When the warriors returned from the battlefield, the Prophet (SAW) said to them, “Greetings to those who have returned from the minor jihad”, or in other words, the minor struggle. They looked at each other in amazement as they had faced the onslaught of swords and arrows and could not comprehend how this was the minor struggle. If this was the minor struggle, what could possibly be the major struggle, or the greater Jihad?
The Holy Prophet (SAW) replied that the greater struggle is Jihad an Nafs, or the struggle against ones lower self. This is a spiritual battle where the soul of the human being is what is being fought for and the heart and mind of the human is the battlefield. This struggle is fought between two sides, the army of Shaytan and the army of Allah (SWT) and goes on until we breathe our last breath.
Islam is a holistic way of life that teaches us tazkiyat-an-nafs, or the purification of the soul. With a purified soul, there is contentment in submission to Allah’s will, whether outwardly pleasant or not. A successful life lived in Islam is one where a person maximally reaches their own potential according to the will of Allah (SWT) and this is done by battling against one’s lower self until our last breath, the greatest Jihad.