What is Jihad? Establish the supremacy of Allah’s religion and to make His word prevail – Hashmat Habib

By Nasir Mahmood

Jihad denotes doing one’s utmost to achieve something. It is not the equivalent of war, for which the Arabic word is qital. Jihad has a wider connotation and embraces every kind of striving in God’s cause. Hashmat Habib President Tehreek e Tahafuz e Adlia said while replying various queries about Jihad.

A Mujahid is a person who is single-mindedly devoted to his cause, who uses his mental capacity to reflect how best he can achieve it, propagates it by word of mouth and by the pen, uses his physical energy in striving to serve it, spends all the resources at his disposal to promote it, employs all the force he commands in confronting any power which might stand in its way, and, whenever necessary, does not shirk risking his very life for it. All this is Jihad. ‘Jihad in the way of God’ is that strife in which man engages exclusively to win God’s good pleasure, to establish the supremacy of His religion and to make His word prevail, the senior lawyer said.

He further stated that Muslims are required to be the standard-bearers of the Truth, and are made responsible for the reform of the world. The Jews’ and Christians’ record of religious and moral degeneration was placed before them as a warning. They were told how they should act as a nation devoted to bringing about reforms in the world, and how to deal with the People of the Book and the hypocrites who place all kinds of obstructions in the way of God. Moreover, their attention was drawn to the need to reform themselves, and to root out the weaknesses which came to light during the Battle of Badr.

The followers of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had already encountered fierce trials and tribulations, the advent of which had been foretold. Even though the believers had won a victory at Badr, a hornet’s nest had been disturbed, in that all those forces in Arabia hostile to the new movement were alerted. The Muslims were in a state of unease and fear. It seemed that the small town of Madina, which endured the wrath of most of the neighbouring societies, might be wiped out completely. The situation also aggravated the town’s economic position, not least because of the dislocation and imbalance caused by the large influx of immigrants.

You have been enjoined to go to war, and you dislike it; it may be that you dislike a thing and the same is good for you, and you love a thing and the same is bad for you: Allah knows but you do not. (Quran 2:216)

The Jewish tribes around Madina were in no way disposed to honour the agreement they had concluded with the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him) after his migration from Makkah. At the time of the Battle of Badr their sympathies clearly lay with the idol-worshipping polytheists rather than with the Muslims who believed in the One True God, in Prophethood, in the Divine Scriptures and in the Afterlife. After the Battle of Badr these tribes openly promoted the Quraysh and other Arab tribes to avenge themselves on the Muslims. In particular the chief of Banu Nadir, Ka`bb al-Ashraf had carried his maneuvers to the point of implacable hostility and downright treachery. Leaving aside all other considerations, the Jews had disregarded the centuries-old friendship and good neighborliness which had existed between them and the people of Madina.

Finally, their brazen violation of treaty obligations exceeded all reasonable limits. A few months after the Battle of Badr, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) launched an attack upon Banu Qaynuqa`, the most hostile of the Jewish tribes, and banished them from the outskirts of Madina. This inflamed the animosity of the remaining Jewish tribes, who began to hatch conspiracies in collaboration with the hypocrites of Madina and the polytheistic tribes of the Hijaz, so much so that people feared a murderous assault on Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The situation was so alarming that the Companions kept their weapons at their sides day and night, and a constant vigil was maintained. If the Prophet (peace be upon him) ventured out of sight for any length of time the Companions would launch a search immediately.

The Quraysh were smarting from the defeat of Badr, and the Jewish efforts to arouse their feelings of revenge were like pouring oil on flames. Within a year they attacked Madina again with an army of three thousand. This was the Battle of Uhud (named after the mountain in the valley of which it was fought). A thousand Madinans accompanied by the Prophet engaged the invading army. Three hundred of these, (the hypocrites), however, cut themselves off from the army of the Prophet and returned to Madina. Even among the seven hundred left with the Prophet (peace be upon him) there was still a small group of hypocrites who did their best to demoralize the Muslim ranks during the course of the battle. This was the first occasion when the problem of enemies within their own ranks became manifest to the Muslims.

Although the machinations of the hypocrites contributed a good deal to the setback suffered by the Muslims in the Battle of Uhud, their own weaknesses also played an equal role. It should be recalled, however, that the Muslims had not been a group for long, and had been organized on the basis of a common devotion to a faith and ideology, and a shared commitment to follow a set of principles. A process of moral instruction and discipline was in operation, but had not yet reached maturity. For a group which was fighting to defend its beliefs and convictions for only the members should betray history, certain was only natural that some of its members weaknesses in their conduct. The battle’s results called for a detailed review of the events connected with it: the weaknesses found among the Muslims, according to Islamic standards of judgment, were pointed out and directives were given with a view to helping them purify and reform themselves. It is instructive, with this in mind, to study with care the Qur’anic comments on the incident, and to see how these differ from comments generally made by military commanders in the aftermath of battles!

Fight in the way of Allah with those who fight against you. But do not commit aggression because Allah does not like aggressors. (Quran 2:190)

Muslims are asked to fight those who hindered their efforts in the cause of God, and acted with hostility towards them merely because they sought to fashion human life according to the revealed guidance of God. Earlier, when they were weak and scattered, the Muslims were asked merely to preach and be patient with the wrongful repression meted out to them by their opponents. However, now that a small city state had been established in Madina they were commanded for the first time to unsheathe their swords against those who had resorted to armed hostility against their movement of reform. It was some time after this injunction that the Battle of Badr took place, to be followed by several other battles.

The believers (Muslim) are told that material interests should not be the motivation for their fighting, that they should not take up arms against those who were not in opposition to the true faith, that they should not resort to unscrupulous methods or to the indiscriminate killing and pillage which characterized the wars of the pre-Islamic era, the Age of Ignorance. The excesses alluded to in this verse are acts such as taking up arms against women and children, the old and the injured, mutilation of the dead bodies of the enemy, uncalled-for devastation through the destruction of fields and livestock, and other similar acts of injustice and brutality. In the Hadith all these acts have been prohibited. The real intent of the verse is to stress that force should be used only when its use is unavoidable, and only to the extent that is absolutely necessary.

Fight against them wherever they confront you in combat and drive them out from where they drove you out. Though killing is bad, persecution is worse than killing. Do not fight against them near the Masjid Haram unless they attack you there. (Quran 2:191)

Here the word Fitnah is used in the sense of ‘persecution’. It refers to a situation whereby either a person or a group is subjected to harassment and intimidation for having accepted, as true, a set of ideas contrary to those currently held, and for striving to effect reforms in the existing order of society by preaching what is good and condemning what is wrong. Such a situation must be changed, if need be, by the force of arms.

Bloodshed is bad, but when one group of people imposes its ideology and forcibly prevents others from accepting the truth, then it becomes guilty of an even more serious crime. In such circumstances, it is perfectly legitimate to remove that oppressive group by the force of arms.

If they attack you first (even in that sacred area), strike them (without any hesitation); this is the due punishment for such disbelievers. If, however, they desist from fighting (you should also do likewise), and know that Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. (Quran 2:192)

God, in whom the believers have faith, is forgiving and ready to pardon even the worst criminals and sinners after they have renounced their arrogant defiance towards Him. It is suggested that this attribute of God should be reflected in the behaviour of the believers as well. As the saying goes: ‘Mould your morals according to the attributes of God.’ Hence, whenever the believers have to resort to armed conflict, they should do so not for the sake of quenching their thirst for vengeance but in the cause of God’s religion. Their conflict with any group should last only as long as that group resists the cause of God. As soon as it gives up this resistance hostility should cease.

 Go on fighting with them till there is no more a state of tribulation and Allah’s way is established instead. Then if they desist from it, there should be no more hostility except against those who had been guilty of cruelty and brutality. (Quran 2:193)

Here the term Fitnah is used in a different sense from the one in which it was used above (see verse 191). It is evident from the context that Fitnah refers here to the state of affairs wherein the object of obedience is someone other than God. Hence the purpose of a believer’s fighting is that this Fitnah should cease and obedience should be consecrated to God alone.

An investigation of the usages of the word din (which occurs in this verse) reveals that the core of its meaning is obedience. In its technical usage, the word refers to that system of life which arises as a result of a person recognizing someone as his Lord and Sovereign and committing himself to following his commands and ordinances. This explanation of the word din makes it quite clear that when some human beings establish their godhead and absolute dominance over others, this state of affairs is one of Fitnah. Islam seeks to put an end to this and replace it by a state of affairs in which people live in obedience to the laws of God alone.

What is meant here by ‘desisting’ is not the abandonment of unbelief and polytheism on the part of the unbelievers but rather their desistance from active hostility to the religion enjoined by God. The unbeliever, the polytheist, the atheist, has each been, empowered to hold on to his beliefs and to worship who and whatever he wishes. In order to deliver these people from their error, Muslims are required to counsel them and tell them where their good lies. But Muslims ought not to try to achieve this purpose by resorting to force. At the same time, these misguided people have no right to either enforce the false laws of their own contriving instead of the laws of God or to drive the people of God to bondage of others than God. In order to put an end to this Fitnah, both persuasion and force be used, whenever and to the extent to which each of the two is needed, and a true believer will not rest until the unbelievers give up this Fitnah.

The statement that hostility is meant only against wrong-doers seems to imply that when the true system of life replaces the false one, ordinary people should be granted a general amnesty. At the same time, however, it would be justifiable to punish those who exceeded all limits in their hostility to the Truth, at the time when they held the reins of power. Yet in dealing with such people, it becomes the true believers, after they have one final victory, to adopt a general attitude of forgiveness and tolerance towards the vanquished rather than subject them to revenge for the wrongs they committed in the past. Those criminals whose records were exceptionally bad can, however, are punished. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), availed himself of this permission in respect of some notorious enemies whose hostility had exceeded all limits, even though pardon and forgiveness behaved none more than him. Thus ‘Uqbah ibn Abi Mu’avt and Nadr b. Harith from among the captives of the Battle of Badr were put to death and when a general amnesty, was proclaimed after the conquest of Makkah four out of seventeen persons were executed. These acts were based on the permission to put to the sword those who have been conspicuously ruthless in their hostility to Islam and the Muslims.

Do you think that you will enter Paradise without undergoing such trials as were experienced by the believers before you? They met with adversity and affliction and were so shaken by trials that the Prophet of the time and his followers cried out: “When will Allah’s help come”? (Then they were comforted with the good tidings): “Yes, Allah’s help is near.” (Quran 2:214)

The point emphasized here is that whenever the Prophets came into the world they, and their followers, were confronted with severe resistance from those in rebellion against God. At grave risk to themselves they strove to establish the hegemony of the true religion over the false ways of life. To follow this religion has, therefore, never been easy; it is not merely a matter of declaring one’s faith and then sitting back in ease and comfort. On the contrary, the profession of faith has always demanded that one should strive to establish the religion, which one has adopted as one’s faith, as a living reality and that one should spare no effort in undermining the power of the Devil who seeks to resist it.

One thought on “What is Jihad? Establish the supremacy of Allah’s religion and to make His word prevail – Hashmat Habib

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