What is Jihad?
The word "Jihad" literally means struggle, which in Islamic terms means to strive in the way of God.
Any struggle done in day-to-day life to please God can be considered Jihad. One of the highest levels of Jihad is to stand up to a tyrant and speak the truth. The control of the self from wrongdoings is also a great Jihad. One of the forms of Jihad is to take up arms in defense of Islam or a Muslim country when Islam is attacked. Such a Jihad has to be declared by the religious leadership or by a Muslim head of state who is following the Qur'an and Sunnah.
What is the Shari'ah?
The Shari'ah is the comprehensive Muslim law derived form two sources: the Qur'an and the Sunnah (the Traditions of Prophet Muhammad).
It covers every aspect of individual and collective living. The purpose of Islamic laws are protection of the individual's fundamental rights to include right to life, property, political and religious freedom and safeguarding the rights of women and minorities. The low crime rate in Muslim societies is due to the application of the Islamic laws.
Was Islam spread by the sword?
The Qur'an declares, "There is no compulsion in religion" (2:256), thus, no one can be forced to become a Muslim. While it is true that in many places where Muslim armies went to liberate people or the land, they did carry the sword as that was the weapon used at that time. However, Islam did not spread by the sword because in many places where there are Muslims now, in the Far East like Indonesia, China, and many parts of Africa, there are no records of any Muslim armies going there. For instance, instance Muslims ruled India for over 1,000 years and yet on 15% of Indians are Muslims. If the 'sword' had been used, the statistics would have been otherwise. Despite 1,400 years Muslim presence in the Arab world, some 10% of all Arabs are Christians.
Today, Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, with people reverting to Islam through their own choice.
Does Islam promote violence and terrorism?
Islam is religion of peace and submission and stresses on the sanctity of human life.
Anyone who saves one life, it is as if he has saved the whole of humankind and anyone who has killed another person (except in lieu of murder or mischief on earth) it is as if he has killed the whole of humankind.
Islam condemns all the violence. Muslims were and are the victims and not perpetrators of the violence that happened in the Crusades, Spain, the World Wars, the atrocities committed in Bosnia and Kosovo by the Christian Serbs, in the former Soviet Union, in Palestine, and Kashmir.
Anyone who is perpetrating violence is not practicing his religion at that time. However, sometimes violence is a human response of oppressed people as it happens in Palestine. Although this is wrong, these oppressed people think that this is a way to get world attention. Of course, there is a lot of terrorism and violence in areas where there is no Muslim presence, such as Ireland, Latin America, and Sri Lanka. Sometimes the violence is due to a struggle between the haves and have-nots, or between the oppressed and the oppressors. We need to find out why people become terrorists. Unfortunately, the Palestinians who are waging a resistance movement are called terrorists, but not the armed Israeli settlers and even the Israeli government. Too often Muslims are blamed for things they did not do, for instance, the Oklahoma City bombing.
What is "Islamic Fundamentalism"?
There is no concept of "fundamentalism" in Islam.
The western media has coined this term to brand those Muslims who wish to return to the fundamental principles of Islam and mould their lives accordingly. Islam is a religion of moderation and a practicing God fearing Muslim can neither be a fanatic nor an extremist.