Jihad is an Islamic term describing a religious duty of Muslims. In Arabic, the word jihād translates as a noun meaning "struggle". Jihad appears 41 times in the Koran and frequently in the idiomatic expression "striving in the way of God (al-jihad fi sabil Allah)".
In western societies the term jihad is often translated as "holy war". Scholars of Islamic studies often stress that these words are not synonymous. Muslim authors, in particular, tend to reject such an approach, stressing non-militant connotations of the word.
In Modern Standard Arabic, jihad is one of the correct terms for a struggle for any cause, violent or not, religious or secular. For instance, Mahatma Gandhi's satyagraha struggle for Indian independence is called a "jihad" in Modern Standard Arabic (as well as many other dialects of Arabic); the terminology is also applied to the fight for women's liberation.
The term 'jihad' has accrued both violent and non-violent meanings. It can simply mean striving to live a moral and virtuous life, spreading and defending Islam as well as fighting injustice and oppression, among other things.
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