{jih - hahd'}

Editor's Note: This presentation is about the true subject of Jihad. There is a relatively new organization which named itself "Islamic Jihad" which is very different. That organization is a small militant extremist group that has a distorted understanding of jihad. They focus on a few words in the Koran that tell Muslims to hate and fight enemies of "the book", believing that that reference is about the Koran. However, the context of that text in the Koran makes it clear that the Book referred to is the Torah, or Taurah, or Pentateuch, the first five Books of the Bible. If that group truly understood the Koran, they would see that Muslims, Jews and Christians all fully believe in those Five Books, and are therefore not enemies at all. However, they have been taught differently.

General Information

In Islam, the duty of each Muslim to spread his or her religious beliefs is termed jihad. Although the word is widely understood to mean a "holy war" against nonbelievers, jihad may also be fulfilled by a personal battle against evil inclinations, the righting of wrongs, and the supporting of what is good.

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General Information

Many polemical descriptions of Islam have focused critically on the Islamic concept of jihad. Jihad, considered the sixth pillar of Islam by some Muslims, has been understood to mean holy war in these descriptions. However, the word in Arabic means "to struggle" or "to exhaust one's effort," in order to please God. Within the faith of Islam, this effort can be individual or collective, and it can apply to leading a virtuous life; helping other Muslims through charity, education, or other means; preaching Islam; and fighting to defend Muslims.

Western media of the 20th century continue to focus on the militant interpretations of the concept of jihad, whereas most Muslims do not.


General Information

The Dictionary of Islam defines jihad as "a religious war with those who are unbelievers in the mission of Muhammad. It is an incumbent religious duty, established in the Qur'an and in the Traditions as a divine institution, enjoined specially for the purpose of advancing Islam and of repelling evil from Muslims."


From the above, it seems clear that there are at least two rather different understandings of the term. It would seem that the majority of Muslims, who are peaceful, accept the personal and very peaceful interpretation, while militant Muslims seem to understand the violent interpretation. In recent decades, a relatively small number of very militant Muslim terrorist groups have used newspapers, radio, television, and other media to promote their view. This seems to have affected growing numbers of Muslims into having more and more violent views toward non-Muslims, particularly Jews and Americans.

It is probably true that the vast majority of Muslims do not (yet) agree with this terrorist usage of their religion, and are troubled as much as non-Muslims by the regular calls for "Islamic Jihad", a Holy War, against Westerners, particularly Americans. Such call are made by (still) very small militant and terrorist groups, but they are very vocal and the news media have tended to publicize their activities. As a result of this publicity, they have been able to gain many more followers for their terrorist activities, and also inspire more fear than such small groups could probably cause on their own.

Again, out of the 2,300,000,000 Muslims in the world, only a few thousand are actively involved in the terrorist activities. That means that the remaining 999,950,000 Muslims are peace-loving as their religion actually teaches them. In a similar way, the vast majority of Christians are Peace-loving, as Jesus Taught, but a very few aberrant people who call themselves Christians show up in TV news, and might give the impression that all Christians are violent, which is certainly not true. Quiet, peaceful people seldom make news. Vocal, violent people do. That's a characteristic of a "free press" which free societies choose to have.

Those terrorist groups are certainly extremely dangerous, and must be controlled or eliminated, but they shouldn't necessarily tarnish the overall reputation of either Islam or Christianity.

Also, see:
Islam, Muhammad
Koran, Qur'an
Pillars of Faith
Testament of Abraham
Revelation - Hadiths from Book 1 of al-Bukhari
Belief - Hadiths from Book 2 of al-Bukhari
Knowledge - Hadiths from Book 3 of al-Bukhari
Times of the Prayers - Hadiths from Book 10 of al-Bukhari
Shortening the Prayers (At-Taqseer) - Hadiths from Book 20 of al-Bukhari
Pilgrimmage (Hajj) - Hadiths from Book 26 of al-Bukhari
Fighting for the Cause of Allah (Jihad) - Hadiths of Book 52 of al-Bukhari
ONENESS, UNIQUENESS OF ALLAH (TAWHEED) - Hadiths of Book 93 of al-Bukhari
Hanafiyyah School Theology (Sunni)
Malikiyyah School Theology (Sunni)
Shafi'iyyah School Theology (Sunni)
Hanbaliyyah School Theology (Sunni)
Maturidiyyah Theology (Sunni)
Ash'ariyyah Theology (Sunni)
Mutazilah Theology
Ja'fari Theology (Shia)
Nusayriyyah Theology (Shia)
Zaydiyyah Theology (Shia)
Imams (Shia)
Qarmatiyyah (Shia)
Ishmael, Ismail
Early Islamic History Outline
Kaaba, Black Stone
Sunnites, Sunni
Shiites, Shia
Sahih, al-Bukhari
Abu Bakr
Fatimids (Shia)
Ismailis (Shia)
Islamic Calendar
Interactive Muslim Calendar

The individual articles presented here were generally first published in the early 1980s. This subject presentation was first placed on the Internet in May 1997.

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Copyright Information

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