The Complete Idiot’s Guide To Understanding Islam
Part 3, Chapter 14, page 166:
However, the word jihad is most often associated with the act of physically confronting evil and wrongdoing; hence, it can be applied to the act of fighting as well. But the goal of a physical jihad is not to have a big war, gain riches, or kill people; it is to further the cause of Allah and to create justice on Earth. Then, when the evil is removed, or the other side wants peace, Muslims are to make peace as well…
Islam is not a society of vigilantes. It’s not up to anyone who feels like it to declare a jihad. Although it seems everyone and their uncle is waving this word around, only an Islamic government or a worldwide leader of Islam has the authority to declare a jihad. Neither one exists in the Muslim world right now.
Jihad is one of the most misused words in the world today. It means to struggle in God’s way. If someone does something in a way other than what God ordained, then it is a crime that the individual will have to answer for on the Day of Judgment.