Jihad is an Arabic word the root of which is Jahada, which means to strive for a better way of life. The nouns are Juhd, Mujahid, Jihad, and Ijtihad. The other meanings are: endeavor, strain, exertion, effort, diligence, fighting to defend one's life, land, and religion.
This word has been in frequent use in the Western press over the past several years, explained directly or subtlely, to mean holy war. As a matter of fact the term "holy war" was coined in Europe during the Crusades, meaning the war against Muslims. It does not have a direct counterpart in Islamic glossary, and Jihad is certainly not its translation.
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