Sun Tzu: The Meaning of Jihad & Crusade.

The Meaning of Jihad & Crusade:
The literal meaning of Jihad is struggle or effort, and it means much more than holy war.


Jihad, a general outlook or world view which takes shape and is constantly present within the mind.

Jihad means “struggle” and Jihadist the one who struggles.

Jihad to overcome one’s own ego (the greater Jihad).

Jihad to fight for a higher purpose (the outer Jihad).

Jihad can be called ‘Strategy’ as it should have longer term aims. Eg: Jihad against homelessness, poverty.


Crusade means:?

A campaign for political, social, or religious change.


Crusade to achieve an objective.

Crusade to move towards in a practical way against (or for) something.

Crusade “energetically” to convince or persuade others as to a particular point of view held by the Crusader.

Crusade (eg) to feed the homeless by x, y, z

Crusade can be called ‘Tactic’ to accomplish a specific purpose.


Brief History of Jihad & Crusade

The Word Jihad

The Word Crusade

Context: they have similarities but also contradiction/differences to each other.


Jihad/Crusade – Difference?

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Strategy & Tactics:

Armed Jihad had overall strategies within a framework of leadership on how to deal with enemies within rules of war, tactics where devised via rules/strategies as wars commenced.

Armed Crusade didn’t have strategies on how to deal with the war or enemies, didn’t have strategies – the tactics used were fluid not focused, no overall effective leadership.

One of the main reasons Saladin was successful was due to an effective command and control of forces, he had a strategy.


Why Saladin’s forces won:

The Crusaders were not fighting on home ground, had many opponents including Eastern Christians. Had a political focus and used religion to push that forward (tactics) – too many leaders.

The Jihadists were fighting on home turf and had systems of defence and offence in place to oppose the crusaders, had an overall ‘strategy’ to protect Jerusalem – also had a single leader – Saladin.

So leaders push forward on strategy and then help focus those under their command on tactics. Just using tactics and not having an overall strategy can be undoing of a war, a nation and a people.


Other factors we should look at:

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What Sun Tzu said:

Have strong bond between the leader and people.

Have a system / rule of law.

Military strength with chain of command.

Understand terrain and use it to your advantage.

Study the elements (weather) and use them to your advantage.

Use logic not emotion, have overall strategy based on logical reasoning which can have a spiritual (religious) basis.


British and Ottoman Empires:

Why did they collapse?

Why were they unpopular with different groups within the empires?

What can we learn from this?

What does it mean preparing for the different seasons when talking about empires and nations?


Complexities of Jihad/Crusade:

Both are complex with limitless variables.

Jihad and Crusade have differences in their approaches if used via a religious only understanding.

  • Practicality vs Emotion
  • Strategy vs Tactics
  • If both used together they can be more effective.


For or Against:

In preventing problems (struggle to improve and strengthen our side) and opposing problems (struggle against something) we should have a practical balance.

  • Words like Jihad and Crusade are similar but not same.

How do we build our defences – to be stronger, wiser, more educated, unite with others.

Who pushes our buttons? and how? What tactics can we use and strategies against this?


Modern wars compared to past:

Traditional wars are ending

Asymmetric wars are increasing

Tribalism being encouraged (racial, religious etc)

Technology playing its part

Better understanding of the Art of War can help defend us all from these threats.


Focus is on targeting civilians:

Wars between states and non-state actors are increasing.

Non-state actors target states ‘strategies’ and tactics – not to win wars but get them to oppose their own populations (ie: stricter laws)

Civilians get tired/split/politics


Empowering civilians:

Saladin, Jihad/Crusades and Sun Tzu did not exist with the communication technologies we have today but they succeeded with a certain set of strategies and tactics they used for traditional warfare.

Those can now be used to help populations protect themselves who are at risk of being targeted by asymmetric (irregular) ‘actors.’


Traditional and Irregular Warfare:

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What level are really we thinking?

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Using reasoning not emotion:

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The Art of War is NOT about peace but war and how best to carry out a war.

  • It was written at the time of war and strife.
  • Today we use it as a way to empower our understanding of how wars were won in the past and what options can we use to avert war and strife today in an honourable way
  • Art of War is also used by politicians, sports coaches and many others to help strategise their lives.

▪War itself a political tactic and we need to understand the politics behind war and those who encourage wars.

  • Asymmetric warfare includes ‘fake-news’, pressing buttons, raising emotions, sheep/shepherd dog.
  • Master Suns teachings are applicable in todays age more than any other.


Discussion Questions

What are the 3 things you have learned from Master Sun?

Is fighting physically the best way to fight a war?

What drives you – emotion or reason?

Are you a sheep or a lion?



Hope you enjoyed this and for further information feel free to email me on

My Twitter, Facebook & LinkedIn all have the username @MohammedAbbasi

My Youtube is at @AbbasiOfficial


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