Powered by UITechs
Get password? Username Password
Menu << Go Back Home New Articles Popular Articles Top Rated Articles Submit an Article
Comparative Analysis of Views on Jihad
Author/Source: SYED SALMAN JAN  (ssalman@descon.com.pk) Posted by: SYED SALMAN JAN
Hits: 4751 Rating: 0 (0 votes) Comments: 0 Added On: Friday, September 08, 2006 Rate this article


What does Jihad Mean?

Jihad, routinely translated as “holy war”, often makes headlines. At present, there is a lot of confusion as regards the concept of Islamic Jihad. There is no consensus per se about which activities the concept entails. Just to give the reader a flavor of what might and might not constitute Jihad, Jihad could be a Mujahid fighting “infidels” to force acceptance of supremacy of Islam, a Muslim soldier defending an Islamic state under attack, a scholar’s revolt against an impious ruler, a modernist campaigning for political and social reform or a sufi’s efforts in striving for moral self improvement. Jihad is derived from the root word juhd which means ‘to struggle’ which encompasses a very wide spectrum of activities – including armed struggle (called qital). This paper would aim to view Jihad as implying ‘armed struggle’ or qital.

It is the different interpretations of Quranic verses that cause lack of consensus on the true meaning of jihad. We shall review the subject from different perspectives representing the main schools of thought as propounded by some key figures which have had an important bearing on the interpretation of jihad. In this context views of Syed Qutb, Osama Bin Laden, Maulvi Chiragh Ali, Javed Ahmed Ghamidi and Dr. Yusuf Qardawi have been discussed and analyzed.

At the end I shall present my own views and understanding of Jihad.

SYED QUTB (1906-66)
Syed Qutb is considered the main leader of the Islamic Revolution in Egypt and is considered to be the founder of Muslim ‘fundamentalism’ today. His two key ideas of jahiliyah - ignorance of God’s commandments- and hakimiyah – Divine Sovereignty on Earth - were the driving force behind his revolt against the Western ideals. Qutb calls on his followers to reject the West, which has introduced non-Islamic legal systems contradictory to the injunctions of Quran. He believes that only one law has to prevail in this World and that is the Shariah.

The primary feature of Qutb’s ideas is that he is not a pacifist but rather his approach is very aggressive. He says that either a Muslim should migrate (hijrah) from a jahili atmosphere or must take up arms against the West. According to Adil Salahi, Religious Editor of Arab News, Jeddah, Qutb was a martyr because the Prophet said: “The best form of jihad is a declaration of the truth in front of a despotic ruler.” Egypt, in Qutb’s time period was under military dictatorship and Qutb had dared to oppose it. Consequently, he was executed in 1966.

To trace Qutb’s origin of ideas of Jihad we shall have to review the progression of Commandments on Jihad. Till the Muslims migrated to Medina, God forbade them from engaging in Jihad. However, subsequent to migration they were permitted to fight – initially to resist oppression:

“Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they are oppressed, and God is able to help them. These are the people who are expelled from their homes without cause because they said ‘Our lord is Allah,’ for had it not been that Allah repels some men by means of others, synagogues; churches; oratories and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft mentioned, would assuredly have been pulled down. Verily, Allah helps one who helps Him. Allah is Strong and Almighty. Those who, if we give them power in the land, shall establish prayer and pay Zakat and enjoin right and forbid wrong and the end of all his affairs is with God.” (22:39-41)

The next stage was when Muslims were commanded to fight those who fight them: “Fight in the cause of God against those who fight you.” (1:190). The third and the final stage was when a General War was declared against all polytheists:

“Fight against those among the people of the Book who do not believe in God and the Last Day, Who do not forbid what God and His Messenger have forbidden, and who do not consider the true religion as their religion, until they are subdued and pay Jizyah.” (9:29)

As Qutb sees it, above verses leave no room for any leniency as far as the matter of Jihad is concerned. As long as the jahili period exists, Muslims have to resort to Jihad no matter what. This is not a temporary phase but a perpetual and permanent war! Thus, Qutb concludes that Truth and Falsehood cannot co-exist on the face of this Earth and Muslims are required to fight Falsehood (i.e. the West) until it is subdued.

Qutb delineates quite a few reasons why Jihad was not permitted by God in Mecca. They are described as follows:

? Freedom of preaching in Mecca

The reason for not retaliating in Mecca for the Muslims is very simple to comprehend. Freedom of preaching was assured in Mecca. The Prophet (sws) was under the protection of Banu Hashim and therefore, could easily give vent to his ideas. There was no organized opposition to the Prophet’s mission. Hence, no armed struggle ensued.

? Inculcation of patience

The Meccan period was training period for the Muslims. Arabs, by nature, were very short-tempered. God was, in a way, trying to change the nature of the Arab Muslims. He was making sure that a Muslim Arab is not provoked easily. Hence, reticence was being inculcated in the psyche of the Muslims, who were obviously Arabs by origin.

? Prevention of Tribal Warfare

The Arab society was a feud-ridden society. Tribal warfare was the norm of the day. Had Jihad been allowed during this period, Islam would have become just a series of tribal feuds and would have died an oblivious death as a movement.

? Knowledge of the future

Omniscient that He is, God would have known that the bitterest enemies of Islam in Mecca would later on become the stalwarts of the Islamic Movement. As an example who could have known that Khalid bin Waleed would prove to be a golden asset for Islam after the hijrah?

Analysis of Qutb’s Ideas

There is no denying the fact that Syed Qutb was a great revolutionary leader born once in centuries as he did not deter even from laying down his life for a cause, in which he believed so firmly. He undoubtedly was a hero par excellence, whose memory is still cherished by Egyptians, many of whom try to emulate his personality. However, unfortunately History has taught us that even the most sincere people always do not make the right decision. In my humble opinion, Qutb was slightly off the mark as his approach towards Jihad was too idealistic and rigid. I shall like to point out the following shortcomings in Qutb’s reasoning:

? To compare the West with the jahili period existing before the advent of Islam in Arabia is rather far stretched. No matter what the argument maybe, there has been a lot of social progress in the West besides the scientific advances made. Qutb’s comparison of the West with the jahili period is anachronistic to say the least. Even if Qutb’s point is well taken that moral degeneration has taken place in the West but to go as far as to compare it with the pre-Islamic ignorant period is a bit of an overstatement.
? By completely rejecting the West, Qutb encourages isolationist attitudes-which in a World dominated by the West-creates its own problems.
? His philosophy of ‘no compromise’ with the West leads to conflict between Islamists and even the Muslim governments who want to follow moderate policies.


In his famous Fatwa issued in August 1996, Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places, Osama Bin Laden is disturbed by the fact that Muslims are being persecuted by the Zionists-Crusaders alliance led by the United States of America. Osama gives references to the following Quranic verses emphasizing the duty of human beings to the Creator and stressing the importance of restraining oppressors. These are:

? “O you who believe! Be careful of-your duty to-Allah with the proper care which is due to Him, and do not die unless you are Muslim.” (3:102)

? “O you who believe! Be careful of your duty to Allah and speak the right word; He will put your deeds into a right state for you, and forgive you your faults; and who ever obeys Allah and his Apostle, he indeed achieve a mighty success.” (33:70-71)

? “You are the best of the nations raised up for the benefit of men; you enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong and believe in Allah.” (3:110)

? The Prophet (sws) said: “The people are close to an all encompassing punishment from Allah if they see the oppressor and fail to restrain him.”

Osama then gives reference to that fact that the Ulama and the Daees of Islam were being prevented form preaching as the Zionists - Crusaders fear that they will instigate the Muslim Ummah as Ibn Taymiyyah did. By orders from the USA number of scholars and Daees were arrested – in the land of the Two Holy Places. As stated by the people of knowledge, it is not a secret that to use man-made law instead of the Shariah and to support the infidels against the Muslims is one of the ten “voiders” that would strip a person from his Islamic status. The All Mighty said:

? “And Who ever did not judge by what Allah revealed, those are the unbelievers.”(5:44)
? “But no! by your Lord! They do not believe (in reality) until they make you a judge of that which has become a matter of disagreement among them, and then do not find the slightest misgiving in their hearts as to what you have decided and submit with entire submission.”(4:65)

The Zionist-Crusader alliance moves quickly to contain and abort any “corrective movement” appearing in the Islamic countries. In the shadow of clandestine discussions and arguments, truthfulness is covered by falsehood. We should follow what Ibn Taymiyyah said: “people of Islam should join forces and support each other to get rid of the main kufr who is controlling the countries of the Islamic World, even to bear the lesser damage to get rid of the major one, that is the great kufr.” If there are many duties to be performed, then the most important one should receive priority. Clearly, after Belief (Imaan) there is no more important duty than pushing the American enemy out of the holy land. No other priority, except Belief, could be considered before it; the people of knowledge, Ibn Taymiyyah, stated: “to fight in defense of religion and Belief is a collective duty; there is no other duty after Belief than fighting the enemy who is corrupting the life and the religion. There are no preconditions for this duty and the enemy should be fought with one’s best abilities”. Ibn Taymiyyah , after mentioning the Moguls (Tatar) and their behavior in changing the Law of Allah, stated that: the ultimate aim of pleasing Allah, raising his word, instituting His religion and obeying His Messenger (sws) is to fight the enemy, in every aspect and in a complete manner; if the danger to the religion from not fighting is greater than that of fighting, then it is a duty to fight them even if the intention of some of the fighter is not pure i.e. fighting for the sake of leadership (personal gain) or if they do not observe some of the rules and commandments of Islam. The All Mighty stated: “And when Luqman said to his son while he admonish him: O my son! do not associate ought with Allah; most surely polytheism is a grievous iniquity.”(31:13)

Man fabricated laws were put forward permitting what has been forbidden by Allah such as usury (Riba) and other matters. Banks dealing in usury are competing, for lands, with the two Holy Places and declaring war against Allah by disobeying His order: “Allah has allowed trading and forbidden usury.” (2:275). All this taking place at the vicinity of the Holy Mosque in the Holy Land! Allah stated in His Holy Book a unique promise (that had not been promised to any other sinner) to the Muslims who deal in usury: “O you who believe! Be careful of your duty to Allah and relinquish what remains (due) from usury, if you are believers * But if you do (it) not, then be appraised of WAR from Allah and His Apostle” (2:278-279). This is for the "Muslim" who deals in usury (believing that it is a sin), what is it then to the person who make himself a partner and equal to Allah, legalising (usury and other sins) what has been forbidden by Allah. Despite of all of the above we see the government misled and dragged some of the righteous Ulamah and Da'ees away from the issue of objecting to the greatest of sins and Kufr. (We bemoan this and can only say: "No power and power acquiring except through Allah").

Under such circumstances, to push the enemy-the greatest Kufr- out of the country is a prime duty. No other duty after Belief is more important than the duty of had. Utmost effort should be made to prepare and instigate the Ummah against the enemy, the American-Israeli alliance - occupying the country of the two Holy Places and the route of the Apostle (sws) to the Furthest Mosque (Al-Aqsa Mosque). Also to remind the Muslims not to be engaged in an internal war among themselves, as that will have grieve consequences namely:

? consumption of the Muslims human resources as most casualties and fatalities will be among the Muslims people.
? Exhaustion of the economic and financial resources.
? Destruction of the country infrastructures
? Dissociation of the society
? Destruction of the oil industries. The presence of the USA Crusader military forces on land, sea and air of the states of the Islamic Gulf is the greatest danger threatening the largest oil reserve in the world. The existence of these forces in the area will provoke the people of the country and induces aggression on their religion, feelings and prides and push them to take up armed struggle against the invaders occupying the land; therefore spread of the fighting in the region will expose the oil wealth to the danger of being burned up. The economic interests of the States of the Gulf and the land of the two Holy Places will be damaged and even a greater damage will be caused to the economy of the world. I would like here to alert my brothers, the Mujahideen, the sons of the nation, to protect this (oil) wealth and not to include it in the battle as it is a great Islamic wealth and a large economical power essential for the soon to be established Islamic state, by Allah's Permission and Grace. We also warn the aggressors, the USA, against burning this Islamic wealth (a crime which they may commit in order to prevent it, at the end of the war, from falling in the hands of its legitimate owners and to cause economic damages to the competitors of the USA in Europe or the Far East, particularly Japan which is the major consumer of the oil of the region).
? Division of the land of the two Holy Places, and annexing of the northerly part of it by Israel. Dividing the land of the two Holy Places is an essential demand of the Zionist-Crusader alliance. The existence of such a large country with its huge resources under the leadership of the forthcoming Islamic State, by Allah's Grace, represent a serious danger to the very existence of the Zionist state in Palestine. The Nobel Ka'ba, -the Qiblah of all Muslims- makes the land of the two Holy Places a symbol for the unity of the Islamic world. Moreover, the presence of the world largest oil reserve makes the land of the two Holy Places an important economical power in the Islamic world. The sons of the two Holy Places are directly related to the life style (Seerah) of their forefathers, the companions, may Allah be pleased with them. They consider the Seerah of their forefathers as a source and an example for re-establishing the greatness of this Ummah and to raise the word of Allah again. Furthermore the presence of a population of fighters in the south of Yemen, fighting in the cause of Allah, is a strategic threat to the Zionist-Crusader alliance in the area. The Prophet (sws) said: (around twelve thousands will emerge from Aden/Abian helping -the cause of- Allah and His messenger, they are the best, in the time, between me and them) narrated by Ahmad with a correct trustworthy reference.

? An internal war is a great mistake, no matter what reasons are there for it. the presence of the occupier-the USA- forces will control the outcome of the battle for the benefit of the international Kufr.

Today your brothers and sons, the sons of the two Holy Places, have started their Jihad in the cause of Allah, to expel the occupying enemy (USA – leader of Zionist – crusader alliance) from the country of the two Holy places. And there is no doubt as good Muslims you would like to carry out this mission too, in order to re-establish the greatness of this Ummah and to liberate its' occupied sanctities. Nevertheless, it must be obvious to you that, due to the imbalance of power between our armed forces and the enemy forces, a suitable means of fighting must be adopted i.e. using fast moving light forces that work under complete secrecy. In other word to initiate guerrilla warfare, were the sons of the nation, and not the military forces, take part in it. And as you know, it is wise, in the present circumstances, for the armed military forces not to be engaged in a conventional fighting with the forces of the crusader enemy (the exceptions are the bold and the forceful operations carried out by the members of the armed forces individually, that is without the movement of the formal forces in its conventional shape and hence the responses will not be directed, strongly, against the army) unless a big advantage is likely to be achieved; and great losses induced on the enemy side (that would shaken and destroy its foundations and infrastructures) that will help to expel the defeated enemy from the country.

Analysis of Bin Laden’s views
Now, if we view the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center incident, we shall conclude that part of it is because of American ignorance of Islam, on the one hand. On the other hand, from a Muslim perspective, we have to understand why such people as Osama would have acted in that way. And if I might use a term that I don't really like, I think the Muslim world must understand what produces such persons. Muslims have to help Westerners understand that such person may not be acting in a widely accepted Islamic manner. But at the same time, Muslims need to try to understand such persons against a large corpus of Islamic writings, thought, etc. Because such persons are saying that what they did, what they do is justified in Islam.
They draw on a body of literature which is primarily interpretive, in my view. It's primarily interpretive. In other words, how does one interpret a text? If the text says, "Cut off the hands of the male and female thief," one might interpret that particular text as applicable in a situation of one stealing a pen as well as one stealing a million dollars.
What I'm saying here is if we take the text literally -- without knowing the Summa, without knowing the hadith, what was the prophet's practice, what did the ulema, the scholars say after that -- if we don't have a good view of the variety of interpretations of the text, then we cannot stand and say that those people are necessarily wrong within the context of Islam.
For example: "Fight those who fight against you." Some of those people who Americans call terrorists consider that they are fighting against those who fight against them; [that] the fight started long ago, and the fight continues. So they don't have to have a new justification. In their view, they don't need a new justification. I am saying here that we have a problem of interpretation. I don't want to stress this too far. But we do have a problem of interpretation. A text can be interpreted differently by different people. Those interpretations become legitimate to those who interpret the text in that manner. So we have several interpretations. Who's to say who's right?


Meaning of Jihad

Maulvi Chiragh Ali translates Sura 4, verse 97, as follows: “Good promises hath he made to all. But God hath assigned to the strenuous a rich recompense above those who sit still at home.”
The word strenuous here means to strive hard in the way of religion and does not imply offense in any meaning whatsoever.

Difference between Common Law and Revealed Law

There is no common code of civil and religious rules and dogmas as essentially and eternally unchangeable. The common code of Islam, or the Muhammadan system of jurisprudence, is the unwritten law of the Muhammadan community, compiled at a very late period, so that it cannot be considered as essentially and eternally unchangeable; nor can it be binding on any other nation than the Arabs, whose customs, usages, and traditions it contains, and upon which it is based. The Muhammadan Common Law is not to be confounded with the Muhammadan Revealed Law. The Muhammadan Common Law is the unwritten law that has been compiled from a very few verses of the Quern, as well as from the customs and usages of the country, supported by traditions contradictory in themselves, and based on the Ijma, or the unanimous consent of the Muslims. Those writers are greatly mistaken who either confound the Quern, the Muhammadan Revealed Law, with fiqh or Shariah; or think that the Quern contains the entire code of Islam; or that the Muhammadan Law, by which is invariably meant the Muhammadan Common Law, is infallible and unalterable. The Lex non-Scripta, or the Common Law of Islam, is an unwritten law, that is, not written by Prophet Muhammad (sws), nor dictated by him, nor compiled in his time, nor compiled even in the first century of hijrah, comprising those principles, usages, and rules of conduct applicable to the government and security of person and property, which do not depend for their authority and are not based on any express verse of the Quern or Revealed Law. In the case of Jihad, there has been a misinterpretation in the Common Law with regards to the Revealed Law. For a true understanding of the term Jihad both the interpretations of the Common Law and the Revealed Law should be in harmony.


Maulvi Chiragh refers to the misconception that Islamic and European thinkers think that a religious war of aggression is one of the tenets of Islam, and prescribed by the Quran for the purpose of proselytizing or exacting tribute (Jizyah) from the non-Muslims. According to Chiragh Ali’s understanding, Prophet Muhammad’s sole mission was to enlighten the Arabs to the worship of the one God, to recommend virtue and denounce vice, which he truly fulfilled. He asserts that all the wars waged by Prophet Muhammad (sws) were defensive wars for example to repel incursions, for the freedom of Muslims living unmolested at Mecca and Madina, for free intercourse to the Sacred Mosque and a free exercise of their religion by the Muslims. All the above raised questions are quite separate and irrelevant, and have nothing to do with the subject in hand i.e. the popular Jihad, or the crusade for the purpose of proselytizing, exacting tribute, and exterminating the idolaters, said to be one of the tenets of Islam. The noteworthy point is that all the defensive wars, and verses of the Quran relating to the same, were strictly temporary and transitory in their nature. They cannot be an example of, or be construed into a tenet or injunction for aggressive war, nor were they intended so to be. Even they cannot be an example for a defensive war to be waged by the Islamic community or commonwealth because all the circumstances under which Prophet Mohammad (sws) waged his defensive wars were local and temporary.

Common Law and Jihad

1) All the fighting injunctions in the Quran are, in the first place, only in self-defense and none of them has any reference to make warfare offensively. In the second place, it is to be particularly noted that they were transitory in their nature, and are not to be considered positive injunctions for future observance or religious precepts for coming generations. They were only temporary measures to meet the emergency of the aggressive circumstances. The Muhammadan Common Law is wrong on this point, where it allows the believers to attack the unbelievers without provocation on the latter’s behalf.

2) The Muhammadan Common Law makes the fighting only a positive injunction “where there is a general summons (that is, where the infidels invade a Musulman territory and the Imam for the time being issues a general proclamation requiring all persons to stand forth to fight) for in this case war becomes a positive injunction with respect to the whole of the inhabitants,”- this is sanctioned by the Law of Nations and the Law of Nature.

The Hedaya Quoted and Refuted

The Hedaya is a commentary on the Muhammadan Common Law by Nuraddin Ali of Murghinan which states: “The destruction of the sword is incurred by the infidels, although they be not the first aggressors, as appears from the various passages in the sacred writings which are generally received to this effect.”

Chiragh Ali’s Response:

This assertion is not borne out by the sacred injunctions of the Quran, and, on the contrary, is in direct contradiction to the explicit verses of the Quran. There are several passages in the Quran which expressly forbid the taking of offensive measures and enjoin only defensive wars. There are some verses pertaining to Jihad, which are not conditional. But the law of interpretation, the general scope and tenor of the Quran, and the context of the verses and parallel passages, all show that those few verses which are not conditional should be construed as conditional in conformity with other passages more clear, expressive and conditional, and with the general laws of scriptural interpretation. The methodology of pro-aggressive Jihad is that they quote verses which are absolute or unconditional and try to downplay the many conditional verses and the general pacifist attitude of the Quern. Chiragh Ali categorizes these verses in the following manner:

Limited, or Conditional General, or Absolute
Sura 22, 39-42 Sura 2, 245, (read together with 247)
Sura 2, 186-189, 212, 214 Sura 9, 124.
Sura 4, 76, 77, 78, 86, 91, 92,93 The context, parallel passages and their history,
Sura 8, 39-41, 58-66, 73, 74 show them to be limited and conditional, in
Sura 9, 1-15, 29, 36 conformity with the general scope of the Quran.

Rule of Interpretation
Now, there are only two verses in the Quran (Sura 2, v.245, and Sura 9, v.124) containing an absolute or non-conditional injunction for making war against non-Muslims. We might be able to detach some isolated portions or dislocate half verses from amongst these absolute verses but even then it does not allow Muslims to wage war against non-Muslims, unprovoked. There is a rule in the exegesis of the Quran, as well as in other scriptural interpretations, that when two commandments, one conditional, and the other general or absolute, are found on the same subject, the conditional is to be preferred, and the absolute should be construed as conditional, because the latter is more expressive of the views of the author than the general, which is considered as vague in its expression.
The rule is:

Where a passage is ambiguous or a verse in which the topic is slightly treated, or is in general terms, is preferred over what is revealed more clearly, or where a subject is more clearly discussed.

Analysis of Chiragh Ali’s Ideas
As is clearly obvious from the perusal of Chiragh Ali’s thesis, he is an extreme pacifist. Undoubtedly, Islam is a peace-promoting religion. However, Chiragh Ali goes too far in driving home this point to the West. There is a unanimous consensus and common sense dictates that yes, aggressive wars are not allowed in Islam. However, when the Muslim nation bears witness to injustice and oppression, Qital is to be undertaken by the Muslims at all costs. This condition should not be qualified for Muslim nations under oppression only but all people of all nations. This should not be the condition that a Hindu neighbor is being slaughtered to death and the Muslim next home is sleeping undisturbed. The Muslim should go and save the life of the Hindu and he should not be concerned that whether it is an aggressive action or a defensive one. This question would arise as he himself is not being attacked.
Secondly, according to Dr. Israr Ahmed, the Prophet’s (sws) first armed combat with the Quraish was not the Battle of Badr. In fact, he had fought strategic wars already, around eight of them, to incur losses on the Quraish. This is ample proof that Islam does not only permit defensive wars in all conditions. Whether the justification for fighting is solid or not is the question.


The Islamic Law of Jihad

Ghamidi attacks the problem at hand very systematically. He first lays down the Islamic Law of Jihad. According to this formulation, if a dispute between nations is solvable through negotiations, then there is no need of use of force. However, if some nation goes astray and attacks even the holy places of God then Jihad is to be undertaken. He supports this law by the following verse: “And had it not been that Allah checks one set of people with another, the monasteries and churches, the synagogues and the mosques, in which his praise is abundantly celebrated would have been utterly destroyed.” (22:40)

Jihad can be classified in the Quran in two distinct categories:

• Against injustice and oppression
• Against the rejecters of truth after it has been made manifestly clear to them
The first type of Jihad is an eternal directive of the Shariah (Divine Law). It is a universal concept so that oppression and injustice should never take place in this world for all times to come. The second type, however, is specific to people whom Allah selects for delivering the truth as an obligation. They are called witnesses to the truth; the implication being that they bear witness to the truth before other people in such a complete and ultimate manner that no one is left with and excuse to deny the truth. In technical Islamic jargon this process is known as Itmam-e-Hujjat. Bearing witness to the truth in such a manner is called shahadah. In the history of mankind, for the very last time this status was conferred on the Prophet Muhammad (sws) and his companions (rta). This is supported by the following verse: “And similarly, O Companions of the Prophet! We have made you an intermediate group so that you be witnesses [to this religion] before the nations, and the Rasul be such a witness before you.” (2:143). Once shahadah is complete and any person or group denies it, that person or group shall be punished through natural calamities such as storms, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or most importantly, by the swords of the believers.

Reason for lack of permission to wage Jihad in Mecca:

The words “those who have been driven out of their homes” in (22:39-40), clearly show that Muslims did not have God’s permission to wage Jihad before Migration. The reason for this is without political authority armed offensives tantamount to spreading anarchy and disorder in the land. In Mecca, Muslims were unable to acquire political authority in the form of a functioning Islamic state. To dispel the impression that Muslims were weak in Mecca, there is no doubt that God Almighty could have granted victory to the Muslims even in that number. This has been stated in the Quran in (8:65-6). However, the issue boils down to the point that Muslims could not engage in Jihad in Mecca as they had no political authority. The whole history of the Prophets of Allah bears witness to the fact that the prophets never took up arms in the absence of political authority. Prophet Moses (sws) never launched an armed offensive unless he was able to organize the Israelites in a separate piece of land. The case of Jesus is noteworthy. He never acquired political authority so he never took up an armed struggle. The preaching missions of the prophets Salih (sws), Hud (sws), Shuayb (sws), Lot (sws), Abraham (sws) and Noah (sws) satisfy the same basic principle i.e. no political authority-no Jihad. For this very reason the Meccan surahs of the Quran are devoid of any injunctions on Jihad. According to Ghamidi, had Prophet Muhammad acquired no political authority in his lifetime there would have been no verses on Jihad in the Quran as is the case with Injil (the New Testament). The Prophet (sws) is reported to have said: “A Muslim ruler is the shield [of his people]. An armed struggle can only be carried out under him and people should seek his shelter [in war].”(Bukhari: No. 2957)

The Permission for Jihad
“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”. (22:39-40)

This is the first verse of the Quran in which the Companions (rta) of the Prophet are given permission to fight against the Quraysh. The raison d’etre of this directive is obvious that the Muslims have been driven away from their homes and are falling prey to unfounded aggression. Hence, the permission for the Muslims to fight against the infidels.

Dr. Yusuf Qardawi
After discussing the views of a few scholars the discussion comes down to the impish question: Should the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims be of war or peace?

In other words, if non-Muslims are being nonviolent, harmless, harbor no grudge against Muslims, or aid an enemy of Muslims, should Muslims fight against them in such a case?

Or should Muslims only fight against those who attack them--that is, those who harm Muslims and their folks and try to deprive them of their money or property? Should Muslims fight against those who prevent them from propagating Islam, from carrying out their, stand in their way, and force those who newly embraced Islam to renounce it by harming and torturing them?

To put it in other words, what is the reason that led Muslims to fight against polytheists? Is it because of their disbelief in Allah? Or is it because of the harm polytheists did to Muslims in one way or the other?

The issue of Jihad is a real controversial one which Muslim scholars in contemporary and old times alike, held opposing views about. Unfortunately, Jihad in Islam became known to mean fighting against those who oppose Islam, be they polytheists, people of the book (Jews or Christians), atheists or seculars who dismiss religion in general. So it is wrongly thought that the abovementioned people should be fought against till they show complete submission and embrace Islam or pay Jizyah (poll-tax).

Nowadays, Muslim scholars and researchers should examine and analyze this controversial issue. They should examine the authentic texts instead of only citing the words of others--especially the modern-day writers. The misconceptions about Jihad should be examined accurately, doubtful matters should be proven decisively, and fundamental issues should replace secondary ones. In addition, a link should be made between texts especially those cited from the Glorious Qur’an. All related literature should be studied closely and, above all, examined 'in context'. Then, after discussing, reasoning, analyzing, and proving all the points, the nearest viewpoint to the collective legal texts and purposes, and that which will be of great benefit to the Muslim Ummah should be given preference.

It is worth mentioning that the controversy between scholars is about what is termed Jihad as a 'defensive' strategy and 'offensive' Jihad.

First, Jihad as a 'defensive' strategy means to strive in order to evacuate the Muslim land from the occupiers who attack it and occupy any part of the Muslim land. Undoubtedly, there is no disagreement regarding such a kind of Jihad. It is agreed upon by old and modern scholars that this kind of defensive Jihad is an obligation on all Muslims. The Ummah with all its doctrines, schools, and sects agree that armed Jihad should be resorted to in order to expel the occupier and emancipate the Muslim lands from the evils inflicted by him. The legitimacy of such a kind of Jihad and combat is universally accepted.

Now we move to the 'offensive' Jihad. In this kind of preemptive Jihad, Muslims march into the lands of the non-Muslims in order to avoid the harm they may cause in the future, and to secure the Ummah from mischief on the part of these non-Muslims. Muslims may resort to this Jihad to get through to the people in the non-Muslims lands to propagate Islam and convey to them its teachings. Further, Muslims may march into a non-Muslim territory to make it submit to the Islamic state and to the supremacy of the Islamic law which governs human life with its just legislation, and superior guidelines and instructions.

The Ruling of Fighting Against Peaceful People
In the present age, there is an issue that is considered to be one of the most important ones concerning physical Jihad. Probably it is the most important of all critical issues. That issue should be studied and examined well, and preference should be given to the most probable. This issue is the lawfulness of fighting against non-Muslims whom Muslims have peace with and who are being non-violent. Nevertheless, the examination of this issue should be done by the subjective viewing of the proofs derived from the Qur’an and from the sanctified Prophetic Tradition. Further, texts should be linked together, minor details should be related to major ones, secondary issues should be referred to the original ones, and the texts should be linked with the purposes intended from them. Then all the former points should be connected with the current life. In fact, true jurisprudence should be applied on reality for it aims at providing a legal solution for problematic issues. So jurisprudence offers solutions that are derived from the teachings of Islam solely.

How should Muslims deal with those who do them no harm, do not fight against them, do not expel them from their houses, and try to come upon them?

Throughout history, some Muslim scholars from the 'offensive school have argued that Muslims are obliged to spread Islam whenever there is a chance. Besides, those same scholars agreed that Muslims should conquer the countries of non-Muslims that fall under their control at least once in a year in order to demonstrate how powerful Islam is. Muslims should work at showing that Islam has the upper hand while the lower is that of the disbelievers. Further, Muslims should make non-Muslim states follow the Islamic rule in order to show its inhabitants how just the Islamic legislation and guidelines are. However, non-Muslims should be given the freedom to submit to Islam as a ruling system not as a creed, because according to Islam force should not be resorted to in such matters. Concerning this point, Allah, the Almighty, says:

"There is no compulsion in religion; truly the right way has become clearly distinct from error" (2: 256)

On the other hand, other Muslims jurists in throughout history agreed that according to Islam Muslims are forbidden to fight against non-Muslims who are in peace terms with them, did not fight them because of their faith, did not expel them from their homes, and did not try to come upon them.

The jurists who have adopted this notion believe that if non-Muslims did no harm to Muslims and they were peaceful instead, then Muslims would have no right to fight them. Besides, Muslims are ordered to give such a kind of non-Muslims their due rights and do them justice because Allah likes those who are just.

Nevertheless, the cases where Muslims are allowed to fight against non-Muslims are when they start fighting first, when they violate the privacy of Muslims, expel them from their homes, or hinder them from conveying the message of Islam. Also, Muslims are permitted to fight against non-Muslims when they confiscate Muslims' right to propagate Islam through providing clear evidence and proof. Qital is allowed when non-Muslims wage war against Muslims, or when they kill Muslim callers, these were the things done by the Romans and Persians.

Thereby, scholars and thinkers have divided into two parties concerning the issue of Jihad:

? The first party is pro-peace. They believe that as long as non-Muslims do not attack Muslims, try to tempt them to renounce their faith, prevent them from practicing their religion, or assault the helpless from amongst them or their allies, they should not be fought against. Those who adopt such a notion are called the 'defensive' school because they believe in Jihad as a defensive strategy, which should come as a result of any foreign attack (we have discussed this kind of Jihad earlier).

? The second party is pro-war. This party believes that fighting should be the essence of the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims. Members of this party think that non-Muslims should be fought against merely because they are disbelievers, not because of attacking Muslims or the message they are trying to convey. This party deems fighting non-Muslims right because they believe that Islam should be propagated, and it should make non-Muslim systems submit to its ruling. They consider that the Prophet’s expeditions and his Companions' were carried out for such a reason. This party is called the 'offensive' school because they disagree with the “defensive” school in the sense that Jihad is not only resorted to as a means of defense, rather they think that physical Jihad is the right decision supported by evidence from the Islamic guidelines. This party believes that Jihad is a message to the whole world that gives three choices, either to embrace Islam, pay Jizyah (poll-tax), or war.

The Legal types of offensive Jihad that are agreed upon:
In this point, I would like to tackle the debate between the moderates and the extremists, or the 'defensive' and the 'offensive' as some people describe them in this case. Actually, some of the advocates of the 'offensive' school were unfair with the 'defensive' one, where they attributed to them opinions that they did not give and have nothing to do with. For instance, they say that the 'defensive' advocates are against the preemptive Jihad and totally deny it no matter what the circumstances are. Besides the 'offensives' say that the 'defensives' think Jihad is only permissible if Muslims are being attacked in their own country. This is how the 'defensive' opinion is depicted.

I think that the above mentioned view of 'offensive' school about the 'defensive' one is unfair. Besides, there is a lack of honesty and accuracy in projecting the other party’s point of view. In fact, the person who reads the views of the 'defensive' he will find out that they acknowledge the preemptive Jihad, and waging war against non-Muslims in their own lands for a number of reasons, among them:

? To ensure the freedom of the Muslim call, to avert being forced to leave their religion, and to prevent the emergence of physical boundaries that may stand as an obstacle between people and learning about the message of Islam. For these reasons, the battles of the Caliphs and those who rightly followed them took place. So the true aim of the early Muslim battles was to eliminate the tyrannical powers that were oppressing people trying to deprive them of choosing what they wanted. The best example in this regard is what Pharaoh said to his people: You believe in him before I give you permission" (26:49); Therefore, Allah gives His instruction saying: "And fight them on until there is no more Tumult or oppression" (2:193).

? The second case why the 'defensive' acknowledged physical Jihad is when it brings about safety to the Muslim state and security its borders, especially when the state is being threatened by enemies who are plotting against it. Such a kind of fight is referred to in our age as 'the precautionary war'. This kind of war is considered to be an important strategy in a state, and a method to be followed in repulsing enemies. In the Prophet’s lifetime, most of the Islamic battles were under the category of precautionary war. To put it more clear, the Prophet’s fights took place after the Islamic state conflicted with the greatest of all empires; namely, the Roman and Persian ones. The expedition of Mu’tah and the battle of Tabuk marked the beginning of the fight with the Romans. Moreover, since Kashrus, the Persian king, tore the message of the Prophet (PBUH) into pieces and vowed him, the fight broke out between Muslims and the Persians.

? The 'defensives' approved of physical Jihad when it aims at saving the helpless from among Muslims who were taken as captives, or to liberate the minorities who are being oppressed by the unjust systems. In this regard, the Holy Qur'an reads:

"How should ye not fight for the cause of Allah and of the feeble among men and of the women and the children who are crying: Our Lord! Bring us forth from out this town of which the people are oppressors! Oh, give us from thy presence some protecting friend! Oh, give us from Thy presence some defender!' "(2:75)

If the Muslim state is capable of helping others, then it is mandatory upon it to rush to support the helpless and oppressed people if they asked for help, even if they were non-Muslims. In fact, saving the helpless is not only an ethical duty (that is followed in any society that is established on virtues and noble values), but it is also a legal obligation that should be done, be the oppressed a Muslim or a non-Muslim.

? Jihad is allowed in order to restore and preserve Islam within the Arab peninsula, the nucleus of the Muslim land. In Islam, that is a Divine will; in other words, Allah willed that Al-Hijaz province and all other parts of the Arab peninsula should be the secured resort that shall be sought by Muslims in times of hardships. This has been proven necessary through the crises and afflictions that took place during the history of the ummah.

In this regard, the verses of Surah (the chapter) of At-Tawba (The Repentance) were revealed where Allah told the disbelievers to wander in land for four months then they have to choose either between Islam, to depart the land, or to fight. These four months are what is called the sacred months because fight is prohibited in them. Allah says in the Holy Qur’an:

"Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.” At-Tawba, verse:5).

However, Allah willed that those Arabs were to embrace Islam before the passage of the four months. Thus, Islam spread all over the Arab peninsula, and all its inhabitants became Muslims who defended Islam and conveyed its message to the whole world.

This was another bliss bestowed by Allah on the Arabs in addition to the other privileges given by Him. For instance, the Qur'an is revealed in the Arabs' language, and the Messenger of Allah was sent to them. Besides, the Ka'bah, the holy shrine, and the Sacred Sanctuary, Prophet’s Mosque are located in the Arab lands. Further, the Arabs became the protectors of Islam and they conveyed its message to the world.

Underlining the Controversy between the Two Parties

What is the cause of the conflict between the two parties: the moderates and the extremists, 'defensive' and 'offensive', or the callers for peace and the callers for war?

The point which caused the conflict is whether Muslims should fight against non-Muslims who are peaceful, did not fight against Muslims because of their religion, did not expel them from their houses, and did not come upon them. Besides, should Muslims fight against non-Muslims whose words and deeds show no hatred against Muslims, rather they refrained from hurting Muslims be it by words or deeds?

The party of the moderates, or the 'defensive' school, says that those non-Muslims should not be fought against because they have done nothing that deserves such retaliation. Further, many Qur'anic verses order Muslims not to fight against non-Muslims. From among those verses:

"Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors."(2:190). In the same Surah, Allah says: "There is no compulsion in religion. The right direction is henceforth distinct from error." (2:256)

In Surah of Al-Imran, Allah says: " Say: O People of the Scripture! Come to an agreement between us and you: that we shall worship none but Allah, and that we shall ascribe no partner unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for lords beside Allah. And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are they who have surrendered (unto Him). "(3:64)

"Therefore if they withdraw from you but fight you not, and (instead) send you (Guarantees of) peace, then Allah Hath opened no way for you (to war against them)."(4:90)

A verse the same Surah also reads:"… if they withdraw not from you nor give you (guarantees) of peace besides restraining their hands, seize them and slay them wherever ye get them: In their case We have provided you with a clear argument against them." (4:91)

Allah says about the People of the Book (the Christians and the Jews) in Surah Al-Maeda: "… Thou wilt not cease to discover treachery from all save a few of them. But bear with them and pardon them. Lo! Allah loveth the kindly." (5:13)

Allah says in Surah Al-Anfal: "And if they incline to peace, incline thou also to it, and trust in Allah. Lo! He, even He, is the Hearer, the Knower: And if they would deceive thee, then lo! Allah is Sufficient for thee. He it is Who supporteth thee with His help and with the believers” (8:61-2).Mind that even if there is deception, Muslims are ordered to incline towards peace if the enemy did.
Further, Surah of At-Tawba (The Repentance) is a declaration of war against the disbelievers, who have breached the peace agreement with Muslims, so about them Allah says: " And if anyone of the idolaters seeketh thy protection (O Muhammad), then protect him so that he may hear the Word of Allah, and afterward convey him to his place of safety. That is because they are a folk who know not."(9:6) Also in the same Surah (Chapter) Allah says: "… except those with whom ye made a treaty near the sacred Mosque? As long as these stand true to you, stand ye true to them: for Allah doth love the righteous." (9:7) In Surah Al-Hijr, Allah says: "So proclaim that which thou art commanded, and withdraw from the idolaters.” (15:94).

Moreover, In Surah Al-Nahl, Allah says: "Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation, and reason with them in the better way. Lo! thy Lord is Best Aware of him who strayeth from His way, and He is Best Aware of those who go aright." (16:125)

In the same Surah Allah says:" And do thou be patient, for thy patience is but from Allah; nor grieve over them: and distress not thyself because of their plots."(16:127)

In Surah Al-Ahqaf, Allah says: "Therefore patiently persevere, as did (all) messengers of inflexible purpose; and be in no haste about the (Unbelievers). Then have patience (O Muhammad) even as the stout of heart among the messengers (of old) had patience, and seek not to hasten on (the doom) for them."(46:35)

In Surah (Chapter) Al-Mumtahina, Allah says: "Allah forbiddeth you not those who warred not against you on account of religion and drove you not out from your homes, that ye should show them kindness and deal justly with them. Lo! Allah loveth the just dealers. "(60:8)

All the abovementioned Qur'anic verses and many others are the evidence given by the ‘moderate party’ to prove that Islam is peaceful with those who are peaceful and is hostile with those who harbor grudge and hatred against Islam. Furthermore, Islam only fights against those who fight it and stand against its call and drive the believers to renounce their belief. On the other hand, the extremists who hold the contradictory notions deny those Qur'anic verses by a simple justification, but which is truly serious, as they say that all the former verses have been abrogated. They say that those verses were abrogated by a verse or a part of a verse that is revealed in surat At-Tawba ( 10:9). That verse is what is referred to as the verse of the sword.

Therefore, in order to clear all these misconceptions related to the verse of the sword we had to discuss this issue in details. Besides, this shows us that we should not take the misconceptions regarding major issues for granted.

The 'offensive' advocates say that fighting against the non-Muslims, or to put it in other words, the fight against the polytheists should not be resorted to due to an assault against the Muslims, tempting them to renounce their belief, or in order to secure propagating the message of Islam.
The 'offensive' advocates believe that physical Jihad should only be resorted to for one cause; namely, disbelief. In other words, they think that disbelief is a sufficient cause for Jihad. And if there are any other causes, they are to support the physical Jihad.

Personally, I am impressed by the views of Javed Ahmed Ghamidi and Dr. Yusuf Qardawi. Analyzing Ghamidi’s theory first, what strikes me as glaringly brilliant is the idea of Jihad for all times to come. According to him, here his views resemble Chiragh Ali’s , “the Quran is a saga of the prophetic mission in Arabia”. However, at the same time, he states emphatically that Jihad is a universal concept for all times to come. Wherever, there is injustice or oppression, Jihad is to be undertaken by the Muslim Ummah and to come to the rescue of the oppressed. Secondly, our conception or rather misconception of Jihad is that any splinter group in the Muslim Ummah can take up armed struggle against the non-Muslims. This is not right. As Ghamidi clearly points out, Jihad can only be undertaken by an Islamic state. He gives the examples of various other prophets who did not wage war as they had no political authority. Only Moses was given the permission to take up arms as he had been able to establish himself as a ruler. In that sense, Moses was like Prophet Muhammad (sws) while Jesus was not. Although all of the prophets had come to this world to correct evil doings but only a few of them were given the permission to fight. Secondly, another point made by Ghamidi is that until and unless the Truth is made manifestly clear to the non-Muslims they cannot be termed as kafirs. Only when the True Message has been made clear to them it can be said that Itmam-e-Hujjat is complete and now if anybody denies the True Message only he is to be termed as a kafir. And Jihad can only be undertaken against kafirun and not against non-Muslims to whom the message of Islam has not properly reached. This view is in direct contrast to the views of Syed Qutb and Osama Bin Laden who adopt an aggressive stance against innocent non-Muslim youth and children.
In my opinion, then, the so-called ‘jihadi’ organizations operating in Pakistan and in other Muslim countries are not justified in killing innocent civilians to gain independence from non-Islamic or undesirable governments. Taking the case of Kashmir and Palestine, the freedom struggle in these places should be non-violent and political in nature. In that way, although he was a Hindu, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi adopted an Islamic approach in my view in gaining independence from the British. Similarly, suicide bombings too cannot be condoned as they target innocent civilians. My main point to reiterate is that terrorism cannot be disguised as Jihad and qital cannot be undertaken unless and until some Muslim country goes to war with the West. Without state authority Jihad is no more than a terrorist activity. In the words of Imam Farahi:

In one’s own country, without migrating to an independent piece of land, Jihad is not allowed. The tale of Abraham (sws) and other verses pertaining to migration testify to this. The Prophet’s life (sws) also supports this view. The reason for this is that if Jihad is not waged by a person who holds political authority, it amounts to anarchy and disorder .

? Ghamidi, Javed. "'The Islamic Law of Jihad': Renaissance (2003)
? Ghamidi, Javed. "'The Permission for Jihad': Renaissance (2003)
? Laden, Osama. BIN LADEN’S FATWA. August 1996
? Moulavi Chiragh Ali. WAR AND PEACE : POPULAR JIHAD
? Saleem, Shehzad. Islam and Non-Muslims: A New Perspective: Renaissance (2002)
? http://www.islam-online.net/english/Contemporary/2003/10/article02_a.shtml

? http://www.mideastweb.org/osamabinladen2.htm

? http://www.renaissance.com.pk


Excerpt of an Analysis of Bin Laden’s Fatwa by Bernard Wasserstein
On February 23, 1998, Al-Quds al-Arabi, an Arabic newspaper published in London, printed the full text of a "Declaration of the World Islamic Front for Jihad against the Jews and the Crusaders." . . . The statement -- a magnificent piece of eloquent, at times even poetic Arabic prose -- reveals a version of history that most Westerners will find unfamiliar.Bin Ladin's grievances are not quite what many would expect. . . . Bin Ladin's grievances are not quite what many would expect. . . "The three areas of grievance listed in [Bin Laden's Feb 23] declaration -- Arabia, Iraq, and Jerusalem -- will be familiar to observers of the Middle Eastern scene. What may be less familiar is the sequence and emphasis. For Muslims, as we in the West sometimes tend to forget but those familiar with Islamic history and literature know, the holy land par excellence is Arabia -- Mecca, where the Prophet was born; Medina, where he established the first Muslim state; and the Hijaz, whose people were the first to rally to the new faith and become its standard-bearers. . . Thereafter, except for a brief interlude in Syria, the center of the Islamic world and the scene of its major achievements was Iraq, the seat of the caliphate for half a millennium. For Muslims, no piece of land once added to the realm of Islam can ever be finally renounced, but none compares in significance with Arabia and Iraq. . ." After the success of the jihad and the recapture of Jerusalem, Saladin and his successors seem to have lost interest in the city. In 1229, one of them even ceded Jerusalem to the Emperor Frederick II as part of a general compromise agreement between the Muslim ruler and the Crusaders. Jerusalem was retaken in 1244 after the Crusaders tried to make it a purely Christian city, then eventually became a minor provincial town. Widespread interest in Jerusalem was reawakened only in the nineteenth century, first by the European powers' quarrels over custody of the Christian holy places and then by new waves of Jewish immigration after 1882. . . "To most Americans, the declaration is a travesty, a gross distortion of the nature and purpose of the American presence in Arabia. They should also know that for many -- perhaps most -- Muslims, the declaration is an equally grotesque travesty of the nature of Islam and even of its doctrine of jihad. . ."
Foreign Affairs, Nov 1998

Share |

Copyright Studying-Islam © 2003-7  | Privacy Policy  | Code of Conduct  | An Affiliate of Al-Mawrid Institute of Islamic Sciences ®

eXTReMe Tracker