Meaning of Jihad

What Does Jihad Really Mean?

Jihad is probably the most misunderstood word in Western media (to this day). Jihad literally translates as “struggle” and means a defensive struggle to do what’s right for the sake of Allah (God).

There are five different forms of Jihad:

1) Jihad of the heart/soul (jihad bin nafs/qalb) This is also referred to as the inner struggle, and it is the greater Jihad. An example is allowing Islam to transform one’s soul to achieve internal peace, and forgoing hatred and anger.

2) Jihad by the tongue (jihad bil lisan) Examples include telling the truth even when you stand alone, standing up for those who are oppressed, etc.

3) Jihad by the pen/knowledge (jihad bil qalam/ilm) Examples include writing articles, books, letters to political representatives, etc.

4) Jihad by the hand (jihad bil yad) Examples include giving to charity, helping the poor and needy, performing Hajj or Ummrah, saving people’s lives, giving birth, etc.

5) Jihad by the sword (jihad bis saif) This is also referred to as the lesser Jihad. Jihad by the sword is ONLY used in self-defence when someone attacks your life, or when your nation has been attacked, engaging into combat due to self defense. This by the way, is the same as international law. There are many rules and limitations when using Jihad of the sword for combat, for example, civilians are not allowed to be hurt or killed. Women, children, elderly, religious leaders (of any religion), and any non-combatants are not allowed to be harmed. Trees are not allowed to be cut down, etc. And Jihad cannot be declared by anyone, it has to be declared by the Head of State.

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