Jihad is the main misconcepotion people have about Islam, thinking that the main aim for Islam is to kill people and take their money, and this is really untrue. Jihad was sanctioned to protect people and let them leave peacefully by fighting the heads of infidelity who stand as an obstacle preventing Islam to reach people, for example, if there was a village infected by a virus, and some people came to this village with the medicine that will heal it, but some of the people in the village came out and prevented them from entering with that medicine, wouldn’t it be a must that these people must be prevented by force so that the medicine enters the village? There is no other solution, otherwise the people in the village will die. This is simply the Jihad, it’s not a terrorism, it’s a war against terrorism, a war so that people can live under the piece of Islam, God said in the Quran:
193. And fight them until there is no persecution, and religion is professed only for ALLAH. But if they desist, then remember that no hostility is allowed except against the wrongdoers.(Holy Quran 2:193)
In Jihad, unlike the wars in the Old Testament, Muhammad(Peace be upon him) ordered Muslims when fighting not to kill women, children or an old man or a monk,see for example this hadith:
It has been reported from Sulaiman b. Buraid through his father that when the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) appointed anyone as leader of an army or detachment he would especially exhort him to fear Allah and to be good to the Muslims who were with him. He would say: Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war, do not embezzle the spoils; do not break your pledge; and do not mutilate (the dead) bodies; do not kill the children. ( Narrated by Muslim)
Killing women, old men and monks was forbidden in another hadith in Muwatta’ concerning Abu Bakr the intimate disciple of Muhammad (Peace be upon him), and the first Muslim Caliph :
Yahya related to me from Malik from Yahya ibn Said that Abu Bakr as-Siddiq was sending armies to ash-Sham.(Syria) He went for a walk with Yazid ibn Abi Sufyan who was the commander of one of the battalions. It is claimed that Yazid said to Abu Bakr, “Will you ride or shall I get down?” Abu Bakr said, “I will not ride and you will not get down. I intend these steps of mine to be in the way of Allah.” Then Abu Bakr advised Yazid, “You will find a people who claim to have totally given themselves to Allah. Leave them to what they claim to have given themselves. You will find a people who have shaved the middle of their heads, strike what they have shaved with the sword. “I advise you ten things: Do not kill women or children or an aged, infirm person. Do not cut down fruit-bearing trees. Do not destroy an inhabited place. Do not slaughter sheep or camels except for food. Do not burn bees and do not scatter them. Do not steal from the booty, and do not be cowardly.” (Muwatta’)
When Muslims enter a city, before they fight they must first invite people to Islam, and let them know about Islam, if they accepted, then fighting them is forbidden, if they didn’t then the Jizya (tax), if they accepted, then fighting them is forbidden, if they rejected, then it’s the war:
“When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them. Then invite them to migrate from their lands to the land of Muhairs and inform them that, if they do so, they shall have all the privileges and obligations of the Muhajirs. If they refuse to migrate, tell them that they will have the status of Bedouin Muilims and will be subjected to the Commands of Allah like other Muslims, but they will not get any share from the spoils of war or Fai’ except when they actually fight with the Muslims (against the disbelievers). If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah’s help and fight them. ” (Muslim, the rest of the first hadith) If man accepts to pay Jizya, Muslims are ordered to treat him well, and be fair with him, as God says:
8. ALLAH forbids you not respecting those who have not fought against you on account of your religion, and who have not driven you out from your homes, that you be kind to them and deal equitably with them; surely, ALLAH loves those who are equitable. 9. ALLAH only forbids you respecting those who have fought against you on account of your religion and have driven you out of your homes, and have helped others in driving you out, that you make friends with them, and whosoever makes friends with them – it is these that are transgressors.(Holy Quran 60:8-9)
And killing them is forbidden, Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:
“Whoever has killed a person having a treaty with the Muslims shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise, though its fragrance is found for a span of forty years.” (Bukhari and Ibn Majah)
As for Jizya, it’s value is very low, and women, children, monks and old men are exempted from it, and Muslims should protect them, and if they had any problem with a Muslim, they have the right to go to the judge, and if they had the right, they would take it.
And as long as Islam didn’t reach the city where Muslims will enter, it’s forbidden to attack them suddenly, it happened once that a Muslim army did that and entered a city without inviting them first, so people of the city complained to the caliph after one year (when they knew that Muslims should invite them first), when the caliph knew that, he ordered the army to get out of the city, and re-invite them.
Finally I must say that Jihad is done when the Muslim nation is strong enough to perform it, and it must be under the caliphe, it is not a mess that anyone goes and blows himself up within non-Muslims, this is not considered a Jihad, it’s a misunderstanding of Jihad, and this is actually the result of ignorance.