History of Jihad.
Holy war vs. Holy Struggle.
What the Quran says.
What the Hadith says.
Case Study : Jihad during the Medieval Islam Era.
Holy War vs. Holy Struggle
Jihad is frequently confused with the current Western concept of secular war. It is an erroneous identification, for under Islamic doctrine secular war (Harb) is morally unacceptable.14 Early Muslim thinkers equated such war with forms of social sickness. The Muslim scholar Ibn-Khaldun (A.D. 1332-1406) observed that wars had existed from the beginning of human society and were rooted in humanity's vengeful nature. Hence, Muslim scholars regarded secular wars as an evil which violated the divine laws and should be condemned. Islam permits only Jihad and not Harb (secular war). The Islamic concept of the unity of God was taught by the Prophet against the backdrop of the polytheistic, pagan society of Mecca. This helps explain the word Jihad. Jihad means struggle or exertion of one's power in Allah's path15 against that which is evil; its goal is to destroy evil, to spread belief in Allah and to make His words supreme in this world. During his years in Mecca the Prophet's political power was not strong, yet he was exhorted to propagate the message of Islam against the prevalent idolatry and paganism. In this period obviously Jihad meant only the propagation of Islam.
Another term which is misunderstood and misrepresented is jihad. This does not mean "Holy War". "Holy War" does not exist as a term in Arabic, and its translation into Arabic sounds quite alien. The term which is specifically used in the Qur'an for fighting is qital. Jihad can be by argumentation (25:52 ), financial help or actual fighting. Jihad is always described in the Qur'an as fi sabil illah.