Jihad literally means "struggle" or "resisting". Within an Islamic perspective, it is "striving in the way of God (al-jihad fi sabil Allah)"

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Jihad (English pronunciation: /dʒɪˈhɑːd/; Arabic: جهاد‎ ǧihād [dʒiˈhæːd]), an Islamic term, is a religious duty of Muslims. In Arabic, the word jihād translates as a noun meaning "struggle". Jihad appears 41 times in the Quran and frequently in the idiomatic expression "striving in the way of God (al-jihad fi sabil Allah)". A person engaged in jihad is called a mujahid; the plural is mujahideen. 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 10 Practices of the Religion.

According to the authoritative Dictionary of Islam jihad is defined as: "A religious war with those who are unbelievers in the mission of Muhammad ... enjoined especially for the purpose of advancing Islam and repelling evil from Muslims." The prominent British-American orientalist Bernard Lewis argues that in the hadiths and the classical manuals of Islamic law jihad has a military meaning in the large majority of cases. 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". An accurate interpretation of the concept of Jihad is provided by the BBC about how Muslims describe three different types of struggles:

  • A believer's internal struggle to live out the Muslim faith as well as possible

  • The struggle to build a good Muslim society

  • Holy war: the struggle to defend Islam, with force if necessary

In western societies the term jihad is often translated by non-Muslims as "holy war". Scholars of Islamic studies often stress that these words are not synonymous. Muslim authors, in particular, tend to reject such an approach, stressing non-militant connotations of the word.

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