Hamid Golpira wrote a column in the Iranian English-language daily Tehran Times about the tenets of Jihad, including the personal Jihad of self-improvement as well as the physical Jihad of fighting. The following is the article: 
The Rules of Jihad
“Once I was the student of a very great sheikh. He taught me and the other students many things. May Allah bless him for teaching us so many things and accept his Jihad of teaching.
“Once our teacher taught us about the rules of Jihad. He said that every Muslim must first do Jihad-i-nafs, the struggle against the desires of the lower self, for self-purification. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family) said that Jihad-i-nafs is the great Jihad. We should reflect upon this deep Hadith.
“After performing Jihad-i-nafs to a satisfactory level and committing oneself to lifelong performance of Jihad-i-nafs, a Muslim can do the other Jihad, the lesser Jihad. This Jihad determines the three types of people in the world:
(1) the true Muslims;
(2) the non-Muslims who are not enemies of Islam actively fighting against Islam; and
(3) the enemies of Islam, which includes all munafiqin (hypocrites who claim to be Muslims).
“The true Muslims are our brothers and sisters and we must never fight against [them]. Also, we must never fight against the non-Muslims who are not enemies of Islam, since some of them live in Islamic countries and have paid the jizya tax, making them dhimmis (people protected by Islam), and others are citizens of non-Muslim countries who are not personally fighting against Islam or assisting a war against Islam.
“As far as the enemies of Islam, we are only permitted to fight against them if we have done everything in our power to avoid war and to encourage them to stop being enemies of Islam and to join one of the other two groups.”
Islam’s Enemies Should be Encouraged to Convert
“Our wise teacher explained it to us like this. First we must invite them to Islam. Even if they declare war against us, we should invite them to Islam by calling a one-day truce for them to think over our invitation. If after one day they embrace Islam, we should accept them as Muslim brothers and sisters and war has been averted.
“If they do not embrace Islam, we should invite them to pay the jizya tax and become dhimmis or to make a peace treaty with the Muslims, and we should again call a one-day truce for them to think over our proposal. If after one day they decide to pay the jizya tax and become dhimmis or to make a peace treaty with the Muslims, we should accept their decision, and again war has been averted.
“However, if they do not embrace Islam and do not decide to become non-Muslims who are not enemies of Islam but decide to make war against the Muslims, then, under such circumstances, we are allowed to wage war against them, as long as we observe all the other rules of Jihad, such as treating prisoners fairly and not attacking civilians. And Islam teaches that genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and terrorism are always haram (forbidden).
“Once, before a battle, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family) gave Imam Ali (peace be upon him) a flag on which was inscribed ‘la ilaha illa allah’ (there is no God but Allah) and told him to go out to the battlefield to invite the enemies to Islam while carrying the banner. And Imam Ali (peace be upon him) went out to the battlefield carrying the banner of Islam and inviting the enemies to Islam. This is the best example of true Jihad.”
 Tehran Times (Iran), May 11, 2004.