Jihadi or Jihadist

An Islamic Jihad militant in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip in 2010. Warrick Page/Getty Images


Jihadi, or jihadist, refers to a person who believes that an Islamic state governing the entire community of Muslims must be created and that this necessity justifies violent conflict with those who stand in its way.

Although jihad is a concept that can be found in the Quran, the terms jihadi, jihadi ideology and jihadi movement are modern concepts related to the rise of political Islam in the 19th and 20th centuries.

(Political Islam is also called Islamism, and its adherents Islamists.)

There are many contemporary Muslims and others who believe that Islam and politics are compatible, and a wide spectrum of views about how Islam and politics relate. Violence plays no part in most of these views.

Jihadis are a narrow subset of this group who interpret Islam, and the concept of jihad, to mean that war must be waged against states and groups who in their eyes have corrupted the ideals of Islamic governance. Saudi Arabia is high on this list because it claims to be ruling according to the precepts of Islam, and it is the home of Mecca and Medina, two of Islam's holiest sites.

Find out more about the relationship between jihadis and Al Qaeda.