Long-standing prejudice and political violence in the name of Islam has turned the word jihad into a loaded term that has defined misperceptions and frequent lack of understanding between Muslim and non-Muslim communities. The notion of jihad has also reinforced segments of both communities in their belief that Muslims and non-Muslims are locked into an epic clash of civilizations.

Definition and Significance

Despite misconceptions and popular perceptions of the concept of jihad as one that is exclusionary and intrinsically hostile to others, and that justifies brutal violence, jihad means something very different and far more benign to most Islamic scholars and Muslims. The word jihad is derived from the Arab root jahada, which means to strive in the name of God and relates primarily to questions of ...

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