Jihad in History and Law
Following this brief summary, let us now consider the nature of Jihād more fully as it appears in the history and law of Islam. Sa'īd Ramaļān Būţi, a contemporary Orthodox scholar from Syria states, in his seminal work on the subject Jihād in Islam :
The Prophet invited the unbelievers peacefully, lodged protests against their beliefs and strove to remove their misgivings about Islam. When they refused any other solution, but rather declared a war against him and his message and initiated the fight, there was no alternative except to fight back.
The most fundamental form of Jihād, usually overlooked in today's pursuit of newsworthy headlines, is the Jihād of presenting the message of Islam—da'wah. Thirteen years of the Prophet’s 23-year mission consisted purely of this type of Jihād. Contrary to popular belief, the word Jihād and related forms of its root word jāhada are mentioned in many Makkan verses in a purely non-combative context.
Combative Jihād in the technical usage of Islamic law means “the declaration of war against belligerent aggressors.” It is not a haphazard decision taken by anybody but only by the leader of the nation. The principles of Islamic jurisprudence state that the actions of the leader must be guided by the interests of the people.