ID:13185 Section: Culture

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Jihad ?

Jihad Definition

A holy war, personal struggle in devotion waged on behalf of Islam as a religious duty; The best jihad [struggle] is (by) the one who strives against his own self for Allah, The Mighty and Majestic.The literal meaning of Jihad is struggle or effort, and it means much more than holy war. (Wikipedia) - Jihad For other uses, see Jihad (disambiguation). Islam
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Jihad (English pronunciation: /dʒɪˈhɑːd/; Arabic: جهاد‎ ǧihād ), is an Islamic term referring to a religious duty of Muslims. In Arabic, the word jihād is a noun meaning "struggle" or "resisting". A person engaged in jihad is called a mujahid, the plural of which is mujahideen. The word jihad appears frequently in the Quran, often in the idiomatic expression "striving in the way of God (al-jihad fi sabil Allah)".

Muslims and scholars do not all agree on its definition. Within the context of the classical Islamic law, it refers to struggle against those who do not believe in the Islamic God (Allah) and do not acknowledge the submission to Muslims, and so is often translated as "Holy War", although this term is controversial. According to the Dictionary of Islam and Islamic historian Bernard Lewis, in the large majority of cases jihad has a military meaning. Javed Ghamidi states that there is consensus amongst Islamic scholars that the concept of jihad will always include armed struggle against wrong doers. It was generally supposed that the order for a general war could only be given by the Caliph (an office that was claimed by the Ottoman sultans), but Muslims who did not acknowledge the spiritual authority of the Caliphate (which has been vacant since 1923)—such as non-Sunnis and non-Ottoman Muslim states—always looked to their own rulers for the proclamation of a jihad. There has been in fact no universal warfare by Muslims on non-believers since the early caliphate. Some proclaimed Jihad by claiming themselves as mahdi, e.g. the Sudanese Mahommed Ahmad in 1882.

Others have given the word wider definitions. Many observers—both Muslim and non-Muslim—talk of jihad having two meanings: an inner spiritual struggle—the "greater jihad"; and an outer physical struggle against the enemies of Islam—the "lesser jihad"—which may take a violent or non-violent form.

Jihad is an important religious duty for Muslims. A minority among the Sunni scholars sometimes refer to this duty as the sixth pillar of Islam, though it occupies no such official status. In Twelver Shi''a Islam, however, Jihad is one of the ten Practices of the Religion.

  • 1 Origins
    • 1.1 Quranic use and Arabic forms
    • 1.2 Hadith
  • 2 History of usage and practice
    • 2.1 "Classical"
      • 2.1.1 Early Muslim conquests
    • 2.2 Post-Classical usage
    • 2.3 Contemporary Fundamentalist usage
      • 2.3.1 Early Islamism
      • 2.3.2 Abdullah Azzam
    • 2.4 Shia
  • 3 Current usage
    • 3.1 Muslim public opinion
    • 3.2 Distinction of "greater" and "lesser" jihad
    • 3.3 Other spiritual, social, economic struggles
    • 3.4 Warfare (Jihad bil Saif)
    • 3.5 Debate
  • 4 Views of other Muslim groups
    • 4.1 Ahmadiyya
    • 4.2 Quranist
    • 4.3 Sufic
  • 5 See also
  • 6 References
  • 7 Further reading

Origins Main article: List of expeditions of Muhammad

The beginnings of Jihad are traced back to the words and actions of Muhammad and the Quran. This encourages the use of Jihad against non-Muslims. The Quran, however, never uses the term Jihad for fighting and combat in the name of Allah; qital is used to mean “fighting.” Jihad in the Quran was originally intended for the nearby neighbors of the Muslims, but as time passed and more enemies arose, the Quranic statements supporting Jihad were updated for the new adversaries. The first documentation of the law of Jihad was written by ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Awza’i and Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani. The document grew out of debates that had surfaced ever since Muhammad''s death.

In Modern Standard Arabic, the term jihad is used for a struggle for causes, both religious and secular. The Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic defines the term as "fight, battle; jihad, holy war (against the infidels, as a religious duty)". Nonetheless, it is usually used in the religious sense and its beginnings are traced back to the Quran and words and actions of Muhammad. In the Qur''an and in later Muslim usage, jihad is commonly followed by the expression fi sabil illah, "in the path of God." It is sometimes used without religious connotation, with a meaning similar to the English word "crusade" (as in "a crusade against drugs").

Quranic use and Arabic forms

Jihad appears in 164 verses in the Quran (according to Yoel Natan), and 199 times in the standard collection of hadith, Bukhari.

The meaning of jihad most ostensibly is fighting (qital: قتال) in the way, path or guidance (shari''a) of Allah (Qur''an 4:74) to promulgate Islam – distinguished from simply "war" (harb: حرب) or "struggle" (nidal: نضال).

The word never existed, in Arab antiquity, (e.g. Nabataean or Kufic) before the advent of Islam (e.g. Muhammad''s words and actions) from 623 CE (1 AH) to 631 CE (9 AH)

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List of battles of Muhammad
Ghazwah (expeditions where he took part)
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Sariyyah (expeditions which he ordered)

  • Nakhla
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  • Qatan
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  • Army of Usama (Final Expedition)

"Jihad" as the exact form "JHAD"(جهاد), (the "i" in jihad is a tashkeel or harakat in Arabic, which is implied but not written in some early Qur''ans), appears only twice in the Qur''an (Qur''an 60:1 and 9:24). (The use in surah 60 ayat 1 (60:1), is later in the Quran but actually revealed earlier. It is from the fifth Chapter revealed in Medina when Muhammad began a series of caravan raids in 623 CE. Surah 9 ayat 24 of the Quran (9:24) was revealed toward the end of Muhammad''s life.)

For the plural form or for participants in jihad, the "combining form" "JAHD" (جاهد) of Arabic is used, and prefixes and suffixes added: for example, mu (one who) + jahid (jihad) + een (plural) = mujahideen (مجاهدين).


The context of the Qur''an is elucidated by Hadith (the teachings, deeds and sayings of the Islamic prophet Muhammad). Of the 199 references to jihad in perhaps the most standard collection of hadith -- Bukhari—all assume that jihad means warfare.

Among reported saying of the Islamic prophet Muhammad involving jihad are

"The best Jihad is the word of Justice in front of the oppressive Sultan ." (cited by Ibn Nuhaas and narrated by Ibn Habbaan)


The Messenger of Allah was asked about the best jihad. He said: "The best jihad is the one in which your horse is slain and your blood is spilled." (also cited by Ibn Nuhaas and narrated by Ibn Habbaan)

Ibn Nuhaas also cited a hadith from Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, where Muhammad states that the highest kind of Jihad, is "The person who is killed whilst spilling the last of his blood."(Ahmed 4/144)

It has also been reported that Muhammad considered performing hajj to be the best jihad for Muslim women.

History of usage and practice

The practice of periodic raids by Bedouin against enemy tribes and settlements to collect booty predates the revelations of the Quran, and according to some scholars, while Islamic leaders "instilled into the hearts of the warriors the belief" in jihad "holy war" and ghaza (raids), the "fundamental structure" of this bedouin warfare "remained, ... raiding to collect booty".


"From an early date Muslim law laid down" jihad in the military sense as "one of the principal obligations" of both "the head of the Muslim state", who declared the jihad, and the Muslim community. Within classical Islamic jurisprudence – the development of which is to be dated into the first few centuries after the prophet''s death – jihad is the only form of warfare permissible under Islamic law, and may consist in wars against unbelievers, apostates, rebels, highway robbers and dissenters renouncing the authority of Islam. The primary aim of jihad as warfare is not the conversion of non-Muslims to Islam by force, but rather the expansion and defense of the Islamic state. In theory, jihad was to continue until "all mankind either embraced Islam or submitted to the authority of the Muslim state." There could be truces before this was achieved, but no permanent peace. One who died ''on the path of God'' was a martyr, (Shahid), whose sins were remitted and who was secured "immediate entry to paradise."

Classical manuals of Islamic jurisprudence often contain a section called Book of Jihad, with rules governing the conduct of war covered at great length. Such rules include treatment of nonbelligerents, women, children (also cultivated or residential areas) Although some Islamic scholars have differed on the implementation of Jihad, there is consensus amongst them that the concept of jihad will always include armed struggle against persecution and oppression. The first documentation of the law of Jihad was written by ''Abd al-Rahman al-Awza''i and Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani. (It grew out of debates that surfaced following Muhammad''s death.)

Early Muslim conquests Main article: Muslim conquestsAge of the Caliphs   Expansion under Muhammad, 622–632/A.H. 1-11   Expansion during the Rashidun Caliphate, 632–661/A.H. 11-40   Expansion during the Umayyad Caliphate, 661–750/A.H. 40-129

In the early era that inspired classical Islam (Rashidun Caliphate) and lasted less than a century, jihad spread the realm of Islam to include millions of subjects, and an area extending "from the borders of India and China to the Pyrenees and the Atlantic". The two empires impeding the advance of Islam were the Persian Sassanian empire and Byzantine. By 657 the Persian empire was conquered and by 661 the Byzantine Empire was reduced to a fraction of its former size.

The role of religion in these early conquests is debated. Medieval Arabic authors believed the conquests were commanded by God, and presented them as orderly and disciplined, under the command of the caliph. Many modern historians question whether hunger and desertification, rather than jihad, was a motivating force in the conquests. Some recent explanations cite both material and religious causes in the conquests.

Post-Classical usage

According to a number of authors, the more spiritual definitions of jihad developed sometime after the 150 years of Muslim jihad wars and territorial expansion, and particularly after the Mongol invaders sacked Baghdad and overthrew the Abassid Caliphate. According to diplomat/scholar Dore Gold, at beginning of the ninth century, "Muslim theologians broadened the meaning of jihad, de-emphasizing armed struggle and, under the influence of Sufism, adopting more spiritual definitions. ... the Islamic mainstream had shifted away from this focus on the religious requirement of a universal campaign of jihad. Consequently, the meaning of shahid changed as well. Whereas the term had originally applied to one who gave his life in battle, a scholar or someone who led Muslim prayers could now be compared to a shahid when his day of judgement arrived."

Historian Hamilton Gibb noted that "in the historic Community the concept of jihad had gradually weakened and at length been largely reinterpreted in terms of Sufi ethics."

Islamic scholar Rudolph Peters also wrote that with the stagnation of Islamic expansionism, the concept of jihad became internalized as a moral or spiritual struggle. Earlier classical works on fiqh emphasized jihad as war for God''s religion, Peters found. Later Muslims (in this case modernists such as Muhammad Abduh and Rashid Rida) emphasized the defensive aspect of jihad—which was similar to the Western concept of a "just war". Today, some Muslim authors only recognize wars with the aim of territorial defense as well as the defense of religious freedom as legitimate.

Bernard Lewis states that while most Islamic theologians in the classical period (750–1258 C.E.) understood jihad to be a military endeavor, after Islamic conquest stagnated and the caliphate broke up into smaller states the "irresistible and permanent jihad came to an end". As jihad became unfeasible it was "postponed from historic to messianic time." Even when the Ottoman Empire carried on a new holy war of expansion in the seventeenth century, "the war was not universally pursued". They made no attempt to recover Spain or Sicily. The major imperial Muslim dynasties of Ottoman Turkey (1299–1923) (Sunni) and Persian Safavid (1501–1736) (Shia) dynasty often used the term ghaza (a sister obligation to jihad) to refer to military campaigns against Byzantium or each other, the enemy being giaurs or heretics. When the Ottomans called for a jihad against Allied powers during World War I, "their appeal" did not "united the Muslim world".

Contemporary Fundamentalist usage

With the Islamic revival, a new "Fundamentalist" movement arose, with some different interpretations of Islam, often with an increased emphasis on jihad. The Wahhabi movement which spread across the Arabian peninsula starting in the 18th century, emphasized jihad as armed struggle. Wars against Western colonial forces were often declared jihad: the Sanusi religious order proclaimed it against Italians in Libya in 1912, and the "Mahdi" in the Sudan declared jihad against the British and the Egyptians in 1881.

Other early anti-colonial conflicts involving jihad include:

  • Fulani War (1804–1810)
  • Padri War (1821–1838)
  • Java War (1825–1830)
  • Barelvi Mujahidin war (1826-1831)
  • Caucasus War (1828–1859)The Fulani jihad states of West Africa, c. 1830
  • Algerian resistance movement (1832 - 1847)
  • Somali Dervishes (1896–1920)
  • Moro Rebellion (1899–1913)
  • Aceh War (1873–1913)
  • Basmachi Movement (1916–1934)

The so-called Fulbe jihad states and a few other jihad states in western Africa were established by a series of offensive wars in the 19th century. None of these jihad movement''s were victorious.

Early Islamism

In the twentieth century, one of the first Islamist groups, the Muslim Brotherhood emphasized physical struggle and martyrdom in its credo: "God is our objective; the Quran is our constitution; the Prophet is our leader; struggle (jihad) is our way; and death for the sake of God is the highest of our aspirations." The group called for jihad against the new Jewish state of Israel in the 1940s, and its Palestinian branch, Hamas, called for jihad against Israel when the First Intifada started. In 2012, its General Guide (leader) in Egypt, Mohammed Badie also declared jihad "to save Jerusalem from the usurpers and to Palestine from the claws of occupation ... a personal duty for all Muslims." Muslims "must participate in jihad by money or their life ..." Many other figures prominent in Global jihad started in the Muslim Brotherhood -- Abdullah Azzam, bin-Laden''s mentor, started in the Muslim Brotherhood of Jordan; Ayman al-Zawahiri, bin-Laden''s deputy, joined the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood at the age of 14; and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who planned the 9/11 attack, claims to have joined the Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood at age 16. The Brotherhood supports statements such as those of Yusuf al-Qaradawi—a prominent cleric with a long association with the Brotherhood—that "it is dangerous and wrong to misunderstand jihad, to shed inviolate blood in its name, to violate property and lives and to taint Muslims and Islam with violence and terrorism, ..." But when asked by an interviewer, "On the subject of resistance and jihad—do you consider Bin Laden to be a terrorist or a jihad fighter?", it''s Supreme Guide replied, "Without a shadow of a doubt—a jihad fighter."

According to Rudolph Peters and Natana J. DeLong-Bas, the new "fundamentalist" movement brought a reinterpretation of Islam and their own writings on jihad. These writings tended to be less interested and involved with legal arguments, what the different of schools of Islamic law had to say, or in solutions for all potential situations. "They emphasize more the moral justifications and the underlying ethical values of the rules, than the detailed elaboration of those rules." They also tended to ignore the distinction between Greater and Lesser jihad because it distracted Muslims "from the development of the combative spirit they believe is required to rid the Islamic world of Western influences". Dore Gold writes that while previously "jihad could be declared only by an authoritative leader for all Muslms, such as a new caliph for Sunni Islam. ... putting jihad off into the distant future ...," fundamentalist Wahhabi cleric Bin Baz taught that military jihad was needed to open the door for da''wa (the spreading of Islam by conversion). Muslim Brother Abdullah Azzam also taught that an Amir of jihad was not necessary for jihad.

Contemporary fundamentalists were often influenced by jurist Ibn Taymiyya''s, and journalist Sayyid Qutb''s, ideas on jihad. Ibn Taymiyya hallmark themes included

  • the permissibility of overthrowing a ruler who is classified as an unbeliever due to a failure to adhere to Islamic law,
  • the absolute division of the world into dar al-kufr and dar al-Islam,
  • the labeling of anyone not adhering to one''s particular interpretation of Islam as an unbeliever, and
  • the call for blanket warfare against non-Muslims, particularly Jews and Christians.

Ibn Taymiyya recognized "the possibility of a jihad against `heretical` and `deviant` Muslims within dar al-Islam. He identified as heretical and deviant Muslims anyone who propagated innovations (bida'') contrary to the Quran and Sunna ... legitimated jihad against anyone who refused to abide by Islamic law or revolted against the true Muslim authorities." He used a very "broad definition" of what constituted aggression or rebellion against Muslims, which would make jihad "not only permissible but necessary." Ibn Taymiyya also paid careful and lengthy attention to the questions of martyrdom and the benefits of jihad: ''It is in jihad that one can live and die in ultimate happiness, both in this world and in the Hereafter. Abandoning it means losing entirely or partially both kinds of happiness.`

Sayyid Qutb, Islamist author

The highly influential Muslim Brotherhood leader, Sayyid Qutb, preached in his book Milestones that jihad, `is not a temporary phase but a permanent war ... Jihad for freedom cannot cease until the Satanic forces are put to an end and the religion is purified for God in toto.` Like Ibn Taymiyya, Qutb focused on martyrdom and jihad, but he added the theme of the treachery and enmity towards Islam of Christians and especially Jews. If non-Muslims were waging a "war against Islam", jihad against them was not offensive but defensive. He also insisted that Christians and Jews were mushrikeen (not monotheists) because (he alleged) gave their priests or rabbis "authority to make laws, obeying laws which were made by them not permitted by God" and "obedience to laws and judgments is a sort of worship"

Also influential was Egyptian Muhammad abd-al-Salam Faraj, who wrote the pamphlet Al-Farida al-gha''iba (Jihad, the Neglected Duty). While Qutb felt that jihad was a proclamation of "liberation for humanity", Farag stressed that jihad would enable Muslims to rule the world and to reestablish the caliphate. He emphasized the importance of fighting the "near enemy"—Muslim rulers he believed to be apostates, such as the president of Egypt, Anwar Sadat, whom his group assassinated—rather than the traditional enemy, Israel. Faraj believed that if Muslims followed their duty and waged jihad, ultimately supernatural divine intervention would provide the victory:

This means that a Muslim has first of all the duty to execute the command to fight with his own hands. God will then intervene the laws of nature. In this way victory will be achieved through the hands of the believers by means of God''s .

Faraj included deceiving the enemy, lying to him, attacking by night (even if it leads to accidentally killing innocents), and felling and burning trees of the infidel, as Islamically legitimate methods of fighting. Although Faraj was executed in 1982 for his part in the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, his pamphlet and ideas were highly influential, at least among Egyptian Islamist extremist groups. (In 1993, for example, 1106 persons were killed or wounded in terror attacks in Egypt. More police (120) than terrorists (111) were killed that year and "several senior police officials and their bodyguards were shot dead in daylight ambushes.") Ayman al-Zawahiri, later the #2 person in Al-Qaeda, was Faraj''s friend and followed his strategy of targeting the "near enemy" for many years.

Abdullah AzzamAbdullah Yusuf Azzam

In the 1980s the Muslim Brotherhood cleric Abdullah Azzam, sometimes called "the father of the modern global jihad", opened the possibility of successfully waging jihad against unbelievers in the here and now. Azzam issued a fatwa calling for jihad against the Soviet occupiers of Afghanistan, declaring it an individual obligation for all able bodied Muslims because it was a defensive jihad to repel invaders. His fatwa was endorsed by a number of clerics including leading Saudi clerics such as Sheikh Abd al-Aziz ibn Baz.

Azzam claimed that "anyone who looks into the state of Muslims today will find that their great misfortune is their abandonment of Jihad", and warned that "without Jihad, shirk (joining partners with Allah) will spread and become dominant". Jihad was so important that to "repel" the unbelievers was "the most important obligation after Iman "

Azzam also argued for a broader interpretation of who it was permissible to kill in jihad, an interpretation that some think may have influenced some of his students, including Osama bin Laden.

Many Muslims know about the hadith in which the Prophet ordered his companions not to kill any women or children, etc., but very few know that there are exceptions to this case ... In summary, Muslims do not have to stop an attack on mushrikeen, if non-fighting women and children are present.

An charismatic speaker, Azzam traveled to dozens of cities in Europe and North American to encourage support for jihad in Afghanistan. He inspired young Muslims with stories of miraculous deeds during jihad—mujahideen who defeated vast columns of Soviet troops virtually single-handed, who had been run over by tanks but survived, who were shot but unscathed by bullets. Angels were witnessed riding into battle on horseback, and falling bombs were intercepted by birds, which raced ahead of the jets to form a protective canopy over the warriors. In Afghanistan he set up a "services office" for foreign fighters and with support from his former student Osama bin Laden and Saudi charities, foreign mujahideed or would-be mujahideen were provided for. Between 1982 and 1992 an estimated 35,000 individual Muslim volunteers went to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets and their Afghan regime. Thousands more attended frontier schools teeming with former and future fighters. Saudi Arabia and the other conservative Gulf monarchies also provided considerable financial support to the jihad—$600 million a year by 1982.

Azzam saw Afghanistan as the beginning of jihad to repel unbelievers from many countries—the southern Soviet Republics of Central Asia, Bosnia, the Philippines, Kashmir, Somalia, Eritrea, Spain, and especially his home country of Palestine. The defeat of the Soviets in Afghanistan is said to have "amplified the jihadist tendency from a fringe phenomenon to a major force in the Muslim world.

Having tasted victory in Afghanistan, many of the thousands of fighters returned to their home country such as Egypt, Algeria, Kashmir or to places like Bosnia to continue jihad. Not all the former fighters agreed with Azzam''s chioice of targets (Azzam was assassinated in November 1989) but former Afghan fighters led or participated in serious insurgencies in Egypt, Algeria, Kashmir, Somalia in the 1990s and later creating a "transnational jihadist stream."

In February 1998, Osama bin Laden put a "Declaration of the World Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and the Crusaders" in Al-Quds al-Arabi, newspaper. On September 11, 2001, Four passenger planes were hijacked in the United States and crashed, destroying the World Trade Center and damaging the Pentagon.


In Shia Islam Jihad is one of the ten Practices of the Religion, (though not not one of the five pillars). Traditionally, Twelver Shi''as and Sunni have differed on the concept of jihad, with jihad being "seen as a lesser priority" in Shia theology and "armed activism" by Shia being "limited to a person''s immediate geography."

According to a number of sources, Shia teach that jihad can only be carried out under the leadership of the Imam, (who will return from occultation to bring absolute justice to the world), whereas Sunnis will heed a proclamation to wage jihad of even from an unjust ruler. Some dispute this however.

At least one important Shia figure, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, wrote a treatise on the "Greater Jihad" (i.e., internal/personal struggle against sin).

Jihad has been used by Shia Islamists in the 20th Century: The Shia cleric Ayatollah Khomeini declared jihad on Iraq in the Iran–Iraq War, and the Shia bombers of Western embassies and peacekeeping troops in Lebanon called themselves, "Islamic Jihad". Nonetheless it has not had the high profile or global significance it had among Sunni Islamists. (The Afghan jihad for example was led and populated by Sunni Muslims.)

According to one source, this changed with the Syrian Civil War, where, "for the first time in the history of Shia Islam, adherents are seeping into another country to fight in a holy war to defend their doctrine." Thus, Shia and Sunni fighters are waging jihad against each other in Syria.

Current usage See also: Opinion of Islamic scholars on Jihad

The term ''jihad'' has accrued both violent and non-violent meanings. According to John Esposito, it can simply mean striving to live a moral and virtuous life, spreading and defending Islam as well as fighting injustice and oppression, among other things. The relative importance of these two forms of jihad is a matter of controversy.

Muslim public opinion

A poll by Gallup showed that a "significant majority" of Muslim Indonesians define the term to mean "sacrificing one''s life for the sake of Islam/God/a just cause" or "fighting against the opponents of Islam". In Lebanon, Kuwait, Jordan, and Morocco, the majority used the term to mean "duty toward God", a "divine duty", or a "worship of God", with no militaristic connotations. The terminology is also applied to the fight for women''s liberation. Other responses referenced, in descending order of prevalence:

  • "A commitment to hard work" and "achieving one''s goals in life"
  • "Struggling to achieve a noble cause"
  • "Promoting peace, harmony or cooperation, and assisting others"
  • "Living the principles of Islam"
Distinction of "greater" and "lesser" jihad

In his work, The History of Baghdad, Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, an 11th-century Islamic scholar, referenced a statement by the companion of Muhammad Jabir ibn Abd-Allah. The reference stated that Jabir said, "We have returned from the lesser jihad (al-jihad al-asghar) to the greater jihad (al-jihad al-akbar)." When asked, "What is the greater jihad?," he replied, "It is the struggle against oneself." This reference gave rise to the distinguishing of two forms of jihad: "greater" and "lesser".

The hadith does not appear in any of the authoritative collections, and according to the Muslim Jurist Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, the source of the quote is unreliable:

"This saying is widespread and it is a saying by Ibrahim ibn Ablah according to Nisa''i in al-Kuna. Ghazali mentions it in the Ihya'' and al-`Iraqi said that Bayhaqi related it on the authority of Jabir and said: There is weakness in its chain of transmission." Hajar al Asqalani, Tasdid al-qaws, see also Kashf al-Khafaa’ (no.1362)

Nonetheless, the concept has had "enormous influence" in Islamic mysticism (Sufism). Other observers have endorsed it

In contrast, the Hanbali scholar Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya did believe that "internal Jihad" is important but he suggests those hadith as weak which consider "Jihad of the heart/soul" to be more important than "Jihad by the sword". Contemporary Islamic scholar Abdullah Yusuf Azzam has argued the hadith is not just weak but "is in fact a false, fabricated hadith which has no basis. It is only a saying of Ibrahim Ibn Abi `Abalah, one of the Successors, and it contradicts textual evidence and reality."

Some contemporary Islamists have succeeded in replacing the greater jihad, the fight against desires, with the lesser jihad, the holy war to establish, defend and extend the Islamic state.

Other spiritual, social, economic struggles

Muslim scholar Mahmoud Ayoub states that "The goal of true jihad is to attain a harmony between islam (submission), iman (faith), and ihsan (righteous living)."

In modern times, Pakistani scholar and professor Fazlur Rahman Malik has used the term to describe the struggle to establish "just moral-social order", while President Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia has used it to describe the struggle for economic development in that country.

According to the BBC, a third meaning of jihad is the struggle to build a good society. In a commentary of the hadith Sahih Muslim, entitled al-Minhaj, the medieval Islamic scholar Yahya ibn Sharaf al-Nawawi stated that "one of the collective duties of the community as a whole (fard kifaya) is to lodge a valid protest, to solve problems of religion, to have knowledge of Divine Law, to command what is right and forbid wrong conduct".

Majid Khadduri lists four kinds of jihad fi sabilillah (struggle in the cause of God):

  • Jihad of the heart (jihad bil qalb/nafs) is concerned with combatting the devil and in the attempt to escape his persuasion to evil. This type of Jihad was regarded as the greater jihad (al-jihad al-akbar).
  • Jihad by the tongue (jihad bil lisan) (also Jihad by the word, jihad al-qalam) is concerned with speaking the truth and spreading the word of Islam with one''s tongue.
  • Jihad by the hand (jihad bil yad) refers to choosing to do what is right and to combat injustice and what is wrong with action.
  • Jihad by the sword (jihad bis saif) refers to qital fi sabilillah (armed fighting in the way of God, or holy war), the most common usage by Salafi Muslims and offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Scholar Natana J. Delong-Bas lists a number of types of "jihad" that have been proposed by Muslims

  • educational jihad (jihad al-tarbiyyah);
  • missionary jihad or calling the people to Islam (jihad al-da''wah)

Other "types" mentioned include

  • "Intellectual" Jihad (very similar to missionary jihad).
  • "Economic" Jihad (good doing involving money such as spending within one’s means, helping the "poor and the downtrodden") (President Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia, used jihad to describe the struggle for economic development in Tunisia.)
  • Jihad Al-Nikah, or sexual jihad, "refers to women joining the jihad by offering sex to fighters to boost their morale". (According to Malaysian intelligence officials quoted by the Strait Times, as of August 2014, three Malaysian women and an unknown number of British women are believed to have traveled to Syria and "to have offered themselves in sexual comfort roles to ISIS fighters who are attempting to establish Islamic rule in the Middle East.
Usage by some Non-Muslims
  • The United States Department of Justice has used its own ad hoc definitions of jihad in indictments of individuals involved in terrorist activities:
    • "As used in this First Superseding Indictment, ''Jihad'' is the Arabic word meaning ''holy war''. In this context, jihad refers to the use of violence, including paramilitary action against persons, governments deemed to be enemies of the fundamentalist version of Islam."
    • "As used in this Superseding Indictment, ''violent jihad'' or ''jihad'' include planning, preparing for, and engaging in, acts of physical violence, including murder, maiming, kidnapping, and hostage-taking." in the indictment against several individuals including José Padilla.
  • "Fighting and warfare might sometimes be necessary, but it was only a minor part of the whole jihad or struggle," according to Karen Armstrong.
  • "Jihad is a propagandistic device which, as need be, resorts to armed struggle – two ingredients common to many ideological movements," according to Maxime Rodinson.
  • Academic Benjamin R. Barber used the term Jihad to point out the resistant movement by fundamentalist ethnic groups who want to protect their traditions, heritage and identity from globalization (which he refers to as ''McWorld'')

Warfare (Jihad bil Saif) Further information: Mujahideen, Jihadism and Jihad fi sabil Allah

In the late 20th and early 21st century, many militant groups include the term "jihad" in their names

  • The International Islamic Front for the Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders: (Osama bin Laden''s organization in his 1998 fatwa),
  • Laskar Jihad of Indonesia,
  • Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement,
  • Egyptian Islamic Jihad,
  • Yemeni Islamic Jihad.

Some conflict fought as jihad since the 1990s include:

  • Kashmir conflict (Lashkar-e-Taiba, 1990–present)
  • Somali Civil War (1991–present)
  • Bosnian war (Bosnian mujahideen, 1992–1995)
  • Afghan civil war (Taliban 1994–present)
  • East Turkestan irredentism (East Turkestan Islamic Movement, 1997–present)
  • Chechen war and Insurgency in the North Caucasus (Arab Mujahideen in Chechnya, 1994–present)
  • Nigerian Sharia conflict (Boko Haram 2001–present)
  • Iraqi insurgency (Islamic State of Iraq, 2003–present)
  • Al-Qaeda insurgency in Yemen (Abyan Governorate, 2010–present)
  • Syrian civil war (Al-Nusra Front to Protect the Levant 2011–present)

Whether the Quran sanctions defensive warfare only or commands an all out war against non-Muslims depends on the interpretation of the relevant passages. This is because it does not explicitly state the aims of the war Muslims are obliged to wage; the passages concerning jihad rather aim at promoting fighters for the Islamic cause and do not discuss military ethics.


Controversy has arisen over whether the usage of the term jihad without further explanation refers to military combat, and whether some have used confusion over the definition of the term to their advantage.

Middle East historian Bernard Lewis argues that "the overwhelming majority of classical theologians, jurists, and traditionalists (specialists in the hadith) understood the obligation of jihad in a military sense." Furthermore, Lewis maintains that for most of the recorded history of Islam, from the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad onward, the word jihad was used in a primarily military sense.

According to David Cook, author of Understanding Jihad

"In reading Muslim literature – both contemporary and classical – one can see that the evidence for the primacy of spiritual jihad is negligible. Today it is certain that no Muslim, writing in a non- Western language (such as Arabic, Persian, Urdu), would ever make claims that jihad is primarily nonviolent or has been superseded by the spiritual jihad. Such claims are made solely by Western scholars, primarily those who study Sufism and/or work in interfaith dialogue, and by Muslim apologists who are trying to present Islam in the most innocuous manner possible."

Cook argued that "Presentations along these lines are ideological in tone and should be discounted for their bias and deliberate ignorance of the subject" and that it "is no longer acceptable for Western scholars or Muslim apologists writing in non-Muslim languages to make flat, unsupported statements concerning the prevalence – either from a historical point of view or within contemporary Islam – of the spiritual jihad."

Views of other Muslim groups Ahmadiyya Main article: Ahmadiyya view on Jihad

In Ahmadiyya Islam, jihad is primarily one''s personal inner struggle and should not be used violently for political motives. Violence is the last option only to be used to protect religion and one''s own life in extreme situations of persecution.


Quranists do not believe that the word jihad means holy war. They believe it means to struggle, or to strive. They believe it can incorporate both military and non-military aspects. When it refers to the military aspect, it is understood primarily as defensive warfare.


The Sufic view classifies "Jihad" into two parts: the "Greater Jihad" and the "Lesser Jihad". Muhammad put the emphasis on the "Greater Jihad" by saying, "Holy is the warrior who is at war with himself". In this sense external wars and strife are seen as but a satanic counterfeit of the true "jihad", which can only be fought and won within. There is no salvation for man without his own efforts being added to the work of self-refinement. In this sense it is the western view of the Holy Grail which comes closest to the Sufic ideal, for to the Sufis, perfection is the Grail, and the Holy Grail is for those who, after they become perfect by giving all they have to the poor then go on to become "Abdal" or "changed ones" like Enoch, who was "taken" by God because he "walked with God" (Genesis:5:24). Here the "Holy Ones" gain the surname "Hadrat" or "The Presence".

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