Those who are introduced to the Qur’an only through the media generally have the impression that the Qur’an is a book of jihad, and jihad to them is an attempt to achieve one’s goal by means of violence. But this idea is based on a misunderstanding. Anyone who reads the Qur’an will easily appreciate that its message has nothing to do with violence. The Qur’an gives us an introduction to the divine ideology of peaceful struggle. The method of such a struggle, according to the Qur’an, is “to speak to them a word to reach their very soul.” (4:63)
The Qur’an is, from beginning to end, a book that promulgates peace and in no way countenances violence. It is true that jihad is one of the teachings of the Qur’an. But jihad, taken in its correct sense, is the name of peaceful struggle rather than of any kind of violent action. The Qur’anic concept of jihad is expressed in the following verse: “Do greater jihad (i.e. strive more strenuously) with the help of this (i.e. the Qur’an).” (25:52).
The Qur’an gives us an introduction to the divine ideology of peaceful struggle. The method of such a struggle, according to the Qur’an, is “to speak to them a word to reach their very soul.” (4:63), the desired approach, according to the Qur’an, is one that moves man’s heart and mind. This is the mission of the Qur’an. And this mission can be performed only by means of rational argument. This target can never be achieved by means of violence or armed action.
It is true that there are certain verses in the Qur’an that give permission to wage war. But these verses are only relevant when a state of war already prevails. Physical combat is meant only for the defense at the time of an attack. Indeed, no war is lawful in Islam except for defense. Moreover, such defensive warfare can be engaged only by an established state. No individual or organization may on its own wage armed jihad.