Gordon D. Newby, however, suggests that this definition is simplistic. The jihad, he says, may be divided into two types—the lesser and the greater jihad.
While the lesser jihad may involve armed conflict against evil¹, it doesn’t always. Different Muslim groups have different views about the necessity of violence. And some see jihad more in terms of missionary activity.
The greater jihad, Newby says, involves a personal struggle against the evil influences within oneself. Just as in other religions we hear about “spiritual warfare,” this type of jihad is about combating evil within the self.
A third type of jihad involves the struggle to make society better. And some say that any kind of righteous struggle can be a “jihad” of sorts. For instance, some called Mahatma Gandhi’s struggle against British colonialism a “jihad.”
For more on this controversial concept, see Newby’s entry for jihad in A Concise Encyclopedia of Islam.²
¹ Newby doesn’t qualify this idea. But most see the understanding of “evil” as something influenced by human bias.