The Hand of Talha: Jihad in the 21st Century
What does Jihad in today's time constitute? Is it different to the Jihad carried out in the time of the Holy Prophet (sa)?
It was during the time of the Holy Prophet (sa) that the definition of Jihad was coined, both through verses of the Holy Qur'an and the practice of the Holy Prophet (sa) himself. Muslims were taught that the lesser Jihad is fighting to establish peace whereas the greater Jihad was a continuous struggle to better oneself. After 14 centuries the nature of the lesser Jihad (Jihad with the sword) has ended - the greater Jihad has remained unchanged.
Early Muslims too had to work on their spirituality - continuously seeking the guidance of the Holy Prophet (sa) on how they can better themselves, just as we do today. Early Muslims too had to ensure they were always giving precedence to their faith over worldly matters, just as we pledge to do today. This nature of this personal Jihad - which is a lifelong endeavour - has never changed in that, it has always been a fight against the baser self to attain a higher level of nearness to Allah. The early Muslims, being companions of the Holy Prophet (Sa) achieved such spiritual heights that they became shining stars for the rest of the Muslims.
When Hazrat Talha (ra) stood defending the Holy Prophet (sa) at the battle of Uhud - taking all arrows onto himself, he demonstrated the best way in which one can defend his Imam - ensuring that the enemies of Islam do not harm the Imam, but it is his Khuddam who are the first line of defence.
But while serving the Jama’at is one form of Jihad, the other type of personal Jihad is equally important for both strengthen each other. If an individual continuously strives to better himself and gains nearness to Allah, his religious service will increase too.
In this day and age the Jihad of the self-reformation can be in the form of:
• Observing prayers on time
• Reciting the Holy Qur’an
• Contributing towards Chanda
• Sacrificing our time for the Jama’at
• Safeguarding oneself from the evils of society.
The theme for this year's Ijtema explains that the defence of the Imam is the Jihad of the age - this means that a true Khadim always seeks to aid his Khalifah by acting upon his directives, furthermore, he betters himself so that he can be of better service his Imam.