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Religious Glossary - common terms used related to Religion

Jihad - Centuries-old Arabic term translated literally as "holy war" or "endeavor." In recent years, Muslim fighters, especially in the Arab-Israeli conflict, have used the term almost solely to mean "holy war," often waged through terrorist attacks on civilians. PLO chairman Yasir Arafat caused a stir when he called for a "jihad to liberate Jerusalem," even after renouncing the use of violence against Israel. (Israel Project)

Jihad is an Arabic word that means "striving in the way of God." This striving can take a number of forms, including the daily inner struggle to be a better person. However, jihad is often used to refer to an armed struggle fought in defense of Islam.

From the verb jahada, to struggle. Effort or striving in God's path. When it refers to the individual effort to conquer himself or passions, it is called greater jihad. When it refers to the communal effort at a defensive war against the enemies of Islam, then it is called lesser jihad. A person who wages jihad is called a mujahid.