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Jihad is one of the most loaded and misunderstood terms in the news today. Contrary to popular understanding, the term does not mean "holy war." Nor does it simply refer to the inner spiritual struggle. This book, judiciously balanced, accessibly written, and highly relevant to today's events, unravels the tangled historical, intellectual, and political meanings of jihad. Looking closely at a range of sources from sacred Islamic texts to modern interpretations, Understanding Jihad opens a critically important perspective on the role of Islam in the contemporary world.