you do that involves exerting yourself is Jihad? So a war that is meant to stop oppression is also Jihad. Like if you invade my land and your soldiers are raping my little girls and you are forcing something against my faith on me, pushing you back is Jihad because it is a fight against your oppression, just as pushing back armed robbers that come into my house is praise worthy.
The Taliban attempt to push back America from their country is Jihad. The Palestinian struggle against Israel driving them from their home is Jihad. But if you think it is not Jihad because somehow you can show that these two were wrong then go ahead, but don’t fault Jihad because Jihad is about fighting oppression, only this time you think these are not oppression (however you can arrive at that).
Lastly, does Jihad include conquest? Of course. There are certain times that oppression cannot be stopped without conquest. Take the example of the conquest of Mecca. The Prophet of Islam was born there, he grew up there. Then he had a belief and peacefully preached it and he was prosecuted and his followers victimised. He jejely went to Medinah where he is welcomed, yet the Meccans kept coming to attack him in Medinah. At some point for peace to reign he signed a treaty with them, a treaty so one sided in their favour that his companions were displeased; people who loved him so much they could not even look at his face where displeased, yet the Meccans will violated the treaty!
Even outside this there is the Jihad of promoting Islam until it becomes superior. Why can’t I promote what I believe until it takes over everywhere? What will be wrong is to force others to believe what I believe and the Qur’an already FORBIDS us from doing so.
Will some people do evil and call it Jihad? Of course, which concept do people not use as excuse? Someone even killed his family members saying he loves them and don’t want them to suffer because the word is hard. Do you name the concept of having a family or concept of love for that?
I have no problem with your Crusade for Christianity and “Nigeria for Jesus” programmes, you are promoting what you believe. You too have no problem with my Jihad; both the effort I make to be a better Muslim and the effort I make to promote Islam and the physical fight I do for the oppressed when the opportunity presents itself. To you be your religion, to me be mine. If you are confident you have the truth you will panic. Promote yours, let me promote mine. Don’t try to blackmail me.