What is Jihad?
Jihad is one of the most misunderstood Islamic term, and in most cases is taken as holy war. Unlike crusades, Islam does not have the concept of holy wars.
The word Jihad is never used in the Qur-an in context of combat. Instead, the word Qital is used for that. It applies to fighting only for the Cause of God.
Islam allows Muslims to fight back against oppression or if they are attacked. Even under such circumstances God prefers those who forgive. Muslims are also required to fight for the protection and safety of people of other faiths living under their rule.
Muhammad (Peace be upon him) had set unprecedented standards of humanity during wars. He forbade killing of the innocent, women, children, the old and the sick, destruction of crops, cutting of trees, killing of livestock and damaging places of worship, during wars. He treated his prisoners of war with unprecedented care.
Muslims went hungry to feed their prisoners of war, captured at Badr.
The word Jihad is derived from the word Jehd, which means to struggle.
Muslims are required to wage Jihad for the Cause of God to make this world a more livable place.
The foremost Jihad is fighting against one’s own evil desires to stray from the right path, by obedience of God and His last Messenger Muhammad (Peace be upon him).
Acquiring knowledge, applying that in one’s life and passing that to others are some other forms of Jihad.
Jihad can also be waged by actions, speech and prayers for guidance and not by spreading hatred.