In Islam, Jihad refers to making the most efforts and using all one’s power to do something. Today, some with Islamophobic objectives have interpreted the word Jihad in the Quran as fighting and going to the war front to confront the enemy. This is while in its real meaning, Jihad is a moral and spiritual concept. For instance, one who uses his capital or time to help others has done a kind of Jihad.
Overall, Jihad should be interpreted as moving on the path of God’s contentment. In Islam there are two kinds of Jihad: Jihad al-Asghar (the Lesser Jihad) and Jihad al-Akbar( the Greater Jihad). The first one refers to fighting for defending oneself and confronting an armed enemy.
The Quran says about this kind of Jihad: “God has purchased the souls and property of the believers in exchange for Paradise. They fight for the cause of God to destroy His enemies and to sacrifice themselves. This is a true promise which He has revealed in the Torah, the Gospel, and the Quran. No one is more true to His promise than God. Let this bargain be glad news for them. This is indeed the supreme triumph.” (Surah At-Tawbah, verse 111)
Jihad al-Akbar, though, according to what the Holy Prophet (PBUH) said, means the combat with the self.
It is because the self is always inviting one to bad deeds and is inclined toward bad things and worldly desires. According to the Holy Quran, “And I do not declare myself free, most surely (man's) self is wont to command (him to do) evil, except such as my Lord has had mercy on, surely my Lord is Forgiving, Merciful.” (Surah Yusuf, verse 53)
In Islamic ethics, Jihad al-Akbar, also known as Jihad al-Nafs, is a term referring to the struggle against one's lower self or base instincts, in order to become a better Muslim by purifying one’s morality, thoughts, and behavior and resisting evil and unacceptable desires.
In the Quran and Hadith, there has been emphasis on combating the self, and in some Hadiths, Jihad against the self has been regarded as being superior to Jihad.
In Islam emphasis has been laid on Jihad al-Nafs and it is considered a constant duty of the faithful.
It is a difficult duty, though, as it has been said that people die once normally but one who is on the path of Jihad al-Nafs and combatting Satan and his own desires, dies seventy times a day. One can be in possession of his Nafs when he constantly confronts it.