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Jihad in Islam Part II

(Imam Mohamed Baianonie at the Islamic Center of Raleigh, NC, delivered this Friday speech on December 9, 1994)

We mentioned last Friday that jihad means to struggle to the utmost of one’s ability to strive and please Allah , and to uphold His word. People can practice jihad in the following three ways, by speaking with good words, spending wealth for the sake of Allah, or by using physical strength to do good. A person may practice one or more of these different types of jihad depending on a person’s situation and condition. We also mentioned four categories of jihad: jihad against personal desires, jihad against the whispering of Satan, jihad against the disbelievers, and jihad against the hypocrites.

We also talked about jihad of Da’wah or when one struggles to convey the message of Islaam. The prophet Muhammad and his companions spent thirteen years in Makkah before migrating to Madinah. At this time, the Muslims of Makkah struggled against their own desires, against the temptations of Satan, and they even struggled in their delivery of the Message. They had to struggle to keep themselves patient at a time when giving Da’wah meant they could be tortured or even killed. Yet their response to this abuse was always forgiveness to the non-Muslims—no violence was ever allowed. At that time, jihad in the form of fighting was not yet ordained.

Today, we will discuss the jihad (fighting) for the sake of Allah’s cause using force. This kind of jihad is against anyone who stands as an obstacle in the way of Da’wah. The obstacle can be from someone or a government who prevents Muslims from delivering the message of Islaam. Also this jihad can be used against anyone who prevents people from choosing Islaam, or the one who persecutes anyone who chooses Islaam. These are the ONLY reasons that Islaam allows one to use force. Keep in mind however; there are rules to how one should apply this force.

When we remove these obstacles from society, then people will have the freedom to choose and practice any religion of their choice without fear. Allah has given the people the freedom to choose the faith they want without any compulsion. If we are granted this freedom in any society, then there is no valid reason to fight. But, if this freedom is restricted, then we should only fight the oppressors who restrict this freedom—not all the non-Muslims.

This type of jihad that allows for fighting was prescribed by Allah to allow the Muslims to deliver the message of Islaam to all people. This is clear from Allah’s words in what may be interpreted as: "There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the right path has become distinct from the wrong path…" [surat Al-Baqarah, (Verse 256)]

He also says what may be interpreted as, "And fight them until there is no more fitnah and the religion will be for Allah alone…" [surat Al-Anfaal, (Verse 39)]

It is important for us to know that Allah did not prescribe fighting as a way to establish an Islamic state, but rather, He allowed us to fight as a way to protect the Islamic state from any aggression only after it has been established. We know this from the practices of the prophet Muhammad and the progression of the phases of Da’wah from its beginnings in Makkah up until the establishment of the Islamic state in Madinah.

The way to re-establish the Islamic state as prescribed by Allah is by giving Da’wah using strong evidence and presenting yourself with patience, perseverance and forgiveness. This is the jihad that the prophet Muhammad and his companions exercised in Makkah before migrating to Madinah.

This type of forceful jihad descended in three different stages:

1. The first stage:
This stage gave Muslims only permission (not an obligation) to fight only the aggressors and those who cause aggression. This was revealed when the prophet Muhammad was on his way from Makkah to Madinah. Ibn-'Abbass said the Prophet Muhammad was on his way to Madinah, when Abu Bakr said: "They hurt their prophet. They will definitely be destroyed." So, Allah revealed what may be interpreted as, "Permission to fight is given to those (i.e. believers against those disbelievers), who are fighting them, and because they (the believers) have been wronged, and surely, Allah is able to give them (the believers) victory…" [surat Al-Hajj, (Verse 39)] Abu Bakr said: "I knew that there would be a fight." [Recorded by Imaams At-Tirmidhi and An-Nassa’i] Ibn-'Abbass said: "This is the first verse from the Qur’aan revealed concerning fighting." This verse is strong evidence that fighting was not permitted before this stage.
2. The second stage:
In the second stage, Allah orders the Muslims to fight, unlike the first stage where He only gives them permission. Also, Allah limited fighting against those who attacked first, and He ordered them never to start a fight against anyone. This can be understood from the verse revealed in the second year of Hijrah: Allah says what may be interpreted as, "And fight in the way of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress the limits. Truly, Allah does not like the transgressors." [surat Al-Baqarah, (Verse 190)] This verse orders the believers to only fight those who started the fight. This stage ended at the end of the fifth year of Hijrah. This is understood from what the prophet Muhammad said to his companions while he was on his way from the fight against Bani Quraidhah after the battle of Al-Ahzaab: "From now on, we will invade them, and not wait for them to attack first." [Recorded by Imaam Bukhaari]
3. The last stage:
The final stage calls for fighting against any obstacle that blocks someone from conveying the word of Allah . The Islamic state can use this type of jihad in the following cases: when someone stands in the way of giving Da’wah, when someone or a government prevents Muslims from delivering the message of Islaam, when someone prevents people from choosing Islaam, or when someone persecutes another who chooses Islaam. This final stage makes fighting acceptable when people do not have the freedom of religion. We should not fight if our freedom to choose and practice Islaam is not in jeopardy. From this information, we can say that the Mujaahideen are truly freedom fighters. Also, keep in mind that the fighting should be limited to those who take the freedom of religion away, and it should not be against all disbelievers. This jihad is obligatory on the Islamic state till the Day of Judgment and it is the highest honor of Islaam. Allah says what may be interpreted as, "Fighting is ordained for you (Muslims) though you dislike it, and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and you may like a thing which is bad for you. And Allah knows but you do not know." [surat Al-Baqarah, (Verse 216)]

Another common misconception of today’s media is that jihad in Islaam is viewed as a Holy War. This is a misconception and it is totally false.

Holy wars, according to the west, are wars where people are killed because they do not believe in the same religion as the aggressors and are forced to adopt the religion of the oppressors. The media today, views jihad as the modern holy wars, however, today we learned that jihad in Islaam is fought so that the masses of people can be given the liberty to worship the faith of their choice.

Who has the authority to call for this fighting form of jihad?

In the Islamic state, the khaleefah has this authority. He is the ONLY one who can call for this type of jihad, and he is the only one who can make peace treaties and agreements. So the khaleefah has the exclusive right to call for jihad in the form of fighting. Individuals or groups of Muslims cannot call for this jihad; it has to be the khaleefah. Nowadays, without an existing Islamic khilaafah no one can call for the jihad in the form of fighting.

Rules concerning jihad in Islaam:

The fighting form of jihad is not obligatory on every Muslim—if some Muslims make jihad, and they accomplish their goal, then the mission is complete, and no one else is obligated to fulfill the duty. However, if the Mujaahideen do not complete their mission, then it is obligated for other Muslims to complete the mission. Allah says what may be interpreted as, "And it is not proper for the believers to go out to fight in jihad all together. Of every crowd of them, only a group should go forth, that they (who are left behind) may get instructions in the deen, and that they may warn their people when they return to them, so that they may beware (of evil)." [surat At-Tawbah, (Verse 122)]

When is jihad obligatory upon Muslims?

It is obligatory upon Muslims in one of three following cases:

  1. If the fighter is present on the battlefield, then he must fight. Allah says what may be interpreted as, "O you who believe! When you meet those who disbelieve, in a battle-field, never turn your backs to them…." [surat Al-Anfaal, (Verse 15)] The prophet Muhammad warned Muslims of withdrawing while being attacked and he considered it one of the major sins.
  2. When an enemy takes over Muslim land, then every Muslim of that region must fight. In this case there is no requirement for permission from the khaleefah because it is self-defense, which is legitimate fighting. However, we will further discuss this topic at a later time.
  3. If the khaleefah orders a Muslim to fight, then he must fight. The prophet Muhammad said: "…So if you are summoned to fight, go forth." [Recorded by Imaams Bukhaari and Muslim]

Who must fight?

Every healthy adult Muslim male with a sound mind must fight; also, he should have enough money to spend on himself, and his family while he is away.

The regulations of fighting in jihad:

Muslims must fight only those who are fighting them. Islaam prohibits killing women, children, the sick, elderly, and monks. Also, Islaam prohibits killing animals, destroying plants and trees. Islaam also prohibits infesting and poisoning waters and springs, destroying homes and civilian establishments. All these are supported by many sayings of the prophet Muhammad .

We should now have a clearer understanding of jihad in Islaam. We should remember that there is no person living today who can call for this forceful jihad unless there is an Islamic state. In that case, ONLY the khaleefah has the authority to call for it.

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