What is Jihad in Islam?

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

 In Islam, peace is the rule while war is the exception. Peace is a preamble to the principle of harmony in the universe, the laws of life and the origin of man, while war is the result of violations of harmony such as injustice, despotism and corruption. Islam eliminates almost all reasons that normally incite war and abolishes all wars for unjust gain and oppression.

Jihad, which is often confused with fighting and war, actually means "to struggle or to strive." Jihad is of three kinds. The first and primary form of Jihad is 'Jihad Alan-Nafs,' the personal struggle against one's own shortcomings. Second is “Jihad Alash- Shaitãn,' the struggle against the temptations of Satan. Third is “Jihad Alal-Kufr,' the struggle against those who do not let the Muslims live in accordance with the Commandments of God (Allah) and the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. Under this category of Jihad Islam allows the fighting in self-defense and in defense of religion or on the part of those who have been expelled forcibly from their homes. Islam condemns fighting which is based on:

• Racism, as contrary to the principles of the oneness of humanity.
• Ambition and exploitation. It does not permit war which aims at capturing markets, acquiring materials exploiting human labor and resources. In fact, Islam looks at humanity as one big cooperative family and a part of a universal unity. It ordains all believing people to cooperate in realizing universal welfare and in abstaining from doing wrong. Islamic jurisprudence promises all humans absolute equality and justice or regardless of race, sex, or creed.
• Ostentation, the purpose of which is to magnify the pride and pomp of kings.

Islam allows fighting as the last resort when human rights are violated, propagation of God's Message to mankind is obstructed and diplomatic solutions have failed to solve these oppressions. Islam lays down strict rules of combat and prohibits harming civilians, monks, priests, nuns, old people, women and young children who are unable to fight. Islam also prohibits destroying the crops, trees, livestock and looting which usually follows conquest:

“Fight in the cause of God with those who fight against you, but do not transgress the limits. God does not like the transgressors." Al-Qur'an 2:190

"If your enemy is inclined towards peace, do make peace with them, and put your trust in God. He is the One Who hears all and knows all." Al-Qur'an 8:61

Tags: What is Jihad in Islam?, Jihad in Islam, Jihad, Muslim
References: What is Islam? The Institute of Islamic Knowledge, al-quraan.org