What is the true meaning of jihad?

If you look up “What is the true meaning of jihad?” on Google, you’ll have to do a lot of scrolling before you reach any source that offers a generally non-peaceful interpretation of this word. Did Google manipulate the results? You be the judge.

Typical is the interpretation of The Islamic Supreme Council of America:


  • The Arabic word “jihad” is often translated as “holy war,” but in a purely linguistic sense, the word ” jihad” means struggling or striving.
  • The arabic word for war is: “al-harb”.
  • In a religious sense, as described by the Quran and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (s), “jihad” has many meanings. It can refer to internal as well as external efforts to be a good Muslims or believer, as well as working to inform people about the faith of Islam.
  • If military jihad is required to protect the faith against others, it can be performed using anything from legal, diplomatic and economic to political means. If there is no peaceful alternative, Islam also allows the use of force, but there are strict rules of engagement. Innocents – such as women, children, or invalids – must never be harmed, and any peaceful overtures from the enemy must be accepted.
  • Military action is therefore only one means of jihad, and is very rare. To highlight this point, the Prophet Mohammed told his followers returning from a military campaign: “This day we have returned from the minor jihad to the major jihad,” which he said meant returning from armed battle to the peaceful battle for self-control and betterment…

I’m not an expert, but the second bullet point seems problematic to me; Arabic is full of synonyms and near- synonyms. To imply that jihad cannot mean “war” because “al-harb” means war is ridiculous. As for the other bullet points, I’ll let an ex-Muslim explain the problem:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FDnhhnsp_g8&w=560&h=315]

A word can mean many things to different people, depending on the context, but I’d like to add a different angle to this, one that most people are probably not aware of.

If I’m not mistaken, Hebrew has an equivalent to the word “jihad.” It can be found in the Bible (Genesis 49:19). When Jacob blesses his son Gad, he says:

גָּ֖ד גְּד֣וּד יְגוּדֶ֑נּוּ וְה֖וּא יָגֻ֥ד עָקֵֽב׃

Transliterated: Gad gedud yegudennu, wehu yagud ‘aqeb

“Gad will be attacked by a band of raiders, but he will attack them at their heels.”

Typically, when Arabic and Hebrew share a word, Arabic has the more archaic form. The root for “jihad” is “jahd.” It’s easy to see how the “h” could have fallen away over time, leaving the two-letter root “gud.” Modern Arabic “j” is the same as the Hebrew (and older Arabic) hard “g.”* Like the Qur’an, the Torah is a violent book; few would interpret the word “attack,” in this verse, figuratively (except, perhaps, the Kabbalists, but that’s a different matter).

* Many Yemenite Jews pronounce the Hebrew “g” as “j” and many modern Arabs (such as the Egyptians) pronounce the Arabic “j” as a hard “g” to this day.

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6 Responses to What is the true meaning of jihad?

  1. Fluechtling.net says:

    This is because you used the normal google search instead of PIG, Politically Incorrect Google search. You will notice a dramatic difference.

    We only use the PIG search for any political issue and are very happy with the search results. Try it and report on it. If you like it, please post about it and pass it on. It really is very valuable.

    We tried and only got Jihadwatch, Breitbart, pamelageller, gateston institute, frontpagemag .

    You need to disable the popup blocker, or follow a link to the google custom search page.


  2. Danny says:

    Elsewhere you wrote:
    “The peoples that the Torah teaches us to kill are all gone. There are no more Amalekites or Philistines. We no longer have a Sanhedrin either, or “semikha” so modern rabbis have no authority to hand down a death sentence.”

    Care to explain that?
    I disagree, I consider arabs, maybe even all muslim as descendants of Amalek.
    Currently there might be no need for “official” clarifications; I don’t think death sentences are needed against Amalekites.

    “If violence against others were an actual part of modern Judaism, then we’d have a problem with violent Orthodox Jews running around – but we don’t. ”

    Some people e.g. in Israel might disagree, but in general you are right.
    And I consider that a big problem given current conditions in some European countries.

    Of course one does not need Torah to destroy Islam, but it might help.
    The general justification for all non-muslim is just self-defense. In Koran Part 9 there is a verse about killing me; that should be enough.

    • jewamongyou says:

      You may consider Arabs, or all Muslims, to be “Amalek” but do you have any evidence? I find the idea of Arabs being Amalek particularly problematic, considering that there are Jewish Arabs. “Arab” is a linguistic group; anybody whose native language is Arabic is an Arab, regardless of his racial background. But if you’re referring to the indigenous peoples of the Middle East, obviously, they’re a very mixed lot. To claim that they’re descendants of Amalek requires some evidence. If this were so, then to you consider it an obligation to kill even righteous Arabs, and Christian Arabs. What about Buddhist Arabs?

      Obviously, Islam is a problem, in that (as you state) its “holy” book tells them to kill us, or at least to subjugate us.

      • Danny says:

        I’m still researching this, but I don’t really expect to find solid proof anymore.

        My current idea is that Amalekites ought to be understood in a functional sense, i.e. as a special type of enemy of Israel, having a type of social organization that proved difficult for Israel to cope with, thus justifying their special treatment (“kill them, not now, but as soon as possible and don’t forget” – which indicates that they are usually underestimated).

        Currently I would characterize them as people who are:
        – nomadic or semi-nomadic (i.e. refugee-like, ‘refugee’ is just the leftists word for nomadic)
        – warlike / hostile
        – genetically mixed

        Now if you consider the last point: while judaism has an adoption clause, islam basically is an adoption clause. It’s an amalgamation of human trash roaming the world, united only by their desire to loot and enslave other people. History shows that jews were unable to dominate islamic societies to any meaningful degree, probably due to their population / family structure (islamic cousin love).
        Judaism tries to preserve and also critically depends on (some) purity of blood. That jewish arabs exist at all thus poses a problem to jewish cohesion. In addition to the problems around Israel there seems to be a pattern in diaspora countries:
        1. jews open migration channels for their own safety
        2. muslim invaders use them; jews can’t resist helping them
        3. muslims destroy the host society by overbreeding
        4. jews flee or are killed

        It’s clear that muslim are much more nomadic than jews, because they can be made to run away very easily (cf Nakba); they only fight with very superior numbers (at least where I live).

        In a sense islam and judaism occupy remotely similar ‘ecologic niches’, but were jews are united in love, the horde is united only through hate and desire for looting. This is why there is never peace within islam.

        (I know that might sound somewhat non-neutral, sorry.)

  3. Pingback: Find the Cognate! | Jewamongyou's Blog

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