By Dr. M. H. Durrani

       The word is derived from Jahadun meaning exertion or striving. Technically it means exerting of one's power in repelling an enemy to the extent of one's ability whether by word or by deed. It also means a war undertaken for a just cause and for defense of Islam. The Holy Qur'an used the word in various ways:

"Those who strive hard for Us, We will certainly guide them in Our ways, and Allah is surely with the doers of good" Al-Qur'an (Ch.29 v.69).

"Whoever strives hard, he strives only for his own soul" (Ch.29 v.69).

"Strive hard for Allah, such a striving as is due to Him" (Ch. 22 v.78).

It appears therefore that the word has been used in different senses, but some European writers twisted it and applied it in all cases to Holy War.


The Holy Qur'an says:

"Permission to fight is given to those upon whom war is made because they are oppressed, and Allah is well able to assist them, those who have been expelled from their homes without a just cause except that they say: Our Lord is Allah, and had there not been Allah's repelling some people by others, there would have been pulled down cloisters, churches, synagogues and mosques in which Allah's name is much remembered, but Allah will help him who helps His Cause" (Ch.22 v.39-40).

Jihad is holy war in the sense that had there been no war, no religious liberty and no justice, no house of God, irrespective of cast and creed, would have been saved. This magnanimous pronouncement of the object of war to protect the holy places of all faiths is nowhere found in the world except in Islam. For absence of good motive in war, the world is now in utter chaos and imperialistic and bureaucratic tendencies have cropped up to an amazing extent. All the wars undertaken by the Prophet and his Companions were of this type. The Qur'an says in unmistakable terms about the object of war in another verse:

"And fight in the way of Allah with those who fight with you, and be not aggressive" (Ch.2 v.190).

This verse also warns the Muslims not to be excessive in killing, such as the killing of women, children and the old. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) prayed in the field of the Badr in the midst of actual fight:

"O Allah! I beseech Thee to fulfil Thy covenant and Thy promise, O Allah! If Thou wilt not, Thou wilt be worshipped no more."


       Fight must be against aggressors who create disturbance in the world and destroy the houses of God of all faiths. Islam however prohibits to fight with those who do not take aggressive part or who are under any treaty with the Muslims on payment of Jizya Tax which is a token of submission to Muslim rule. The Qur'an recites:

"Fight with the aggressors except those of the idolaters with whom you made a treaty. They have not injured you in anything and have not backed up anyone against you. So fulfil their treaty to the end of their terms. Surely Allah loves those who are careful of their duty (Ch.9 v.4).

Again it says:

"If one of the idolaters seeks protection from thee, give him protection till he hears the word of Allah, then make him reach his place of safety. This is because they are a people who do not know" (Ch.9 v.6).

Again the Qur'an says:

"Allah does not forbid you respecting those who have not made war against you on account of (your) religion, and have not driven you forth from your homes, that you show them kindness and deal with them justly. Surely Allah loves the doers of justice" (Ch.60 v.8).


       Jihad is one of the chief meritorious acts in the eyes of Islam and it is the best course of achievement but it shall be undertaken with the intention of self-defense as said above. If it is purged of that motive, it is devoid of all merits. He who fights for chivalry, heroism, fame, or worldly gain acquires no merit, and the aggressor is doomed to eternal perdition (Ch.23 v.53, 54). Jihad is the best action of a Muslim (Ch.23 v.19). A great reward has been promised for supplying even arms and ammunition to the warriors (Ch.33 v.80).

       Merit acquired in Jihad is no less than what is earned in praying and fasting. (Ch.23 v.1). Fire will not touch a foot which trods the path of Allah (23:8). All the sins of a martyr will be forgiven except debt (Ch.23 v.19, 20). Doors of Paradise are under the shades of swords (Ch.23 v.60). Paradise is guaranteed for the martyrs (Ch.23 v.39, 40). A coin spent in the way of Allah bring innumerable blessings (Ch.23 v.37). For these rewards, the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) wished that he should die several times in holy war and be brought back to life several times for holy war.

       MILITARY ORGANISATION of the Holy Prophet was quite different to that of the present day. The Romans and the Persians had regular standing armies like the present day with fixed salaries, and members of noble and respectable families were commanders and chiefs. In such an organization where conquests were the main objects, corruptions and debauchery were predominant and mercenary motives were great. The Holy Prophet (S.A.W. ) had no such standing army. He trained every man, forming a national militia whose sole object was to establish the Kingdom of Allah on earth.

       The Islamic ethics of warfare is a glorious chapter from which modern nations may learn valuable lessons. The reforms which the Holy Prophet (may peace be on him) introduced in his military system are the following:-

  1. The whole army was divided into many units, each unit being under the direct supervision of a chief responsible to the general commander called Ameer.

  2. He had an organized and regular way of providing for the expenses of the army. Every Muslim, rich or poor, had to contribute proportionately to the Bait-ul-Mal (Public Treasury) for this purpose.

  3. He inculcated strict rules about morality and religious duties among the people. Drinking, debauchery, looting and plundering and thousands of other things were prohibited (Ch.4 v.12). Even in actual warfare, prayer had to be performed in the battle-field in the thick of fight.

  4. He created a taste for military life and gave a code and order for it; and he directly inspired his men with courage and bravery by himself taking an active part in all their military exercises, parades and engagements.

  5. He created in the soldiers a truly national republican spirit, making the humblest realize that they were the part and parcel of the State.

  6. He made proper arrangements for the nursing of the sick and the wounded in the battle field.

  7. He used to divide the booties among the soldiers who acquired them.

       There are innumerable traditions relating to the merits of and exhortations for Jihad. Here are a few of the traditions:-

  1. Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said:

    "The likeness of a fighter in the way of Allah is like the likeness of one who fasts, stands up (in prayer) and obeys the verses of Allah without any break of fast and prayer, till the fighter returns from the way of Allah."

  2. Same reported that the Holy Prophet said:

    "By Him in whose hand is my life, how much do I like that I should be martyred in the way of Allah and then be brought back to life, and then be martyred and then be brought back to life, and then be martyred."

  3. Sahl-b-Sa'ad reported that the Messenger of Allah said:

    "Fighting for a day in the way of Allah is better than the world and what is therein".

  4. Otbah-b-Abd As Salami reported that the Messenger of Allah said:

    "Martyrs are three - a believer who fights in the name of Allah with his own self and property and when he encounters the enemy he fights till he is killed. The Messenger of Allah said about him: 'That is the martyr who has been examined for Allah under His Throne. A Prophet will not excel him but with one degree of Prophethood.' And (another is) a believer who mixes good works with other evil works, fights with his self and his property in the way of Allah and meets the enemy and fights till he is killed. The Messenger of Allah said about him - 'He is a purifier that effaces his sins and his faults. Verily the sword is a great effacer of faults. He will be admitted in Paradise through whichever door he likes.' And (a third is) a hypocrite who fights with his self and property, meets the enemy and fights till he is killed; he is in Hell. Verily, the sword does not efface hypocrisy."

  5. Jaber-b-Samorah reported that the Messenger of Allah said:

    "This religion will never cease to exist. A party of the Muslims shall always fight for it till the Hour comes to pass."

  6. Annas reported that the Messenger of Allah said:

    "There will be none entering Paradise who will like to come back to this world and to have what in the earth except a Shaheed - martyr. He will wish to return to the world and then be martyred ten times on account of the honour he receives."

  7. Abdullah-b-Amr reported that the Holy Prophet said:

    Fighting in the way of Allah atones for everything except debt.

  8. Abu Omamah reported from the Holy Prophet who said:

    "Whoso fights no Jihad, nor does he supply arms to warrior, nor does he keep behind a warrior in charge of his family with fairness, Allah will afflict him with a calamity before the Resurrection Day."

  9. AbuHurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said:

    "Spread peace, give food and strike hoofs (of polytheists), you will then inherit the gardens."

  10. Fuzalah-b-Obaid reported from the Messenger of Allah who said:

    "A seal is put over the actions of every dead man except one who dies fighting in the way of Allah, and verily his actions will increase for him up to the Resurrection Day, and he is safe from the punishments of the grave."

  11. Khuzaim-b-Fatek reported that the Prophet said:

    "Whoso incurs an expenditure in the way of Allah, there is written for him (reward) 700 times."

  12. Osman reported from the Messenger of Allah who said:

    "Fighting for one day in the way of Allah is better in rank than one thousand days of what is besides it."

  13. Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said:

    "The first three persons entering Paradise were presented to me: A martyr, and a self-denying man abstaining from begging, and a slave who does divine service and wishes the welfare of his masters."

(Courtesy: Yaqeen International)






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