Jihad (English: d/; Arabic: جهادjihād [dʒɪˈhaːd]) is an Arabic word which literally means striving or struggling, especially with a praiseworthy aim. [1] [2] [3] [4] It can have many shades of meaning in an Islamic context, such as struggle against one's evil inclinations, an exertion to convert unbelievers, or efforts toward the moral betterment of society, [1] [2] [5] though it is most frequently associated with war. [6] In classical Islamic law, the term refers to armed struggle against unbelievers, [2] [3] while modernist Islamic scholars generally equate military jihad with defensive warfare. [7] [8] In Sufi and pious circles, spiritual and moral jihad has been traditionally emphasized under the name of greater jihad. [9] [3] The term has gained additional attention in recent decades through its use by terrorist groups.

The word jihad appears frequently in the Quran with and without military connotations, [10] often in the idiomatic expression "striving in the path of God (al-jihad fi sabil Allah)". [11] [12] Islamic jurists and other ulema of the classical era understood the obligation of jihad predominantly in a military sense. [13] They developed an elaborate set of rules pertaining to jihad, including prohibitions on harming those who are not engaged in combat. [14] [15] In the modern era, the notion of jihad has lost its jurisprudential relevance and instead given rise to an ideological and political discourse. [7] While modernist Islamic scholars have emphasized defensive and non-military aspects of jihad, some Islamists have advanced aggressive interpretations that go beyond the classical theory. [7]

Jihad is classified into inner ("greater") jihad, which involves a struggle against one's own base impulses, and external ("lesser") jihad, which is further subdivided into jihad of the pen/tongue (debate or persuasion) and jihad of the sword. [16] [9] Most Western writers consider external jihad to have primacy over inner jihad in the Islamic tradition, while much of contemporary Muslim opinion favors the opposite view. [16] Gallup analysis of a large survey reveals considerable nuance in the conceptions of jihad held by Muslims around the world. [17]

Jihad is sometimes referred to as the sixth pillar of Islam, though this designation is not commonly recognized. [18] In Twelver Shi'a Islam jihad is one of the ten Practices of the Religion. [19] A person engaged in jihad is called a mujahid (plural mujahideen). The term jihad is often rendered in English as "Holy War", [20] [21] [22] although this translation is controversial. [23] [24]


In Modern Standard Arabic, the term jihad is used for a struggle for causes, both religious and secular. The Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic defines the term as "fight, battle; jihad, holy war (against the infidels, as a religious duty)". [25] Nonetheless, it is usually used in the religious sense and its beginnings are traced back to the Qur'an and the words and actions of Muhammad. [26] [27][ page needed] In the Qur'an and in later Muslim usage, jihad is commonly followed by the expression fi sabil illah, "in the path of God." [28] Muhammad Abdel-Haleem states that it indicates "the way of truth and justice, including all the teachings it gives on the justifications and the conditions for the conduct of war and peace." [29] It is sometimes used without religious connotation, with a meaning similar to the English word " crusade" (as in "a crusade against drugs"). [30]

Quranic use and Arabic forms

According to Ahmed al-Dawoody, seventeen derivatives of jihād occur altogether forty-one times in eleven Meccan texts and thirty Medinan ones, with the following five meanings: striving because of religious belief (21), war (12), non-Muslim parents exerting pressure, that is, jihād, to make their children abandon Islam (2), solemn oaths (5), and physical strength (1). [10]


Ali and Hamza in single combat at the Battle of Badr, from Siyer-i Nabi, circa 1594

The context of the Quran is elucidated by Hadith (the teachings, deeds and sayings of the Islamic prophet Muhammad). Of the 199 references to jihad in perhaps the most standard collection of hadith— Bukhari—all assume that jihad means warfare. [31]

Among reported saying of the Islamic prophet Muhammad involving jihad are

The best Jihad is the word of Justice in front of the oppressive sultan.

— cited by Ibn Nuhaas and narrated by Ibn Habbaan [32] [33] [34]


The Messenger of Allah was asked about the best jihad. He said: "The best jihad is the one in which your horse is slain and your blood is spilled."

— cited by Ibn Nuhaas and narrated by Ibn Habbaan [35]

Ibn Nuhaas also cited a hadith[ which?] from Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, where Muhammad states that the highest kind of jihad is "The person who is killed whilst spilling the last of his blood" (Ahmed 4/144). [36]

According to another hadith, [37] supporting one’s parents is also an example of jihad. [38] [39] It has also been reported that Muhammad considered well-performing hajj to be the best jihad for Muslim women. [40] [41]

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Djihad
العربية: جهاد
aragonés: Alchihad
অসমীয়া: জিহাদ
asturianu: Yihad
azərbaycanca: Cihad
تۆرکجه: جیهاد
বাংলা: জিহাদ
Bân-lâm-gú: Jihad
български: Джихад
bosanski: Džihad
català: Gihad
Cebuano: Dyihad
čeština: Džihád
Cymraeg: Jihad
dansk: Jihad
Deutsch: Dschihad
eesti: Džihaad
Ελληνικά: Τζιχάντ
español: Yihad
Esperanto: Ĝihado
euskara: Jihad
فارسی: جهاد
français: Djihad
Gaeilge: Jiohád
galego: Xihad
ગુજરાતી: જિહાદ
한국어: 지하드
Հայերեն: Ջիհադ
हिन्दी: जिहाद
hrvatski: Džihad
Bahasa Indonesia: Jihad
interlingua: Jihad
íslenska: Jihad
italiano: Jihād
עברית: ג'יהאד
Basa Jawa: Jihad
қазақша: Жиһад
Kiswahili: Jihadi
Kurdî: Cîhad
Кыргызча: Жыхад
Latina: Gihad
latviešu: Džihāds
lietuvių: Džihadas
magyar: Dzsihád
മലയാളം: ജിഹാദ്
Bahasa Melayu: Jihad
Nederlands: Jihad
日本語: ジハード
norsk: Jihad
norsk nynorsk: Jihad
occitan: Jihad
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Jihod
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਜਿਹਾਦ
پنجابی: جہاد
polski: Dżihad
português: Jihad
română: Jihad
русский: Джихад
shqip: Xhihadi
sicilianu: Jihad
සිංහල: ජිහාඩ්
Simple English: Jihad
slovenčina: Džihád
slovenščina: Džihad
Soomaaliga: Jihaad
српски / srpski: Џихад
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Džihad
Basa Sunda: Jihad
suomi: Jihad
svenska: Jihad
Tagalog: Jihad
தமிழ்: ஜிகாத்
татарча/tatarça: Җиһад
తెలుగు: జిహాద్
ไทย: ญิฮาด
тоҷикӣ: Ҷиҳод
Türkçe: Cihat
українська: Джихад
اردو: جہاد
Tiếng Việt: Jihad
文言: 聖戰
吴语: 吉哈德
粵語: 聖戰
中文: 吉哈德