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In Islam, the central doctrine that calls on believers to combat the enemies of their religion. According to the Qur'an and the Hadith, jihad is a duty that may be fulfilled in four ways: by the heart, the tongue, the hand, or the sword. The first way (known in Sufism as the greater jihad) involves struggling against evil desires. The ways of the tongue and hand call for verbal defense and right actions. The jihad of the sword involves waging war against enemies of Islam. Believers contend that those who die in combat become martyrs and are guaranteed a place in paradise. In the 20th and 21st centuries the concept of jihad has sometimes been used as an ideological weapon in the effort to combat Western influences and secular governments and to establish an ideal Islamic society.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on jihad, visit Britannica.com.