The word "jihad", which is an Islamic religious term, actually has a fairly wide range of meanings. Most often people perceive it as a designation of a holy war, but here everything can be not so unambiguous. And yet, what is jihad? Some Muslim theologians insist that this concept has a peaceful meaning. To understand the true meaning of the word "jihad", it is necessary to analyze this term in the context of its historical development.

Ambiguity of the concept

As already mentioned, many modern Muslim theologians tend to argue that the term jihad is peaceful, and its purpose is rather a spiritual struggle than a physical war. But then the religious wars of the Middle Ages are immediately recalled. The result of the crusades was the spread of jihad precisely in the meaning of the "holy war", when the Muslims were forced to defend themselves against the Crusaders, who sought to seize the Holy Land inhabited by followers of the Prophet Muhammad.What is jihad? Religious wars

The concept of jihad is almost impossible to characterize unambiguously, because it has its own historical development. Depending on the place and time, as well as on how individuals and leaders of the Muslim community understand and interpret this term, it can acquire several different meanings.

The meaning of the word "jihad" in the Quran

The meaning of it is a struggle. But what kind of struggle is this, and what is jihad in this context? In Islamic literature very often there is this more extended form of the definition of this word: jihad is a struggle in the way of Allah.

After studying the Koran, one can see that in about 275 out of more than 6 thousand ayat, speech in one sense or another is about fighting, war, etc. The word "jihad" is used only 41 times, and in many cases it is clearly not has any aggressive meaning. An example is the phrase "al-jihad bi anfousikoum", which translates as "fighting the stubbornness of your soul."

After a more detailed analysis of the use of words with the root -jhd in Muslim scripture, the following conclusion can be drawn: in six cases of its use, jihad means a struggle for God, and it clearly does not have a violent nature. In most cases, this fight is somewhat different meaning - for your property or land. And only in two examples the word "jihad" can be interpreted as a call to fight against unbelievers, with severity in relation to them. Nevertheless, Islamic jihad today is mainly perceived in the context of these two latter cases.

Using words in other sources

It is worth noting that most Islamic theologians and theologians understand the meaning of jihad primarily in a military context. The Muslim society, to which their influence extends, can perceive it in the meaning of war against the infidels, while it would be more correct to understand this as a need to struggle with oneself and with one's passions.

Jihad as the service of the supreme goal

The pillars of Islam in their classical version do not include jihad in their number. However, some religious groups tend to add struggle with their own passions to the five pillars of Islam, and the most radical of them consider it their duty to use it as a struggle against the infidels.

Here, there is a noticeable superiority of jihad - sometimes it is equated in importance and even put above such important things as prayer or strict fasting. He becomes a spiritual action, equal to which there is nothing in the world, he who accomplishes it deserves material benefits and is even freed from some responsibility, and the deceased during it must immediately enter the paradise.

It is important to understand that jihad is a holy war in which there is no place for self-interest or any other personal interests. To perform it is to serve Allah, exalting his name and wholly devoting himself to higher ideals.

Types of Jihad

Modern Muslim theologians, referring to their predecessors, believe that there are several varieties of jihad. So, it can be divided into four types:

  • Jihad of the heart is a struggle with oneself, a confrontation with one's own passions and inclinations.
  • Jihad of the language. It is done with the help of a sermon, a word. Here you can give an example of the Prophet Muhammad, who, before taking the sword in hand, peacefully preached to the unbelievers his word.
  • Jihad hands - is executed by punishing criminals. There is only one law for this: it is Sharia.
  • And finally, the jihad of the sword - by itself, is carried out by conducting armed struggle. For this reason, religious wars can be waged.

The first three kinds of jihad, based on moral principles, belong to the group of "great appeal". Struggle, in the literal sense of the word, you can only call the jihad of the sword, which refers to the "small call."

Conditions for calling for real struggle

The call for jihad of the sword should have good reasons, let's name the reasons why it is possible:

  • Against Islam, there is a plan that is clearly aggressive. Such conditions can also lead to an appeal to the jihad of the heart in cases when encroachments on Islam are carried out in the spiritual sphere.
  • To the Islamic state and the Muslim community, the ummah, the military force is applied, there is an open aggression, an invasion.
  • Jihad of a personal nature, when there is a possibility of loss, loss of property, territory.

Some Islamic theologians are sure that in the event of a real military threat from the infidels, every Muslim who is able to hold arms in his hands must defend the state.

The role of the commander-in-chief is performed by the ruler of the country - no one except him has the right to declare or end jihad, and only he has the authority to enter into a peace treaty or some other agreement.

About Muslim Law

The Muslim notion of the world has many features and aspects unique to Islam. Only after examining them, one can understand what jihad is and what is the reason for the call to it.

First of all, it should be noted that Islamic law is peculiar to divide the world into different zones, which have their own special status. So, the house of Islam - or "gift of al-Islam" - is the territory where Muslims live and where the Sharia acts. All other lands on which the infidels live are the house of war, in another way "the gift of al-Harb". Based on these conventions, the policy of jihad is carried out.

In extreme conditions, Muslim society must unquestioningly obey its leader, which gives him certain opportunities for manipulation. Hence it turns out that the meaning of the term "jihad" is in absolute dependence on the opinion of the ruler.

The relationship between forms of jihad

Comparing the types of jihad with each other, one can see their interconnectedness, interdependence. And if the pillars of Islam are the basis of religion, then without the jihad of the heart directed at the inner faith of man, it is simply impossible to commit any of its other forms. Only after the spiritual world of the Muslim and his personality are formed, the believing person can preach with the word, execute the law or fight the enemies of Islam. Without faith, all this would not make sense.

Here we can cite the example of the prophet Muhammad, who survived the formation of his personality as a person called to special service. Then he secretly preached for several years, which resulted in the laying of the foundations of the future Muslim society - and only after that he could openly begin the proclamation of the divine will. All that he created was necessary to preserve. To do this, we also need sharia, a set of rules that could be used to regulate the relations of Muslims with each other. Ultimately, there is a need to ensure the integrity of the Muslim ummah and protect it from external enemies.

It is obvious that the concept of jihad has its historical development and today is a rather complex system.

Reward to the Committing Jihad

To understand what jihad is and what significance it has for a Muslim, it will not be superfluous to mention that the one who performs it deserves a reward, which can be of two kinds: spiritual and material. As already mentioned, participation in jihad means that in the event of his death, a Muslim becomes a martyr. This, in turn, guarantees him the opportunity to immediately go to heaven, where he has the right to take a worthy place.

The material reward is those earthly goods, property that it will be possible to capture from the enemy in the course of military operations. In this case it is important to understand that jihad should not be a means for personal gain, but a reward is meant as encouragement, as something secondary or secondary. In other words, a Muslim has the right to seize the property of a defeated enemy. But jihad is not done for this. Otherwise, it is just a gas - predatory raid, not containing a spiritual context.

War or, after all, struggle?

As for military actions, in the Islamic historical literature, the words "harb" or "khital" are used for their designation, therefore the term "jihad" would be more correctly understood as a struggle of a certain kind. At the same time, this word has a spiritual and even a sacred connotation. Holy Jihad is a struggle conducted solely for the purpose of protecting Islam, protecting the internal faith of every single representative of the Ummah from any negative impact.

Jihad is a unifying means, it acts as a guarantor of the protection of absolute and immutable truths and dogmas of Islam, protecting both the whole society and every individual from encroachments of any kind.


Proceeding from the above, it can be concluded that the concept of "jihad" does not necessarily have to bear an aggressive or negative meaning. Everything is much more complicated. Even the flag of jihad, no matter how threatening it may look, is just an inscription on a black background (sometimes on green) saying "there is no god but Allah". The sword portrayed on this banner symbolizes the struggle, which, as has been said many times, can not always be conducted by the use of real military force.