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Jihad is an Islamic concept meaning "to exert utmost effort, to strive, struggle". The term has many meanings to the Muslim, both inward and outward; however, it is mainly used in the West to describe a "holy war" that fundamentalist Muslims fight against non-Muslims or Muslims of other Islamic sects. The word "Jihad" is a transliteration of the Arabic word "جهاد".

Jihad as "struggle" is divided into two types, the greater Jihad and the lesser Jihad. The greater Jihad is the internal struggle against sin and temptation and to make one's self a better Muslim. The lesser Jihad is the physical conflict against those who threaten the Muslim way of life. Many non-fundamentalist followers of Islam do not condone the use of jihad as a manner of securing converts.

Jihad in Islamic thought and practice possesses a range of meanings, with Muslim radicals focusing on the physical, violent form of struggle to resist what they see as cultural, economic, military, and political assaults from outside the ummah and oppression and injustice within.


Mention of Jihad in the Qur'an

Fight in the way of Allah with those who fight with you, and do not exceed the limits, surely Allah does not love those who exceed the limits. And kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from whence they drove you out, and persecution is severer than slaughter, and do not fight with them at the Sacred Mosque until they fight with you in it, but if they do fight with you, then slay them; such is the recompense of the unbelievers. But if they desist, then surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

Sura 2:190-192[1]

Except those who reach a people between whom and you there is an alliance, or who come to you, their hearts shrinking from fighting you or fighting their own people; and if Allah had pleased, He would have given them power over you, so that they should have certainly fought you; therefore if they withdraw from you and do not fight you and offer you peace, then Allah has not given you a way against them.

Sura 4:90[2]

And prepare against them what force you can and horses tied at the frontier, to frighten thereby the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them, whom you do not know (but) Allah knows them; and whatever thing you will spend in Allah's way, it will be paid back to you fully and you shall not be dealt with unjustly. And if they incline to peace, then incline to it and trust in Allah; surely He is the Hearing, the Knowing.

Sura 8:60-61[3]

O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness; and know that Allah is with those who guard (against evil).

Sura 9:123[4]

Permission (to fight) is given to those upon whom war is made because they are oppressed, and most surely Allah is well able to assist them.

Sura 22:39[5]

So when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, then smite the necks until when you have overcome them, then make (them) prisoners, and afterwards either set them free as a favor or let them ransom (themselves) until the war terminates. That (shall be so); and if Allah had pleased He would certainly have exacted what is due from them, but that He may try some of you by means of others; and (as for) those who are slain in the way of Allah, He will by no means allow their deeds to perish.

Sura 47:4[6]

A City of Virtue

It is quite true that, in the age of militant Islamic terrorism, it is not very helpful to tell millions of peaceful Muslims that their religion is inherently violent, evil, and oppressive. [7] Moderate Muslims aspire for a society – a city of virtue -- that will treat all people with dignity and respect.

Today, the relationship between Islam and the rest is getting increasingly worse. Muslim militants are sowing seeds of poison and hatred between Muslims and the rest of humanity by committing egregious acts of violence in the name of Islam. In this precarious environment, it is important that everyone finds and nurtures the many wonderful examples of moderate Muslims one can still find. [8]

On January 09, 2010, a group of Canadian and U.S. Islamic leaders on Friday issued a fatwa, or religious edict, declaring that an attack by extremists on the two countries would constitute an attack on the 10 million Muslims living in North America.[9]

External links

Further reading

  • Firestone, Reuven. Jihad: The Origin of Holy War in Islam (1999), by a Professor at Hebrew Union College online edition
  • Knapp, Michael G. "The Concept and Practice of Jihad in Islam," Parameters. Volume: 33. Issue: 1. 2003. pp 82+. Published by U.S. Army War College; online edition
  • online books and articles

See Also


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