In the West, the Islamic term jihad is almost ubiquitously associated with the extremism and fundamentalism that is a microcosm of the religion's diverse, global population, such as that perpetrated by the sadists and gangsters of Islamic State. Thus in this context jihad is uniformly associated with beheadings, suicide bombings, violent misogyny, and ethno-religious persecution. But this is morally a gross misnomer. Jihad in Islamic terms means struggle: the struggle for truth and justice, and ultimately peace. The brave Kurdish Muslims of the PKK aiming to defend themselves, alongside the Yazidis, from Islamic State genocide and barbarism, can therefore be described as jihadis in the true and honourable sense. As can the participants of the Arab Spring who have resisted authoritarian repression and corruption.
There is no sense jihad in the ideology of salafi-fascists who justify their brutality and hatred with propaganda of deceit, and who are committed to denying humanity, including Muslims, their basic civil and human rights. These thugs therefore must not be permitted to such a linguistic monopoly. In being granted it we portray their crimes in the terms they would prefer.