This is an excerpt from Bill Warner’s book The Political Traditions of Mohammed – The Hadith for Unbelievers.
Koran 61:11 Believe in Allah and His messenger and fight valiantly for Allah’s cause [jihad] with both your wealth and your lives. It would be better for you, if you only knew it!
The ethical system of the Hadith prepares the foundation of jihad. There is one set of ethics for the Muslim and another set of ethics for the Kafir. There are two ways to deal with Kafirs. One is to treat them as inferiors but in a kindly way. The other is jihad. About 21% of Bukhari is about jihad.
Jihad is a unique word. Its actual meaning is struggle or effort. Islam talks of two kinds — the lesser jihad and the greater jihad. The greater jihad is spiritual effort or internal struggle, to stop smoking, for example, or control one’s greed. However, the term “lesser jihad” never occurs in any authoritative hadith. There are about 2% of the hadiths in Bukhari that hold up other things as equal to jihad. The other 98% of the jihad hadiths refer to armed violence. It was violence that gave Islam its success and that is why nearly every jihad hadith calls armed jihad the best action a Muslim can perform.
Jihad, armed struggle, is usually called “holy war,” but this term is simplistic and far too narrow. It means, in fact, fighting in the cause of Allah, and it encompasses an entire way of life.
The dual ethics established by the sacred texts of Islam — treating Muslims one way and Kafirs another — are the basis of jihad. Perhaps the clearest expression of this duality is a phrase known to all Muslims: The world is divided into—
dar al Islam, land of submission, and
dar al harb, land of war.
The land of war is the country that is free of Islam, free of Allah. The land of the Kafir must become the land of those who have submitted and are the slaves of Allah. The Trilogy repeatedly stresses that Islam should be in a state of constant pressure against Kafirs; therefore, the relation between Islam and the rest of the world is sacred war or temporary peace. This struggle is eternal, universal, and obligatory for the Muslim community. The only pause in jihad comes through the need for Islam to strengthen itself. Peace is temporary. War is permanent.