WHAT IS JIHAD
الحمد لله رب العالمين ، والصلاة والسلام على سيدنا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه أجمعين
Fighting in the way of Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) is known as Jihad. And Jihad is directly related with Islamic faith (Iman) taught to us by Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم).
Islam is the religion of peace and security among all people of the world. Jihad has been misunderstood by many people, both Muslims and Non-Muslims. Some people claim that Jihad is a holy war against non-Muslims. This is not correct understanding. In Islamic literature, the word holy (Muqaddas) has never been applied for war (Harb).
We have explained the issue of Jihad in the light of Quran and Ahadith. This book is an important read for everyone in the world.
There are two types of Jihad, (i) against the wrongful inclinations of ourselves and (ii) against the oppressors in society to establish peace on earth and ensure justice to all.
It is in Quran - كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْقِتَالُ وَهُوَ كُرْهٌ لَكُمْ وَعَسَى أَنْ تَكْرَهُوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ وَعَسَى أَنْ تُحِبُّوا شَيْئًا وَهُوَ شَرٌّ لَكُمْ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ وَأَنْتُمْ لَا تَعْلَمُونَ [ Prescribed for you is fighting, though it is disliked by you. It may well be that you dislike something but it is good for you, and it may well be that you like something but it is bad for you. Allah knows, and you do not know. ] (Al-Baqara - 216)
Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) has commanded us to fight in in His way. The question is, what is His way?
Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) is our creator. He wants us to live in peace on planet Earth. He does not want the strong among us to take advantage of the weak. He does not want repression, tyranny and infighting among people. He does not want humans to live like animals. Our creator wants us to live like humans who care for each other and for their environment. He wants us to be grateful for the bounties He has provided us for our living. He wants humans to pray Him rather than praying Idols created by them by their our own hands. This is the way of Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) and this has been the teachings of all His prophets.
If a section of people are adamant to create disorder, Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) wants his believers to fight with them to resume order on the land. This is known as Jihad, fighting in the way of Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ).
It is in Quran - وَلَوْلَا دَفْعُ اللَّهِ النَّاسَ بَعْضَهُم بِبَعْضٍ لَّفَسَدَتِ الْأَرْضُ [ Had Allah not driven back the people, some by means of others, the earth would have been surely corrupted. ] (Al-Baqara - 251)
Fighting in the way of Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) is known as Jihad. And Jihad is directly related with Islamic faith (Iman) taught to us by Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم). If we understand the meaning of Iman, we will also understand the meanings of Jihad.
What is Iman?
Iman is to believe in Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) and all his prophets and to walk on the path shown by Him. Since Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) is the seal of Prophet-hood, believing in him as the last prophet of Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) is essential. Once you believe in Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) and His Apostle (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم), you believe in the teachings contained in Quran and Sunnah and walk on His path.
The salvation of people in Hereafter depends upon Sahih Iman. Anyone having Sahih Iman in his heart equal to the weight of a mustard seed, he/she will not remain in Hell. He will be taken out of Hell on Prophet's (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) mediation.It is in Quran - وَنَضَعُ الْمَوَازِينَ الْقِسْطَ لِيَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ فَلَا تُظْلَمُ نَفْسٌ شَيْئًا ۖ وَإِن كَانَ مِثْقَالَ حَبَّةٍ مِّنْ خَرْدَلٍ أَتَيْنَا بِهَا ۗ [ And We place the scales of justice for the Day of Resurrection, so no one will be treated unjustly at all. And if there is (Iman equal to) the weight of a mustard seed, We will bring it forth.] (Al-Anbiya - 47)It is in Hadith - It is narrated on the authority of Abdullah bin Mas'ud (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) that the Apostle of Allah (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) said, 'No one shall enter the Fire (of Hell) who has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of Iman. (Bukhari, Muslim and others).What is the meaning of 'Iman' equal to the weight of mustard seed'? This is explained in the following Ahadith.It is in Hadith - Apostle of Allah (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) said, (i) He who among you sees something abominable should modify it with the help of his hand; (ii) and if he has not strength enough to do it, then he should do it with his tongue, (iii) and if he has not strength enough to do it, (even) then he should (abhor it) from his heart, and that is the least of Iman. (Muslim Book 1, # 84)It is in Hadith - It is narrated on the authority 'Abdullah bin Mas'ud (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) that the Apostle of Allah (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) observed : Never a Prophet had been sent before me by Allah towards his nation who had not among his people (his) disciples and companions who followed his ways and obeyed his command. Then there came after them their successors who said whatever they did not practice, and practiced whatever they were not commanded to do. He who strove against them with his hand was a believer. He who strove against them with his tongue was a believer, and he who strove against them with his heart was a believer and beyond that there is no faith even to the extent of a mustard seed. (Muslim Book 1, # 86)Thus, the moment a person submits to Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ), it is obligatory on him to contribute in the establishment of peace on Planet Earth. If he sees wrongdoings, oppression, faithless repression, he is required to stop it by hand, by fighting with the oppressors. If he is weak, cannot fight physically, he should oppose the oppression by his tongue. If he cannot do even that, he should refrain from associating himself with oppressors and feel bad about the oppressor's actions in his heart. This is known as Iman equal to the weight of mustard seed.For Muslims, their lives are Jihad to establish peace within themselves and peace in the land they live. The Jihad of Muslims on two fronts, (i) Fighting with his own evil inclinations (Jihad an-Nafs), to make it obedient to Allah's (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) commands and (ii) Fighting against the oppression in human society.(i) Fighting against our own evil inclinationsIt is in Quran - وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا ۚ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَمَعَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ [ And those who strive hard in Our (cause), We will most certainly guide them in Our ways; and Allah is indeed with the people of Ihsan.] (Al-Ankaboot - 69).It is in Hadith - The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) said : The fighter in Allah's (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) path is the one who strives against his Nafs in obedience to Allah (Tirmidhi # 1671, Ahmad # 1234)
(ii) fighting against the oppression in human society
It is in Quran - أُذِنَ لِلَّذِينَ يُقَاتَلُونَ بِأَنَّهُمْ ظُلِمُوا ۚ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ نَصْرِهِمْ لَقَدِيرٌ الَّذِينَ أُخْرِجُوا مِن دِيَارِهِم بِغَيْرِ حَقٍّ إِلَّا أَن يَقُولُوا رَبُّنَا اللَّهُ ۗ وَلَوْلَا دَفْعُ اللَّهِ النَّاسَ بَعْضَهُم بِبَعْضٍ لَّهُدِّمَتْ صَوَامِعُ وَبِيَعٌ وَصَلَوَاتٌ وَمَسَاجِدُ يُذْكَرُ فِيهَا اسْمُ اللَّهِ كَثِيرًا ۗ وَلَيَنصُرَنَّ اللَّهُ مَن يَنصُرُهُ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَقَوِيٌّ عَزِيزٌ [ Permission to take up arms is hereby given to those who are attacked because they have been oppressed – Allah indeed has power to grant them victory – those who have been unjustly driven from their homes, only because they said: "Our Lord is Allah" (Al-Hajj - 39-40)
It is in Quran - وَمَا لَكُمْ لَا تُقَاتِلُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَالْمُسْتَضْعَفِينَ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ وَالنِّسَاءِ وَالْوِلْدَانِ [What is (wrong) with you that you do not fight in the way of Allah, and of the weakened among men, women and children? ] (An-Nisa - 75)
Some people claim that Jihad is a holy war against non-Muslims. This is not correct understanding. In Islamic literature, the word holy (Muqaddas) has never been applied to war (Harb).
It is in Quran - قَاتِلُوا الَّذِينَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَلَا بِالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ وَلَا يُحَرِّمُونَ مَا حَرَّمَ اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَلَا يَدِينُونَ دِينَ الْحَقِّ مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ حَتَّىٰ يُعْطُوا الْجِزْيَةَ عَن يَدٍ وَهُمْ صَاغِرُونَ [ Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the day of Resurrection, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Apostle have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.] (At-Tawba - 29)
Some people take out of context meaning of the above Quranic verse to claim that Jihad means to fight non-believers en masse. This is a wrong understanding.
It is in Quran - وَقَاتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ الَّذِينَ يُقَاتِلُونَكُمْ وَلَا تَعْتَدُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُعْتَدِينَ [ Fight in Allah’s cause against those who fight with you, but do not overstep the limits. Allah does not love those who overstep the limits.] (Al-Baqara - 190)Three things have been addressed in this verse; (i) fighting in Allah's (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) cause, (ii) fighting only with those who fight against you, and (iii) not to overstep the limits in fighting.(i) Fighting in Allah's (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) causeAllah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) is the creator of all human beings. It is not that He is the creator of only Muslims. He loves all His servants. What He does not like is someone who does not try to understand Allah's (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) signs in the Cosmos, denies His merciful bounties, stages a rebellion and creates oppression and tyranny on other human beings.Human history is a witnessed how tyrant rulers have resorted to oppression, killing and tribulations in the world. This is the reason, Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) sent Prophets in every nation to rid people off their ignorance, provide them justice and free them from the clutches of tyrant rulers / tribal heads.The prophets fought back with these tyrants in order to provide justice to the people and re-establish order and peace.Some people wrongly claim that Islam's early wars were fought to spread Islam in the world. They forget the fact that 'belief' is related to heart and in no way it can be achieved by sword. Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) wants faith to emanate from the heart, not through fear or compulsion. He wants to enlighten people's minds and hearts about Himself and His creation in this Cosmos, rather than their bowed head in fear.When the truth is crystal clear, there is no reason to force people to choose. People naturally want what is good for themselves.
It is in Quran - لَعَلَّكَ بَاخِعٌ نَّفْسَكَ أَلَّا يَكُونُوا مُؤْمِنِينَ - إِن نَّشَأْ نُنَزِّلْ عَلَيْهِم مِّنَ السَّمَاءِ آيَةً فَظَلَّتْ أَعْنَاقُهُمْ لَهَا خَاضِعِينَ [Are you (O Apostle ﷺ) going to worry yourself to death because they will not believe? If We had wished, We could have sent them down a (fearful) sign from the sky, at which their necks would stay bowed in utter humility.] (Ash-Shu'araa - 3-4)It is in Quran - لَا إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ ۖ قَد تَّبَيَّنَ الرُّشْدُ مِنَ الْغَيِّ ۚ فَمَن يَكْفُرْ بِالطَّاغُوتِ وَيُؤْمِن بِاللَّهِ فَقَدِ اسْتَمْسَكَ بِالْعُرْوَةِ الْوُثْقَىٰ لَا انفِصَامَ لَهَا ۗ وَاللَّهُ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ [There is no compulsion in the Religion. The right way stands there clearly distinguished from the false. Hence he who rejects the tyrant powers of evil, and believes in Allah, has grasped the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it; and Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.] (Al-Baqara - 256)
We are required to invite people to Sahih Iman through reason and, more importantly, by being an example of what is good and upright. Only then would people accept Iman wholeheartedly and apply its teachings willingly. He who forces religion upon others, oppresses people into Islam is not acting on the commandments of Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) and His Apostle (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم).
In the first 13 years from the declaration of Prophet-hood, there was no commandment to fight with the oppressors. Even when a small community of Muslims was established in Madina, Muslims did not fight with the Pagans. The war was imposed on them by pagans and Muslims fought the first defensive war of Islam in Badar, Madina, in which Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) provided victory to Muslims.
When Makka was taken over by Muslims, no one was forced to accept Islam. The entire population embraced Islam looking at the generosity of Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) towards them in spite of the fact that they had tortured him and his followers for 13 long years.
In subsequent battles, wherever Muslims won, the local populations were not forced to accept Islam. They were allowed to profess their religion. As a matter of fact, protection was given to them from their enemies.
Muslims are required to pay Zakat whereas non-Muslims are free from this obligation. In its place, a tax called Jizya was taken from non-Muslims to meet the expenses of providing them protection and a peaceful living in the country. Some people talk a lot about Jizya and portray this requirement in a bad light. They forget the fact that Muslims pay Zakat and non-Muslims pay Jizya. So where is the disparity? If the Government does not take taxes, how will it function?
(ii) Fighting only with those who fight against you
History of early Islam is witness that Muslims did not fight with anyone who wanted to live in peace with them. They took up arms only against those tyrants who were existential threat to Muslims and those who were the sworn enemies. Thus, the wars were essentially defensive in nature and the aim was to establish order and peaceful living in the world. If Muslims had done what Christians/Jews had done in Spain, Bosnia, Palestine and other places, entire continents of Asia, Africa and half of Europe would have 100% Muslim population today.
(iii) Not to overstep the limits in fighting
The basic principle, stipulated in Quran, about fighting in a war is that other communities should be treated as your own. Fighting is justified for legitimate self-defense, to aid other Muslims or to help populations suffering under the oppression of tyrant rulers. Once the war is won and tyrants are subdued, it was commanded to treat them well, ignoring the harm they had done earlier.
It is in Quran - وَلَا تُطِعِ الْكَافِرِينَ وَالْمُنَافِقِينَ وَدَعْ أَذَاهُمْ وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ ۚ وَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّهِ وَكِيلًا [ Do not give in to the disbelievers and the hypocrites. Ignore the harm they cause you and put your trust in Allah. Allah suffices as a Guardian. ] (Al-Ahzaab - 48)
Prophet Mohammad (صلى الله عليه و آله وسلم) used to give guidelines to army entrusted to fight in a conflict. Based on these instructions, Hadhrat Abu Bakr (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) is reported to have given the following guideline to the Army.
Addressing the Army under the command of Usama bin Zaid (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) who were entrusted to fight in Syria in 632 AD, Abu Bakr (رضئ اللہ تعالی عنہ) said : "O people! I charge you the rules for your guidance. Listen carefully and remember them.
You shall not engage in treachery; you shall not act unfaithfully; you shall not engage in deception; you shall not indulge in mutilation; you shall kill neither a young child nor an old man nor a woman; you shall not fell palm trees or burn them, you shall not cut down (any) fruit-bearing tree; you shall not slaughter a sheep or a cow or a camel except for food.
You may pass by people who may have devoted their lives to monastic services, leave them alone.
Some people may bring you vessels containing variety of food. If you eat anything from (those dishes), mention the name of Allah (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ) over them.
Go ahead in the name of Allah's (عَزَّ وَجَلَّ)." (Tabari, Volume 9, Pages 163-164)
The above principles were honored during the Crusades by Sultan Saladin and al-Kamil. After al-Kamil defeated the Franks during 5th crusade (1217-1221), Oliverus Scholasticus praised the Islamic laws of war. Commenting on how al-Kamil supplied the defeated Frankish army with food, he is reported to have said, "who could doubt that such goodness, friendship and charity come from God? Men whose parents, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, had died in agony at our hands, whose lands we took, whom we drove naked from their homes, revived us with their own food when we were dying of hunger and showered us with kindness even when we were in their power."