Jihad and Martyrdom In Islam -- By: Alan D. Ingalls

Journal: Journal of Ministry and Theology
Volume: JMAT 06:1 (Spring 2002)
Article: Jihad and Martyrdom In Islam
Author: Alan D. Ingalls

Jihad and Martyrdom In Islam

Alan D. Ingalls

Associate Professor of Old Testament
Baptist Bible Seminary, Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania

Since September 11, 2001, Americans have perceived, belatedly, a need to understand those who have declared the “Christian” West their enemy, that is, those who are professed adherents of Islam such as Osama bin Laden, who is widely believed to have masterminded the devastation of the World Trade Centers (hereafter “WTC”). While the events of September 11 comprise the worst attack of terrorism in American history, they are certainly not the first, nor will they likely be the last.1

This article is not an attempt to analyze Islam as a whole or critique it from a Christian perspective. It is not an attempt to provide guidance to those who wish to share the Gospel of Christ with Muslims. It is not an attempt to analyze the life and mission of any terrorist leader or organization. Our question here is simply this: Do those labeled “terrorists” properly represent the religion of Islam, the Qur’an as the foundational book of Islam, and Muslims worldwide as adherents of Islam?

Relevant Terms

There are several terms that must be defined at the outset. The first is the Arabic word Islam, which literally means “submission” and refers to the adherent’s submission to the commands of Allah (the Arabic name for God). A Muslim (sometimes spelled Moslem) is an adherent of Islam. The Qur’an is the holy book of Islam. Muslims believe that they worship the same God worshipped by the Jews and Christians, though more perfectly because the Qur’an provides later, more accurate revelation than Scripture does.2 The

teachings of the Qur’an are supplemented by the hadith, the early traditions, customs, and decisions of the leaders of Islam, and by fatwahs, decisions or pronouncements of respected Islamic scholars on issues of current significance.3

The term jihad literally means “striving” or “a struggle.” It does not mean “holy war,” though it is often translated this way and holy war does come under the umbrella of jihad. The term for “martyr” in Arabic is shahadah, which has a semantic field very similar to the Greek term μαρτυς: “a witness” or “one who dies for his faith.”

Islam holds to five “pillars”—five practices required of all Muslims:You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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