The need for public sympathy and support is a crucial element of every terrorist group without regard to its ideology or political affiliation. However, in a society where religion has so great an influence as in the Arab and Muslim world, the teachings of Islamic groups are perceived by certain parts of society as the true principles of religion. The socio-cultural elements of their teachings are often combined with the secular tradition of hostility toward the West under American authority and toward its protection of Israel and the Jews, who are according to the Quran, “the worst enemies of the believers.”
Webster’s Dictionary defines Jihad as “a holy war waged on behalf of Islam as a religious duty or a crusade for a principle or belief” (1). Often, media depicts Jihad in the same manner—as a vicious clash between two very different peoples, each of whom believes that righteousness, and in many cases God, is on their side. From this interpretation and our daily media intake, one may reasonably assume that Jihad refers to nothing more than violent acts, or “holy wars.” While there is no precise definition of the term, the meaning of Jihad is far more complex. In fact, the term Jihad generally refers to the struggle one must undertake as one “strive[s] in the path of God” (Church 110). That struggle is defined both externally and internally.
Faced with these apparent contradictions, many analysts in the West have decided that fundamentalism defies all generalization. Instead they have tried to center discussion on its supposed “diversity.” For this purpose, they seek to establish systems of classification by which to sort out fundamentalist movements and leaders. The basic classification appears in much different terminological appearance, in gradations of subtlety. “We need to be careful of that emotive label, `fundamentalism’, and distinguish, as Muslims do, between revivalists, who choose to take the practice of their religion most devoutly, and fanatics or extremists, who use this devotion for political ends.”  Fundamentalist Islam remains an enigma precisely because it has baffled all attempts to divide it into tidy categories. “Revivalist” becomes “extremist” (and vice versa) with such rapidity and frequency, that the actual classification of any movement or leader has little prognostic power.
Jihad is considered the “sixth pillar” of faith in Islam because it is the constant fight towards good. It is the idea of focusing on God and turning away from those that oppose God (David E. Long, 91). The terrorists believe that their religion is what everyone should follow, so they would naturally require personnel in power in Muslim states to either convert to their religion or resign from their terms. They will first threaten a leader that if they do not change, the terrorists will use violence. Sometimes, violent acts come about without any warning or previous threats (“Of True Muslims and Terrorists”).
The prophet did not show mercy or spare the lives of people criticizing Islam. His views remain a big motivator to Muslims that fight other people for belonging to the different religions. Muhammed orders Muslims to fight the non-Muslims everywhere and ensure that they acknowledge that “Allah” is the only God. The position taken by the prophet is openly one that escalates existing tensions and creates war. People from different cultures in the world have different religions that relate to their cultures.
Even though Islam is one of the most violent religions in the present world, it still means “peace” and encourages it. The views of the Islamic religion are all about perception. The western views on Islam are often driven by the lack of knowledge of this religion and the stereotyping of Muslims. In the western world many people their views of the Islamic religion are controlled by international conflicts (ex. twin tower incident), and they characterize Islam with words like “aggression” and “violence”.
These stereotypes of violence and backwards thinking have been further perpetuated by even more recent examples of extremism by Muslim terrorists. Although most Muslims are peaceful and do not endorse the violence of their Muslim brethren, there are some who believe it is their responsibility to punish those who do not adhere to Islam. This religion is no stranger to divinely motivated warfare. Islam was founded on the belief that it is excusable to harm others in the name of Allah. The terrorist group, Al-Qaeda, holds many of these beliefs.
A Mad World Around the modern world people tremble at the very thought of Radical Jihadists, or Terrorists, when trying to live their normal lives. Making strange eye contact to those who wear turbans or have Arabic origins. Secluding them from society and making comments of hatred towards their people. But, the people of the Western world do not ever acknowledge what might be causing these attacks in the first place. Westerners brand them as terrorists, they brand themselves as freedom fighters; people argue both ways on this topic.
Jihad is a term that is often misunderstood, and it is usually associated with militant and radical groups, which cause chaos in the environment. The Arabic word is usually translated to mean holy war and it is usually accepted as holy. However, some scholars say that there is no such thing in Islam. A holy war is fought to force other people to accept some doctrines, and it is not accepted at all by the Muslims. According to the word “jihad,” it means struggling to survive, and it is applicable to many levels be it socially at an individual level.
Due to violent acts by radical Islamic terrorist groups, the Western world has grappled with defining the Quranic term Jihad. The World Trade Center attacks on 9/11 have only exacerbated their confusion. It is important to understand what the word “Jihad” means before one can analyze how it being interpreted or misrepresented by the west. In Islam, Jihad refers to a duty that muslims must fulfill, or a religious duty. It could also mean the fight against someone’s negative emotions as referred to in the Oxford Islamic Studies or it could mean the struggle against nonbelievers.