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Jihad

The Koran, Narratives, Early Conquests, Martyrdom, Treatment Of Non-muslims, The Obligation Of Jihad

Jihad, in Islam, is an idea of action. The Arabic word literally means "striving." When followed by the modifying phrase fisabil Allah, "in the path of God," or when this phrase is absent but assumed to be in force, jihad has the specific sense of fighting for the sake of God and religion. Other Arabic words are closely related in meaning and usage, including ribat, which also refers to a kind of building associated with ascetic and mystical gatherings.

Jihad refers first to a body of legal doctrine. The manuals of Islamic law all contain a section called "Book of Jihad" or something similar. Here is something like what Western jurisprudence calls ius in bello, law governing the conduct of war—declaration and cessation of hostilities, treatment of non-belligerents, division of spoils, and so on. One also finds something like ius ad bellum, the right to enter a state of war. At the same time, however, jihad is more than a set of juridical principles. Historians must take it into account when they consider political mobilization and contested authority within many Islamic societies. Above all, jihad has never ceased changing, right down to our own day.

Jihad has both an external and an internal aspect. The external jihad is physical combat against real enemies. The internal or "greater" jihad is a struggle against the self in which one suppresses one's base desires and then, perhaps, rises to contemplation of higher truth. Most modern Western writing on the jihad considers the spiritualized combat of the internal jihad as secondary and derivative, despite all the importance it eventually acquired in Muslim thought and society. However, much of Muslim opinion in our day favors the opposite view.

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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Intuitionist logic to Kabbalah