I hear those words often in the news, and always associated with terrorism. I’ve seen enough media distortion of your religion to distrust what they say. Can you once and for all define Jihad, Jihadi and Jihadist and how they relate to terrorism?
Jihaad is an Arabic word that means “exerting an effort that meets with resistance.” Thus, any endeavor you embark on that is not a smooth sailing is a Jihaad. Have you tried to lose weight, quit smoking, or petition City Hall? Then you did Jihaad!
The struggle of Jihaad can therefore be against external forces, or against oneself. Resistance can be your own negative thoughts, whispers of Satan, mind talk, false memes that you hold on to, a tendency to procrastinate, fear of failure, fear of success, and countless excuses that stop us from achieving the goals we set for ourselves.
It can also become a war, if the resistance uses force. Muslims are required to defend themselves against militant enemies, but never start a war. God says in the holy Quran,
“And fight in the way of God those who fight you, but do not transgress. God does not like transgressors.” (2:190)
Armed Jihaad may be declared by a duly elected Muslim leader and only in response to an act of war by an enemy. Not anyone is authorized to do so, and certainly not the terrorists!
Terrorism has absolutely nothing to do with Jihaad. The word for terrorism in Islamic law is ترويع الآمنين (frightening the secure). It is punished in Sharia with the capital punishment! Tell that to Islamophobes.
Jihaadi is an adjective for the struggle act, e.g., pushing a bill through Congress is a Jihaadi act, LOL. A person is never called a Jihaadi; the adjective for the person is Mujaahid, plural Mujaahideen.
Finally, a Jihaadist is a person who believes in Jihaad. That is, if you believe that establishing truth and justice requires struggle, then you’re a Jihaadist.