The word ‘jihad’ is Arabic and is included in the Quran, which is the holy book for Muslims. However, there is a great debate as to the meaning of the term. While many claim that jihad is a ‘holy war’, the actual translation of the word ‘jihad’ is ‘struggle.
In the Quran, the word ‘jihad’ appears commonly in the context of “striving in the way of God”, which means that ‘jihad’ is the ‘struggle one must go through in order to following the path of God.’ It is defined as one of the basic duties of every Muslim, and an important aspect in the doctrine of Islam. The discrepancy occurs when one tries to define what the struggle entails.
Scholars claim that the ‘jihad’ is an internal struggle against sin that the person must go through to continue being a devout Muslim. If one succumbs to sin then they have failed in their path to God. However, a secondary meaning of jihad is the struggle one must undertake against people who do not believe in Allah and do not acknowledge the submission to Muslims. This is the meaning that has been popularized by Islam extremists.
Most scholars, both Muslim and Non-Muslim, define jihad as having two meanings: the “greater jihad” and the “lesser jihad”. The “greater jihad” is the inner spiritual struggle, while the “lesser jihad” is the outer physical struggle against the enemies of Islam. The “lesser jihad” can be violent. But it is not necessary; it may even be non-violent in nature.