Nicolai Sennels: Psychology: greater jihad is preparing for the lesser jihad a�� holy war

Psychology: greater jihad is preparing for the lesser jihad a�� holy war
By: Nicolai Sennels, Psychologist

Greater jihad is an inner struggle aiming at removing psychological habits and biological instincts that keep Muslims from following the Islamic teachings. The problem is that the pinnacle of these teachings is the lesser jihad, killing or subjugating non-Muslims. Greater jihad is just another word for self-radicalisation.

In some Islamic traditions, scholars talk about two kinds of jihad: greater jihad and lesser jihad. Greater jihad denotes an inner psychological struggle of submitting to Muhammeda��s example and the teachings of Allah. Lesser jihad is what is commonly known as Islamic holy war a�� the attempt to spread Islam by submitting non-Muslims and non-Islamic areas to Sharia through preferably violent, but also non-violent, means.

Lesser jihad
It would be a grave mistake to think that just because the term jihad is used in two different ways, violent jihad is a misinterpretation of Islam. It is not. Using violence to physically impose Sharia on the world is a duty of all Muslims, stated many places in the Islamic scriptures.

And just because the inner psychological jihad is called the a�?greatera�?, it does not mean that it is better than the a�?lessera�? a�� the outer and violent jihad. On the contrary. The hadiths, the Islamic scriptures describing the life and sayings of Muhammed, clearly define killing and being killed fighting non-Muslims as a�?the highest jihada�? a�� and therefore also higher than the inner jihad. One example (Ibn Nuhaas, Book of Jihad, Translated by Nuur Yamani, p. 177): a�?Aman asked Rasulullaah: a�?and what is Jihad?’ He replied: a�?You fight against the disbelievers when you meet them (on the battlefield).a�� He asked again: a�?What kind of Jihad is the highest?a�� He replied: a�?The person who is killed whilst spilling the last of his blood.’a�?

Greater jihad
Both the Quran and Muhammed a�� if he ever existed a�� mentions several times how important it is for Muslims to be willing to give up everything, even their lives, in order to wage jihad for Allah. The Quran goes so far as to label those who are not willing to give up their family and everything they own for the sake of jihad as disobedient (meaning apostasy, for which the Sharia orders the death penalty): a�?If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your relatives, wealth which you have obtained, commerce wherein you fear decline, and dwellings with which you are pleased are more beloved to you than Allah; and His Messenger; and jihad in His cause, then wait until Allah executes His command. And Allah does not guide the defiantly disobedient people.a�? (9:24).

Greater jihad is thus an inner psychological process of removing emotional obstacles, such as the survival instinct and the natural biological attachment to offspring; spouses; and a safe and comfortable dwelling – making the believer ready and willing to submit and give up every personal desire and attachment to spread Islam.

The greater jihad, the mental replacement of personal desires with an absolute loyalty towards Allah and his prophet and laws, is aided by what could be called the cultural psychological spine of Islamic culture: the recitation of the Islamic scriptures (some even learn the whole Quran by heart), expressions of loyalty through prayer five times a day by repeating the salah (a�?O Allah, how perfect You are and praise be to You. Blessed is Your name, and exalted is Your majesty. There is no god but You.a�?), and the well-known and severe religious and social control that ensure the rule of Sharia in Muslim societies.

Brainwashing oneself
The traditional cocktail of repetition and the use of threats and violence (often called a�?honor violencea�?) within Islamic societies is exactly the same psychological tactic used in classical brainwashing of, for example, prisoners in totalitarian political regimes. Fear, violence and deprivation of personal freedom break down the individual and make him or her receptive to the message and orders that are repeated almost endlessly.

The expression a�?slave of Allaha�? is a�� not surprisingly a�� commonly used among practising Muslims as a positive way of describing the completion of the greater jihad: onea��s own submission and the giving up of normal human desires for the benefit of Islam.

Seen from a psychological perspective, the greater jihad is nothing but self-radicalisation a�� an inner holy war of brainwashing oneself that is deeply ingrained in Islamic tradition a�� to go against human nature, which includes basic survival instincts and the natural aversion a�� also among animals a�� to the killing of members of onea��s own species.

This article was first published on JihadWatch.

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  1. Islamic society creates the perfect brainwashing storm. It all stems from fear.

    In my thesis “Islam is Fear” I detail how the fear is generated. Read it all at:

    Here is the begining.

    Would you wear a T-shirt with a Mohammad cartoon printed on it?

    You might in Montana. Don’t try it in Mecca.


    Because, Islam trains a small number of its most devout believers it’s OK to kill. And Islamic killers have been trained to kill anyone who insults Allah and/or Mohammad.

    In Montana you’d have a good chance none of these Islamic killers would see you.

    In Mecca you wouldn’t last five minutes. One of Islam’s killers would come from out of nowhere and kill you. It is that simple.

    You don’t believe me? Ask any Muslim!

  2. The concept of ‘Jihad’ in Islam has been grossly misunderstood, rather distorted. In the West, where it has been presented as barbarism, as aggressive use of brute force. The term, ‘militant Islam’, which has been in vogue in the world Press recently, is a follow-up of this very approach to the fundamental concept of Islam and a continuation of the old Jihad’ phobia of the non-Muslims.

    Jihad means struggle. No-one disputes that the literal translation of Jihad is “struggle”. And there are those who believe that its true meaning is “inner spiritual struggle”. But, with the greatest respect, the issue is not how you or Sara Khan choose to interpret the term. The issue is what the mainstream understanding of the term has been throughout Muslim history. I’m really not sure that is the issue – most mainstream historical Christian understandings of homosexuality, divorce and putting people to death are now considered extreme. Apparently even Al Qaida considers IS to be extreme, so it hardly seems fair to have a go at someone else for saying the same thing. Almost any recourse to violence is now considered as extreme in Western societies, so why shouldn’t a Muslim citizen feel the same way? Religion is always a matter of interpretation and reflection. Young Muslims tell me that, despite shouting loud and clear that they are patriotic, they still experience anti-Muslim prejudice and are viewed with suspicion, as the enemy within.

    None of 7/7 bombers and British Muslim youths who are in Syria and Iraq are the product of Muslim schools. They are the product of British schooling which is the home of institutional racism with chicken racist native teachers. It is absurd to believe that Muslim schools, Imams and Masajid teach Muslim children anti-Semitic, homophobic and anti-western views. It is dangerously deceptive and misleading to address text books and discuss them out of their historical, cultural and linguistic context. It is not wrong to teach children that Jews are committing the same cruelty in Palestine what German did to them before or during Second World War. It is not wrong to teach children that anti-social behaviour, drinking, drugs, homosexuality, sex before marriage, teenage pregnancies and abortions are western values and Islam is against all such sins. This does not mean that Muslim schools teach children to hate westerners, Jews and homosexuals.

    In the Middle Ages Catholics were busy slaughtering members of rival Christian sects and non Christians like the Jews and Muslims and all in the name of Jesus and with the promise of going to Heaven if they died fighting the Holy War, There were indeed some social, economic and political factors which help explain this outburst of violence, but historians do not doubt that the primary motive for the wars, and the explanation for the appalling brutality of the Crusaders ( did you know they used to roast and then eat captured Muslim children?) was because of their religious fanaticism and the promise of an instant passport to Paradise.

    • After the first one and half paragraph, your clarifications on inner and outer, or rather, greater and lesser jihad peters out without substantiating how the quranic ayahs have been misinterpreted by kuffars. So just blabbering without giving clarification on what is written in quran, which you can’t change, or wish it would be otherwise wouldn’t help anyone, but to propagate islam. We have tired of hearing such defences and misleading explanations by moslems all over the world. And after one and half paragraph of superficial explanation of what kuffars have misunderstood, you have gone on blabbering irrelevant topic for the discussion.

      Prove that lesser and greater jihad is nothing to do with what Niolai has proven. I will convert to islam.

  3. Religions MUST BE BANNED from this world in order to safe the humanity!! I’ve had enough for these nonsensical barbarism in the name of whatever hellish god they worship upon.. this madness has to stop!!

  4. He blows up his own argument by citing the Crusades without mention they were a reaction to the Muslim invasion and occupation of Central Western Europe: peaking in 732 AD, 140 miles from Paris. It took another 717 years to roll the Moslems back in the West. The beginning of the Eastern Rollback was Lepanto in 1571. Never completed since the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire was never recaptured.

    Nice try on Liberal Slant though.

  5. There can be no peace with a totalitarian ideology that masquerades as a religion. Advocating impositions of Sharia via violence mayhem and death to all infidels.
    Therefore, until Islam ceases to be inimical to other religions which advocate life over death, personal growth through self mastery and freedom of restraint over fearful forced control, which culminates on everyone and everything in it’s path, in hate, mayhem, murder and glorification in death .
    Therefore, either they will kill us and destroy our way of life or we will confront Islam and force a reformation; so that we may save our families, culture; in order so the world can continue to proceed forward in peace and advancements for all mankind.

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