rating: 0+x

Basic Information

"Jihad" is an Arabic word meaning "Struggle" and is an integral part of Islam. Some Islamic teachers refer to it as the Sixth Pillar of Islam. It is widely used synonymously with "Holy War", but its actual meaning is more complicated than that.

According to some Islamic scholars, there are four types of Jihad:

  • Jihad of the heart (jihad bil qalb/nafs) The internal struggle to resist temptations to evil. This type of Jihad was regarded as the greater jihad (al-jihad al-akbar)1.
  • Jihad by the tongue (jihad bil lisan) Speaking the truth and spreading the word of Islam.
  • Jihad by the hand (jihad bil yad) Acting rightly in one's daily life and combating injustice with action.
  • Jihad by the sword (jihad bis saif) Using armed force against the enemies of God.

In one of the hadith (stories about the acts and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad), the Prophet on returning from the battlefield said, "We have returned from the lesser jihad (jihad al-asghar) to the greater jihad (jihad al-akbar)." For that reason many Muslims hold that the jihad of the heart is more important than that of the sword, although this hadith is not all that well attested. The sword gets more press, though and is arguably a lot more popular. Certainly it appears that an appeal for jihad against a specific target requires no elucidation to be interpreted as a call to arms by the faithful2.

In many ways the Islamic view of Jihad has parallels with the Christian notion of Spiritual Warfare, and, arguably, the Christian doctrine of Crusade derives directly from contact with Islam.


Game and Story Use

  • An army of bloodthirsty fanatics out to wage a Holy War makes a formidable threat for your PCs.
  • Contrawise, your party very well might be part of a Holy Army themselves.
  • A religious NPC very well might see his own life as a struggle against the forces of evil both externally (the wickedness in the world) and internally (temptations in his heart).
    • For that matter such a world-view would not be out of line for a PC, either.
  • The tendency for people to think of jihad as requiring violence might make a "good" model for a media blackwash or activist fundamentalist antics.
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License