Q & R: Jihad?

Here’s the Q:

What, in your understanding, is jihad?

Here’s the R:
My Muslim friends tell me that in Arabic, the word means “struggle.” It can mean a private internal struggle – or it can mean an external social, physical, or military struggle. In that way, the word is a lot like “crusade” in English. You can have a crusade against violence – or a violent crusade against an enemy. When Billy Graham used the word, he had something very different in mind from Pope Urban II.
I think conservative Christians who use the term “spiritual warfare” will have a sense of what many Muslims mean by “jihad.” In both religions, sadly, warfare language that is metaphorical can easily be “literalized” and “weaponized” by violent leaders.
That’s why in all my most recent books, I’ve written a lot about violence in religion. I think it’s time for us to firmly and decisively repudiate religious violence. The differences between this religion and that are important and meaningful, but the differences between violent and peaceable varieties within each religion demand focused attention by us all.