Jihad is the Arabic word for the Muslim concept of holy war. Jihad can be a spiritual and physical war against infidels – nonbelievers – or it can be an inner war against temptation and sin.
The physical jihad is communal, pitting an Islamic culture in a crusade of sorts against non-Islamic cultures or against Muslims seen to be in a state of apostasy. In some cases jihad of this sort involves activities that many Muslims would consider un-Islamic – activities such as suicide and the killing of innocents. Jihad of this sort, known by different names, is common to all religions and cultures. The medieval crusades of European Christians were jihadist in effect. Jews, Christians, Hindus, and Buddhists, as well as animistic peoples, have all waged war in the name of their religions. Jihad of this sort assumes a natural superiority of one religion over all others and can, of course, lead to unspeakable acts and immense destruction and pain.
Inner jihad, known by Muslims as “the greater...
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