The recent discussions of 9/11 jihadist attack at this channel brought up the question what is Islamic jihad. Many people seem to believe that the attackers have a distorted understanding of jihad as described in the Islamic sources (Koran, Hadith and Sira) and detailed in Sharia, Islam’s sacred law. But if we claim that something is distorted, it implies we know the correct, original version.
To begin with, jihad is not “sacred war”. The word is translated “struggle”, and it means any efforts “on the way of Allah”. Jihad is not limited to violent actions only. There are many forms of jihad, but all of them work towards the same goal: protecting Islam and spreading it further. There is offensive jihad and defensive jihad. Only defensive jihad is individual obligation (mandatory to all Muslims). Offensive jihad is communal obligation (it’s enough when at least some members of the community engage in it). And there is also inner or “greater” jihad, efforts to become a better Muslim.
If we look at prophet Muhammad, he participated in 65 armed events, not counting individual assassinations and executions, waging jihad for 9 years until most of Arabia became Islamic.
So what is your view of Islamic jihad?