The Shade of Swords by M.J. Akbar is a powerful guide to study about Islam being a warrior class where, ‘permission is given to fight against those who wrong you’ and is known as a ‘soldier’s religion’. Jihad is only a state of transition, from being mortal to immortal.
Akbar delves into the farce associated with religion and systematically breaks the barriers to know what lies beneath the aggressive nature of the Islamic. He then describes its role in the modern settings, with the current day politics. Akbar mentions in the beginning of the text to avoid the trap of being ‘politically correct’. His style of writing is crisp and keeps an expeditious momentum throughout the book. In today’s world, religion is a very tricky subject and Akbar has dealt with it astutely.
Jihad was first seen in the battle of Badr, where Prophet Muhammad prayed to Allah to save his believers from infidels. Hence during crisis, the only undertaking a Muslim has, is to lay his life and become a martyr, of which is glorified in the Quran. It explicitly accounts the benefits a martyr attains when he ascends to heaven. “Martyrdom is the Muslim's duty, victory is Allah's responsibility.” So, does Islam justify violence? Yes. Against those who ignore to embrace it.
The fight between Christ verses Muhammad has still not come to an end. Muslims do not believe in trinity, but the parallel religions have divided into just that many, three - Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Akbar describes the shift between the earlier crusades and the recent Osama bin Laden.
Quran does not teach to kill, but the deconstruction of texts almost always invites misinterpretations. So when it’s say, ‘Defeat is only a setback in the holy war. The jihad goes on’, it is always open to interpretations.