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"Jihad" is a term often misunderstood and associated with violent radical militants. The Arabic word is frequently mistranslated as "holy war", although there is no such thing in Islam. Holy war is something undertaken to forcibly subject others to certain religious doctrines. The Arabic word "jihad" actually means a struggle or striving, and applies to any great effort on the personal was well as the social level.
It is striving to do good and remove injustice and evil from oneself and from society. This exertion of effort can be spiritual, social, economical or political. It is a broad Islamic concept that includes opposing evil inclinations within the self, opposing injustice, the exertion of effort to improve the quality of life in society, as well as the striving by military forces on a battlefield in defense of the community or of peoples oppressed.
Striving to purify it, to increase it's faith, helping it incline towards good and keep it away from evil.
Spending one's wealth in beneficial ways including charities and welfare projects.
In a world that is filled with injustice, oppression, poverty, racial discrimination there must be those who stand up for what is right. Those who strive for social reform and the elimination of ignorance, superstition, poverty, disease while securing the rights for weaker members of society against the impositions of oppressors, foreign domination and dictatorships that usurp the rights and freedoms of the people. Jihad is an effort to make the truth be known and heard in all places.
Although "Jihad" is a wider concept than war, it is also clear that Islam acknowledges armed struggle when there is no other option for treatment of such problems as oppression and aggression and the defense of legitimate freedoms and rights.
War in Islam has certain conditions of restraint that distinguish it from any other kind of warfare:
1)Muslims must only fight those who fight against them, non-combatants are not to be harmed
2)Weapons of mass destruction must never be used.
3)Hostilities should end as soon as the other party is inclined to peace.
4)Prohibits indiscriminate killing, destruction of homes, animals and crops and the torture of prisoners.
Throughout their history Muslims have entered battles and armed conflicts under these terms. If the situation is different today, it is only because these Islamic principles are not being observed.