By Dr. M. H. Durrani

       "Those who believe and suffer exile and strive with might and main in Allah's cause with their goods and their person, have the highest rank in the sight of Allah. They are the people who will obtain (salvation)." - (AL-QUR'AN Ch.9 v.20).


       The Holy Qur'an has emphatically ordained the faithful to take up Jihad in the way of Allah to glorify the right and root out the domination of evil. One should wage war in the cause of truth even if one dislikes war because Allah knows what is good therein for him. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) has also said that Islam will exist for ever and Muslims will continue religious wars till Doomsday. The saying of the Prophet throws much light on the significance of Jihad and its continuation in our society and as a living force.

       The word Jihad is derived from Jahd or Judh, meaning strife or struggle:

          (a) against open enemy,

          (b) against the Devil, and (c) against Self.

Thus Jihad, according to Islam, is one of the obligatory duties i.e. Prayers, Fasting, Charity, Pilgrimage etc. Of all these, Jihad is the most misunderstood of institutions, particularly in the West where it is known as waging war by fanatic Muslims in the name of their religion. We have nothing to say to men of western way of thinking save: "Ignorance, thou art, indeed, a bliss!"

       However, literally Jihad means effort which is very different from what the westerners think. Our God is full of loving kindness (Ch.85 v.14). If the world were faithful to Him, war would become impossible. But pagan nationalism often sets at naught the Islamic principles of Justice and Charity.

       The greatest obstacle today to the peace of the world lies in an exaggerated nationalism fostered by the Jingo press, and the false assumption of modern pagan militarists who hold that wars are inevitable. Everyone seems agreed that the next world war, if it comes, will utterly destroy our present civilization, both morally and materially. To prevent it, and ensure the peace of the world, the love of peace is essential.

       While recognizing that war is one of the greatest evils that can confront a nation, Islam has always held that a just war is licit and moral. A believer, in fact, is all the twenty-four hours of his life a soldier of God.

"My life and death are all for Allah" (Qur'an).

That being so, he is ever struggling against evil to maintain the sovereignty of God on earth. Once the Prophet said that the greatest duty which devolves on a Muslim is to fight against the evil within, and only when he becomes fully God-conscious and is sure that now he lives for Allah and shall die for Him, then he busies himself in the discharge of lesser duty imposed on him, namely, actual warfare and war against evil.

       There are times when fighting in the cause of justice, fighting to help the oppressed, fighting in self-defense, are all truly the highest and noblest of deeds, because in all these cases a man lays down his life in the cause of truth and justice, which is the highest sacrifice.

       A nation goes to war in self-defense. For a war to be just, Islamic moralists insist upon the following conditions: Islam can rightly declare war when it is morally certain that its rights are being actually violated or are in certain and imminent danger; when the cause of war is in proportion to the evil incident to the war; when every peaceful method of well-grounded hope of bettering conditions fails. If these conditions were fulfilled - they rarely have been in history - wars would be few and far between.


       The teaching of Islam is no doubt, the religious duty of every true Muslim, who must follow the example of the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.), but force is to be eschewed in its spread. Says the Qur'an:

"There is no compulsion in religion."

"The right", it adds, "is clearly distinct from error".

       Islam does not believe in the maxim: "All is fair in love and war". According to the Qur'an, war against non-aggressors is forbidden (Ch.2 v.190) and "hatred of a nation should never lead a Muslim to render it injustice" (Ch.5 v.9). According to the Traditions, women, children, the aged and men belonging to religious class should never be molested; crops and fruit-bearing trees should never be destroyed. Those of high-blood should be honourably treated, and if no danger is apprehended, they should be released.

       As a matter of fact, Islam came as a friend of the poor and the destitute; and it has accomplished the uplift of the poor to an extent to which history affords no parallel. It raised men at the lowest rung of the social order to the highest positions of life; it made the slaves not only leaders in thought and intellect but kings. Its social system is of an equality, quite unthinkable in any other nation or society.

       Nothing can illustrate my point better than the following historical fact narrated on The Holy Prophet's (S.A.W.) triumphant entry into Mecca. What a glorious instance of forbearance! Arabia lay prostrate at his feet, and Mecca, the strong-hold of opposition, was entirely at his mercy. Did he then show a spirit of revenge? Could he not, if he had so willed, cut off the heads of everyone there, those implacable enemies of his who gave him no quarter, who forced him to leave his homeland, who held him up to scorn and ridicule, who persecuted him with a rancor and bitterness which was at once cruel and unreasonable? But personal elements never entered into the Prophet's action at all. He rejected every token of personal homage and declined all regal authority. And when the haughty chiefs of the Quraysh appeared before him, he asked:

"What can you expect at my hands?"

"Mercy, O generous brother!"

"Be it so, you are free."

       Does the history of the world record a like warrior, commander or militarist? Smith writes:

"If ever he had worn a mask at all, he would now, at all events, have thrown it of... There was no prescription list, no plunder, and no wanton revenge."

The Prophet declared:

"No reproof against you this day"

and all were pardoned - a magnanimity unheard of in the history of war. The exception of the Jews needs no apology. Times out of number the misguided followers of Moses had proved their wanton faithlessness. To leave them within the danger zone was to invite sabotage and trouble.

       Later on, the first Caliph (Successor of the Prophet), Hazrat Abu Bakr, charged his troops in Syria

"Not to mutilate the dead, nor to slay old men, women and children, nor to cut down fruit trees, nor to kill cattle unless they were needed for food."

       The moral tone adopted by the Caliph in his instruction to the army was, says a modern Christian historian,

"So unlike the principles of the Roman Government, that it must have commanded profound attention from a subject people. Such proclamation announced to Jews and Christians sentiments of justice and principles of toleration which neither Roman Emperors nor orthodox Church fathers ever adopted as the rule of their conduct."(Greece under the Romans - pages 362-368).

       Has any code of military ethics been so chivalrous, so human and so tender towards the enemy? War, it has been truly said, is sanctioned by the law of nature - the constitution of man and the constitution of society, and is at times a biological and sociological necessity. Islam, the ideal and practical religion, has allowed it, but only in cases of sheer necessity.


       The duty of Jihad has been imposed on us for our own benefit, for striving to our own spiritual good. When we speak of serving God, it is not that we confer any benefit on Him. For He has no needs and is independent of all His creation. In conforming to His Will, we are seeking our own good, as in yielding to evil we are doing harm to ourselves (Ch.29 v.6).

       Allah has enjoined Justice and forbidden wickedness and oppression. We are warned not to let ill-will at any time induce us not to act uprightly. We should be staunch in justice, even it be against ourselves or our parents or relatives. Abu-Dawud quotes the Holy Prophet as saying:

"The best of Jihad is of him who speaks a just word before a tyrannical authority."

       This means in Islam war is only permissible in self-defense. Force is a dangerous weapon but we must remember that self-restraint is pleasing in the eyes of God. Even if we are fighting, it should be for a principle, not out of passion.

       Every fight requires wherewithal or, the sinews of war. If the war is just and in the cause of Allah, all who have wealth must spend it freely. That may be their contribution to the cause, in addition to their personal effort. If they hug their wealth, perhaps their own hands are helping their own destruction. Or it may be that advantage goes to the enemy, and they are by their action helping their own destruction. When Muslims are in the state of active Jihad, total mobilization of the entire resources of the Ummah - the Muslim world - becomes the need of the hour. Every believer must come out to contribute his share to the general efforts for the strengthening of the defences. However, in all things, their standard should not be selfishness but the good of their brethren, for such good is pleasing to Allah.

       The Righteous have nothing to fear; God will help and protect them. Even if they die, their cause prevails. They are sure to win because:

    (a) they have divine aid, and

    (b) even humanly speaking, those who take up arms against truth and righteousness are fools,
         and their seeming power is but a broken weed.

       When war becomes inevitable, it must be prosecuted with vigour. According to an English phrase, you cannot fight with "kid gloves". Fighting may take the form of slaughter, or capture or siege, or ambush and other stratagems. But even then there is room for amendment on the part of the guilty party, and if that takes place, our duty is forgiveness and the establishment of peace.

       Thus, Jihad must be carried on by every Muslim under all circumstances.

(The End)





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