In the linguistic sense, the Arabic word "jihad" means "struggling or striving " and applies to any effort exerted by anyone "in the name of Allah".
5. Having Courage And Steadfastness To Convey The Message Of Islam
The Qur'an narrates the experiences of a large number of Prophets and good people who suffered a great deal trying to convey the message of Allah to mankind. For examples, see the Qur'an Surah Ash-Shura, 26:1-190, Surah Yasin, 36:13-32.
In the Qur'an, Allah specifically praises those who strive to convey His message: "Who is better in speech than one who calls (other people) to Allah, works righteous, and declares that he is from the Muslims." (Surah Fusilat, 41:33)
Under adverse conditions it takes great courage to remain a Muslim, declare oneself to be a Muslim and call others to Islam. We read in the Qur'an:
"The (true) believers are only those who believe in Allah and his messenger and afterward doubt not, but STRIVE with their wealth and their selves for the cause of Allah. Such are the truthful." (Surah Al-Hujarat, 49:15)
6. Defending Islam And The Community
Allah declares in the Qur'an:
"To those against whom war is made, permission is given (to defend themselves), because they are wronged - and verily, Allah is Most Powerful to give them victory - (they are) those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right - (for no cause) except that they say, 'Our Lord is Allah'..." (Surah Al-Hajj, 22:39-40)
The Qur'an permits fighting to defend the religion of Islam and the Muslims. This permission includes fighting in self-defense and for the protection of family and property. The early Muslims fought many battles against their enemies under the leadership of the Prophet Muhammad SAW or his representatives. For example, when the pagans of Quraysh brought armies against Prophet Muhammad SAW, the Muslims fought to defend their faith and community (3). The Qur'an adds:
"Fight in the cause of Allah against those who fight against you, but do not transgress limits. Lo! Allah loves not aggressors. ...And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against transgressors." (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:190, 193)
7. Helping Allied People Who May Not Be Muslim
In the late period of the Prophet Muhammad's SAW life, the tribe of Banu Khuza'ah became his ally. They were living near Makkah which was under the rule of the pagan Quraish, Prophet Muhammad's SAW own tribe. The tribe of Banu Bakr, an ally of Quraish, with the help of some elements of Quraysh, attacked Banu Khuza'ah invoked the treaty and demanded Prophet Muhammad SAW come to their help and punish Quraih. The Prophet Muhammad SAW rganized a campaign against Quraih of Makkah which resulted in the conquest of Makkah which occurred without any battle (4).
8. Removing Treacherous People From Power
Allah orders the Muslims in the Qur'an: "If you fear treachery from any group, throw back (their treaty) to them, (so as to be) on equal terms. Lo! Allah loves not the treacherous." (8:58) Prophet Muhammad SAW ndertook a number of armed campaigns to remove treacherous people from power and their lodgings. He had entered into pacts with several tribes, however, some of them proved themselves treacherous. Prophet Muhammad SAW aunched armed campaigns against these tribes, defeated and exiled them from Medina and its surroundings (5).
9. Defending Through Pre-emptive Strikes
Indeed, it is difficult to mobilize people to fight when they see no invaders in their territory; however, those who are charged with responsibility see dangers ahead of time and must provide leadership. The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad SAW had the responsibility to protect his people and the religion he established in Arabia. Whenever he received intelligence reports about enemies gathering near his borders he carried out preemptive strikes, broke their power and dispersed them (6). Allah ordered Muslims in the Qur'an: "Fighting is prescribed upon you, and you dislike it. But it may happen that you dislike a thing which is good for you, and it may happen that you love a thing which is bad for you. And Allah knows and you know not." (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:216)
10. Gaining Freedom To Inform, Educate And Convey The Message Of Islam In An Open And Free Environment
Allah declares in the Qur'an:
"They ask you (Muhammad) concerning fighting in the Sacred Month. Say, 'Fighting therein is a grave (offense) but graver is it in the sight of Allah to prevent access to the path of Allah, to deny Him, to prevent access to the Sacred Mosque, and drive out its inhabitants. Persecution is worse than killing. Nor will they cease fighting you until they turn you back from your faith, if they can..." (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:217) "And those who, when an oppressive wrong is inflicted on them, (are not cowed but) fight back." (Surah Ash-Shura, 42:39)
To gain this freedom, Prophet Muhammad SAW aid: "STRIVE (JAHIDU) against the disbelievers with your hands and tongues." (Sahih Ibn Hibban No.8) The life of the Prophet Muhammad SAW was full of STRIVING to gain the freedom to inform and convey the message of Islam. During his stay in Makkah he used non-violent methods and after the establishment of his government in Madinah, by the permission of Allah, he used armed struggle against his enemies whenever he found it inevitable.
11. Freeing People From Tyranny
Allah admonishes Muslims in the Qur'an:
"And why should you not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)? - Men, women, and children, whose cry is: 'Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from You, one who will protect; and raise for us from You, one who will help.'" (Surah An-Nisa, 4:75)
The mission of the Prophet Muhammad SAW was to free people from tyranny and exploitation by oppressive systems. Once free, individuals in the society were then free to chose Islam or not. Prophet Muhammad's SAW successors continued in his footsteps and went to help oppressed people. For example, after the repeated call by the oppressed people of Spain to the Muslims for help, Spain was liberated by Muslim forces and the tyrant rulers removed. After the conquest of Syria and Iraq by the Muslims, the Christian population of Hims reportedly said to the Muslims: "We like your rule and justice far better than the state of oppression and tyranny under which we have been living." (7) The defeated rulers of Syria were Roman Christians, and Iraq was ruled by Zoarastrian Persians.
What Should Muslims Do When They Are Victorious?
Muslims should remove tyranny, treachery, bigotry, and ignorance and replace them with justice and equity. We should provide truthful knowledge and free people from the bondage of 'associationism' (SHIRIK, or multiple gods), prejudice, superstition and mythology. Muslims remove immorality, fear, crime, exploitation and replace them with divine morality, peace and education. The Qur'an declares:
"Lo! Allah commands you that you restore deposits to their owners, and if you judge between mankind that you judge justly. Lo! It is proper that Allah admonishes you. Lo! Allah is ever Hearer, Seer." (Surah An-Nisa, 4:58)
"O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah's witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to Piety and fear Allah. And Allah is well acquainted with all that you do." (Surah Al-Maidah, 5:8)
Of those We have created are people who direct (others) with truth, and dispense justice therewith. (Surah Al-Araf, 7:181)
Allah commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion: He instructs you, that ye may receive admonition. (Surah An-Nahl, 16:90)
(They are) those who, if We establish them in the land, establish regular prayer and give regular charity, enjoin the right and forbid wrong: with Allah rests the end (and decision) of (all) affairs. (Surah Qal-Haj, 22:41)
Did Islam Spread By Force, Swords Or Guns?
The unequivocal and emphatic answer is NO! The Qur'an declares:
"Let there be no compulsion (or coercion) in the religion (Islam). The right direction is distinctly clear from error." (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:256)
Here is a good study of the question of the spread of Islam by a Christian missionary, T. W. Arnold: "...of any organized attempt to force the acceptance of Islam on the non-Muslim population, or of any systematic persecution intended to stamp out the Christian religion, we hear nothing. Had the caliphs chosen to adopt either course of action, they might have swept away Christianity as easily as Ferdinand and Isabella drove Islam out of Spain, or Louis XIV made Protestantism penal in France, or the Jews were kept out of England for 350 years. The Eastern Churches in Asia were entirely cut off from communion with the rest of Christiandom throughout which no one would have been found to lift a finger on their behalf, as heretical communions. So that the very survival of these Churches to the present day is a strong proof of the generally tolerant attitude of Mohammedan [sic] governments towards them" (8). Islam does not teach, nor do Muslims desire, conversion of any people for fear, greed, marriage or any other form of coercion. In conclusion, jihad in Islam is STRIVING IN THE WAY OF ALLAH by pen, tongue, hand, media and, if inevitable, with arms. However, jihad in Islam does not include striving for individual or national power, dominance, glory, wealth, prestige or pride.
1. For the sake of simplicity and easy reading, masculine pronouns have been used throughout this brochure. No exclusion of females is intended.
2. Haykal, M. H., THE LIFE OF MUHAMMAD, Tr. Ismail R. Faruqi, American Trust Publications, 1976, p. 132.
3. Haykal, pp. 216, 242, 299 and 414 for the Battles of Badr, Uhud, Al-Khandaq and Hunayn, respectively.
4. Haykal, p. 395 for the conquest of Makkah.
5. Haykal, pp. 245, 277, 311 and 326 for campaigns against the tribes of Banu Qaynuqa', Banu Al-Nadir, Banu Qurayzah and Banu Lihyan, respectively. Also, see p. 283 for the Battle of Dhat Al-Riqa'.
6. Haykal, pp. 284, 327, 366, 387, 393, 443 and 515 for the Battles of Dawmat Al-Jandal, Banu Al-Mustaliq, Khayber, Mu'tah, Dhat Al-Salasil, Tabuk and the Campaign of Usama Ibn Zayd, respectively.
7. Hitti, Philip K., HISTORY OF THE ARABS, St. Martin's Press, New York, 1970, p. 153.
8. Arnold, Sir Thomas W. THE PREACHING OF ISLAM, A HISTORY OF THE PROPAGATION OF THE MUSLIM FAITH, Westminister A. Constable & Co., London, 1896, p. 80.
©IOI Islam; TIIIE