Last modified on 30 August 2014, at 19:05


For other uses, see Jihad (disambiguation).

Jihad (English pronunciation: /ɪˈhɑːd/; Arabic: جهادǧihād [dʒiˈhæːd]), an Islamic term, is a religious duty of Muslims. In Arabic, the word jihād translates as a noun meaning "struggle" or "resisting". A person engaged in jihad is called a mujahid; the plural is mujahideen. The word jihad appears frequently in the Quran,[1][2] often in the idiomatic expression "striving in the way of God (al-jihad fi sabil Allah)".[3][4][5]

Muslims and scholars do not all agree on its definition. Within the context of the classical Islamic law it refers to struggle against those who do not believe in the Islamic God (Allah) and do not acknowledge the submission to Muslims,[6] and so is often translated as "Holy War"[7][8][9] (although this term is controversial.[10]) The Dictionary of Islam[3] and British-American Islamic historian Bernard Lewis both argue that in the large majority of cases, jihad has a military meaning.[11] According to Javed Ghamidi, there is consensus amongst Islamic scholars that the concept of jihad will always include armed struggle against persecution and oppression.[12]

Others have given the word wider implications and interpretations. Many observers – both Muslim[13] and non-Muslim[14] – talk of jihad having two meanings: an inner spiritual struggle—the "greater jihad"—and an outer physical struggle against the enemies of Islam—the "lesser jihad."[3][15] This may take a violent or non-violent form.[16]

Jihad is an important religious duty for Muslims. A minority among the Sunni scholars sometimes refer to this duty as the sixth pillar of Islam, though it occupies no such official status.[17] In Twelver Shi'a Islam, however, Jihad is one of the ten Practices of the Religion.[18]


In Modern Standard Arabic, jihad is a term for a struggle for any cause, violent or not, religious or secular and is sometimes used without religious connotation, with a meaning similar to the English word "crusade" (as in “a crusade against drugs”).[19]

Nonetheless, the term is usually used in the religious sense and the its beginnings are traced back to the Quran and words and actions of Muhammad.[20][21] In the Qur'an and in later Muslim usage, jihad is commonly followed by the expression fi sabil Illah, "in the path of God."[22]

Quranic use and Arabic forms

The word Jihad and its meaning is unique to Islam and never existed, in Arab antiquity, (e.g. Nabataean or Kufic) before the advent of Islam (e.g. Muhammad's words and actions) from 623 CE (1 AH) to 631 CE (9 AH)[citation needed]

Jihad appears in 164 verse in the Quran (according to Yoel Natan)[23] and 199 times in the standard collection of hadith, Bukhari[24]

Jihad appears only twice in the Qur'an as the exact form "JHAD"(جهاد) (Qur'an 60:1[25] and 9:24[26]), where the omission of the tashkeel in the Qur'ans of Tashkent and Sana'a is implied.

The first appearance of jihad, in the Qur'an, is from the fifth Chapter revealed in Medina when Muhammad began a series of caravan raids in 623 CE.[27]

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَتَّخِذُوا عَدُوِّي وَعَدُوَّكُمْ أَوْلِيَاءَ تُلْقُونَ إِلَيْهِم بِالْمَوَدَّةِ وَقَدْ كَفَرُوا بِمَا جَاءَكُم مِّنَ الْحَقِّ يُخْرِجُونَ الرَّسُولَ وَإِيَّاكُمْ ۙ أَن تُؤْمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ رَبِّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ خَرَجْتُمْ جِهَادًا فِي سَبِيلِي وَابْتِغَاءَ مَرْضَاتِي ۚ تُسِرُّونَ إِلَيْهِم بِالْمَوَدَّةِ وَأَنَا أَعْلَمُ بِمَا أَخْفَيْتُمْ وَمَا أَعْلَنتُمْ ۚ وَمَن يَفْعَلْهُ مِنكُمْ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ سَوَاءَ السَّبِيلِ

"O you who have believed, do not take My enemies and your enemies as allies, extending to them affection while they have disbelieved in what came to you of the truth, having driven out the Prophet and yourselves [only] because you believe in Allah , your Lord. If you have come out for jihad in My cause and seeking means to My approval, [take them not as friends]. You confide to them affection, but I am most knowing of what you have concealed and what you have declared. And whoever does it among you has certainly strayed from the soundness of the way."

~ Qur'an 60:1, Al-Mumtahina, Sahih International Translation

Toward the end of Muhammad's life, the word "jihad" appears again in the second to last chapter (Chapter 9) of the Qur'an, as Yusuf Ali cites, verses 1 through 29 were revealed during the tenth month (Shawal) of the Islamic lunar calendar in the year 9 AH (January, 631 CE)[28]

قُلْ إِن كَانَ آبَاؤُكُمْ وَأَبْنَاؤُكُمْ وَإِخْوَانُكُمْ وَأَزْوَاجُكُمْ وَعَشِيرَتُكُمْ وَأَمْوَالٌ اقْتَرَفْتُمُوهَا وَتِجَارَةٌ تَخْشَوْنَ كَسَادَهَا وَمَسَاكِنُ تَرْضَوْنَهَا أَحَبَّ إِلَيْكُم مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَجِهَادٍ فِي سَبِيلِهِ فَتَرَبَّصُوا حَتَّىٰ يَأْتِيَ اللَّهُ بِأَمْرِهِ ۗ وَاللَّهُ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْفَاسِقِينَ

"Say, [O Muhammad], "If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your relatives, wealth which you have obtained, commerce wherein you fear decline, and dwellings with which you are pleased are more beloved to you than Allah and His Messenger and jihad in His cause, then wait until Allah executes His command. And Allah does not guide the defiantly disobedient people."

~ Qur'an 9:24, At-Tawba, Sahih International Translation

The combining form of jihad is "JAHD" (جاهد) when used with prefixes: for example,
mu (one who) + jahid (jihad) + deen (-ism or ideology) = mujahideen (مجاهدين).
Prefixes and suffixes share a relationship: for example,
as a plural form, mu (those who) + jahid (jihad) + douna (-ists or ideologies. pl.) = mujahidouna.

Therefore, the basic construct of the combined form of jihad would be mujahid (مجاهد). To wage jihad, in the literal transliteration of the Qur'an, would be "jihadan"(جِهَادًا). The combined form of jihad (e.g. "the mujahideen": الْمُجَاهِدُونَ) appears in the Qur'an in the same context of war:

لَّا يَسْتَوِي الْقَاعِدُونَ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ غَيْرُ أُولِي الضَّرَرِ وَالْمُجَاهِدُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنفُسِهِمْ ۚ فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ الْمُجَاهِدِينَ بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنفُسِهِمْ عَلَى الْقَاعِدِينَ دَرَجَةً ۚ وَكُلًّا وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الْحُسْنَىٰ ۚ وَفَضَّلَ اللَّهُ الْمُجَاهِدِينَ عَلَى الْقَاعِدِينَ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا

"Not equal are those believers remaining [at home] – other than the disabled – and the mujahideen, [who strive and fight] in the cause of Allah with their wealth and their lives. Allah has preferred the mujahideen through their wealth and their lives over those who remain [behind], by degrees. And to both Allah has promised the best [reward]. But Allah has preferred the mujahideen over those who remain [behind] with a great reward -"

~ Qur'an 4:95, An-Nisa, Sahih International Translation

The meaning of jihad most ostensibly is fighting (qital: قتال) in the way, path or guidance (shari'a) of Allah (Qur'an 4:74) to promulgate Islam – distinguished from simply "war" (harb: حرب) or "struggle" (nidal: نضال).


The context of the Qur'an is elucidated by the chronology and Six Holy Biographies or Hadith. Of the 199 references to jihad in perhaps the most standard collection of hadith, Bukhari, all assume that jihad means warfare.[24]

The obligation of jihad was in force on all the frontiers of Islam.

Among reported saying of the Islamic prophet Muhammad involving jihad are

"The best Jihad is the word of Justice in front of the oppressive Sultan [ruler]."[29][30]

Another saying cited by Ibn Nuhaas and narrated by Ibn Habbaan

The Messenger of Allah was asked about the best jihad. He said: "The best jihad is the one in which your horse is slain and your blood is spilled."[31]

Ibn Nuhaas also cited a hadith from Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, where Muhammad states that the highest kind of Jihad, is "The person who is killed whilst spilling the last of his blood."(Ahmed 4/144)[32]

It has also been reported that Muhammad considered performing hajj to be the best jihad for Muslim women.[33]

History of usage


"From an early date Muslim law laid down" jihad as "one of the principal obligations" of both "the head of the Muslim state" and the Muslim community.[34] In theory, jihad in this military sense was to continue until "all mankind either embraced Islam or submitted to the authority of the Muslim state." Until this was achieved there could be truces but no peace.[34]

Those who died 'on the path of God' where martyrs, (Shahid) whose sins were remitted and who were secured "immediate entry to paradise."[35] Jihad involves legal doctrine and manuals of Islamic law often contain a section called Book of Jihad.[36] The first documentation of the law of Jihad was written by 'Abd al-Rahman al-Awza'i and Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani. (It grew out of debates that had surfaced ever since Muhammad's death.[20])

Early Muslim conquests

Main article: Muslim conquests
Age of the Caliphs
  Expansion under Muhammad, 622–632/A.H. 1-11
  Expansion during the Rashidun Caliphate, 632–661/A.H. 11-40
  Expansion during the Umayyad Caliphate, 661–750/A.H. 40-129

The first two barriers to the advance of Islam were the Persian Sassanian empire and Byzantine Empires. By 657 the Persian empire was conquered and by 661 the Byzantine Empires was a fraction of its former size. In less than a century the Muslim realm grew to millions of subjects extending "from the borders of India and China to the Pyrenees and the Atlantic."[37]

Often called "the Great conquests", the role of Islam in them is debated. Medieval Arabic authors believed the conquests commanded by God, and presented them as orderly and disciplined, under the command of the caliph.[38] Many modern historians question whether jihad, rather than hunger and desertification, was a motivating force in the conquests. Some recent explanations cite both material and religious causes in the conquests.[39]

Post-Classical usage

According to diplomat/scholar Dore Gold, the more spiritual definitions of jihad arrived at beginning of the ninth century with the end of 150 years of Muslim holy wars and territorial expansion. "Muslim theologian broadened the meaning of jihad, de-emphasizing armed struggle and, under the influence of Sufism, adopting more spiritual definitions. ... the Islamic mainstream had shifted away from this focus on the religious requirement of a universal campaign of jihad. Consequently, the meaning of shahid. Whereas the term had originally applied to one who gave his life in battle, a scholar or someone who led Muslim prayers could now be compared to a shahid when his day of judgement arrived." [40]

Historian Hamilton Gibb noted that "in the historic [Muslim] Community the concept of jihad had gradually weakened and at length been largely reinterpreted in terms of Sufi ethics."[41]

Islamic scholar Rudolph Peters also wrote that with the stagnation of Islamic expansionism, the concept of jihad became internalized as a moral or spiritual struggle.[42] Earlier classical works on fiqh emphasized jihad as war for God's religion, Peters found. Later Muslims (in this case modernists such as Muhammad Abduh and Rashid Rida) emphasized the defensive aspect of jihad—which was similar to the Western concept of a "just war".[42]

Bernard Lewis states that after Islamic conquest stagnated and the caliphate broke up into smaller states the "irresistible and permanent jihad came to an end". As jihad became unfeasible it was "postoned from historic to messianic time."[43] Even when the Ottoman Empire carried on a new holy war of expansion in the seventeenth century, "the war was not universally pursued". They made no attempt to recover Spain or Sicily. When they called for a jihad against Allied powers during World War I, "their appeal" did not "united the Muslim world".[40][43]


In Shia Islam Jihad is one of the ten Practices of the Religion,[18] (though not not one of the five pillars). Traditionally, Twelver Shi'as and Sunni have differed on the concept of jihad, with jihad being "seen as a lesser priority" in Shia theology and "armed activism" by Shia being "limited to a person's immediate geography."[44]

According to a number of sources, Shia teach that jihad can only be carried out under the leadership of the Imam,[45] (who will return from occultation to bring absolute justice to the world) whereas Sunnis accept the proclamation of even an unjust ruler.[35] Some dispute this however.[44]

At least one important Shia figure, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, wrote a treatise on the "Greater Jihad".[46]

Contemporary Fundamentalist usage

With the Islamic revival, a new "Fundamentalist" movement arose, with some different interpretations of Islam, often with an increased emphasis on jihad. The Wahhabi movement which spread across the Arabian peninsula starting in the 18th century emphasized jihad as armed struggle.[47]

Wars against Western colonial forces were often declared jihad: the Sansui religious order proclaimed it against Italians in Libya in 1912, and by the "Mahdi" in the Sudan declared it against the British and the Egyptians (1881-1885) [35]

One of the first Islamist groups, the Muslim Brotherhood emphasized physical struggle in its credo: "God is our objective; the Quran is our constitution; the Prophet is our leader; struggle is our way; and death for the sake of God is the highest of our aspirations."[48]

In the 21st century many militant groups include the term "jihad" in their names

According to Rudolph Peters and Natana DeLong-Bas, this new movement brought a reinterpretation of Islam and their own writings on jihad. These writings tended to be less interested and involved with legal arguments, what the different of schools of Islamic law had to say, or in solutions for all potential situations. `They emphasize more the moral justifications and the underlying ethical values of the rules, than the detailed elaboration of those rules.` They also tended to ignore the distinction between Greater and Lesser jihad because it distracted Muslims "from the development of the combative spirit they believe is required to rid the Islamic world of Western influences". [49] [50]

Contemporary fundamentalists were often influenced by jurist Ibn Taymiyya's and journalist Sayyid Qutb's ideas on jihad. Ibn Taymiyya hallmark themes included

  • the permissibility of overthrowing a ruler who is classified as an unbeliever due to a failure to adhere to Islamic law,
  • the absolute division of the world into dar al-kufr and dar al-Islam,
  • the labeling of anyone not adhering to one's particular interpretation of Islam as an unbeliever, and
  • the call for blanket warfare against non-Muslims, particularly Jews and Christians.[49]

Ibn Taymiyya recognized "the possibility of a jihad against `heretical` and `deviant` Muslims within dar al-Islam. He identified as heretical and deviant Muslims anyone who propagated innovations (bida') contrary to the Quran and Sunna ... legitimated jihad against anyone who refused to abide by Islamic law or revolted against the true Muslim authorities." He used a very "broad definition" of what constituted aggression or rebellion against Muslims, which would make jihad "not only permissible but necessary."[49] Ibn Taymiyya also paid careful and lengthy attention to the questions of martyrdom and the benefits of jihad: 'It is in jihad that one can live and die in ultimate happiness, both in this world and in the Hereafter. Abandoning it means losing entirely or partially both kinds of happiness.`[51]


While jihad has been used by Shia Islamists in the 20th Century: The Shia cleric Ayatollah Khomeini declared jihad on Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War, and the bombers of Western embassies and peacekeeping troops in Lebanon -- widely thought to be Shia -- called themselves, "Islamic Jihad" -- it has not had the high profile or global significance.[44]

According to one source, this changed with the Syrian Civil War, where, "for the first time in the history of Shia Islam, adherents are seeping into another country to fight in a holy war to defend their doctrine."[44]

Current Usage

The term 'jihad' has accrued both violent and non-violent meanings. According to John Esposito, it can simply mean striving to live a moral and virtuous life, spreading and defending Islam as well as fighting injustice and oppression, among other things.[52] The relative importance of these two forms of jihad is a matter of controversy.

Muslim public opinion

A poll by Gallup showed that a "significant majority" of Muslim Indonesians define the term to mean "sacrificing one's life for the sake of Islam/God/a just cause" or "fighting against the opponents of Islam". In Lebanon, Kuwait, Jordan, and Morocco, the majority used the term to mean "duty toward God", a "divine duty", or a "worship of God", with no militaristic connotations.[53] The terminology is also applied to the fight for women's liberation.[54] Other responses referenced, in descending order of prevalence:

  • "A commitment to hard work" and "achieving one's goals in life"
  • "Struggling to achieve a noble cause"
  • "Promoting peace, harmony or cooperation, and assisting others"
  • "Living the principles of Islam"[55]

Distinction of "greater" and "lesser" jihad

In his work, The History of Baghdad, Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, an 11th-century Islamic scholar, referenced a statement by the companion of Muhammad Jabir ibn Abd-Allah. The reference stated that Jabir said, "We have returned from the lesser jihad (al-jihad al-asghar) to the greater jihad (al-jihad al-akbar)." When asked, "What is the greater jihad?," he replied, "It is the struggle against oneself."[56][57][58] This reference gave rise to the distinguishing of two forms of jihad: "greater" and "lesser".[56]

The hadith does not appear in any of the authoritative collections, and according to the Muslim Jurist Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, the source of the quote is unreliable:

"This saying is widespread and it is a saying by Ibrahim ibn Ablah according to Nisa'i in al-Kuna. Ghazali mentions it in the Ihya' and al-`Iraqi said that Bayhaqi related it on the authority of Jabir and said: There is weakness in its chain of transmission." Hajar al Asqalani, Tasdid al-qaws, see also Kashf al-Khafaa’ (no.1362)[59]

Nonetheless, the concept has had "enormous influence" in Islamic mysticism (Sufism).[58] Other observers have endorsed it [60][61]

In contrast, the Hanbali scholar Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya did believe that "internal Jihad" is important[62] but he suggests those hadith as weak which consider "Jihad of the heart/soul" to be more important than "Jihad by the sword".[63] Contemporary Islamic scholar Abdullah Yusuf Azzam has argued the hadith is not just weak but "is in fact a false, fabricated hadith which has no basis. It is only a saying of Ibrahim Ibn Abi `Abalah, one of the Successors, and it contradicts textual evidence and reality."[64]

Some contemporary Islamists have succeeded in replacing the greater jihad, the fight against desires, with the lesser jihad, the holy war to establish, defend and extend the Islamic state.[65]

Other spiritual, social, economic struggles

Muslim scholar Mahmoud Ayoub states that "The goal of true jihad is to attain a harmony between islam (submission), iman (faith), and ihsan (righteous living)."[66]

In modern times, Pakistani scholar and professor Fazlur Rahman Malik has used the term to describe the struggle to establish "just moral-social order",[67] while President Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia has used it to describe the struggle for economic development in that country.[68]

According to the BBC, a third meaning of jihad is the struggle to build a good society.[15] In a commentary of the hadith Sahih Muslim, entitled al-Minhaj, the medieval Islamic scholar Yahya ibn Sharaf al-Nawawi stated that "one of the collective duties of the community as a whole (fard kifaya) is to lodge a valid protest, to solve problems of religion, to have knowledge of Divine Law, to command what is right and forbid wrong conduct".[69]

Majid Khadduri listss four kinds of jihad fi sabilillah (struggle in the cause of God):[70]

  • Jihad of the heart (jihad bil qalb/nafs) is concerned with combatting the devil and in the attempt to escape his persuasion to evil. This type of Jihad was regarded as the greater jihad (al-jihad al-akbar).
  • Jihad by the tongue (jihad bil lisan) (also Jihad by the word, jihad al-qalam) is concerned with speaking the truth and spreading the word of Islam with one's tongue.
  • Jihad by the hand (jihad bil yad) refers to choosing to do what is right and to combat injustice and what is wrong with action.
  • Jihad by the sword (jihad bis saif) refers to qital fi sabilillah (armed fighting in the way of God, or holy war), the most common usage by Salafi Muslims and offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood.[70]

Scholar Natana J. Delong-Bas lists a number of types of "jihad" that have been proposed by Muslims

  • educational jihad (jihad al-tarbiyyah);
  • missionary jihad or calling the people to Islam (jihad al-da'wah)[71]

Other "types" mentioned include

  • "Intellectual" Jihad (very similar to missionary jihad).[72]
  • "Economic" Jihad (good doing involving money such as spending within one’s means, helping the "poor and the downtrodden")[72] (President Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia, used jihad to describe the struggle for economic development in Tunisia.[58])
  • Jihad Al-Nikah, "refers to women joining the jihad by offering sex to fighters to boost their morale". (According to Malaysian intelligence officials quoted by the Strait Times, as of August 2014, three Malaysian women and an unknown number of British women are believed to have traveled to Syria and "to have offered themselves in sexual comfort roles to ISIS fighters who are attempting to establish Islamic rule in the Middle East.[73]

Usage by some Non-Muslims

  • The United States Department of Justice has used its own ad hoc definitions of jihad in indictments of individuals involved in terrorist activities:
    • "As used in this First Superseding Indictment, 'Jihad' is the Arabic word meaning 'holy war'. In this context, jihad refers to the use of violence, including paramilitary action against persons, governments deemed to be enemies of the fundamentalist version of Islam."[74]
    • "As used in this Superseding Indictment, 'violent jihad' or 'jihad' include planning, preparing for, and engaging in, acts of physical violence, including murder, maiming, kidnapping, and hostage-taking."[75] in the indictment against several individuals including José Padilla.
  • "Fighting and warfare might sometimes be necessary, but it was only a minor part of the whole jihad or struggle," according to Karen Armstrong.[76]
  • "Jihad is a propagandistic device which, as need be, resorts to armed struggle – two ingredients common to many ideological movements," according to Maxime Rodinson.[77]
  • Academic Benjamin R. Barber used the term Jihad to point out the resistant movement by fundamentalist ethnic groups who want to protect their traditions, heritage and identity from globalization (which he refers to as 'McWorld')[78]

Warfare (Jihad bil Saif)

Further information: Mujahideen, Jihadism and Jihad fi sabil Allah

Within classical Islamic jurisprudence – the development of which is to be dated into the first few centuries after the prophet's death[79] – jihad is the only form of warfare permissible under Islamic law, and may consist in wars against unbelievers, apostates, rebels, highway robbers and dissenters renouncing the authority of Islam.[80] The primary aim of jihad as warfare is not the conversion of non-Muslims to Islam by force, but rather the expansion and defense of the Islamic state.[81][82] In later centuries, especially in the course of the colonization of large parts of the Muslim world, emphasis has been put on non-militant aspects of the jihad. Today, some Muslim authors only recognize wars with the aim of territorial defense as well as the defense of religious freedom as legitimate.[83]

Whether the Quran sanctions defensive warfare only or commands an all out war against non-Muslims depends on the interpretation of the relevant passages.[84] This is because it does not explicitly state the aims of the war Muslims are obliged to wage; the passages concerning jihad rather aim at promoting fighters for the Islamic cause and do not discuss military ethics.[85]

In the classical manuals of Islamic jurisprudence, the rules associated with armed warfare are covered at great length. Such rules include not killing women, children and non-combatants, as well as not damaging cultivated or residential areas.[86] More recently, modern Muslims have tried to re-interpret the Islamic sources, stressing that Jihad is essentially defensive warfare aimed at protecting Muslims and Islam.[82] Although some Islamic scholars have differed on the implementation of Jihad, there is consensus amongst them that the concept of jihad will always include armed struggle against persecution and oppression.[12]


Controversy has arisen over whether the usage of the term jihad without further explanation refers to military combat, and whether some have used confusion over the definition of the term to their advantage.[87]

Middle East historian Bernard Lewis argues that "the overwhelming majority of classical theologians, jurists, and traditionalists (specialists in the hadith) understood the obligation of jihad in a military sense."[88] Furthermore, Lewis maintains that for most of the recorded history of Islam, from the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad onward, the word jihad was used in a primarily military sense.[89]

According to David Cook, author of Understanding Jihad

"In reading Muslim literature – both contemporary[90] and classical [91] – one can see that the evidence for the primacy of spiritual jihad is negligible. Today it is certain that no Muslim, writing in a non- Western language (such as Arabic, Persian, Urdu), would ever make claims that jihad is primarily nonviolent or has been superseded by the spiritual jihad. Such claims are made solely by Western scholars, primarily those who study Sufism and/or work in interfaith dialogue, and by Muslim apologists who are trying to present Islam in the most innocuous manner possible."[92]

Cook argued that "Presentations along these lines are ideological in tone and should be discounted for their bias and deliberate ignorance of the subject" and that it "is no longer acceptable for Western scholars or Muslim apologists writing in non-Muslim languages to make flat, unsupported statements concerning the prevalence – either from a historical point of view or within contemporary Islam – of the spiritual jihad."[92]

Views of other Muslim groups


In Ahmadiyya Islam, jihad is primarily one's personal inner struggle and should not be used violently for political motives. Violence is the last option only to be used to protect religion and one's own life in extreme situations of persecution.[93]


Quranists do not believe that the word jihad means holy war. They believe it means to struggle, or to strive. They believe it can incorporate both military and non-military aspects. When it refers to the military aspect, it is understood primarily as defensive warfare.[94][95]


The Sufic view classifies "Jihad" into two parts: the "Greater Jihad" and the "Lesser Jihad". Muhammad put the emphasis on the "Greater Jihad" by saying, "Holy is the warrior who is at war with himself".[citation needed] In this sense external wars and strife are seen as but a satanic counterfeit of the true "jihad", which can only be fought and won within. There is no salvation for man without his own efforts being added to the work of self-refinement. In this sense it is the western view of the Holy Grail which comes closest to the Sufic ideal, for to the Sufis, perfection is the Grail, and the Holy Grail is for those who, after they become perfect by giving all they have to the poor then go on to become "Abdal" or "changed ones" like Enoch, who was "taken" by God because he "walked with God" (Genesis:5:24). Here the "Holy Ones" gain the surname "Hadrat" or "The Presence".


Muslim Brotherhood

Main article: Muslim Brotherhood

In 1928, Hassan al-Banna founded the Muslim Brotherhood, a rigidly conservative and highly secretive Egyptian-based organization dedicated to resurrecting a Muslim empire (Caliphate). According to al-Banna, "It is the nature of Islam to dominate, not to be dominated, to impose its law on all nations and to extend its power to the entire planet."[96] The Muslim Brotherhood, also called Muslim Brethren (jamiat al-Ikhwan al-muslimun, literally Society of Muslim Brothers), opposes the secular tendencies of Islamic nations and wants a return to the precepts of the Quran and rejection of Western influences.[97] Al-Banna was born out of the extreme Muslim right wing's desire to counter the ideology of modernization; the Brotherhood's platform included a strict interpretation of the Quran that glorified suicidal violence. Along with al-Banna, the grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj-al Amin Al-Husseini was also an enormously influential Muslim leader of the time. Together, the two created a powerful and popular Islamist party by classically appealing to fundamentalist Islamic principles while blaming the world's problems on the Jews.[98] Al-Banna also gave the group the motto it still uses today: "Allah is our purpose, the Prophet our leader, the Quran our constitution, jihad our way and dying for God our supreme objective."

An important aspect of the Muslim Brotherhood ideology is the sanctioning of Jihad, such as the 2004 fatwa issued by Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi making it a religious obligation of Muslims to abduct and kill U.S. citizens in Iraq.[97]

It advocated a war of Arabism and Islamic Jihad against the British and the Jews.[99]

The Muslim Brotherhood waged a "Holy war" against Syria after the Hama massacre.[100]

The BBC explains how the roots of Jihad and the origins of Bin Laden's concept of jihad can be traced back to two early 20th-century figures, who started powerful Islamic revivalist movements in response to colonialism and its aftermath. Al-Banna blamed the western idea of separation between religion and politics for Muslims' decline. In the 1950s Sayed Qutb, Muslim Brotherhood's prominent member, took the arguments of al-Banna even further. For Qutb, all non-Muslims were infidels – even the so-called people of the book, the Christians and Jews. He also predicted an eventual clash of civilisations between Islam and the west. Qutb inspired a whole generation of Islamists, including Ayatollah Khomeini. The Muslim world widely accepted his ideology after the Arabs' defeat in the 1967 war.[101]

The Muslim Brotherhood has been involved in violent attacks. From its Islamic theme in its symbolism: on its flag a brown square frames a green circle with a white perimeter. Two swords cross inside the circle beneath a red Quran. The cover of the Quran says, "Truly, it is the Generous Quran." The Arabic beneath the sword handles translates as "Be prepared," a reference to a Quranic verse that talks of preparing to fight the enemies of God.[102] It is among 17 groups categorized as "terrorist organizations" by the Russian government,[103] as well as in Egypt, where they started to perform terrorist attacks, now banned by that government.[104]

In "The Muslim Brotherhood's Conquest of Europe," a scholar states that its real goal is to extend the Islamic law of Sharia throughout Europe and the United States.[105]

MEMRI asserts that contemporary Islamism considers Islam to be under attack, and therefore:

Jihad is now a war of defense, and as such has become not only a collective duty but an individual duty without restrictions or limitations. That is, to the Islamists, Jihad is a total, all-encompassing duty to be carried out by all Muslims – men and women, young and old. All infidels, without exception, are to be fought and annihilated, and no weapons or types of warfare are barred. Furthermore, according to them, current Muslim rulers allied with the West are considered apostates and infidels. One major ideological influence in Islamist thought was Sayyid Qutb. Qutb, an Egyptian, was the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood movement. He was convicted of treason for plotting to assassinate Egyptian president Gamal Abd Al-Nasser and was executed in 1966. He wrote extensively on a wide range of Islamic issues. According to Qutb, "There are two parties in all the world: the Party of Allah and the Party of Satan – the Party of Allah, which stands under the banner of Allah and bears his insignia, and the Party of Satan, which includes every community, group, race, and individual that does not stand under the banner of Allah."[neutrality is disputed][106]

In the "Holy land foundation" case of the Palestinian Arab al-Arian's involvement in funding terror organizations, the Muslim Brotherhood's papers detailed a plan to seize the U.S. The group's takeover plot emerged when a handful of classified evidence was revealed detailing Islamist extremists' ambitious plans for a U.S. takeover.

Terrorism researchers said, "the memos and audiotapes, many translated from Arabic and containing detailed strategies by the international Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood, are proof that extremists have long sought to replace the Constitution with Shariah, or Islamic law", paving its way via a plot to form "a complex network of seemingly benign Muslim organizations whose real job, according to the (US) government, was to spread militant propaganda and raise money". The Muslim Brotherhood created some American Muslim groups and sought influence in others, many of which are listed as unindicted co-conspirators in the Holy Land case, such as CAIR.[107]

On a website devoted to Ramadhan, the Muslim Brotherhood posted a series of articles by Dr. Ahmad 'Abd Al-Khaleq about Al-Walaa Wa'l-Baraa, an Islamic doctrine which, in its fundamentalist interpretation, stipulates absolute allegiance to the community of Muslims and total rejection of non-Muslims and of Muslims who have strayed from the path of Islam. In his articles, the writer argues that according to this principle, a Muslim can come closer to Allah by hating all non-Muslims – Christians, Jews, atheists, or polytheists – and by waging jihad against them in every possible manner.[108]

Indeed, the Muslim Brotherhood is engaged in a long-standing war on the West. From 1948 until the 1970s it engaged in assassinations and terrorism in Egypt and has indoctrinated many who went on to commit acts of terror.[109] Muslim Brotherhood's supreme guide issued the statement, Al Qaeda's "Bin Laden is a Jihad Fighter."[110]

The accused mastermind of the 9/11 terror massacre, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was raised in Kuwait and joined the Muslim Brotherhood at age 16.[111][112]

Warfare in Muslim societies

Main article: Islam and war
The Fulani Jihad States of West Africa, c. 1830

The major imperial Muslim dynasties of Ottoman Turkey (Sunni) and Persia (Shia) each established systems of authority around traditional Islamic institutions. In the Ottoman empire, the concept of ghaza was promulgated as a sister obligation to jihad. The Ottoman ruler Mehmed II is said to have insisted on the conquest of Constantinople (Christian Byzantium) by justifying ghaza as a basic duty. Later Ottoman rulers would apply ghaza to justify military campaigns against the Persian Safavid dynasty. Thus both rival empires established a tradition that a ruler was only considered truly in charge when his armies had been sent into the field in the name of the true faith, usually against giaurs or heretics – often meaning each other. The 'missionary' vocation of the Muslim dynasties was prestigious enough to be officially reflected in a formal title as part of a full ruler style: the Ottoman (many also had Ghazi as part of their name) Sultan Murad Khan II Khoja-Ghazi, 6th Sovereign of the House of Osman (1421–1451), literally used Sultan ul-Mujahidin.[citation needed]

The so-called Fulbe jihad states and a few other jihad states in western Africa were established by a series of offensive wars.[113]

The commands inculcated in the Quran (in five suras from the period after Muhammad had established his power) on Muslims to fight those who will neither embrace Islam nor pay a poll-tax (Jizya) were not interpreted as a general injunction on all Muslims constantly to make war on the infidels (originally only polytheists who claimed to be monotheists, not "People of the Book", Jesus is seen as the last of the precursors of the Prophet Muhammed; the word infidel had different historical uses, notably used by the Crusaders to refer to the Muslims they were fighting against). It was generally supposed that the order for a general war can only be given by the Caliph (an office that was claimed by the Ottoman sultans), but Muslims who did not acknowledge the spiritual authority of the Caliphate (which is vacant), such as non-Sunnis and non-Ottoman Muslim states, always looked to their own rulers for the proclamation of a jihad; there has been in fact no universal warfare by Muslims on non-believers since the early caliphate. Some proclaimed Jihad by claiming themselves as mahdi, e.g. the Sudanese Mahommed Ahmad in 1882.[114]

See also


  1. ^ In 23 Quranic verses according to this search search of
  2. ^ In 164 verse according to Yoel Natan. Natan, Yoel. "164 Jihad Verses in the Koran". Retrieved 26 August 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c Morgan, Diane (2010). Essential Islam: A Comprehensive Guide to Belief and Practice. ABC-CLIO. p. 87. ISBN 0-313-36025-1. Retrieved 5 January 2011. 
  4. ^ Wendy Doniger, ed. (1999). Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions. Merriam-Webster. ISBN 0-87779-044-2. , Jihad, p. 571
  5. ^ Josef W. Meri, ed. (2005). Medieval Islamic Civilization: An Encyclopedia. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-96690-6. , Jihad, p. 419
  6. ^ "Lecture one: Questions about Jihad" at
    Quote: Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jiziyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. (9:29)
  7. ^ Lloyd Steffen, Lloyd (2007). Holy War, Just War: Exploring the Moral Meaning of Religious Violence. Rowman& Littlefield. p. 221. 
  8. ^ cf., e.g., BBC news article Libya's Gaddafi urges 'holy war' against Switzerland
  9. ^ Rudolph Peters, Jihad in Medieval and Modern Islam (Brill, 1977), p. 3
  10. ^ Patricia Crone, Medieval Islamic Political Thought (Edinburgh University Press, 2005), p. 363
  11. ^ Bernard Lewis, The Political Language of Islam (University of Chicago Press, 1988), p. 72. Cf. William M. Watt, Islamic Conceptions of the Holy War in: Thomas P. Murphy, The Holy War (Ohio State University Press, 1974), p. 143
  12. ^ a b dead link Ghamidi, Javed (2001). "The Islamic Law of Jihad". Mizan. Dar ul-Ishraq. OCLC 52901690. 
  13. ^ Jihad and the Islamic Law of War
  14. ^ Rudolph Peters, Islam and Colonialism. The doctrine of Jihad in Modern History (Mouton Publishers, 1979), p. 118
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  21. ^ Jonathon P. Berkey, The Formation of Islam; Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 2003
  22. ^ For a listing of all appearances in the Qur'an of jihad and related words, see Muhammad Fu'ad 'Abd al-Baqi, Al-Mu'jam al-Mufahras li-Alfaz al-Qur'an al-Karim (Cairo: Matabi' ash-Sha'b, 1278), pp. 182–83; and Hanna E. Kassis, A Concordance of the Qur'an (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983), pp. 587–88.
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  24. ^ a b Muhammad ibn Isma'il Bukhari, The Translation of the Meaning of Sahih al-Bukhari, trans. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, 8 vols. (Medina: Dar al-Fikr: 1981), 4:34–204. Quoted in What Does Jihad Mean? by Douglas E. Streusand, Middle East Quarterly, September 1997, pp. 9–17
  25. ^ Al-Qur'an "The Recital": Chapter 60 al-Mumtahinah "The One to Examine Her", ayat "verse" 1
  26. ^ Al-Qur'an "The Recital": Chapter 9 at-Tawbah "The Convert", ayat "verse" 24
  27. ^ Sahih Bukhari: Volume 5, Book 57, Number 74:
  28. ^ Ali, Yusef, "The Holy Qur'an", published by Amana, Beltsville, Maryland, USA, 1989. pg. 435
  29. ^ Performing Best Jihad in Egypt Accessed: May 9, 2011
  30. ^ The Need for Understanding and Tolerance Accessed: May 11, 2011
  31. ^ Ibn Nuhaas, Book of Jihad, Translated by Nuur Yamani, p. 107
  32. ^ Ibn Nuhaas, Book of Jihad, Translated by Nuur Yamani, p. 177
  33. ^ Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:52:43
  34. ^ a b Lews, Bernard, Islam and the West, Oxford University Press, 1993, p.9-10
  35. ^ a b c Coates, David, ed. (2012). The Oxford Companion to American Politics, Volume 2. Oxford University Press. p. 16. 
  36. ^ Bonner, Michael (2006). Jihad in Islamic History: Doctrines and Practice. Princeton University Press. p. 3. 
  37. ^ Lews, Bernard, Islam and the West, Oxford University Press, 1993, p.4
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  39. ^ Bonner (2006), pp. 62–63
  40. ^ a b Gold, Dore (2003). Hatred's Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism (First ed.). Regnery Publishing. p. 6. 
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  42. ^ a b Peters, Rudolph (1996). Jihad in Classical and Modern Islam: A Reader. Princeton: Marcus Wiener. p. 187, note 52. 
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  46. ^ Khomeini, Ruhollah. "Jihad al-Akbar, The Greatest Jihad: Combat with the Self". Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  47. ^ Gold, Dore (2003). Hatred's Kingdom. Washington DC: Regnery Publishing. pp. 7–8. "... the revival of jihad, and its prioritization as a religious value, is found in the works of high-level Saudi religious officials like former chief justice Sheikh Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Humaid: `Jihad is a great deed indeed [and] there is no deed whose reward and blessing is as that of it, and for this reason, it is the best thing one can volunteer for." 
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  87. ^ What Does Jihad Mean? "For example, Yasir Arafat's May 1994 call in Johannesburg for a "jihad to liberate Jerusalem" was a turning point in the peace process; Israelis heard him speak about using violence to gain political ends and questioned his peaceable intentions. Both Arafat himself and his aides then clarified that he was speaking about a "peaceful jihad" for Jerusalem."
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  91. ^ surah 2 – 190-193
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  107. ^ Muslim Brotherhood's papers detail plan to seize U.S. | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Breaking News for Dallas-Fort Worth (September 17, 2007)
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  109. ^ Terrorism FSM
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  111. ^ The Biography Channel – Notorious Crime Profiles Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – Serial Killers & Other Criminals – Notorious Crime Files The Biography Channel
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Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

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