Sikhism’s just war vs Jainism’s Ahmisa

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The religion of Jainism originated in India. Its major doctrines are based on the notion of 'Ahmisa,' which states that the road to spiritual holiness is via nonviolence. Ahimsa is the Sanskrit word for nonviolence, and it represents their philosophy of not causing damage to any form of life. This explains why most Jainism adherents are vegetarians.

Sikhism is an Indian religion that dates back to the 15th century. The use of a sledgehammer to open a can of worms is discouraged. Just war in Sikhism signifies battle in defense of virtue. Sikhism was a religion of peace at the time it was created by Guru Nanak. Guru Nanak was the first Guru. As more Gurus followed, Sikhism continued to condone more and more military action. The sixth Guru, Guru Gobind thought that military action was sometimes necessary for response to social injustices.

The Jainism Ahmisa

Jainism is composed of five major principles. These include ‘Ahmisa’ which means non-violence, ‘Satya’ which means truth, ‘As-theya’ stands for non-stealing, ‘Brahmacharya’ means chastity and finally ‘Aparigraha’ which means non-possession. However, Ahmisa is the most important vow. It stands for purity of thoughts, words, and actions which are expressed through universal love. Mahatma Gandhi is a famous supporter of Ahmisa. According to Mahatma Gadhi, an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.

The principles of Ahmisa show a direct contradiction with those of ISIS. ISIS has brought great harm to innocent people all over the world. Ahmisa denounces violence to all forms of life (Desai, 2008).

Ahmisa is not only against the harming of oneself or others; it is also against the thought of perpetrating such an action. This religion supports peaceful coexistence between all people. Ahmisa is also against supporting the killing of others. We can clearly establish that this is a religion that completely differs with ISIS in matters of principle. Jainism considers the harm done to others as harm against since it attracts karma. Karma means that a person’s actions in the present determine his future.

This contradicts the ISIS ideology in that they believe that when they conduct their attacks and harm a large number of people and end up getting killed in the process, they will be rewarded when they go to heaven (Saul, 2012).

Jainist must refrain from all forms of violence which include physical violence, mental violence and verbal violence (Desai, 2008). Violence can be committed in different ways which include doing it yourself, asking and encouraging others to do it and also condoning it.

Jainism Ahmisa stands for animal rights. This explains why Jains are typically vegetarians. They also do not use clothing made from material obtained from the harming of animals. They are against the harming of life of any form which is the most fundamental principle of this religion. This encompasses all animals from the biggest to the smallest organisms including bacteria.

Some people have viewed Jainism to advocate for a high level of detachment from others as cultivating self-interest. The religion advocates for personal autonomy to avoid actions that would harm others. ISIS ideology has involved the inclusion of even those who are not involved in their war by attacking innocent people in large numbers.

Sikhism just war

‘Dharam Yudh’ means war in defense of the righteous. This is a similar concept of just war that is practiced by other religions. However, according to Sikhism, there are conditions that that should be met for a just war to happen. This includes the war being the last resort; it should not be motivated by revenge or anger, the army should not include mercenaries, discipline in the army and use of minimal force, no civilian casualties and no looting or annexation of territory (McLeod, 2010).

Although ISIS claims to be fighting a holy war, their actions have often been seen as the opposite. Their principles to some extent contradict those of Sikhism just war in many ways. Their actions are motivated by revenge. They often claim that they are fighting to avenge the actions of foreign militaries that have for a long time invaded and waged war in their territories. Also, there have been many cases of civilian attacks by ISIS. ISIS also intends to expand their territory by expanding the Islamic state through annexation.

The just war has two major fundamental principles. The first is ‘jus ad belum’ which means a just reason to resort to war. The other one is ‘jus in bello’ which means being just in the conduct of war. The ISIS ideology is that they are practicing jihad which means holy war. The wider Muslim community has however negated this assertion. The actions of ISIS cannot be justified by religious or moral principles. Although their reason to resort to war is arguable, their actions in the conduct of war are in no way justifiable.

Emphasis is put for the war to be the last option after all the other avenues for a restoration of peace have been carried out in futility. The Sikhs, therefore, believe that when such a time comes, they must rise and fight for humanity in a just and a noble course. Guru Gobind even wished to God that his life would be taken for the sake of righteous deeds. This coincides to the ISIS ideology in the way that they conduct suicide attacks.

Justice is regarded as the foundation of political rule. Without justice, there is no moral order. In such a situation, it becomes difficult to resolve conflicts in an amicable way. This situation necessitates and justifies an action of holy war. In the face of tyranny and mockery towards their religion, Sikhs are called upon to take up arms and go to war. The ISIS also justifies their actions as a defense for their religion. They have often cited prolonged oppression by foreign armies as a justifiable reason to avenge.


As observed in these two ideologies, we can deduce that the Sikhism just war has principles similar to those of the Islam Jihad. The ISIS claim to be practicing Jihad although their actions have been largely condemned by the wider Muslim community. Their principles have been questioned because their attacks usually have massive civilian casualties. To this end, the ISIS ideologies have differed to the just war theory.

ISIS have in many occasions displayed a gruesome show of lethal force by executing a lot of people including innocent civilians and recording their actions in the video. Their actions have been interpreted as having the intention of instilling fear. The Islamic community world over has disassociated the actions of ISIS with their religion. Though Sikhism supports a just war, their motivations are in no way intertwined with those of ISIS (Ben lazreg, 2016).

The ISIS problem can be solved if the followers can adhere to the principles of Ahmisa. The desire of bringing harm to anyone must be rejected as taught in Jainism. Peace and universal love is the only way of bringing to an end to the ISIS problem.


Ben lazreg, H. (2016). ISIS, The State of Terror. Journal Of Terrorism Research, 7(3), 50.

Desai, K. (2008). Janism. London, U.K.: Mahavir Foundation.

McLeod, W. (2010). Sikhism. New Delhi: Yoda Press.

Saul, B. (2012). Terrorism. Oxford: Hart Publishing.

May 10, 2023

Religion World Life



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