The Question of Jihad

  • S. M. Farid Mirbagheri
Part of the Rethinking Peace and Conflict Studies book series (RCS)


The term jihad comes from the word jahd, meaning to struggle and to strive. Its derivatives, but never the term jihad itself, have been mentioned about 40 times in the Quran, the holy book of Muslims. The terms mojahedoon and mujahedeen are the subject nouns of jihad, which have also been used in the contemporary world in Afghanistan and other places. There is, now, clearly a distinct military slant to jihad. Islamist fundamentalism appears to preach jihad as an armed struggle against those it considers the enemies of Islam.1 To be clear, there are two aspects to the concept of jihad: lesser (outward) jihad and greater (inner) jihad. Though they are interrelated, it is important to bear in mind the distinction between the two. The lesser jihad is defined by the Prophet himself.2 It reports on the material and physical activities that are directed towards a Godly cause. External battles, whether military or otherwise, fall into this category. The Ottoman Sultan’s proclamation of jihad against Britain, France and the Allies in World War I, was an instance of military/lesser jihad. The exhortation was a religio-political statement deriving its authority ultimately from sharia, the legal code of Islam, which has traditionally been the exclusive domain of jurisprudence. The political and military impact of lesser jihad is derived from its religious orientation, though the religious value of jihad is somewhat independent of its political weight. This may indicate the predominance of jurisprudence in Islamic sciences in recent history in this respect.


Muslim Community Islamic State Subject Noun Muslim Scholar Islamic Jurisprudence 
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Copyright information

© S. M. Farid Mirbagheri 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. M. Farid Mirbagheri
    • 1
  1. 1.University of NicosiaCyprus

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