An Arabic word meaning struggle. The words for holy war are completely different, and are not found in any traditional Muslim literature. Jihad against the West in general and Americans in particular is a favorite rallying cry of Islamic extremists worldwide.

Also, among geeks, a debate or flamewar that reaches epic proportions. Notable Jihads include VMS vs. UNIX, Big-endian vs. Little-endian, C vs. C++, vi vs. emacs, emacs vs. xemacs, and KDE vs. Gnome

From the 3 letter Arabic root verb Ja Ha Da, meaning struggle, becomes jihad after adding the 'e' or 'Kasra' accent mark to the arabic letter jeem and adding the Arabic letter Aleph after the Arabic letter Ha.

One of the most annoying media errors, and that happens on a regular basis, was equating Jihad with holy war. Jihad is not holy war, harb moqadasa is the direct translation to holy war.

Examples of using Jihad in the Arabic language:

1. Al Talib Ijtahada fi al dars.
The student struggled in the lesson.

2. Al Talib Mujtahid.
The student is a struggler. ( in other words, a geek, a nerd, a book worm)

3. Ihtaris! Johd Ale.
Warning! High struggle. ( seen on high capacity voltage transformers )

During the period of Qur'anic revelation, while Muhammad was in Mecca (610-622), Jihad meant essentially a nonviolent struggle to spread Islam. Following his move from Mecca to Medina in 622, and the establishment of an Islamic state, fighting in self-defense was sanctioned by the Qur'an. This book began referring increasingly to qital as a form of Jihad which supports the idea of either conquest or conversion war against all unbelievers.

Nowadays, three broad approaches to the Jihad reinterpretation may be discerned:

First. In the late nineteenth century --as a response to Western criticism that Jihad meant 'holy war' and that Islam was spread through force-- Muslim apologists argued that Prophetic traditions allow war only for self-defense against persecution and aggression.

Second. The modernists dismiss the medieval theory as a distortion of Qur'anic ethics, emphasizing, for instance, that the division of the world into Islamic world and unbeliever world is found nowhere in the Qur'an. A war is Jihad, therefore, only if it is undertaken in defense of Muslim lives, property, and honor.

Such an interpretation is motivated less by Western criticisms than by the wish to evolve this concept in a way compatible with international norms. This view of Jihad is the Islamic equivalent of the Western idea of just war, a war fought to repel aggression with limited goals and by restricted means.

Third. The revivalist arm argues that Jihad goal is clearly to propagate the Islamic order worldwide. The tactics to achieve this resolution must not to be to coerce people to accept Islam, because the Qur'an clearly encourages freedom of worship. Rather, it ought to be to overthrow un-Islamic regimes that corrupt their societies and divert people from service to God.

Un-Islamic regimes include those ruling in most Muslim countries, in which hypocritical leaders should be replaced with true Muslims.

Only when this internal debate has succeeded in restoring a sincere Islamic base, the external Jihad can resume. Thus, Jihad is today largely synonymous with Islamic revolution in the works of most Muslim activists.

1. Johnson, James Turner, and John Kelsay, eds. Cross, Crescent, and Sword: The Justification and Limitation of War in Western and Islamic Tradition. New York. Greenwood Press, 1990.
2. Khadduri, Majid. War and Peace in the Law of Islam. Baltimore. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1955.
3. Morabia, Alfred. Le Gihad dans l'Islam medieval: Le 'Combat sacré' des origines au XIIme siécle. Paris. Albin Michel (ed.), 1993.

Ji*had", Je*had" (?), n. [Ar. jihAd.] (Moham.)

A religious war against infidels or Mohammedan heretics; also, any bitter war or crusade for a principle or belief.

[Their] courage in war . . . had not, like that of the Mohammedan dervishes of the Sudan, or of Mohammedans anywhere engaged in a jehad, a religious motive and the promise of future bliss behind it.
James Bryce.


© Webster 1913

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