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Differences between Muslim, Islamist, Islamic and Jihadist

Differences between Muslim, Islamist, Islamic and Jihadist

March 31, 2024

The recent and terrible attacks perpetrated in Barcelona on August 17 by a group of young people with religious beliefs Mohammedans (Islam), have shaken the old nest of Islamophobia. This is evident, among other things, in that despite the fact that many people express clear opinions about how believers are and how they act in this religion, the confusion about the religion remains even more radical and widespread. how to call people willing to kill in the name of Islam .

Some linguists, communication specialists and even sociologists insist on the importance of differentiating between the terms used in this field, such as "jihadist", "Muslim", "Islamic or Islamist group", sometimes used interchangeably to refer to the authors of the events. There is no unanimous agreement on how to refer to the collective in question.

To clarify these doubts, next we will see the differences between Muslim, jihadist, Islamist and Islamic .

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What is the Islam?

To contextualize briefly the topic that we will deal with in this article, it is necessary to make an introductory approach of what is the religion of Islam, which has a figure of 1,600 million faithful around the globe , especially in the area of ​​the Arabian peninsula (which is where it was founded), passing through the Middle East, North Africa and with more and more influence in the European continent.

The Islam It is a monotheistic, Abrahamic and Semitic religion that was founded in 622 AD. in the current Saudi Arabia by the prophet Muhammad, who according to his sacred scriptures was chosen by God to expand and verbalize his message (since Muhammad was illiterate). These messages were sent by the archangel Gabriel (Jibril in Arabic). The typical premise of Islam is that "There is nothing but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet."

Quite contrary to what is usually argued, Islam recognizes Christianity and Judaism as twinned religions , as well as his prophets like Moses, Jesus, Solomon, Abraham or Adam, among others. The only differentiations in terms of habits and customs strictly related to religion reside in some differentiating practices: Muslims pray 5 times a day, fast once a year for a month, do not eat pork or drink alcohol.

After the Qur'an, the Mohammedan teachings and actions are the obligatory followings (hadiths) for practitioners of Islam. They reflect the attitude of the Prophet Muhammad , such as morality, ethics and behavior with other human beings.

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Islamist, Muslim, Islamic and Jihadist: their differences

Let's see now how to discern between the controversial concepts that are still debated today. Next we will make a definition of each of them.


The fact of being a Muslim responds basically to every individual who accepts and believes firmly in Islam as the ultimate religion, pronouncing the phrase "I bear witness that there is no other God than God, and I bear faith that Muhammad is the messenger of God." This recital is called "shahada" (profession of faith). Anyone who does not pronounce said phrase will not be considered a Muslim.


Being an Islamist or following Islam, on the other hand, responds to the purely political condition. Consequently, the whole society must be governed by the beliefs of the "sharia" , these are the commandments of God, and this must interfere directly in the life of the people, conditioning their habits, customs and ideas.

In this sense, any type of foreign influence or alien to Islam is rejected, no type of non-Muslim pretexts are accepted. There are, then, Islamist political parties such as Hamas or Hezbollah.


The Islamic term responds to a complementary adjective. That is supposes anything, territory, art, state or work that is closely related to the Muslim religion. The Islamic states, for example, are those whose only and official religion is Islam. The organizations, both official and not, have Islamic character as well.


Here is the most controversial concept we have analyzed, and it often infuriates the world and Islamic scholars. It is said that the meaning of the word is "adulterated", since jihadism is currently related to terrorism. This is, however, wrong.

The etymology of jihad is synonymous with effort, work, sacrifice in the name of God , but that under no circumstances is related to violence. Islamic scholars reiterate that jihad corresponds to the fulfillment of the 5 pillars of Islam, and that over time has taken on another character that leaves no one indifferent.

The interpretation of jihadist goes back to the time of the crusades , where it could be deduced, without confirmation, that the Mohammedan fighters gave themselves up to the jihad to defeat the enemy. Some scholars and orientalists have determined 3 types of interpretation of jihad:

  • Personal jihad, like every Muslim who strives to maintain his faith throughout his life overcoming moments of difficulty.
  • Social jihad to reach the just and moral society under the faith of Islam.
  • Military jihad or Holy War, which is the battle to defend Islam by force, as long as it is necessary.

Muslim vs. Islamism (March 2024).

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