The term ‘jihad’ has been hijacked by many groups trying to justify the use of violence in the name of Islam, with some even promising martyrdom to those who kill so-called non-believers. By invoking stories of the mujahideen, and manipulating the rules of war, these groups have intentionally confused the true meaning of ‘jihad’.

Jihad has nothing to do with unsanctioned acts of violence that kill innocent people. Rather, it mainly refers to our daily spiritual struggle to become a better person. This struggle can be in response to a variety of tests we face each day; such as resisting anger or greed, speaking with patience and kindness to people we don’t particularly like, or overcoming an addiction.

Military jihad – or qital – does exist but cannot be explained in 30 seconds. Rather, it requires a sophisticated understanding of Islamic law from a properly qualified source or Sheikh. There is a reason that people dedicate their entire lives to understanding the teachings of Islam. We need to seek guidance from these scholars when dealing with complex issues, such as jihad.

Living in an era of quick and easy sound bites, some people will try to reduce complex theological concepts to the most basic of explanations.

True jihad is a test of our faith and our true character. It’s an opportunity to follow in the humble footsteps of the Prophet (PBUH).

Thinking of our world today, many people blame Islam for all the evil. It hurts. It saddens. It can even anger us.

But this too is a test. It’s the jihad of every Muslim to try their best to live with integrity in order to change the perception of Islam.