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Jihad is an Islamic concept of spiritual (and sometimes physical) struggle. Though jihad is not considered a pillar of Islam, some scholars liken it to a sixth pillar of Islam after Shahadah, Salat, Zakaat, Sawm, and Hajj.[1][note 1] It is sometimes referred to as a duty or call and can be considered a form of worship. Jihad can be divided into four types:

  • Jihad against one's self: this is directed against the evil side of one's self, which is affected by Satan.[2]
  • Jihad of the tongue: this is a form of jihad that involves spreading the message of Allah.
  • Jihad of the hand: this is the jihad of doing the right thing.
  • Jihad of the sword: this is a form of jihad that involves a holy war and can be directed against non-Muslims or unbelievers. Ironically, this is virtually the exact definition of "Crusade", which many Mujihadeen (people on Jihad) claim to be fighting against. The others can fall under the category of various forms of "moral crusades".


Historically, jihad against non-Muslims has been important in the wars of many Islamic peoples. More recently, militant and terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas, DAESH, and al-Qaeda have appropriated the concept of jihad, and consequently, the term has come to be known in Western countries and has been used exaggeratedly in some anti-Islamic scaremongering.[3] Justification for jihad normally comes from the hadith and from the Quran. According to Islamic scholar Ibn Tammiyah, physical jihad can take two forms:[citation needed]

  1. when there is no pre-emptive attack (offensive jihad)
  2. when there is a pre-emptive attack (defensive jihad)

Offensive jihad takes place to "introduce" Islam to people. According to Fatwa Shami (alternatively called Raad Al Mutthar), an imam is obliged to raid neighboring non-Muslim countries[citation needed] once a year (ghazwaWikipedia) to spread the Darul Islam (The land of Islam/The land of peace).[4] The imam has to put three classical options before the non-Muslim countries:

  1. pay jizyaWikipedia with willing submission
  2. accept Islam
  3. meet on the battlefield

Despite the numerous calls for jihads against the West, the Muslim world ignores these — for good reasons:

  • Only a high-ranking member of Islam can call for jihad. For example, for much of the Ottoman Empire's history, only the Sultan could call for jihad, as he was both the Sultan of the largest and most powerful Muslim state and the Caliph.[5] Since the caliphate was destroyed in 1923 by Turkey, the claim for the power to call jihad has more or less fallen into the hands of the king of Saudi Arabia for Sunnis. Any terrorist group calling for a jihad against the West and/or Israel has no real power to do so and is doing the Islamic equivalent of talking shit.
  • Simply because jihad is called does not mean Muslims must follow it. During World War I, the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire called for a jihad against the Allied Powers, but many Muslims ignored the call as they viewed the war as pointless.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. Fard Ayn {the greatest degree of obligation}. Qadi Ibn Rushd reported that the scholars are agreed that when jihad becomes Fard Ayn, it has more of a priority than fulfilling the Fard Hajj. The reason being that if jihad is Fard Ayn, it must be carried out immediately, whereas the obligation to perform the pilgrimage may be postponed.


  1. John Esposito, Islam: The Straight Path, pp.93
  2. Rueven Firestone, Jihad: The Origin of Holy War in Islam, p 17
  3. https://www.jihadwatch.org/islam-101
  4. See the Wikipedia article on Divisions of the world in Islam.
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jihad#Shia
  6. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2001/11/19/the-revolt-of-islam