The familiar term jihad, often translated holy war, literally means struggle. Many Muslims emphasize that jihad is about struggling against evil desires and, if necessary, defending one's homeland and religious heritage. "Fight for the sake of God those that fight against you, but do not attack them first. God does not love the aggressors. Slay them wherever you find them. Drive them out of the places from which they drove you. Idolatry is more grievous than bloodshed.... Fight against them until idolatry is no more and God's religion reigns supreme." (Qur'an 2:190-192) [Note: Qur'anic quotes from N.J.Dawood¹s English translation (The Koran, Penguin Books, UK, 1993)].
A favorite verse of moderate Muslims is 2:256 which says: "Let there be no compulsion in religion. True guidance is now distinct from error." Militant Muslims, however, will point you to numerous Qur'anic texts where Muhammad (as Allah's spokesman) commands his followers to fight and subdue all who resist Islam.
* "As for those who are slain in the cause of God, He will not allow their works to perish. ... He will admit them to the Paradise He has made known to them." (47:4-6) * "Let those who would exchange the life of this world for the hereafter, fight for the cause of God; whether he dies or triumphs, We shall richly reward him. ... The true believers fight for the cause of God, but the infidels fight for the devil. Fight then against the friends of Satan ..." (4:74,76) * "The believers who stay at homeapart from those that suffer a grave impedimentare not the equals of those who fight for the cause of God with their goods and their persons. God has given those that fight with their goods and their persons a higher rank than those who stay at home ..." (4:95,96) * "Slay the idolaters wherever you find them. ... lie in ambush everywhere for them. If they repent and take to prayer and render the alms levy, allow them to go their way ..." (9:5) * "Those that make war against God and His apostle and spread disorder in the land shall be put to death or crucified or have their hands and feet cut off on alternate sides, or be banished from the land. They shall be held up to shame in this world and sternly punished in the hereafter: except those that repent before you reduce them ..." (5:34,35) * "Make war on them until idolatry shall cease and God's religion shall reign supreme" (8:39) * "Prophet, rouse the faithful to arms. If there are twenty steadfast men among you, they shall vanquish two hundred; and if there are a hundred, they shall rout a thousand unbelievers, for they are devoid of understanding." (8:65) * "Fight against such of those to whom the Scriptures were given ... and do not embrace the true Faith, until they pay tribute out of hand and are utterly subdued." (9:29) http://www.answering-islam.org/TWOR/peacepromoting.html