Jihad- The Strenuous Endeavour:
Jihad is derived from the Arabic word ‘Juhd’, which means “effort”. The verb Jahida means ‘to be tried as a result of exerting an effort or energy; making endeavor; so Jihad is to contend with difficulties and to work continually. Strenuous Efforts (Jihad) made sincerely for advancement of the cause of Allah, though not included among five pillars of Islam; but it is an important element of the Faith (ayman, Belief). Allah says: “The true believers are those who believe in Allah and His Messenger, then never doubt; and make Jihad (exert their efforts) with their wealth and their persons in the cause of Allah. Such are the ones who are truthful in their claim to be the believers.”(Qur’an;49:15). The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The head of the matter is Islam, its pillar is the prayer, and the top of its hump is striving (Jihad) in the way of Allah.”(Fiqh As-Sunnah: 1.75). Jihad has wider meanings, it does not necessarily mean armed struggle against oppression and self defence only but other peaceful means are also included. The specific word used exclusively for warfare is Qitaal (Qur’an;2:216-217) or Qatelu, wa-Qatalu (Qar’an;4 89-91). Muslims are urged to conduct the Bigger Jihad (Jihad Kabira), through Qur’an. Allah says: “therefore, do not yield to the unbelievers, and make Jihad (strive) against them with this Qur’an, a mighty Jihad.”(Qur’an;25:52). The scholars have identified three main forms of Jihad, the First and foremost Jihad is to; ‘Strive against Selfish Desires’ (Nafs ammarah), to purify the heart, so that the faith (Ayman) of Islam is deeply rooted in the heart, to become fully subservient to the commands of God. Jihad is a life-long mission for the Muslims as a community to struggle against all evils, socio-economic, cultural, educational, political dogmas; superstitious and mythological concepts; and directing the Muslims towards obedience to Allah, enlightenment, refinement, progress, dignified character and honest actions. Second category of Jihad is, making strenuous efforts (Jihad) to convey the Last message of God (Islam) to the humanity(Dawah) using all means, sacrificing wealth or self being for the cause of God. Allah says: “Thus We have appointed you (Muslims) a middle nation, that ye may be witnesses against mankind, and that the messenger may be a witness against you.”(Qur’an;2:143); “We have given the Book as an inheritance to those of Our servants (Muslims) whom We have chosen”.(Qur’an;35:32). The Prophet (peace be upon him) in his last sermon said: “O’ People, no prophet or apostle will come after me and no new faith will be born. … All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly”. As true followers of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), it is the obligation of Muslims to pass on the Guidance and the Religion of Truth (Islam) to the humanity. This is a great responsibility so Muslims have to gain knowledge of Islam, practice it and then convey it to the humanity. The true believers may expect reward for their good deeds and salvation.
The third and top noblest form of Jihad is to fight in self defense, against oppression. Allah says: “Fight in the cause of Allah with those who fight against you, but do not exceed the limits. Allah does not like transgressors. Kill them wherever they confront you in combat and drive them out of the places from which they have driven you. Though killing is bad, creating mischief is worse than killing. Do not fight them within the precincts of the Sacred Mosque unless they attack you there; but if they attack you put them to the sword; that is the punishment for such unbelievers. If they cease hostility, then surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. Fight against them until there is no more disorder and Allah’s supremacy is established. If they desist, let there be no hostility except against the oppressors.”(Qur’an;2:190-193). Islam urges the believers to show kindness and equity to non aggressor non Muslims: Allah says:
“As for such of the unbelievers who do not fight against you on account of your faith, and neither drive you forth from your homelands, Allah does not forbid you to show them kindness and to behave toward them with full equity. Indeed Allah loves those who act equitably. Allah only forbids you to make friendship with those who fought you on account of your faith and drove you out of your homes and backed up others in your expulsion. Those who will take them for friends are indeed the wrongdoers”(Qur’an;60:8-9).
The tyrant rulers of the old, (especially in Arabia and around) did not allow Muslims to preach and those who embraced Islam were oppressed, killed or expelled; such people had to be subdued. According to traditional Islamic scholars, the world was divided into three zones: the House of Islam (Dar-ul-Islam), where Muslims are ascendant; the House of Peace(Dar-ul-Aman), those powers with whom Muslims have peace agreements; and the House of War(Dar-ul-Harab), the rest of the world. Allah says: “Permission to fight back is hereby granted to the believers against whom war is waged and because they are oppressed (before this revelation, Muslims were not allowed to fight even for self defence); certainly Allah has power to grant them victory- those who have been unjustly expelled from their homes only because they said, “Our Lord is Allah.” Had not Allah repelled some people by the might of others, the monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which Allah’s praise is daily celebrated, would have been utterly demolished. Allah will certainly help those who help His cause; most surely Allah is Mighty, Powerful.”(Qur’an;22:39-40); “Warfare (Qitaal) is ordained for you, though it is hateful unto you; but it may happen that ye hate a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that ye love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows, ye know not.”(Qur’an;2:216); “And what reason do you have not to fight in the cause of Allah, to rescue the helpless oppressed old men, women, and children who are crying: “Our Lord! Deliver us from this town whose people are oppressors; send us a protector by Your grace and send us a helper from Your presence?”(Qur’an;4:75).
In the present world all the nations are members of United Nations Organization and signatory to its charter of peaceful coexistence and basic human rights, whereby every human being is free to adopt and practice any faith. Hence now whole world may be termed as House of Peace (Dar-ul-Aman) except some zones where people are oppressed.
According to the traditional procedure of Allah, if a Messenger (Rasool) himself delivers the message of guidance to the community or nations, and they became rebellious by refusing to accept it: then those nations and communities were entitled to divine punishment. (Qur’an; 5:33-34, 11:117, 13:32, 28:59, 65:8, 73:15-16). Allah says: “But those who disobey Allah and His Messenger and transgress His limits will be admitted to a fire, to abide therein: and They shall have a humiliating punishment.”(Qur’an;4:14). Besides punishment in hereafter, the punishment in this world is either through the followers of the messenger if they are strong enough, but if they are weak in numbers and strength then the Divine punishment befalls upon them through natural calamites resulting in their destruction. The example of Divine punishment to the nations of Noah, Aad, Samood and Lot (peace be upon them) in the form of destruction through natural calamities like floods, earthquakes, tornados etc are well recorded in Bible and Qur’an. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), prior to his death (632 C.E) had invited the rulers of neighboring powers to Islam through epistles and emissaries. Those who responded negatively, they were entitled for Divine punishment as per the tradition of God. After Prophet (peace be upon him), this pending task was accomplished by his successors by subduing the Byzantine and Persian empires. It is no more applicable now. Apart from Divine punishment the object of Jihad was not to coerce them to accept Islam, but to ensure that freedom of choice is provided to the people of neighboring areas to choose between truth (Haqq) and falsehood (Batil), forced conversion is prohibited by Qur’an;2:256. The non Muslims always enjoyed freedom of faith as protected citizens under Muslim rule. It is incorrect to consider every war fought by Muslims as Jihad. Jihad is the struggle only for the cause of Allah (jihad-fi-sabi-lillah): the concept of Jihad was nevertheless, used by some medieval Muslim rulers (even presently by some groups) to justify wars motivated by self power, sectarianism, geographical and economic ambitions.
The warfare for the cause of Allah (Qital) has always been permissible, and as such mentioned in the previous scriptures, Allah says: “Lo! Allah hath bought from the believers their lives and their wealth because the Garden will be theirs: they shall fight in the way of Allah and shall slay and be slain. It is a promise which is binding on Him in the Torah and the Gospel and the Qur’an. Who fulfills His covenant better than Allah? Rejoice then in your bargain that ye have made, for that is the supreme triumph.”(Qur’an;9:111 also mentioned likewise at 2:54, 5:21-22, 5:26,2:251). The Bible declares; “And you shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall chase ten thousand; and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.”(Leviticus;26:7-8);“Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”(1Samel;15:3); “slay utterly the old man, the young man and the virgin, and little children and women; but come not near any man upon whom is the mark: and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the old men that were before the house.”(Ezakhel;9:6). Also mentioned at Psalm;149:6-9, Hebrews;11:32-34, Numbers; 31:17-18, 31:35, Joshua;6:21, 10:28. In the New Testament the Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) says: “But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them before me.”(Luke;19:27), “Don’t think that I came to send peace on the earth. I didn’t come to send peace, but a sword.”Mathew;10:34); “Do you think that I have come to give peace in the earth? I tell you, no, but rather division.”(Luke;2:51); “”I came to throw fire on the earth. I wish it were already kindled.”(Luke;12:49);“Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, nay; but rather division.”(Luke;12:51).“And, behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priests, and cut off his ear.”(Mathew;26:51).
Killing of Muslims brothers on sectarian or other people due o their different beliefs, is terrorism; it is not correct to malign Jihad in such heinous activities because the menace of sectarianism is totally rejected by Islam: Allah says: “Surely those who divide the religion into sects and identify themselves as a sect, O Muhammad, you have nothing to do with them. Their case will be called to account by Allah Himself, He will inform them as to what they did.”(Qur’an;6:159);“Be not like those who became divided into sects and who started to argue against each other after clear revelations had come to them. Those responsible for division and arguments will be sternly punished” (Qur’an;3:105);“In fact, your religion is one religion, and I am your only Lord: so fear Me Alone. Yet people have divided themselves into factions and each faction rejoices in its own doctrines – well! Leave them in their heedlessness for an appointed time. Do they think that, in giving them wealth and children, We are eager for their welfare? By no means! They do not understand the reality of the matter.”(Qur’an;23:52-56);“those who divide their religion into sects and become separate groups, each group rejoicing in its own circle. When an affliction befalls the people, they turn in prayer to their Lord in repentance. But when He let them taste a blessing from Him, lo! Some of them begin to ascribe other powers a share in their Sustainers divinity, showing no gratitude for What We have given them. Enjoy yourselves; soon you will find out your folly.”(Qur’an;30:32-34). Reconciliation among Muslims brothers in conflict, is to be done with fairness and Justice: Allah says: “If two parties among the believers fall into mutual fighting, make peace between them. Then if one of them transgresses against the other, fight the one who has transgressed until he returns to the commands of Allah. Then, if he returns, make peace between them with justice and be fair; for Allah loves those who are fair and just. The believers are brothers to one another, therefore, make reconciliation between your brothers and fear Allah, so that you may be shown mercy.”(Qur’an;49:9-10).
In the 20th century the concept of jihad inspired Muslims in their struggle against Western colonialism, which still continues in different forms. While the theological legality of armed struggles (commonly referred as Jihad) being conducted by various armed groups against oppression and foreign occupation may have justification, but the mode of conduct of warfare in violation of principles set forth in Islam remains a hot topic of intense debate and controversies among Muslim and non Muslim thinkers. Killing of innocent people is strictly prohibited; human life of Muslims and non Muslims alike, has a very high place in Islam, Allah says:
“whoever kills a person, except as a punishment for murder or mischief in the land (through judiciary), it will be written in his book of deeds as if he had killed the mankind and whoever will save a life shall be regarded as if he gave life to all the mankind.”(Qur’an;5:32)
Killing of religious people, women, children, aged, sick people, animals and even cutting of trees is prohibited.(Al Muwata Hadith. Number;21.10). Suicide is not permissible (Qur’an;4:29, Sahih Al Bukhari Hadith Numbr:8.126). Killing by burning is not allowed (Sahih Al Bukhari, Hadith, Number.4.260); mutilation of the dead bodies is prohibited (Sahih Muslim Hadith.804); safe conduct: is to be fulfilled: (Al Muwata Hadith, Number.21.12). Islam is the faith of Peace, the peace offer has to be accepted: “If the enemy is inclined towards peace, do make peace with them, and put your trust in Allah. He is the One Who hears all , knows all.”(Qur’an;8:61), Grant of asylum is allowed: “If one amongst the Pagans ask Thee for asylum, grant it to him, so that He may Hear the word of Allah. and then escort Him to where He can be secure. that is because They are men without knowledge.”(Qur’an;9:6). Creating mischief on the earth by killing innocents on the name of Jihad, amounts to malign the noble concept. Allah does not like mischief, He says : “.. and do not seek mischief in the land, for Allah does not love the mischief makers.”(Qur’an;28:77); “When it is said to them: “Do not make mischief on earth,” they say: “We make peace. Be aware! They are the ones who make mischief but they do not realize it.”(Qur’an;2:11-12 similarly also at 2:60, 206, 3:63, 7:56). Allah says: “The punishment for those who wage war against Allah and His Apostle and strive to create mischief in the land is death or crucifixion or the cutting off their hands and feet from opposite sides or exile from the land based on the gravity of their offense. This will be their humiliation in this world and in the Hereafter they will have grievous punishment,”(Qur’an;5:33). It is generally agreed that on failure of peace efforts, Jihad (for the cause of Allah Only) be declared by the Caliph or the Muslim ruler in consultation with the religious scholars keeping all the factors in view so that there is no deviation from the command of Allah and His Apostle (peace be upon him). The principles of warfare laid down by Islam must be adhered to. The noble concept of Jihad as defined by Qur’an has nothing to do with the terrorism, as practiced by some groups maligning Islam.