This chapter analyzes the concept of jihad. Literally meaning “struggle,” jihad may be associated with almost any activity by which Muslims attempt to bring personal and social life into a pattern of conformity with the guidance of God. Nevertheless, early in the development of Islam, jihad came to be associated particularly with fighting or making war “in the path of God.” It is argued that Muslim thinking about war bears a strong resemblance to that developed by Christians, Jews, and other groups. This does not minimize the objectionable nature of certain judgments, such as al-Qaeda's doctrine of total war. But the question of war is present for every historic and contemporary group, and the attempt to regulate it, to see war as a tool that is sometimes appropriate for attaining or defending justice, is difficult.
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