Foreign Policy

Clarifying the meaning of Jihad

‘Jihad’ is extracted from the source, ‘Jaahada’ and it measured upon the fourth verb structure, which means interaction between two sides, al-Mufa’ala. Another example is ‘Al-Khisaam’ which means to quarrel and is extracted from its roots source – Khaasama. Also, there is the example of ‘Jidaal’, which means to discuss or to argue and is taken from the root source ‘Jaadala’.
In the tongue of the Arabs, al-Jihad means, ‘exerting ability and effort to do an action or express opinions’.

In Al-Munjid, the words Jaahada, Mujaahada and Jihadan means, ‘exerting effort and ability to push the other away’. In the Tafseer of al-Naysaboori it is clearly stated that ‘al-Jihad’ means to exert effort to achieve the objective or what is intended.

After all of these related definitions of the word ‘al-Jihad’ in the language, it is possible to give a clear linguistic definition, which is: ‘al-Jihad is the exerting of all effort and ability between two sides by the least.’

Based on the linguistic definition, the exerted effort could be via material weapons or without a weapon, with money or without money. Also it could be the struggle between two opposing desires exerting effort (Jihad) to overcome the other. It could also be by words and could be by refusing to do an action or to speak. An example of this is like the one who disobeys his parents when they order him to disobey Allah (Subhanna Wa Ta'ala) and the person becomes patient and perseveres when his parents insist in ordering him. And it is like the one who abstains from committing a haram desire when his nafs calls him to it. This is what is mentioned in Hashiyat Al-Jamal in al-Jalalayn: “Jihad is to have patience on difficulties. It could be during war and it could be inside the nafs.”

Based on this linguistic definition, the opponent that the Muslim engages Jihad against could be his own nafs, or the shaiytan, or the transgressor or the kuffar. Additionally, by this definition, Jihad could also be that which is in the way of Allah (Subhanna Wa Ta'ala) ‘Fi Sabeel Lillah’’. So the Jihad could be undertaken to please Allah (Subhanna Wa Ta'ala) or to please the shaiytan, like the Jihad of the Kuffar against others. Al-Naysaboori, wrote, “It is exerting effort to achieve the objective or what is intended regardless of the nature of the objective intended by the one who is exerting the effort.” The Quran used the word ‘Jihad’ in describing the activity of the kaafir fathers to make their believing children reject true belief. Allah (Subhanna Wa Ta'ala) says:

وَإِن جَاهَدَاكَ عَلى أَن تُشْرِكَ بِي مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ فَلَا تُطِعْهُمَا

“If they do Jihad to make commit association with me…do not obey them” (tmq Surah Luqman 31:15)

In the Shariyah, the word ‘al-Jihad’ was transferred from the general linguistic meaning to a special confined (restricted) meaning in the Quran and the Sunnah. It is, “the exerting of the effort to fight in the Way of Allah directly or by financial aid, or opinion and the like” This special meaning of Jihad was given in Medina. In Mecca, the legislation concerning Jihad was not revealed and that is why the subject of Jihad in the Mecci surahs carries the general linguistic meaning. They are the three verses (ayaat) in Surah al-Ainkaboot:

وَمَن جَاهَدَ فَإِنَّمَا يُجَاهِدُ لِنَفْسِهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَغَنِيٌّ عَنِ الْعَالَمِين

“And if any struggle ‘Jaahid’ (with might and main), they do so for their own souls: for Allah is free of all needs from all creation.” (tmq 29:6)

وَإِن جَاهَدَاكَ لِتُشْرِكَ بِي مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ فَلَا تُطِعْهُمَا إِلَيَّ مَرْجِعُكُمْ فَأُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ

“But if they (either of them) struggle ‘Jaahada’ (to force) you to join with Me (in worship) anything of which you have no knowledge, obey them not. You have (all) to return to me, and I will tell you (the truth) of all that ye did.” (tmq 29:8)

وَالَّذِينَ جَاهَدُوا فِينَا لَنَهْدِيَنَّهُمْ سُبُلَنَا وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ لَمَعَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

“And those who strive in Our cause ‘Jaahadu’- We will certainly guide them to our Paths: For verily Allah is with those who do right.” (tmq 29:69)

Also in surah Luqman verse 15, the word Jihad is used in the linguistic context. Regarding the verse in surah Al-Nahl talking about Jihad, it mentioned ‘al-Hijra’, which means that this is a Madani verse in a Mecci surah (chapter) – and this was mentioned by the al-Mufasiroon. The verse is:

ثُمَّ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ لِلَّذِينَ هَاجَرُواْ مِن بَعْدِ مَا فُتِنُواْ ثُمَّ جَاهَدُواْ وَصَبَرُواْ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ مِن بَعْدِهَا لَغَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

“But verily Your Lord- those who leave their homes after trials and persecutions,- and who thereafter struggle ‘Jaahadu’ and fight for the faith and patiently persevere,- Your Lord, after all this is oft-forgiving, Most Merciful”. (tmq 16:110)

The subject of Jihad in Medina occurs 26 (twenty-six) times and the majority of them carry the clear meaning of Fighting, ‘Qitaal’. From these verses are:

لاَّ يَسْتَوِي الْقَاعِدُونَ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ غَيْرُ أُوْلِي الضَّرَرِ وَالْمُجَاهِدُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنفُسِهِمْ فَضَّلَ اللّهُ الْمُجَاهِدِينَ بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنفُسِهِمْ عَلَى الْقَاعِدِينَ دَرَجَةً وَكُـلاًّ وَعَدَ اللّهُ الْحُسْنَى وَفَضَّلَ اللّهُ الْمُجَاهِدِينَ عَلَى الْقَاعِدِينَ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا

“Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons. Allah has granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit (at home). To all (in Faith) has Allah promised good. But those who strive and fight has He distinguished above those who sit (at home) by a special reward.” (tmq 4:95)

It is clear in this verse that al-Jihad is in the meaning of going out to fight and that it is better than staying at home. Also from the verses about Jihad in surah Al-Tawba:

انْفِرُواْ خِفَافًا وَثِقَالاً وَجَاهِدُواْ بِأَمْوَالِكُمْ وَأَنفُسِكُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ ذَلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

“Go forth, (whether equipped) lightly or heavily, and strive and struggle, with your goods and your persons, in the cause of Allah. That is best for you, if you (but) knew.” (tmq 9:41)

The order of ‘Nafr’ (going out) means that Jihad is fighting.

لَـكِنِ الرَّسُولُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ مَعَهُ جَاهَدُواْ بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنفُسِهِمْ وَأُوْلَـئِكَ لَهُمُ الْخَيْرَاتُ وَأُوْلَـئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ

“But the Messenger, and those who believe with him, strive and fight with their wealth and their persons: for them are (all) good things: and it is they who will prosper.” (tmq 9:88)

Also in surah Al-Saf, after mentioning fighting (Jihad) at the beginning, Allah (Subhanna Wa Ta'ala) says:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الَّذِينَ يُقَاتِلُونَ فِي سَبِيلِهِ صَفًّا كَأَنَّهُم بُنيَانٌ مَّرْصُوصٌ

“Truly Allah loves those who fight in His Cause in battle array, as if they were a solid cemented structure.” (tmq 61:4)

It is clear in the Madani verses that the subject of Jihad is specifically related to fighting and what fighting entails naturally from finance, weapons and the like. Also these verses demonstrate aspects of the conditions that precede the action of fighting and are conditional for its legality i.e. propagating the invitation for non-Muslims to embrace Islam (as this is the original condition for fighting as has been mentioned in ‘Mughni al-Muhtaj) and/or accept the Islamic authority over them. From the Sunnah of Muhammad (Salalahu Alaihi Wasallam), Jihad has been mentioned also with this shariyah meaning i.e. fighting and what it entails.

On the authority of Abi Hurayrah, who said: “People asked, “Oh Rasoolallah, tell us about an action that is equal to the Jihad fi Sabeel Lillah?” Muhammad (Salalahu Alaihi Wasallam) replied, “You will not find it bearable.” They replied, “Tell us oh Rasoolallah, maybe we can be able to withstand it.” Muhammad (Salalahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “The example of a mujahid Fi Sabeel Lillah is like the fasting man, the one who stays up at its night and prays and the one who is obedient to the verses of Allah, does not get tired of fasting, nor stops sadaqah until the mujahid returns back to his family.”

It is clear from the wording of the hadith that the question was about the mujahid with the meaning of the fighter in the Way of Allah (Fi Sabeel Lillah) specifically. The answer also indicated the same meaning when Muhammad (Salalahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “Until the mujahid returns back to his family” i.e. returns back from the fighting. Also by the authority of Jaabir, that the people asked Muhammad (Salalahu Alaihi Wasallam), “Which Jihad is better?” He (Salalahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “The one in which one’s horse is wounded and one’s blood is split in it.” On the authority of ibn Abbas, he said that Muhammad (Salalahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “When your brothers were killed in the battle of Uhud, Allah put their souls inside green birds that wonder inside Jannah landing on the rivers of Jannah and eats from its fruits. When they see how they spend their time and they look at their food and drink and how great it was, they say, ‘How we wish that our people know about how Allah rewarded us, so that they may love Jihad and not refrain from it.’ So then Allah says to them that, ‘I will tell you people and your brothers on your behalf.’ So they became happy with that news.” Allah (Subhanna Wa Ta'ala) sent this in surah Al-Imran on the occasion of the Battle of Uhud:

وَلاَ تَحْسَبَنَّ الَّذِينَ قُتِلُواْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ أَمْوَاتًا بَلْ أَحْيَاء عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ يُرْزَقُونَ

“Think not of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord.” (tmq 3:169)

From all of these shariyah texts, it is clear that the Legislator transferred the word Jihad from its general linguistic meaning to a special meaning, which is ‘al-Qitaal’ (fighting) and whatever is linked to it directly and indirectly, as has been mentioned earlier. Moreover, it relates to the words, which carry the same meaning of al-Jihad like war. From this we can see that the shariyah texts defined Jihad as fighting (qitaal) in the Way of Allah (Fi Sabeel Lillah) and this can be found in the books of fiqh, which dealt with the shariyah meaning of Jihad and laws related to it.

In Badi’ul Sanai’ of the Hanafi Mazhab, it states the following: “Jihad in the language is exerting effort. In the understanding of the Shara, it is exerting effort and energy in fighting fi sabeel lillah by nafs, finance, tongue or another.”

In Manhul Jaleel of the Maliki Mazhab, al-Jihad is defined as the, “fighting by a Muslim against a kaafir (who does not have a treaty with the Muslims) to make the word of Allah the highest…. or for a Muslim to arrive to do Jihad or to enter the Kaafir’s land for fighting.” Ibn Arafa defined this.

According to the Shafi Mazhab in Al-Iqna, Jihad is fighting ‘Fi Sabeel Lillah’. Al-Shirazi in Al-Muhazab said that Jihad is ‘qitaal’.

In Al-Mughni according to the Hanbali Mazhab, Ibn Qudama did not give any other definition. In the section ‘kitab ul-Jihad’ whatever is related to war, whether it was fard ul-kifaya (collective obligation) or fard ul-ayn (individual obligation) or whether it was in the form of guarding the believers from the enemy and the guards ‘ribat’ at the borders, all of this is connected to Jihad. He also said, “If the enemy arrives, Jihad becomes fard ul-ayn on the murabitoon (border guards). If it becomes evident that the enemy arrived, then they do not leave to meet them except by an order of the Ameer, since the Ameer is the one who has the authority for issuing orders in the matters of war.”

So it is clear that the meaning of Jihad was transferred from the linguistic to the shariyah meaning, such that it was understood to mean fighting and nothing else. Such purity and clarity over its meaning today is clearly vague, from what is heard from the lips of rulers over the Islamic lands and even amongst the Muslim ummah itself, as a result of the dominance and pollution of western political thought and reeling from a defeatist mentality that seeks to be apologetic.

So what emerged and dominated the opinion were those who sincerely but incorrectly took Jihad as the rule for all matters whilst others reduced Jihad as a matter connected to defending the ‘nafs’ and identity i.e. defensive fighting as opposed to offensive fighting. Others went further to say that Jihad is of the ‘nafs’ and overcoming desires only, calling it the ‘Great Jihad’, further saying that it is better than the small Jihad which is ‘qitaal’ (fighting). Such are those that have become lazy and feeble, with their hearts filled with the fear of the enemy.

So the protection of the Deen, hatred of the Kuffar and the love of Jihad has become replaced with the protection of the nation-state (nationalism), pleasing the colonialists and the love of excessive material gain. Since these incorrect concepts have become common between Muslims and the clear definition of Jihad is absent from the minds, the incentive and love to do Jihad, for many, has died (though the increased hostility and aggression of the western nations in the Islamic lands has served to re-kindle the correct desire).

It is, therefore, naturally important to clarify this matter such that the Muslims are able to refute the erroneous misunderstandings that exist, refute false claims and rekindle the love of Jihad.

Greater/Smaller Jihad

Firstly, the common understanding of Muslims is that Jihad is divided into two sections: Jihad ul-Akbar (the ‘Greater Jihad’), which is connected to Jihad ul-Nafs i.e. fighting the inner desires and shaiytan etc… Jihad ul-Asghar (the ‘Smaller Jihad’), which is fighting the kaafir enemy in battles and what is related to it.

Of the evidences that are quoted from the Islamic texts, the main one is the hadith, where Muhammad (Salalahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “We have arrived from the small Jihad to the great Jihad”. So they asked, “What is the great Jihad?” He (Salalahu Alaihi Wasallam) replied, “It is Jihad ul-Nafs (against the inner self).”

In another narration, Muhammad (Salalahu Alaihi Wasallam) referred to the “…Jihad of the slave against his desires.”

Though it is correct that there is a Jihad against the nafs, like against shaiytan, however, it is not greater in the sight of Allah (Subhanna Wa Ta'ala) from the physical Jihad against the Kuffar and it (Jihad ul-Nafs) does not cancel nor invalidate it.

This Jihad against the Kaafir enemies is continuous until the Day of Judgment as is the Jihad against the nafs also continuous until the Day of Judgement. But one should know that the evidences of doing Jihad against the nafs are different to the evidences of Jihad against the Kuffar.

Each has a situation different from the other (context) and it is not permitted to mix the two or to use the evidence of one for the other or to change one in place of the other. Rather there is a need for each, but in its correct context and each of them is a responsibility when put in their correct contexts.

This is why saying that ‘Jihad ul-nafs’ is better and greater in the sight of Allah (Subhanna Wa Ta'ala) is both very dangerous and an outright mistake, which contradicts the understanding of Jihad in the Way of Allah.

It is invalid from many angles:

1. Jihad has two meanings as mentioned previously, a linguistic and a shariyah meaning. Jihad of the nafs comes under the linguistic meaning and not the shariyah meaning.

2. The evidences used to say that Jihad ul-nafs is greater than Jihad against the Kuffar cannot be used to prove this and this is clear from the reality of the evidences that are used. This is because,

a. The hadith is ‘mardood riwayatan’

b. The hadith is ‘mardood dirayatan’

With regards to its invalidation from narration that is because the hadith is weak ‘Da’eef’ as is clarified in Al-Ajmi Al-Saghir by Imam Suyuti. As for its invalidation by meaning that is because it is contradicting definite text, which makes Jihad Fi Sabeel Lillah obligatory and makes it the greatest of action.

This can be seen from three aspects:

a. The verses that mention the value of the Jihad Fi Sabeel Lillah and that it is from the best actions like the verse:

لاَّ يَسْتَوِي الْقَاعِدُونَ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ غَيْرُ أُوْلِي الضَّرَرِ وَالْمُجَاهِدُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنفُسِهِمْ فَضَّلَ اللّهُ الْمُجَاهِدِينَ بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنفُسِهِمْ عَلَى الْقَاعِدِينَ دَرَجَةً وَكُـلاًّ وَعَدَ اللّهُ الْحُسْنَى وَفَضَّلَ اللّهُ الْمُجَاهِدِينَ عَلَى الْقَاعِدِينَ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا

“Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons. Allah has granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit (at home). To all (in Faith) has Allah promised good. But those who strive and fight has He distinguished above those who sit (at home) by a special reward.” (tmq 4:95)

b. The verses that praise Jihad and the Mujahideen Fi Sabeel Lillah like the verse,

لَـكِنِ الرَّسُولُ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ مَعَهُ جَاهَدُواْ بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنفُسِهِمْ وَأُوْلَـئِكَ لَهُمُ الْخَيْرَاتُ وَأُوْلَـئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ

“But the Messenger, and those who believe with him, strive and fight with their wealth and their persons: for them are (all) good things: and it is they who will prosper.” (tmq 9:88)

إِنَّ اللّهَ اشْتَرَى مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَنفُسَهُمْ وَأَمْوَالَهُم بِأَنَّ لَهُمُ الجَنَّةَ يُقَاتِلُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ فَيَقْتُلُونَ وَيُقْتَلُونَ وَعْدًا عَلَيْهِ حَقًّا فِي التَّوْرَاةِ وَالإِنجِيلِ وَالْقُرْآنِ وَمَنْ أَوْفَى بِعَهْدِهِ مِنَ اللّهِ فَاسْتَبْشِرُواْ بِبَيْعِكُمُ الَّذِي بَايَعْتُم بِهِ وَذَلِكَ هُوَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ

“Allah has purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs (in return) is the garden (of Paradise): they fight in His cause, and slay and are slain: a promise binding on Him in truth, through the Law, the Gospel, and the Quran: and who is more faithful to his covenant than Allah? Then rejoice in the bargain which you have concluded: that is the achievement supreme.” (tmq 9:111)

c. The verses that condemn and promises punishment to those who do not participate in Jihad, the ones left behind and the lazy neglectful ones,

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ مَا لَكُمْ إِذَا قِيلَ لَكُمُ انفِرُواْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ اثَّاقَلْتُمْ إِلَى الأَرْضِ أَرَضِيتُم بِالْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا مِنَ الآخِرَةِ فَمَا مَتَاعُ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا فِي الآخِرَةِ إِلاَّ قَلِيلٌ

“O you who believe! What is the matter with you, that, when you are asked to go forth in the cause of Allah, you cling heavily to the earth? Do you prefer the life of this world to the Hereafter? But little is the comfort of this life, as compared with the Hereafter.” (tmq 9:38)

In addition to this are the sayings of Muhammad (Salalahu Alaihi Wasallam) that the best action to Allah is Jihad Fi Sabeel Lillah and the fighting (qitaal) against the Kuffar: From the many narrations, Muhammad (Salalahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, ”Taking a journey in the Way of Allah (Fi Sabeel Lillah) is better than the duniya and what is in it.”

“Those who guard (the borders) for one day in the Way of Allah (Fi Sabeel Lillah) is better than the duniya and what is in it.” ”If anyone takes a position in the Way of Allah (Fi Sabeel Lillah) it is better than his prayer ‘salah’ in his house for 70 years. Don’t you want Allah to forgive you your sins and enter you in the Jannah? Invade, in the Way of Allah (Fi Sabeel Lillah).”

Therefore what has been mentioned in the text shows clearly that Jihad Fi Sabeel Lillah is one of the best actions and of the highest degree, which is clearly shown by the shariyah indicators, ‘Qarain’, that connect praise, condemnation, reward and punishment to expose the fact that Jihad Fi Sabeel Lillah is greater and better than Jihad against the nafs. This is why the hadith is invalid in meaning ‘dirayatan’ because it contradicts the definite texts and therefore it is invalid ‘baatil’ to use as an evidence (i.e. to show that Jihad ul-nafs is a greater action).

Is Jihad defensive only?

As for the opinion that Jihad in Islam is defensive and not offensive by using the evidence (and similar evidences):

وَإِنْ جَنَحُوا لِلسَّلْمِ فَاجْنَحْ لَهَا وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ

“But if the enemy incline towards peace, do you (also) incline towards peace, and trust in Allah: for He is One that Hears and Knows (all things)”
(tmq 8:61)

وَقَاتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ الَّذِينَ يُقَاتِلُونَكُمْ وَلَا تَعْتَدُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُعْتَدِينَ

“Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loves not transgressors.”
(tmq 2:190)

This is also incorrect and invalid for its application upon this matter is incorrect for the following reasons:

1. The evidences of Jihad are general ‘mutlaq’ evidences and include all offensive and defensive actions e.g. waging war to pre-empt an attack, to protect the borders, killing on the battlefield. To restrict or specify the evidences only to defensive and not offensive Jihad, requires a textual evidence to show that the Jihad is restricted to defensive Jihad only. And there is no such text in the Quran or the Sunnah that restricts or specifies this. Therefore, the evidences regarding Jihad remain general and to be used for all types of war and all types of fighting with the enemy. So it is invalid (baatil) to use the verse,

وَإِن جَنَحُواْ لِلسَّلْمِ فَاجْنَحْ لَهَا

“But if the enemy incline towards peace, do you…” (tmq 8:61), to show that Jihad is only defensive.

That is also the case with the rest of the evidences that are used by proponents of this erroneous understanding. This and similar verses cannot be used to specify or restrict the generality of the verses in surah al-Tawba because they were the last verses revealed regarding Jihad and what came prior to these verses regarding Jihad does not specify the verses which were revealed after them or came afterwards. And the verse does not restrict the latter revealed verses either. There has to be a text present to restrict or specify the general verse and they also must be revealed after the initial, which are general or mutlaq or even they (i.e. those verses which are restricted or specific) should be mentioned together with the general verses so that the two situations can be shown (i.e. to show the different situations upon which they apply). So Allah (Subhanna Wa Ta'ala) says: وَإِن جَنَحُواْ لِلسَّلْمِ , which is regarding the time of the peace. And He (Subhanna Wa Ta'ala) says,

قَاتِلُواْ الَّذِينَ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللّهِ وَلاَ بِالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ وَلاَ يُحَرِّمُونَ مَا حَرَّمَ اللّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَلاَ يَدِينُونَ دِينَ الْحَقِّ مِنَ الَّذِينَ أُوتُواْ الْكِتَابَ حَتَّى يُعْطُواْ الْجِزْيَةَ عَن يَدٍ وَهُمْ صَاغِرُونَ

“Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued”,
(tmq 9:29) which is at the time of war and fighting.

So peace and fighting are two situations, which remain un-abrogated, i.e. neither abrogates the other.

2. In addition to this, the saying and actions of Muhammad (Salalahu Alaihi Wasallam) show that Jihad definitely is to start (offensive) fighting the kuffar to make the Words of Allah the highest and to propagate (da’wa) the call of Islam. Muhammad (Salalahu Alaihi Wasallam) said,

“I have been ordered to fight the people until they bear witness that, ‘there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger’ and they establish the prayer and the zakat. And if they do this, then from me is protected their blood and their wealth except by the right granted by Allah.”

As for his (Salalahu Alaihi Wasallam) actions, they are full of actions that show Jihad is to start the fighting. So when he went out to Badr to take the caravan belonging to the Quraysh, this was going out to fight, this is offensive – as Muhammad (Salalahu Alaihi Wasallam) initiated the action before the Quraysh.

Likewise, when Muhammad (Salalahu Alaihi Wasallam) invaded Hawazin in the battle of Hunayn, when he (Salalahu Alaihi Wasallam) seiged Ta’if and the battle of Mutah to fight the Romans and the Battle of Tabuk – all of these are evidences to show that Jihad is to start fighting kuffar (offensive). This should clarify the erroneous view that in origin Jihad is defensive.

3. From Ijma as-Sahabah, it is clear that Jihad is fighting Fi Sabeel Lillah to carry Islam and that it is offensive. The evidence, which is sufficient to explain this, is the opening of Iraq, Persia, Sham, Egypt and North Africa. They were all opened at the time of the Sahabah with their Ijma’ (consensus). Therefore, all what we mentioned are sufficient evidences to refute the claim that Jihad is defensive.


In conclusion, Muslims should gain the confidence to present the reality of Jihad to our ummah and raise the level of thinking on this issue such that the Muslims become clearer about its meaning, obligation, gain an increased love for it and importantly, understand the contexts in which it exists and is applied.

The Islamic Ummah, served with the responsibility to present and guard Islam should not allow the rulers over the Islamic lands to pollute the meaning of Jihad and remove its love from the hearts of the believers. Indeed, the Islamic Ummah should not allow these rulers to commit the greater crime to rule over her by other than Islam and dilute the purity of the whole of Islam with their shamelessness, implementation of kufr and humiliating subservience to a part of the creation i.e. their colonial masters, instead of their subservience to the Creator and Master of all that is seen and unseen, Allah (Subhanna Wa Ta'ala).

As for the interaction with the non-Muslims, it is important that the Muslims have the clarity and strength to tackle the malicious, incorrect and hateful propaganda that is focussed on Jihad that is presented as barbaric against peaceful people with the objective to force them to embrace Islam by compulsion and the sword.

The Islamic ummah should tackle this from two perspectives.

Firstly, the Muslims should expose the violent, barbaric and inhumane foreign policy of the ‘civilised’ colonial powers that have destroyed nations, states and people; left millions to starve for the sake of securing capitalist interests, appointed and protected oppressive regimes that suppress the will of their people; plundered resources of the lesser developed and invade lands with brute force, terrorising the local civilian people with indiscriminate policies of killing, imprisonment, rape, ‘carpet bombing’; razing whole villages and towns into the ground; and forcing the people to adopt their life-styles, values and political structures. What right do such people have after witnessing the implementation of such a wicked and brutal foreign policy with their own eyes – in South America, Africa, Palestine, Afghanistan and more recently in Iraq, from the various credible news sources – to even begin laying a criticism against Jihad.

Non-Muslims need to see the reality of their own governments and not be blinded the hysterical and deceitful propaganda that increasingly is aimed at Islam and its values.

Secondly, Muslims should demonstrate some of the rules that surround Jihad and state that offensively carrying the struggle against non-Islam does not permit Muslims to compel the local people to embrace Islam. This is because Allah (Subhanna Wa Ta'ala) does not allow compulsion:

لاَ إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ

"There is no compulsion in deen" (tmq 2:256)

Likewise Islam does not allow the exploitation, plundering, razing and desecration of places of worship, people’s homes and honour – when Jihad is carried offensively. Rather Jihad is carried offensively to cleanse the earth from the kufr, with the implementation of Islam as a system thus liberating man from the rule of man. The history of the Islamic conquests, the presence of Christians and Jews, who lived in security and prosperity under the Islamic State and the safe-haven that the Islamic authority provided for people savaged by the forefathers of the modern colonialists is sufficient proof for this.

On the horizon, as the struggle between Iman and kufr increases day by day – it is imperative for the Muslims to hold to the truth of Islam, its rules and not permit the dilution of its intellectual wealth – a wealth which soon will transform the darkness of colonial rule to the mercy and shade of the Islamic authority, Al-Khilafah, by Allah (Subhanna Wa Ta'ala's) permission.