A Systematic Study of the Holy Qur’an — Fundamental Duties

Jihad (Striving hard in the way of God)

Jihad has for long been one of the most talked about subjects throughout the world. Enemies of Islam have been unrelenting in misusing Jihad as a weapon to malign the religion as a supporter and propagator of violence. They have been assiduous in their efforts to attribute the phenomenal rise of Islam to the use of violent means by its followers. Many Islamic scholars, on the other hand, in the face of the virulent propaganda, have taken an unnecessarily defensive, often apologetic, position. I shall discuss the subject in its true spirit.

Islam is not a religion aimed merely at spiritual training of individuals. It is also not there just for social reform. Its area of action encompasses every sphere of individual and collective life, viz. health, education, politics, economics and social affairs, including those at the national and international levels. It is not merely a set of rituals and customs or a way of life. It is a fully-grown system, which, like every other system of governance, needs to propagate its ideology, safeguard its interests, protect its followers and areas of influence and combat any actions of hostility directed against it. It has the right to self-defence like any other country or organisation has. Jihad means struggle; it denotes earnest efforts to achieve Islamic objective of grand peace and safeguard its ideological, political and geographical sovereignty. Under normal circumstances, Jihad primarily involves intellectual, political and social means; in extraordinary circumstances, it does not shy away from adopting military or militant means. What differentiates Islamic method of armed confrontation however from that in vogue in the current international arena is that in Islam Jihad is not for selfish geographical, political and economic interests of a country or a group of countries. In contrast, it is aimed at ensuring peace, rescuing people in duress and fighting the forces of evil, exploitation and injustice. But Qur’an categorically states that fighting should be restricted only for the stated objectives, namely in the event of aggressive intents or actions of a hostile force, infraction of agreement, widespread chaos, exploitation or oppression and to counter excesses. It also makes clear that while during fighting every effort must be made to strike telling blows to the enemy, Muslims must return to the negotiating table as soon as the enemy appears inclined to cease-fire and lasting peace.

The term “Jihad” in Islam does not mean an armed fight, which at best is only a part of it. Jihad, in fact is an incessant struggle to spread what is good and uproot what is evil. The best Jihad, according to Islam is against one’s self. And when this definition is extended to a social level, it again means struggle against forces that exploit human weaknesses or oppress the weak and poor. Jihad through Qur’an is another important kind of Jihad, which also means an intellectual dialogue with the opponents of Islamic system.

Every ideology and system takes all the necessary measures to protect it from external and internal mischief and to consolidate it. Islam is no exception and it has greater right to work in that direction because it aims to establish the rule of God, not an oligarchy. All ongoing struggles in the world cannot be equated with terrorism. To fight against the occupation by external forces, usurpers of land, tyrannical rulers, exploiters, forces of evils and oppressors cannot be regarded terrorism. To sacrifice one’s life in a bid to harm the enemies for a justified cause cannot be condemned as “suicide attacks”; any bombing that is for a justified cause and is aimed at justified targets must be termed sacrificial bombing. There are some Islamic scholars who argue that Jihad can be undertaken only by an Islamic state. They are awfully mistaken, playing in the hands of those who want to reserve all military options open for themselves including pre-emptive strikes and at the same time want Muslims to forego their right to fight altogether. If Muslims can fight only under the command of a state, it means they cannot fight against an occupying force and against a tyrannical ruler. If the government of a state is corrupt, anti-Islamic or oppressive, nobody can deny the people the right to organise into groups and campaign against it. However, deliberate killing of innocents cannot be regarded desirable even if it is in response to killing of innocents by a country or a group. Though Qur’an allows Muslims to transgress against the enemy if it transgresses against them, this is surely the lastand not the first option.

Another allegation that is labelled against Islam is that Qur’an calls for killing all the unbelievers. The protagonists of this thesis base their arguments on the verses that call for killing the Unbelievers, forgetting that these verses are war-time-injunctions. “Unbelievers” in these verses mean only the unbelievers engaged in the combat. It is clear also that the injunctions of Qur’an are almost similar in the case of fights between factions of Muslims. It asks its true followers to also fight those Muslims who are unjust.

Jihad in Islam is obligatory. It is an important constituent of the Islamic mission of universal peace and justice. It is in fact incumbent on all the human beings to engage in this mission. But for Muslims it is a divine duty. Jihad is meant for protecting the weak against the mighty; for alerting the forces of evil that their sordid adventures will not go unchallenged; for giving the oppressed sections a voice and wrecking the nerve-centres of the tyrants; and for giving the exploiters sleepless nights. Jihad prepares a person to sacrifice his possessions including his life if required for the cause of God. But Mujahids must clearly know that the objective of Jihad is not to bring certain persons to power, nor to bring theocracies to the whole world through sheer use of force. “Deen”, the system of God does not necessarily mean the establishment of a theocratic government through violent means; it means the rule of justice. Fighting is only the last but an open option in Jihad. If conditions are justifiable for fighting, it becomes obligatory; if conditions do not demand fighting, it becomes aggression. If its objectives are for the welfare of the masses it is desirable; if it is an excuse for selfish ends, it is an unparalleled sin. Jihad through peaceful means must always continue without halt; Jihad through arms must be an aberration. But once the conditions are justifiable, fighting must see no sympathy for the enemy; it must be given a crushing below. Fighting against the wicked is no violence; it is an exercise aimed at minimising violence. Killing bacteria and viruses through antibiotics and antiviral drugs is essential to maintain a healthy life. If microbes are not killed, they will kill the very person who provides them the food for their sustenance.

Islam however does not accept that “all is fair in love and war”. Even in war, all Islamic conditions must be followed in letter and spirit. As soon as the conditions are bright for an honourable settlement, fighting must be stopped without delay; for the ultimate objective is not the subjugation of the enemy but an end to mischief, anarchy, chaos and oppression. The powers that dominate do always try to take the right to fight away from others, so that they can continue to hold reins. They amass massive stocks of deadly weapons, but deny others the right to possess them. They do not hesitate a second to attack or invade the positions of their challengers, but make too much fuss of even the smallest acts of armed resistance. They kill innocents in big numbers and label it as ‘collateral damage’; and lambaste their opponents, through the weapons of words and war, if their actions cause the deaths of even a handful of innocents.

Jihad in Quran

Real Jihad

Moreover, We will pass you through tough tests till We know the true soldiers and the patient campaigners among you people. Subsequently, We will scrutinise all the reports about your (conduct). (47: 31)

Jihad against self

The persons, who commit themselves, migrate and campaign for the cause of God, devoting their wealth and lives, have the highest status in God’s view; and they are the true achievers. Their Lord gives them the news in advance about their being recipients of His Favour and Pleasure and an accommodation in gardens having permanent happiness. (9: 20–21)

Ideological Jihad

So, do not heed the Dissenters and campaign against them with the help of the (Quran) — the Supreme Campaign. (25: 51–52)

Armed struggle

Fighting has been ordained for you, though it may appear detestable for you. (2: 216/A)

Against aggression

Fight in the cause of God with the people who fight with you; and do not cross the bounds; undoubtedly God does not love the transgressors. (2: 190)

Against oppression

And what stops you from battling in the cause of God aimed at (rescuing) the victims of oppression, men, women and children, who are pleading: “Our Lord! Take us out of this locality of the oppressors, and raise a protector for us from your side and also raise a helper for us from your side. (4: 75

Against the forces of evil

The persons committed (to Islam) resort to fight only in the cause of God, and the dissenters fight in the cause of the Forces of Hegemony. So, fight with the allies of Satan. The machinations of Satan are weak indeed. (4: 76)

Against the violators of treaty

Further, if they breach their pledges and treaties and keep abusing your System (of Islam), wage a fight against the leaders of the dissent because they do not care about their pledges, with the aim of stopping them from crossing the limits. Will you not fight the people who violated their pledges, plotted to banish the Ambassador and indulged in aggression by being the first (to attack) you? (9: 12–13)

They ask you about fighting in the Prohibited Month. State: “Fighting in this (month) is a grave (deviation); but the bigger (deviations) are: creating hindrances in the cause of God, refusing to commit to Him and expelling from the Sacred Mosque its attendants.” Creating turmoil is even worse than killing. Furthermore they will not stop fighting with you until they — if they have the capability to achieve this — make you abandon your (Islamic) System. And if any of you abandons your System and dies in a state of Dissent, their efforts will become futile, in this life and in the Next World; they will be the people of the Fire and will live there permanently.(2: 217)

Breach of treaty

Disassociation (is declared) from the side of God and His Ambassador with the pagans you had entered into alliance with: “So, you are free to travel wherever you like throughout the land, for a period of four months. And understand that you cannot defeat God, and God has all the power to vanquish the Dissenters.” (9: 1–2)

Further, announcement is made on behalf of God and His Ambassador to the mankind on the Day of Supreme Pilgrimage that God and His Messenger have dissolved the treaty with Pagans: “So if you repent, it will be good for you; if you take a reverse turn, you should understand that you cannot defeat God.” In addition, give the news in advance to the Dissenters about a deadly punishment (awaiting them). (9: 3)

The exceptions are the case of Pagans who after having treaty with you, did not harm you in any manner and did not back anyone against you. So you must fulfil all the terms of treaty till its term expires. God indeed loves the conscientiously dutiful. (9: 4)

Subsequently, when the Sacrosanct Months have passed, you kill the Pagans (the breakers of the treaty) wherever you find them, and capture them, surround them, and wait for them in strategic moves. Now, if they pledge not to commit the breach again, and read Blessings (Salah) in an organised manner, and regularly pay purifier-dues (Zakah), make way for them; God is Pardoning-Merciful indeed. (9: 5)

Then if they repent, read Blessing (Prayer) in an organised manner and pay their Purifier-Dues regularly, they become your brothers in the (Islamic) System; and We elaborate Our guidelines for the knowledge of the nation. (9: 11–12)

Against transgressors

Then in case anyone commits excesses against you, you can also respond to their excesses likewise. (2: 194)

Against treachery

If you are worried about betrayal from a nation, deal strictly with them maintaining an equal status. Surely, God does not love the betrayers. (8: 58)

Conduct when fighting begins

And kill them wherever you confront them, and expell them from where they expelled you; and (understand that) turmoil is even more dangerous than killing; and do not battle with them near the Sacred Mosque, unless they battle with you there; then if they battle with you there, kill them. That is the deserving treatment for the Dissenters. (2: 191)

People committed (to Islam)! When you join the Dissenters in a combat, resolve never to turn your backs to them! If anyone turns his back except when it is part of the fighting strategy or a retreat for the purpose of joining a fellow battalion, he would attract God’s wrath, and His place will be booked in the Hell, a horrendous destination. (8: 15–16)

Then once you have gained dominance over them in the battle, chase not only them but also the troops in their back, to make sure that they all learn the lesson well. (8: 57)

People committed (to Islam)! When you encounter a battalion, remain firm (and resolute) and keep glorifying God abundantly so that you may emerge successful. Further, remain obedient to God and His Ambassador; and do not fall into mutual disputes, lest you lose heart and your strength depart. Further, keep patience! (8: 45–46)

They wish you too dissent the way they did so that you become similar. So, you should not make anyone of them your allies till they take a migration (from dissent) to the cause of God. Then if they breach the trust again, seize them and kill them wherever you find them. Subsequently, you should never consider anyone of them as your allies or supporters. The exceptions (however) are the ones who join an ally of yours or the ones who wholeheartedly make a move not to fight with you as well as the common people of their own society. (4: 89–90)

If they do not disengage from fighting with you, nor give you peace, nor hold their hands (from attacking), seize them and kill them wherever you find them! We have equipped you with a categorical authority regarding them. (4: 91)

Preparations

Remain prepared against them with your maximum achievable strength including steeds (weapons) of war in order to terrify the enemies of God and your (nation) and other would-be-enemies that may not be in your knowledge but are in God’s knowledge. (8: 60)

People committed (to Islam), maintain your alertness! So either move in groups or all together! (4: 71/A)

Martyrs

Next: Do not speak about the persons killed in the Cause of God as if they have died (an ordinary death)! On the contrary, they are alive, but you cannot comprehend this. (2: 154)

Moreover, if you are killed or die in the cause of God, the pardon and favour from God that follow are far superior to what you could have ever amassed (in the world). (3: 157)

Reward for jihad

Moreover, he persons who undertake migration in the cause of God and are subsequently killed or die will be given resource by (Almighty) God to an excellent grant. Truly God is the Best of all the Sources. (22: 58)

Hence, when you are in a combat with the dissenters, keep striking at their necks till you have gained total supremacy over them, following which you must secure a tough bond with them; subsequently, you can opt for either generosity or a ransom covering the total costs of the war. (47: 4)

Fight among Muslims

Moreover, if two factions of the People of Commitment engage in combat with each other, bring them to reconciliation! However, if one of them indulges in excesses against the other, fight against the one which is the aggressor until they comply with the law of God. Subsequently, if they comply, bring reconciliation between them in accordance with the demands of justice; and act in an unbiased manner. God loves the unbiased. (49: 9)

Conditions for cessation of fighting

Subsequently, do not lose your resolve pleading for peace at a time when you need to be in a position of dominance. God is with you, and will not let your efforts go waste. (47: 35)

…..Then if they effectively cease (fighting), hostility is to be sustained against none except the offenders.(2: 193)

Following that, if they disengage themselves from you, not fighting anymore, and send you proposals of peace, God does not allow you to find a reason (to continue hostilities) against them. (4: 90)

Peace for peace

Subsequently, if they are inclined towards establishing peace, you should also demonstrate your inclination for peace, and maintain your trust in God. (8: 61)

Treaties to be adhered to

The exceptions are the case of Pagans who after having treaty with you, did not harm you in any manner and did not back anyone against you. So you must fulfil all the terms of treaty till its term expires. God loves the conscientious indeed. (9: 4)

Asylum

If any of the Pagans pleads you for an asylum, grant it to him, till he listens to the Sermon of God. Following this, escort him to where he feels safe. This is because the (pagans) are a community without knowledge. (9: 6)

Booty

Moreover, take notice that out of the booty you acquire (as the result of a battle), a fifth share is for God, the Ambassador, the relatives, the needy and the traveller. (8: 41)

Exempt from fighting

(Fighting) is not obligatory on the weak, the ill, and the persons who have no problem in making a financial contribution (to the cause) provided they do it on the advice of God and His Messenger. This is also not obligatory on those who are engaged in other activities of excellence in the cause of God. (9: 91)

There is no problem in the case of the blind (not joining the fight), nor is there any problem in the case of the lame nor in the case of the sick. 48: 17)

No fight against peace loving people

God does not stop you from being nice and unbiased to the people who do not fight with you on account of your (Islamic) System nor extradite you from your native places; God indeed loves the unbiased. God only stops you from being friendly to the people who engage in fight with you on account of your System, and extradite you from your native places and back others in your extradition. The ones who develop friendly relations with such people are offenders. (60: 8–9)