JIHAD (also written JEHAD, JAHAD, DJEHAD), an Arabic word of which the literal meaning is an effort or a contest. It is used to designate the religious duty inculcated in the Koran on the followers of Mahomet to wage war upon those who do not accept the doctrines of Islam. This duty is laid down in five suras all of these suras belonging to the period after Mahomet had established his power. Conquered peoples who will neither embrace Islam nor pay a poll-tax (jizya) are to be put to the sword. (See further MAHOMMEDAN INSTITUTIONS.) By Mahommedan commentators the commands in the Koran are not interpreted as a general injunction on all Moslems constantly to make war on the infidels. It is generally supposed that the order for a general war can only be given by the caliph (an office now claimed by the sultans of Turkey). Mahommedans who do not acknowledge the spiritual authority of the Ottoman sultan, such as the Persians and Moors, look to their own rulers for the proclamation of a jihad; there has been in fact no universal warfare by Moslems on unbelievers since the early days of Mahommedanism. Jihads are generally proclaimed by all persons who claim to be mahdis, e.g. Mahommed Ahmad (the Sudanese mahdi) proclaimed a jihad in 1882. In the belief of Moslems every one of their number slain in a jihad is taken straight to paradise.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)