The word "jihad" is arabic word means strive in the path of Allah.
THE CONCEPT OF JIHAD ("STRUGGLE') IN ISLAM
"The best jihad [struggle] is (by) the one who strives against his own self for Allah, The Mighty and Majestic," Hadith (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad). 1
"Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loves not transgressors." Qur'an, Chapter 2, verse 190.
The conventional interpretation of "Jihad":
According to Beliefnet, 2 Al-Hajj Talib 'Abdur-Rashid, imam of the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood in Harlem, NY, defines three levels of jihad -- personal, verbal and physical. Considering each in turn:
Personal Jihad: This is the most important form. This type of jihad, called the Jihadun-Nafs, is the intimate struggle to purify one's soul of evil influences -- both subtle and overt. It is the struggle to cleanse one's spirit of sin. In a brochure, the Institute of Islamic Information & Education describes several different contexts in which The Qur'an (the Islamic Holy Book) and the Hadith (the collected sayings of Muhammad) use the word "jihad" to refer to personal struggles: Putting "Allah ahead of our loved ones, our wealth, our worldly ambitions and our own lives."
Resisting pressure of parents, peers and society; strive against "the rejecters of faith..." (Quran 25:52)
"...strive and struggle to live as true Muslims..."
"Striving for righteous deeds."
Spreading the message of Islam. "The (true) believers are only those who believe in Allah and his messenger and afterward doubt not, but strive with their wealth and their selves for the cause of Allah. Such are the truthful." (Quran, 49:15)
Verbal Jihad: To strive for justice through words and non-violent actions. Muhammad encouraged Muslims to demand justice in the name of Allah. When asked: "'What kind of jihad is better?' Muhammad replied, 'A word of truth in front of an oppressive ruler!'" 3 According to the Institute of Islamic Information and Education: "The life of the Prophet Muhammad was full of striving to gain the freedom to inform and convey the message of Islam. During his stay in Makkah [Mecca] he used non-violent methods and after the establishment of his government in Madinah [Medina], by the permission of Allah, he used armed struggle against his enemies whenever he found it inevitable." 1
Physical Jihad: This relates to the use of physical force in defense of Muslims against oppression and transgression by the enemies of Allah, Islam and Muslims. Allah commands that Muslims lead peaceful lives and not transgress against anyone. If they are persecuted and oppressed, the Qur'an recommends that they migrate to a more peaceful and tolerant land: "Lo! Those who believe, and those who emigrate (to escape persecution) and strive (Jahadu) in the way of Allah, these have hope of Allah's mercy..." (Quran, 2:218). If relocation is not possible, then Allah also requires Muslims to defend themselves against oppression by "fighting against those who fight against us." 2 The Qur'an states: "To those against whom war is made, permission is given [to defend themselves], because they are wronged - and verily, Allah is Most Powerful to give them victory." (22:39) In her book "Muhammed," author Karen Armstrong writes: "Fighting and warfare might sometimes be necessary, but it was only a minor part of the whole jihad or struggle. A well-known tradition (hadith) has Muhammad say on returning from a battle, ' We return from the little jihad to the greater jihad,' the more difficult and crucial effort to conquer the forces of evil in oneself and and in one's own society in all the details of daily life."
Other interpretations of "Jihad":
Both the Judeo-Christian Holy Bible and the Muslim Holy Qur'an are large religious books, containing a great range of material dealing with religion, spirituality, justice, laws, love, etc. And they also contain references to violence, hate, murder, war, and even genocide.
"Jihad is of three kinds; viz., the carrying out of a struggle against : 1. a visible enemy, 2. the devil, 3. one's self (nafs)."
Thus, in a broader sense, jihad means striving to the utmost extent of one's ability and power by exerting oneself spiritually in the way of Allah and doing one's best to preach the message of Islam to others. This is the jihad that a Muslim can carry out for Islam throughout his life. When used in the narrower sense of fighting against a visible enemy, jihad means fighting only in self-defense, when the initiative of attack is taken by the other party.
Let us consider the sense in which the word is used in the Quran. Verse 69 of Chapter 29 (The Spider), which is an early Makkan revelation, reads as follows:
"And those who strive hard (the word used is jahadu) for Us, We shall certainly guide them in our ways, and Allah is surely with the doers of good."
A similar injunction occurs in 22:78 :
"And strive hard for Allah with due striving". this is certainly struggle for ownself(personal).
The jihad referred to here is clearly jihad bil nafs -- the spiritual exertion to curb one's lower desires and evil inclinations and to try to increase in the doing of good in order to attain nearness to Allah. I believe this form of jihad against one's own self is perhaps the most difficult of all. To be constantly engaged in fighting against one's inner demons, to guard against all sorts of temptations and greed and never to allow oneself to weaken for a moment lest one be overcome is by far more arduous a struggle. Yet when a believer sincerely tries to purify his soul and asks help from his Creator, he finds Him nigh and God guides him in his efforts.
Let us now take a look at the Quranic injunction of jihad-bil-saif or jihad with the sword, which is the most commonly understood meaning of jihad. Consider the circumstances under which the first permission to fight is given to the faithful. The Muslims had patiently borne the most ruthless persecution at the hands of the Quraish for thirteen years in Makkah. The flight to Madinah, however, had further fanned the fire of the wrath of the Quraish since the Muslims were now out of their reach. With individual persecution no longer possible, they now planned the extinction of the Muslims as a nation. They would either annihilate the Muslims or compel them to return to unbelief. In these circumstances came the earliest permission to fight, in verses 39 and 40 of chapter 22, which read:
"Permission (to fight) is given to those on whom war is made, because they are oppressed. And surely Allah is able to assist them - Those who are driven from their homes without a just cause except that they say: Our Lord is Allah. And if Allah did not repel some people by others, cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, in which Allah's name is much remembered, would have been pulled down. And surely Allah will help him who helps His cause".
Indeed, war with such a pure motive as to establish the principle of religious liberty was truly a jihad, a struggle carried on simply with the object that truth may prosper and that freedom of conscience may be maintained.
"And fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, and be not aggressive; surely Allah loves not the aggressors" (2:190).
Here again the condition is plainly laid down that the Muslims shall not be the first to attack. They had to fight - it had now become a duty - but only against those who fought against them; aggression was expressly prohibited.
"There is no compulsion in religion"
was revealed after the permission for war had been given, and it is therefore certain that fighting had no connection with the preaching of religion.It is very clear that no one can use weapon against any party or community for progression of religion.It is completely band.Unfotunately, some one are misunderstood about jihad and they are in astray,out of true way.They should change intention, correct it according to Qur'an and Hadith.Otherwise they would be total responsible for the killing of innocence.Don't contradict with it's real meaning, otherwise, you will be a great sinner in the eye of Allah. Fear Allah.Try to engage yourself for own correction (Imaan,Eaqeen,Amaal etc.)and adopt piety, taqwa in order to become a best muslim with high quality. So, no one can be harmed by you or fall into difficulties or to suffer through your action.
Our beloved prophet(saw) explained about the definition of good muslims:if anybody remain safe through his action.May Allah save and protect us. Ameen.