Chennai: Following fierce
criticism by Muslim leaders and organizations for equating Jihad
with terrorism, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on January 8 said
that he didn’t have the knowledge of the real meaning of Jihad and
he used the term as it is used in common parlance. While clarifying
that he had no intention to hurt the sentiments of anybody in the
Muslim community, he said “I am happy to stand corrected” regarding
the true meaning of the term.
While addressing Intelligence Bureau officials in New Delhi on
December 23 the Home Minister had equated Jihad with terrorism and
said it is a war against non-believers. Muslim leaders and groups
including All India Muslim Personal Law Board, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind,
Tamilnadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam and Secular Democratic Party of
India had promptly condemned him for the statement. Some of them had
sent letter to him urging him to withdraw the statement and tender
apology to the Muslim community.
In his faxed riposte dated January 8, 2010 and addressed to Prof.
Jawahirullah, president, Tamilnadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam, Home
Minister P Chidambaram stated: “I am sure that as a devout Muslim
you are more informed about teachings of Islam and the true meaning
of the word “jihad”. Therefore, I accept what you have stated in
your letter, and I may assure you that there was no intention to
hurt the sentiments of any one in the Muslim Community.”
On 31 December 2009, availing the service of TwoCircles.net Prof.
Jawahirullah urged through his letter to the Union Home Minister P.
Chidambaram to set right for his misconceived concept of the Arabic
word “Jihad” equating the term to ‘terrorism’, while the fact
remains that the very word “Jihad” actually stands for meaning for
“struggle or striving”.
Prof. Jawahirullah with an encouraging tone and tenure exhorted
Chidambaram’s comment that, “Your statement has caused anguish and
resentment affecting the good relations between the Muslim community
and the party in power at the Centre. It is our hope that you will
be gentlemanly enough to withdraw your statement.” This was an open
letter of TMMK President Prof. Jawahirullah to the Union Home
Prof. Jawahirullah further added in the said letter that,” Your
reported speech at the recent Intelligence Bureau meeting equating
two diametrically opposite concepts viz., the noble Jihad with the
abominable terrorism, has very badly hurt the sentiments of the
Muslim minority community."
Now that Chidambaram has made clarification, Prof. Jawahirullah is a
bit satisfied and does not want to drag the issue further.
Asked if he is satisfied with the response from P Chidambaram, Prof.
Jawahirullah told TwoCircles.net from Chennai: “In the beginning of
his letter Chidambaram says he had no intention to hurt the
sentiments of anybody in the Muslim community. He also admits that
he doesn’t have the knowledge about Jihad and Islam as Muslims have.
He also clarified that what he said was based on the common use of
the term Jihad today in the media and by Muslim militant groups. He
accepted that he happily stands corrected on the real concept of
Jihad.” He added that now it is not good to drag the issue.
“We do not know his intention behind what he said on that day. But
now if he says he is happily correcting himself and what he said was
based on common use of the term and he had no intention to hurt the
sentiments of the Muslim community, it is not good for us to doubt
him,” said Prof. Jawahirullah when asked if Chidambaram was not
deliberately presenting the incorrect concept of Jihad while
addressing IB officials in Delhi on December 23.
Prof. Jawahirullah further added: As community we have failed to
explain to our non-Muslim brothers the real meaning of Islam and
matters like Jihad which have got a lot of misinterpretation these
Why he thinks it was important to correct Chidambaram, Prof
Jawahirullah said: Because he is Home Minister, and he was speaking
to security and intelligence officials. If we had not taken up this
matter with the Home Minister then whatever had said would have gone
down to the cadres and every Muslim would been seen in wrong
perspective and with suspicion. Further concentration would have
been only on some misguided Muslims who take up to terror activity
and people like Pragya Singh and Purohit would have been ignored.
The story began on December 23, as the Union Home Minister
Chidambaram while delivering 22nd Intelligence Bureau Centenary
Endowment Lecture in New Delhi, equated “Jihad” with “terrorism”,
and said that the objective of Jihad was war against unbelievers and
he made a distinction between Crusades and Jihad while terming
Crusades as “conventional wars” and “Jihad” as “terrorism”.
Showing a positive response to the letter by Prof. Jawahirullah, the
Union Home Minister’s letter further clarifies that,” In common
parlance, the words “jihad” and “jihadi” are used to describe
militant activities and militants in different parts of the world,
The media routinely uses these words. The Concise Oxford English
Dictionary gives the meaning of “jihad” as war or struggle against
The Union Home Minister further explains in his letter how the word
‘Jihad” is being used by the terrorist such as Al Qaeda, Hizbul
Mujahedeen, and LeT. He also refers to a conversation, “between one
of the terrorists who attacked Mumbai on November 26, 2008 and his
handler in Pakistan”. The letter exposes further how the Union
Minister was so far driven to the habitual wrong usage of word
“jihad” stating that, “Recently ,the father of Abdulmutallab (the
would-be suicide bomber of an aircraft) is reported to have said
that, ‘my own son fell under the influence of a jihadist version of
Islam that I do not recognise".
The Union Home Minister in his own noble and generous spirit,
further explains that,” As you have pointed out, it is possible that
‘jihad” as used in common parlance is a wrong use of the word. Like
others I used the word as it is used in common parlance, and I am
happy to stand corrected.”