The phenomenal global growth of Islam is a cause for concern for many in the West. Muslims who peacefully express the desire to live under Islamic Law are labelled "Islamist" or "Fundamentalist" and are often suspected of supporting terrorism. And the very mention of jihad strikes fear and disgust in the hearts and minds of many non-muslims. Islamophobia has emerged.
The translation of jihad into "holy war" is an example of a foreign, non-Islamic concept superimposed onto Islamic belief and practice. (As Ibrodsjy previously mentioned) Jihad actually means to strive/make effort in the way of God . Hence Jihad can be manifested in a purely peaceful way. The Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) said:
"The best Jihad is (by) one who strives against (the evil of) his own self for God".
And in the Qur'an Allah says:
"So obey not the disbelievers, but make a great Jihad (effort) against them (by preaching) with it (this Qur'an)". 25:52
Likewise, combative Jihad or fighting is also sometimes necessary. The Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) and his followers, past and present, like many Israelite prophets before them, fought wars in self defence or in order to abolish tyranny and oppression.
"And if Allah did not check one set of people by means of another, the earth would indeed be full of mischief. But Allah is the Bounty to the Worlds." 2:251
"And what is wrong with you that you fight not in the cause of Allah and for those weak, ill-treated and oppressed among men, women and children whose cry is: 'Our Lord! Rescue us from this town whose people are oppressors and raise for us from You, one who will help". 4:75
Regardless of how unjust the enemy may be, Islam forbids their mutilation, torture or the slaughter of their retreating forces. The Prophet Muhammed also forbade killing by deceit, whether through treacherous violation of treaties or by assassination during a ceasefire. This is because war is like a surgical operation, it should not exceed the area of infection.
"AN#nd fight in the way of Allah those that fight against you, but do not transgress the limits. Truly Allah loves not the transgressors". 2:190
As for the non-combatants or civilans, it is wholly forbidden in Islam to attck them. In the Qur'an:
"Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought against you on account of religion, nor drove you out of your homes. Verily Allah loves those whodeal with equity"
The Prophet (pbuh) expressly forbade muslim armies from attacking women and children, the sick and the lderly, monks, worshippers and labourers. He also outlawed the waton killing of animals, the burning of crops and vegetation, the polluting of waters and the destruction of homes, monastries, churches and synagogues. Once, the Prophet (pbuh) passed by a fallen female warrior and even though she had been actively fighting against the muslims, the prophet said "this is not one against whom a war is to be fought".
And with regards to killing in general, then there are many ayats (verses) and ahadith forbidding this. Qur'an 5:32
"..we ordained for the children of Israel that if anyone killed a person not in retaliation, or to spread mischief in the and, it would be as if he killed the whole of mankind. and likewise if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the whole of mankind."
and the prophet said:
"the first cases to be adjudicated in the day of judgement will be those of bloodshed."
In light of the above there can be no doubt that the act of inciting terror into the hearts of defencless civilians, th wholesale destruction of building and propertes and the killing and maiming of innocent men, women and children are all forbidden and detestable criminal acts according to the divine sources of Islam. the bombing of a crowded Jerusalem market, Paris metro or indeed the WTC are condemned by Islam and its God fearing adherents.
"Let there rise from you a people inviting to all that is good, enjoinging virtue and forbidding evil." 3:104
Thus we can only deduce that it is gravely wrong to judge islam by the actions of a few, misguided people attributing themselves and their actions to islam. Prince Charles observed:
"...our common attitude to Islam suffers because the way we understand it has been hijacked by the extreme and the superficial...we need to be careful of that emotive label "fundamentalism", and distinguish, as most muslims do, between revivalists who choose to take the practice of their religion most devoutly, and fanatics or extremists who use this devotion for political ends."
"There is no compulsion in religion". 2:256