What difference is there between jihad and war?
Most people recall war as far as jihad is concerned whereas the words jihad and war are not synonymous. Jihad is more extensive than war. Although the war made for Allahs (SWT) sake is jihad, not every jihad is war. In the Holy Quran, the words harp and kital, and the words, which are derived from these two words, are used to suggest the armed clash between two sides. (1)
We can consider the difference between jihad and war:
a- The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as the first person to receive the verse, O (most illustrious) Prophet! Strive hard against the Unbelievers and the Hypocrites (in the way required by time and conditions) and be stern at them (At-Taubah Surah, 9:73; At-Tahrim Surah, 66:9), fought disbelievers with his sword while he did not unsheathe his sword against the hypocrites. Muhammads (PBUH) jihad against them had become to advise and persuade them into the truth (2)
b- It is also possible to see the difference between jihad and war in the verse, (But We have willed instead that you are the last Messenger whose mission is universal.) So pay no heed to (the desires of) the unbelievers, but engage in a mighty striving against them by means of it (the Quran). (Al-Furqan Surah, 25:52) The thing implied with It is the Quran as expressed in most of the Quranic interpretations. (3) It is evident that the jihad made with the Quran is not a war but a struggle in the direction of persuasion. (4)
c- There are verses that mention jihad in the Mecca era of Islam when wars were not ordered. For example,
Those (on the other hand) who strive hard for Our sake, We will most certainly guide them to Our ways (that We have established to lead them to salvation) (Al-Ankabut Surah, 29:69)
Yet surely your Lord turns with favor to those who emigrate after they have been subjected to persecutions (because of their faith) and thereafter exert themselves in Gods cause and endure with patience (whatever befalls them) – indeed, in return for such (good deeds) your Lord is All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate. (An-Nahl Surah, 16:110) The Suras (Chapters) that include these verses came down when believers were still in Mecca. (5)
d- That most of prophets did not personally fight shows the difference between jihad and war. (6) Doubtlessly, every prophet made his jihad. However, not every prophet made a war.
1-Özel, T.D.V. Islam Ency. "cihad" md. VII, 528; Peters, p., 28; Abdurabbih, p.28- 29; Ali Rıza Nakvî, Laws of War in Islam, Islamic Studies, XIII/1, 25; M.Saîd Ramazan Bûtî, El-Cihadu fi'l-İslam, Daru'l-Fikri'l-Muasır, Beirut, 1995, p. 19-20; Süleyman Ateş, Kur'an-ı Kerîm Tefsîri (The Quranic Interpretation), Milliyet Pub., İst., 1995, III, 1168, Kadiri, 1, 65; Sabunî, Kabes min Nuri'l-Kur'an'il-Kerîm, Daru'l-Kalem, Dımeşk, 1986, IV, 64
2-Razi, XVI, 135; Beydavî, 1, 412; İbnu Kesîr, Tefsîru'l-Kur'ani'l-Azîm (The Interpretation of the Holy Quran), Kahraman Pub. İst., 1985, IV, 119; Yazır, IV, 2591; Abdurabbih, p. 29-30
3-Beydavî, II, 144; Sabunî Saffetu't-Tefasir, Ensar Pub. İst. 1987, II, 366, Yazır, V,3601, Butî, p., 21
4-Şibay, III, 164
5-Celaleddin Süyûtî, Itkan fî Ulûmi'l-Kur'an, Daru İbni Kesîr, Beirut, 1993, I, 28; Butî, p., 21; Abdurabbih, p., 29-30
6-Topaloğlu, VII, 531