Jihad and its Concept in Islam

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Why did the Riddah (apostasy) wars wage? What are the reasons for Jihad in Islam? Why were the Islamic forces called to leave their home land (Arabian Peninsula)? Did they go out to establish the religion (of Islam) forcibly by the point of their weapons? Did they penetrate the corners of the earth in order to subject its peoples to this new religion? The fact of the issue is that the Book of Allah denies using force as a means of compelling people to embrace Islam. In fact, nothing other than persuasion and inner conviction is approved by Allah the Almighty as a means of getting people to enter Islam. The Quran made it clear when Allah (SWT) says, addressing the Messenger (PBUH): “So will you (O Muhammad PBUH) then compel humankind until they become believers?” (Yunus 10:99). Allah says to people in common: “There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the Right (Path of) Guidance has become distinct from the wrong path.” (Al-Baqarah 2:256). Calling to the Faith in Islam requires mild and kind words and sound reasoning. Allah says: “Invite (mankind, O Muhammad PBUH) to the Way of your Lord with wisdom (i.e. with the Divine Inspiration and the Quran) and fair preaching, and argue with them in a way that is better.” (An-Nahl 16:125). If that is the case and fact then, why did the Muslims leave their families and territories and struggle across the four continents? Was there any necessity that forced them to do that? Or did their Messenger (PBUH) command them to do so? It is apparent that this endeavor was for the sake of spreading the true message of this perfect religion and to make Allah’s Word the highest. Thus, this is the first and foremost justification for Jihad in Islam, and it is supported by a report when the Messenger (PBUH) was asked about a man who fights for pride and haughtiness, another fights for bravery, and another fights for showing off; which of these are (cases) is in Allah’s Cause? Hence, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: “The one who fights that Allah’s Word (i.e. Allah’s religion of Islamic Monotheism) should be superior, fights in Allah’s Cause.” (Al-Bukhari 7458) The purpose of Jihad is not the expansion of the Islamic State or creating some disturbance in the world. Creating any trouble in this world is against the spirit of Islam. Jihad is only to raise the Word of Allah, and for subsiding the disturbance for the greater cause of society. Fighting in defense of one’s family is Jihad for the sake of Allah, as is Jihad in defense of one’s wealth, property, country, and for liberating a land, as the Prophet (PBUH) said: “Whoever is killed over his wealth then he is a martyr, and whoever is killed over his religion, then he is a martyr, and whoever is killed over his blood, then he is a martyr, and whoever is killed over his family then he is a martyr.” (At-Tirmidhi 1421). The religion of Islam gives extreme importance to the Muslim’s faith, life, honor, and property. No one is allowed to rob or steal the property of others. Defending one’s property is the duty of every Muslim, and according to most of the scholars, every Muslim has the right to defend his life and property even if he has to fight for it and kill the robber. Allah has sent Islam so that we take people from worshipping servants to worshipping Allah Alone, from the confines of the world to its expanses, and from the oppression of religions to the justice of the Most Merciful. Most important of all, all are equal before their Lord in Islam, as every human is from Adam, and Adam is from the earth. From this, we realize the significance of taqwa (piety; God-fearing) in Islam from the leader of pious; the Prophet (PBUH) who exhorted the Muslim commanders, saying: “I advise you to fear Allah, and to be good to those of the Muslims who are under your command”. He then say: “Fight in the Name of Allah and in the Sake of Allah. Fight those who disbelieve in Allah. Fight but do not steal from the war booty; do not break your pledge; do not mutilate (the dead enemy); do not kill the children. When you meet your enemy among the polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to anyone of these, you also accept it and withhold yourself from doing any harm. Invite them to accept Islam; if they respond to you, you accept it from them and desist from fighting against them. However, if they refuse then seek the Help of Allah and fight against them.” (Muslim 1731) It is essential for the head of Muslim army to be a pious person who fears Allah and His punishment and he required to work within the limits imposed by Allah. Hence, he commands with justice and calls towards it. The pious man fears deception and does not act upon it. He is wary of treachery and does not go near it. The pious man believes that the time of death is written and so he does not fear what the day should bring, rather he fights with certainty in one of two best things: victory or martyrdom. According to Islamic law, wars must only be fought in the Name of Allah and not in the name of tribes, individuals; war booties or status and they can only be declared on disbelievers, which is why the Riddah (apostasy) wars were only fought against the repudiating apostates. In the event of battle, a Muslim neither mutilates his enemies nor desecrates their corpse. He neither kills children, babies, the elderly nor women and he does not inflict harm on them. Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (RA) said in line with the exhortation of the Messenger (PBUH): “Do not kill an old man, a woman or a child. Do not injure date palms and do not cut down fruit-bearing trees. Do not slaughter any sheep, cow or camel except for food.” In light of this, those who worship Allah will not be fought and no weapon will be raised against them, as only a person who is armed with the intention of hindering the religion of Allah is allowed to be fought. A person who rejects one of the following is deemed a target of war under Islamic law:

  1. Islam.
  2. Paying the Jizyah (tax paid by non-Muslims living under Muslim rule),
  3. Fight accordingly, if the call of Islam is answered then war and fighting are nullified, as Allah says:

“But if they incline to peace, you also incline to it, and (put your) trust in Allah”. (Surah al-Anfal 8:61). For those people, the same rights and obligations are accorded to them. On denying Islam, the disbeliever is required to comply with the second condition, namely, paying the Jizyah, just as a Muslim must pay the Zakat. Notably, every member of an Islamic society is obliged to make a contribution from his wealth in the interests of the State, towards funding its armies, protecting its boundaries, financing civil servants, and supporting the unemployed, the sick and the needy. Since it is a compulsory duty on Muslims to pay the annual Zakat, it is only fair that non-Muslims should have to pay the same, given that they are all living off the magnanimity of one state, enjoying its favors and being buried under its dust. The Jizyah is only demanded from non-Muslims, as opposed to the Zakat, to ensure the transparency of Islam and justice in its rule. What is most significant here is that within the domain of war, Islam promotes absolute justice, maintaining the rights of others and no compulsion or force whatsoever. Read these wonderful eBooks to know more about the Ghazwas (Muslim Conquests) in the time of Prophet Muhammad PBUH: The Valley Came Alive, Strategies of Prophet Muhammad PBUH, In Defense of True Faith and Winning the Hearts and Souls.

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