Abraham: Original Messenger of Islam*
[22:78] You shall strive for the cause of GOD as you should strive for His cause. He has chosen you and has placed no hardship on you in practicing your religion―the religion of your father Abraham. He is the one who named you "Submitters" originally. Thus, the messenger shall serve as a witness among you, and you shall serve as witnesses among the people. Therefore, you shall observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) and give the obligatory charity (Zakat), and hold fast to GOD; He is your Lord, the best Lord and the best Supporter.
*22:78 Although all messengers preached one and the same message, "Worship God alone," Abraham was the first messenger to coin the terms "Submission" (Islam) and "Submitter" (Muslim) (2:128). What did Abraham contribute to Submission (Islam)? We learn from 16:123 that all religious duties in Submission were revealed through Abraham (see Appendices 9 & 26).
Religions of the world encourage striving in God's cause. For example, in Christianity, the concept of spreading God's word is well-known. Evangelical Christians and missionaries spend years of their lives traveling the world in support of their cause. Many of them take inspiration from Jesus' last words in Matthew 28, where he asks his disciples to make disciples of every nation.
Similarly, in the Quran, we are told to invite people to God's message with wisdom and kind englightenment (Quran 16:125). The word "jihad" (Arabic) simply means to strive. For example, in Quran 9:79 it speaks of those who are charitable, as striving (Arabic noun: juh'dahum; derived from "jihad"). A negative form of "jihad" is referred to in 29:8, where one's (misguided) parents may strive (again derived from "jihad") to convince a child about idol-worship. The verse speaks of it being permissable to disobey one's parents in such cases (the general Quranic commandment is to honor one's parents), and to be devoted to God Alone. The previous verses (29:5-7) also speak of striving for God, for our own good. There is no warfare implied.
[Quran 29:5-7] Anyone hoping to meet GOD, (should know that) such a meeting with GOD will most assuredly come to pass. He is the Hearer, the Omniscient. Those who strive, strive for their own good. GOD is in no need for anyone. Those who believe and lead a righteous life, we will certainly remit their sins, and will certainly reward them generously for their righteous works.
You Shall Honor Your Parents
[29:8] We enjoined the human being to honor his parents. But if they try to force you to set up idols beside Me, do not obey them. To Me is your ultimate return, then I will inform you of everything you had done.
Striving in the cause of God, may include fighting in self-defense (9:41-44, 9:81, 9:111). However, this is only in the case of war. Historically at the time of Muhammad, the submitters (muslims) were under attack from the idolatrous tribes of Arabia who saw the message of monotheism as a threat to their way of life. All of Muhammad's wars were in self-defense, not aggression. The point to be emphasized here, is that the Quran forbids aggression of any kind. In today's day and age most countries provide freedom of religion. Thus, there is no present context in which striving will include fighting a "war".
Islam (Submission), advocates freedom, peace and mutual agreement and admonishes aggression. The following verses make it very clear.
[Quran 5:87] ...and do not aggress; GOD dislikes the aggressors.
[Quran: 7:199] ...You shall resort to pardon, advocate tolerance, and disregard the ignorant.
The relations of Muslims (Submitters) with others are based primarily on peace, mutual respect and trust. The theme in the Quran is peace, unless there is oppression or injustice that cannot be resolved by all the peaceful means available.
The true religion of Islam forbids the killing of innocent people, irrespective of the cause *religious, political or social beliefs.
[Quran 6:151] “...You shall not kill * GOD has made life sacred * except in the course of justice. These are His commandments to you, that you may understand.”
[Quran 17:33] “You shall not kill any person * for GOD has made life sacred — except in the course of justice.”
The laws of the scriptures that apply to the Christians and Jews are repeated and emphasized for the Muslims (Submitters) in the Quran. Muslims are commanded to follow such laws (See 5:32).
The religion of Islam condemns the killing or even the persecution of people merely because they embrace a different religion. The Quran mandates the absolute freedom of religion in a society. It does not allow Muslims to fight except for self-defense and to enforce peace. It does not allow restrictions on those who disagree on religious matters. It urges the Muslims to treat such people kindly and equitably:
[Quran 2:256] There shall be no compulsion in religion...
[Quran 60:8] GOD does not enjoin you from befriending those who do not fight you because of religion, and do not evict you from your homes. You may befriend them and be equitable towards them. GOD loves the equitable.
[Quran 8:61] If they resort to peace, so shall you, and put your trust in GOD. He is the Hearer, the Omniscient.
[Quran 4:90]”...Therefore, if they leave you alone, refrain from fighting you, and offer you peace, then GOD gives you no excuse to fight them.”
To conclude, from the Quran it is very clear that striving in the cause of God is intended for the people to do good works to please God (94:7-8). Aggression is forbidden in the Quran, as Islam preaches peaceful co-existence, freedom of religion and tolerance. Charity, alleviating hardship and suffereing and spreading the message are common actions in accordance with the Quranic commandment to strive. Submitters (muslims) believe that our Creator is one and the same for all peoples. The God of the Muslims is the same God of the Jews and the Christians and all the other religions. All believers across faiths readily strive to please their Creator.
[94:7] Whenever possible you shall strive.
[94:8] Seeking only your Lord.