Views of Jihad Throughout History

Views of Jihad Throughout History

By Asma Afsaruddin

Religion Compass, Volume 1, Issue 1 (2007)

Abstract: The Arabic term jihad has primarily come to mean “armed struggle/combat” and is frequently translated into English as “holy war.” But a close scrutiny of the occurrence of this term in the Qur’an and in early hadith literature demonstrates that this exclusive understanding of the term cannot be supported for the earliest period of Islam (roughly mid-seventh through the late eighth centuries). The essay traces the transformations in the meanings of jihad – and the related concepts of martyr and martyrdom – from the earliest period of Islam through the late medieval period and down to our present time.

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