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The True Jihad

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A perusal of the Qur’an followed by a study of
latter-day Muslim history will reveal a blatant
contradiction between the two—that of principle
and practice. Where recent developments in some
Muslim countries bespeak the culture of war, the
Qur’an, on the contrary, is imbued with the spirit of
tolerance. Its culture is not that of war, but of
At the very beginning of the Qur’an, the first
invocation reads: “In the name of God, the most
Merciful, the most Beneficent.” Throughout the
Qur’an, God’s name is thus invoked no less than
113 times. Moreover, the Qur’an states that the
prophets were sent to the world as a mercy to the
people (21:107).
The word ‘jihad’ has nowhere been used in the
Qur’an to mean war in the sense of launching an
offensive. It is used rather to mean ‘struggle’. The
action most consistently called for in the Qur’an is
the exercise of patience. Yet today, the ‘Muslim
Mujahideen’ under unfavourable conditions have
equated “God is Great” with “War is Great.” For
them, the greatest reward is to be able to wield a
Kalashnikov rifle.
In the light of on-going conflict, we must ask why
so great a contradiction has arisen between the
principles of Islam and the practices of Muslims. At
least one root cause may be traced to historical
Since time immemorial, military commanders have
been accorded positions of great eminence in the
annals of history. It is a universal phenomenon that
the hero is idolized even in peacetime and becomes
a model for the people. It is this placing of heroism
in the militaristic context which has been the
greatest underlying factor in the undue stress laid
on war in the latter phase of Islam’s history. With
the automatic accord in Muslim society of a place of
honour and importance to the heroes of the
battlefield, annalists’ subsequent compilations of
Islamic history have tended to read like an
uninterrupted series of wars and conquests.
These early chronicles having set the example,
subsequent writings on Islamic history have followed the same pattern of emphasis on
militarism. The Prophet’s biographies were called
maghazi, that is, ‘The Battles Fought by the Prophet,’
yet the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon
him, in fact did battle only three times in his entire
life, and the period of his involvement in these
battles did not total more than one and a half days.
He fought; let it be said, in self-defence, when
hemmed in by aggressors, where he simply had no
option. But historians—flying in the face of fact—
have converted his whole life into one of
confrontation and war.
We must keep it in mind that the Prophet
Muhammad, may peace be upon him, was born at a
time when an atmosphere of militancy prevailed in
Arab society, there being, in their view, no other
path to justice. But the Prophet always opted for
avoidance of conflict. For instance, in the campaign
of Ahzab, the Proph

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The True Jihad

  1. 1. The True Jihad Table of ContentsTABLE OF CONTENTSTable of Contents ............................................................................... 2Preface ................................................................................................ 4The True Jihad...................................................................................10 The Jihad Movements of Modern Times ....................................23Peace in the Quran...........................................................................27 The Teachings of Islam.................................................................28 The Example of the Prophet Muhammad, May Peace be Upon Him ................................................................................................31 War: A State Action ......................................................................34 The Difference Between the Enemy and the Aggressor ...........37 The Power of Peace......................................................................39 Clarification of a Fallacy...............................................................41Non-Violence and Islam ...................................................................44 Peaceful Beginning.......................................................................48 Success Through the Non-Violent Method ................................51 Political Revolt Unlawful..............................................................56 The Command of War in Islam....................................................60 ~2~
  2. 2. The True Jihad Table of Contents The Modern Age and Non-Violence............................................68 The Manifestation of Religion .....................................................71 Islam in the Present Age ..............................................................79 The True Jihad through Da‘wah Activism ...................................85 Peace and Justice .........................................................................87 Muslims Displaced........................................................................90Tolerance!! Its Significance Today..................................................96 Tolerance: The Price of Peace ...................................................102Conclusion.......................................................................................105 ~3~
  3. 3. The True Jihad PrefacePREFACEA perusal of the Qur’an followed by a study oflatter-day Muslim history will reveal a blatantcontradiction between the two—that of principleand practice. Where recent developments in someMuslim countries bespeak the culture of war, theQur’an, on the contrary, is imbued with the spirit oftolerance. Its culture is not that of war, but ofmercy.At the very beginning of the Qur’an, the firstinvocation reads: “In the name of God, the mostMerciful, the most Beneficent.” Throughout theQur’an, God’s name is thus invoked no less than113 times. Moreover, the Qur’an states that theprophets were sent to the world as a mercy to thepeople (21:107).The word ‘jihad’ has nowhere been used in theQur’an to mean war in the sense of launching anoffensive. It is used rather to mean ‘struggle’. Theaction most consistently called for in the Qur’an isthe exercise of patience. Yet today, the ‘MuslimMujahideen’ under unfavourable conditions have ~4~
  4. 4. The True Jihad Prefaceequated “God is Great” with “War is Great.” Forthem, the greatest reward is to be able to wield aKalashnikov rifle.In the light of on-going conflict, we must ask whyso great a contradiction has arisen between theprinciples of Islam and the practices of Muslims. Atleast one root cause may be traced to historicalexigency.Since time immemorial, military commanders havebeen accorded positions of great eminence in theannals of history. It is a universal phenomenon thatthe hero is idolized even in peacetime and becomesa model for the people. It is this placing of heroismin the militaristic context which has been thegreatest underlying factor in the undue stress laidon war in the latter phase of Islam’s history. Withthe automatic accord in Muslim society of a place ofhonour and importance to the heroes of thebattlefield, annalists’ subsequent compilations ofIslamic history have tended to read like anuninterrupted series of wars and conquests.These early chronicles having set the example,subsequent writings on Islamic history have ~5~
  5. 5. The True Jihad Prefacefollowed the same pattern of emphasis onmilitarism. The Prophet’s biographies were calledmaghazi, that is, ‘The Battles Fought by the Prophet,’yet the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be uponhim, in fact did battle only three times in his entirelife, and the period of his involvement in thesebattles did not total more than one and a half days.He fought; let it be said, in self-defence, whenhemmed in by aggressors, where he simply had nooption. But historians—flying in the face of fact—have converted his whole life into one ofconfrontation and war.We must keep it in mind that the ProphetMuhammad, may peace be upon him, was born at atime when an atmosphere of militancy prevailed inArab society, there being, in their view, no otherpath to justice. But the Prophet always opted foravoidance of conflict. For instance, in the campaignof Ahzab, the Prophet advised his Companions todig a trench between them and the enemies, thuspreventing a head-on clash.Another well-known instance of the Prophet’sdislike for hostilities is the Hudaibiyyah peace ~6~
  6. 6. The True Jihad Prefacetreaty in which the Prophet accepted all theconditions of the enemy. In the case of the conquestof Makkah, he avoided a battle altogether bymaking a rapid entry into the city with tenthousand Muslims—a number large enough to awehis enemies into submission.In this way, on all occasions, the Prophetendeavoured to achieve his objectives by peacefulrather than by war-like means. It is, therefore,unconscionable that in later biographical writing, allthe events of his life have been arranged under theheading of ‘battles’ (ghazawat). How he managed toavert the cataclysms of war has not been dealt within any of the works which purportedly depict hislife.Ibn Khaldun, the celebrated 14th century historian,was the first to lay down definite rules for the studyand writing of history and sociology. He followedthe revolutionary course of attempting to presenthistory as a chronicle of events centering on thecommon man rather than on kings, their generalsand the battles they fought. But since war heroeswere already entrenched as the idols of society, the ~7~
  7. 7. The True Jihad Prefacecaravan of writers and historians continued tofollow the same well-worn path as had beentrodden prior to Ibn Khaldun. When people havecome to regard war heroes as the greatest of men, itis but natural that it is the events of the battlefieldwhich will be given the greatest prominence inworks of history. All other events will either berelegated to the background or omitted altogether.In the past when the sword was the only weapon ofwar, militancy did not lead to the mass-scale loss oflife and property such as modern warfare brings inits wake. In former times, fighting was confined tothe battlefield; the only sufferers were thoseengaged in the battle. But today, the spear andsword have been replaced by megabombs anddevastating long-range missiles, so that killing anddestruction take place on a horrendous scale. It isthe entire human settlement which has now becomethe global arena of war. Even the air we breathe andthe water we drink are left polluted in war’saftermath.Hence people in the West find Islam outdated andirrelevant precisely because of its militant ~8~
  8. 8. The True Jihad Prefaceinterpretation. Demands for a reform in Islam areon the increase, as the ‘old’ version of Islam cannotapparently keep pace with the modern world.But, in reality, it is not reformation which is urgent,but revival. What is needed is to discard assuperficial and erroneous the militant and politicalinterpretation of Islam, and to adopt the original,‘old’ version of Islam based on peace, mercy and thelove of mankind.The so-called Muslim Mujahideen have beenexhorting their co-religionists to do battle all overthe world. But the Qur’an says: ‘...and God calls tothe home of peace’ (10:25). It is up to right-thinkingpeople everywhere to reject the militant version ofIslam, and to start seeing and accepting Islam as it istruly represented by the Qur’an. Wahiduddin KhanThe Islamic Centre, New DelhiJanuary 4, 2002 ~9~
  9. 9. The True Jihad The True JihadTHE TRUE JIHAD “Read! In the name of your Lord...” (The Quran, 96:1)The Quran exhorts believers to “strive for the causeof Allah as it behoves you to strive for it.” (22:78)This earnest struggle is expressed in Arabic by theword ‘jihad’ which is derived from the root ‘juhd’,which means to strive, to struggle, that is, to exertoneself to the utmost to achieve one’s goal.Thus the original meaning of jihad in Arabic isstriving very hard’. Since the early Muslims had tostrive hard during wars with aggressors, these warscame, in an extended sense, to be called jihad.However, the actual word for such a war in Arabicis qital, not jihad.War with an aggressor is a chance occurrence,taking place as warranted by particular situations,while jihad is a continuous action which is at thecore of the believer’s life day in and day out. It is anongoing process. This constant jihad means strictadherence to the will of God in all aspects of one’s ~ 10 ~
  10. 10. The True Jihad The True Jihadlife, and the prevention of any obstacle coming inthe way of fulfilling God’s will—for instance, thedesires of the self, the urge to serve one’s owninterests, the compulsion of social traditions, theneed for compromises, ego problems, greed forwealth, etc. All these things directly thwartrighteous actions. Overcoming all such hurdles andpersevering in obeying God’s commands are thereal jihad. And the word jihad has been usedprimarily in this sense. We quote here sometraditions, as recorded in Musnad Ahmad, whichdefine the role of the mujahid.1. A mujahid is one who struggles with himself forthe sake of God. (6/20)2. A mujahid is one who exerts himself for the causeof God (6/22)3. A mujahid is one who struggles with his self insubmission to the will of God.The present world is a testing ground: the entirefabric of this world has been designed with a viewto fulfilling the purposes of the divine trial of man.This being so, the human being is necessarily faced ~ 11 ~
  11. 11. The True Jihad The True Jihadwith all kinds of temptations, which are so manybarriers to his measuring up to God’s standards. Forinstance, when a matter of truth comes before himand he fails to acknowledge itfor fear of losing his status; when Islamic jihad ishe has someone’s wealth or a positive andproperty in his possession, and continuoushe hesitates about restoring it to process. It is atthe true owner; when he resentshaving to place curbs on himself work in thein order to lead a life of modesty entire life of aas desired by God; when he feels believer.that suppressing his anger andvengefulness in order to be patient amounts to hisown negation; when he fails to speak words of truthand stand up for justice for fear of losing hispopularity; when he is loath to renounce comfortsand convenience, etc., in order to be of a principledcharacter instead of a selfish character. On all suchoccasions man has to curb his desires. It becomesessential for him to sacrifice his feelings. At times hemay feel that he has to kill his ego completely. Inspite of having to surmount all such hurdles, theindividual should be determined to stick to thetruth in the real and primary sense of jihad. Those ~ 12 ~
  12. 12. The True Jihad The True Jihadwho engage in this jihad will be held deserving ofparadise in the Hereafter.‘Jihad’ essentially is a peaceful struggle. One form ofthis peaceful struggle is dawah (communication ofthe message of God).The Quran States: Do not yield to the unbelievers, but fight them strenuously with it (the Quran) (25:52).No military activity is referred to in this verse of theQuran. We are not meant to engage in physicalcombat with the non-believers. What this verseactually means is that we must engage ourselves indawah activities through the teachings of the Quran,that is, striving ourselves to the utmost on anideological plane, while sifting truth fromfalsehood.Even in the face of a military challenge from theenemy, all efforts will be made to counteraggression by peaceful methods. The path of peacecan be abandoned only when it has becomeimpossible to stick to it, and only when there is no ~ 13 ~
  13. 13. The True Jihad The True Jihadother option but to give a military response in self-defence.A tradition narrated by Aisha, the Prophet’s wife,provides a guiding principle. She said: Wheneverthe Prophet had to choose between two courses, hewould always opt for the easier one. This meansthat whenever the Prophet had two options beforehim in any matter, he would always abandon theharder option in favour of the easier one (Bukhari).This tradition (sunnah) of the Whenever theProphet Muhammad, maypeace be upon him, is prophet had torelevant not only to everyday choose betweenaffairs but also to such serious two courses, hematters as, by their very would always optnature, relate to harder for the easieroptions. course.The study of the Prophet’s lifeshows that he never initiated a military movehimself. When his opponents wanted to embroilhim in war, he would on all occasions apply somestrategy of avoidance to avert war. He fought onlywhen there was no other way left to him. According ~ 14 ~
  14. 14. The True Jihad The True Jihadto the sunnah of the Prophet, there is no aggressiveor offensive war in Islam. Islam allows only adefensive war and that, too, only when there is noother option.The truth is that in life we have to face the problemof choosing between two courses: between theconfrontational and the non-confrontational,between the peaceful and the violent. The study ofthe Prophet’s life tells us that the Prophet, in allmatters, abandoned the violent or confrontationalcourse in favour of the peaceful or non-confrontational course. The whole life of theProphet provides a successful, practical example ofthis principle. We give here some examples of thisnature.1. After being appointed as Prophet, the firstquestion before him was which of the two above-mentioned courses he should follow. As we know,the Prophet’s mission was to bring polytheism(shirk) to an end and establish monotheism in itsplace. The Kabah in Makkah had already beenestablished as a centre of monotheism, but at thetime of the Prophet 360 idols were already installed ~ 15 ~
  15. 15. The True Jihad The True Jihadwithin its walls. In view of this situation, the firstverses to be revealed in the Quran should have beento this effect: “Purify the Kabah of all idols,” andthen, after making it a centre of tawhid or oneness ofAllah, work for your mission.But beginning his mission with this task wouldhave amounted to waging war, for it was theQuraysh who were the guardians of the Kabah asthe well as the leaders of Arabia.The Prophet therefore totally The entire lifeavoided the physical purification of the Prophetof the Kabah and limited himself is a practicalto the theoretical communication demonstrationof the message of monotheism. It of his peace-was the first prophetic example loving policy.of adopting a peaceful and non-confrontational method instead of a violent orconfrontational method.2. Adhering strictly to this peaceful principle, theProphet continued to work in Makkah for a periodof thirteen years. But even then, the Quraysh turnedhis dire enemies. Ultimately, the Quraysh’s leadersin consultation among themselves arrived at a ~ 16 ~
  16. 16. The True Jihad The True Jihadconsensus to kill the Prophet. Therefore, armedyouths of their tribe surrounded his home one nightto put their plan into action.This was an open challenge for the Prophet and hiscompanions to do battle with them. Instead, theProphet guided by God, decided to avoid anymilitary encounter. Therefore, in the stillness of the night, he quietly left his home Migration or in Makkah for Madinah. This event is called the emigration hijrah of the (hijrah) in the history of Islam. Prophet Emigration is a clear example of Muhammad is a abandoning violent solutions in clear example of favour of peaceful solutions. abandoning 3. The battle of the Trench is violent solutions another example of this sunnah in favour of of the Prophet. On this occasion peaceful a large number of people from solutions. different tribes had come to Madinah with the intention ofattacking it. It was clearly a military challenge. Butthe Prophet used strategy to avoid an encounterwith the enemy. According to this plan, the Prophet ~ 17 ~
  17. 17. The True Jihad The True Jihadworked hard day and night along with hiscompanions to dig a long trench between him andhis opponents. This trench served as a buffer.Therefore, when the army of the Quraysh arrived,they could not attack. So they camped there forsome days. In the end they gave up the idea ofattacking as it was impossible to cross the ditch.They eventually left Madinah. The digging of thistrench provides an example of opting for a peacefulcourse instead of a violent course.4. The Hudaybiyya peace treaty also providesanother example of this sunnah of the Prophet. Atthat time the Prophet and his companions hadwanted to perform the minor pilgrimage (umrah) byentering Makkah. But when they reachedHudaybiyya, which was nine miles from Makkah,they were stopped by the Quraysh leaders. Theysaid that in no event would they allow them toenter Makkah. This again was a military challenge.If the Prophet wanted to advance as plannedtowards Makkah, an encounter was sure to takeplace. Therefore, the Prophet ended his journey atHudaybiyya and entered into a peace treaty,accepting unilaterally the conditions laid down by ~ 18 ~
  18. 18. The True Jihad The True Jihadthe enemy. He then came back to Madinah withouthaving performed the umrah. This was a very clearprophetic example of adopting a peaceful methodas opposed to a violent method.5. The conquest of Makkah provides an equallytelling example of this same sunnah. At that time theProphet was accompanied by 10,000 devoted followers. They could certainly have fought a successful battle As seen during with the Quraysh, yet the the conquest of Prophet Muhammad, may peace Makkah, the be upon him, decided to Prophet adhered demonstrate his power rather to the principle than use it. He did not come out with his 10,000 strong army to of peace even in declare war against the Quraysh extreme in order to conquer Makkah after emergencies. a bloody encounter. He instead made preparations for a journeywith the utmost secrecy, and travelling with hiscompanions, he quietly entered Makkah. This entrywas so sudden that the Quraysh could not makeany preparations for war and Makkah wasconquered without any carnage. This incident ~ 19 ~
  19. 19. The True Jihad The True Jihadprovides a fine example of adopting a peacefulinstead of a violent method. These examples showthat not only in normal situations but also inextreme emergencies the Prophet adhered to theprinciple of peace rather than that of war. All hissuccesses are practical examples of this sunnah ofpeace.6. As mentioned above, the position of peace inIslam is sacrosanct, while war inIslam is allowed only in For from beingexceptional cases when it cannot an armedbe avoided. Granted that this is struggle, jihadso, let us look at the state ofaffairs prevailing today. This is a peacefulmodern age is totally different struggle.from preceding centuries. In ancient times violencewas the norm, so that maintaining the peace wasextremely difficult. But now the situation has totallychanged. Today, we have reached the ultimate stagewhere any kind of violence is undesirable orunacceptable. Indeed, a peaceful strategy is the onlyviable solution. Furthermore, in our times apeaceful course of action is backed up by ~ 20 ~
  20. 20. The True Jihad The True Jihadideological and practical arguments, which invest itwith all the greater power and sanctity.These modern support systems have a number ofvery positive aspects, for instance, the right tofreedom of expression, the possibilities opened upby the communications system of spreading one’smessage across the globe, etc. These modernchanges have rendered possible a peaceful course ofaction, which has far greater popularity and is at thesame time more effective. As mentioned above, the sunnah Now, a peaceful or way of the Prophet is that, if course of action it is possible to adopt a peaceful is not just one of method, it should be put into practice during any Islamic the possibilities: struggle. A violent course of it is the only action should be shunned feasible and altogether. Now the present result-oriented state of affairs is that, as a result option. of the changes that have taken place in the present age, thepeaceful method is not only available at all timesbut, due to various supporting factors, has become ~ 21 ~
  21. 21. The True Jihad The True Jihadthe most effective course of action. It wouldtherefore be no exaggeration to say that in presenttimes a violent struggle is not only a hard optionbut is not in practice useful. Whereas non-violenceis not only an easier option, but is also highlyeffective and result-oriented. Now, a peacefulcourse of action is not just one of the possibilities: itis the only feasible and result-oriented option. Thisbeing so, it would be right to say that violence hasbeen practically abandoned. This is what we call anabrogated command in the language of the shariah(Islamic law). Now believers are, in reality, left withonly one choice, and that is indeed the peacefulcourse of action.In recent times, one celebrated example of thesuccess of such a course is to be found in the life ofthe Indian leader, Mahatma Gandhi (d.1948). Due totemporal changes, it became possible for MahatmaGandhi to wage political battles successfully byadopting the principle of non-violence andengaging in peaceful activism in the full sense ofthese expressions. ~ 22 ~
  22. 22. The True Jihad The True JihadIt is a known principle that the commands of theshariah change according to altered situations. Thisaccepted principle of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence)demands that with the changing times, a newapplication of the shariah should be sought in orderthat shariah commands may be in consonance withthe changing circumstances.This principle of Islamic jurisprudence relates notonly to civic matters, but also certainly to thewaging of war. This principle demands the practicalavoidance of a violent course of action. Only apeaceful course of action should be accorded thestatus of a shariah command.THE JIHAD MOVEMENTS OF MODERN TIMES It is true that in ancient times According to the violent solutions were adopted Islamic shariah, at certain stages due to thepeace is the rule in prevailing circumstances. Opponents had no other matters of jihad, alternative. Now, with the while war is the changing of the times, there is least desirable no longer this compulsion. option. Therefore, launching out on a ~ 23 ~
  23. 23. The True Jihad The True Jihadviolent course of action is not only unnecessary, butalso unIslamic. In these modern times non-violentconduct is the best option. According to the Islamicshariah, peace is the rule in matters of jihad, whilewar is the least desirable option.In present times groups of Muslims in manycountries have launched movements of armed jihad,in the name of Islam. But a movement cannot be ajihad just because its leaders describe it as such.An action can be termed a ‘jihad’ only when it fulfilsthe conditions set by Islam. Any military actionwhich is carried out without fulfilling theseconditions will not be a jihad but a fasad, which willamount to spreading corruption across the world.Those who engage in such a ‘jihad’ will not deserveany reward. They should expect only divinepunishment.The special conditions of jihad have been dealt within detail in the following chapter. Here I would liketo lay stress on one important aspect of it. That is,jihad in the sense of qital (armed struggle) does notfall into the same category of individual acts of ~ 24 ~
  24. 24. The True Jihad The True Jihaddevotion as prayer and fasting: it is an activitywhich relates totally to the state.The true Islamic jihad as it relates to the individualsis a positive and continuous process, which is atwork throughout the entire life of a believer. Thereare three major kinds of this process of jihad.1. Jihad-e-nafs: to control one’s negative and undesirable feelings within oneself and to persevere in the ‘Jihad’ essentially life of God’s choice in all is a peaceful circumstances. struggle. One 2. Dawah jihad: to communicate form of this the message of God to all peaceful struggle human beings and deal with is dawah all human beings with full (communication compassion and well-wishing. of the message of This is a gigantic task. That is God) why it has been called the greatest jihad in the Quran.3. Jihad with antagonists: to counter any challengefrom the opponents of religion, and to safeguardreligion in all circumstances. This jihad basically has ~ 25 ~
  25. 25. The True Jihad The True Jihadalways been a peaceful process, and it is still soeven today. In this respect, far from being an armedoffensive, jihad is essentially a peaceful struggle. ~ 26 ~
  26. 26. The True Jihad Peace in the QuranPEACE IN THE QURAN “God calls to the Home of Peace.” (The Quran, 10:25)At a three-day symposium held at the AmericanUniversity in Washington, on Feb 1998, I made aspeech on “Islam and Peace”, a part of which isgiven below: The truth is that “It is no exaggeration to say that Islam and violence are Islam’s being a contradictory to each other. peaceful religion The concept of Islamic shows that it is an violence is so obviously eternal religion. unfounded that prima facie it Had it been a stands rejected. The fact that religion of violence, violence is not sustainable in the present world is it would not have sufficient indication that stood the test of violence as a principle is time. quite alien to the scheme ofthings in Islam. Islam claims to be an eternalreligion and, as such, could never afford to upholdany principle which could not stand up to the test of ~ 27 ~
  27. 27. The True Jihad Peace in the Qurantime. Any attempt to bracket violence with Islamamounts, therefore, to casting doubt upon the veryeternity of the Islamic religion. Islamic terrorism is acontradiction in terms, much like ‘pacifist’terrorism. And the truth of the matter is that, all theteachings of Islam are based directly or in-directlyon the principle of peace.”THE TEACHINGS OF ISLAMThe very word ‘Islam’ (from the Arabic silm)connotes peace. According to a tradition of theProphet, ‘Peace is Islam’ (Al-Bukhari). This meansthat peace is one of the prerequisites of Islam.Similarly, a hadith states: A Muslim is one fromwhose tongue and hands people are safe. One of theattributes of God described in the Quran is ‘As-Salam’, which means peace and security.’ That is tosay that God’s Being itself is a manifestation ofpeace. Indeed, God is Peace (Al-Bukhari). In theQuran divine guidance is likened to the paths ofpeace. (5:16)According to Islam, Paradise is the ideal humanabode, and is thus called the ‘Home of Peace.’ It isalso said that, the people of Paradise will wish ~ 28 ~
  28. 28. The True Jihad Peace in the Quranpeace to one another, indicating that the socialculture of the people of Paradise will be based onpeace.The Quran, avers that, The position of‘reconciliation is best’ (4:128),and judging by the peace in Islam isconsequences, the way of peace sacrosanct, whileis far better than that of war in Islam isconfrontation. By the law of allowed only inNature, God has decreed that exceptional casessuccess will be met with only on when it cannota reconciliatory path, and not be avoided.on a confrontational or a violentcourse of action.Whenever the Prophet had an option between twocourses of action, he always chose the easier (non-confrontational) one. (Bukhari)This means that, violent activism should not beindulged in if peaceful activism is an option. For,peace is the easier course as compared to violence.For instance, trying to change the status quo in thevery first stage of a movement is a hard option, ~ 29 ~
  29. 29. The True Jihad Peace in the Quranwhile launching one’s activities in the availablesphere without doing so is an easier option. Going to war in Countering confrontational situations is a aggression with hard option while following a aggression is a conciliatory course in dealing hard option, while with one’s rival is easier. countering Countering aggression with aggression with aggression is a hard option, while countering aggression patience and with patience and forbearance forbearance is an is an easier option. An easier option. agitational course of action is harder than employing quietstrategy. Adopting a radical method of reformationis harder than that of following a gradual method.Taking emotional, extreme steps without a thoughtfor their consequences creates difficulties. While awell-considered method, keeping an eye on theconsequences, gives much better results. The policyof confrontation with a ruler is a harder option,while initiating one’s action, by side-stepping theruler in the sphere of education and learning is an ~ 30 ~
  30. 30. The True Jihad Peace in the Quraneasier option. These instances show us the easierand harder options, as demonstrated by the Hadith.The truth is that peace in Islam is the ‘rule’, whilewar is the ‘exception’. This is borne out by all theteachings of Islam and the practical life of theProphet of Islam.THE EXAMPLE OF THE PROPHETMUHAMMAD, MAY PEACE BE UPON HIMThe Prophet Muhammad, may peace be upon him,received his first revelation in 610 in Makkah. Godordained that he carry out the mission of tawhid (oroneness of God).The house of the Kabah, which was built as thehouse of monotheism by the Prophet Ibrahim (maypeace be upon him) and his son Ismail, later onbecame a centre of polytheism with 360 idols in it.The first revelation might well have demanded thepurification of the Kabah, which would have givenrise to a serious problem. But the first revelationmade in the Quran was: Purify your vestments(74:4). This means to purify one’s moral character.If, in the first stage the Prophet had been ~ 31 ~
  31. 31. The True Jihad Peace in the Qurancommanded to purify the Kabah while Makkah wasstill under the domination of the idolaters, thiswould have surely precipitated clash andconfrontation. Therefore, according to the commandof the first revelation, the Prophet continued toperform his prayers peacefully in the Kabah for a period of 13 years, even though The goal of the it housed several hundred idols. Islamic mission Similarly, the Prophet and his is to make people companions circumambulated realize the the Kabah on the occasion of existence of the Umrah al-Hudaybiyya in 629, one and only God while the Kabah still housed and to strive to 360 idols. bring about a The Prophet Muhammad, may revolution in peace be upon him, proceeded their hearts and thus in order to avoid war and minds. confrontation with the idolaters, and so that the atmosphere ofpeace should be maintained. The entire life of theProphet is a practical demonstration of this peace-loving policy. At the time of migration fromMakkah, the idolaters were all set to wage war, but ~ 32 ~
  32. 32. The True Jihad Peace in the Quranthe Prophet avoided this by quietly leaving hishomeland for Madinah.The mission of Islam is based on monotheism, itsgoal being to make people realize the existence ofthe one and only God and to strive to bring about arevolution in their hearts and minds in order thatthey may love God as is His due. And the greatestconcern of man should be to fear and worship hisCreator (2:165). PeacefulSuch a dawah mission cannotafford wars and violent circumstancesconfrontations. When a state of produce awar and violence prevails, the propitiousnormal atmosphere is vitiated environment forand such circumstances as Islam, whilewould foster intellectual violentmovements and spiritualreformation cannot be circumstanceseffectively created. It cannot be result indenied that peaceful antagonismcircumstances produce a towards it.propitious environment for ~ 33 ~
  33. 33. The True Jihad Peace in the QuranIslam, while violent circumstances inevitably resultin antagonism towards Islam.WAR: A STATE ACTION In Islam, war is not the Quranic prerogative of the individual but commands to do of an established government. battle were Only an established government always specific can declare war. In other words, to particular individuals can pray on their own, but they cannot wage wars sets of of their own accord. Only when circumstances, a war is declared by the ruling and were not government, can the public join meant to be in and support it, and not before indiscriminately that. Islam does not sanction applied at the individual actions on this issue. will of As a general principle, the individuals. Quran tells us that, even where an external attack is feared, thecommon man should not act independently, butshould take the matter to the ruler, then under hisguidance take proper counter measures. (4:83). ~ 34 ~
  34. 34. The True Jihad Peace in the QuranThe Hadith also states that ‘the ruler is a shield,fighting is done under him, and security is attainedthrough him.’This clearly shows that the decision to do battle andits planning are the tasks of an establishedgovernment. The common man can play his role asneed be under government orders, and notindependently.This Islamic principle shows that there is no roomfor non-state warfare, which is what we generallycall guerilla war. A guerilla war isfought by individual Targeting non-organizations, not by the State. As combatantsfar as the state is concerned, if itwants to wage a defensive war even inagainst any country it has first— defensive warin obedience to the Quran—to is unlawful.issue a proper declaration. Onlythen can it wage a lawful war (8:58). In Islam, thereis only ‘declared’ war. Therefore, in accordancewith this principle, no proxy war in Islam can belawful. ~ 35 ~
  35. 35. The True Jihad Peace in the QuranMost Islamic actions are governed by certainconditions. The waging of war is also thus subject tocertain principles, one being that, even when adefensive war has been declared by the State, it willbe aimed only at the combatants. Targeting non-combatants will be unlawful. The Quran enjoins usnot to do battle with those who are not at war. Suchpeople have to be dealt with kindly and equitably.But you are free to do battle with those who arefighting against you. (60:8-9) If, for instance, a Muslim state is According to at war with a particular nation, Islam we can and this war is in conformance with Islamic principles, it become martyrs, should still not permit any but we cannot destructive activities against court a martyr’s non-combatants (civilians), as death was done on September deliberately. 11, 2001, in New York and Washington. Similarly inIslamic war, Muslims are not permitted to commitsuicidal bombings in order to destroy the enemy.Strapping explosives on to oneself and hurlingoneself upon the civilian settlements of even those ~ 36 ~
  36. 36. The True Jihad Peace in the Quranwith whom one is at war, for the purpose ofdestroying the enemy, and in the process killingoneself deliberately, is totally un-Islamic. This canin no way be termed ‘shahadah’ (martyrdom).According to Islam we can become martyrs, but wecannot court a martyr’s death deliberately.THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE ENEMY ANDTHE AGGRESSORUnder the scheme of the divine trial of humanbeings, man has been grantedfreedom by God. Due to this Islam believes infreedom, enmities may develop turning one’sbetween people (20:123), which enemy into asometimes lead them to war. But friend throughIslam makes a clear differencebetween enmity and war. peaceful means, instead ofBelievers do not have the right to declaring himwage wars against their enemies. an enemy andWhat the believers have to do as then wagingregards their enemies is far fromwaging war. Their duty is to war againstpeacefully convey to them the him.message of Islam. The Quran ~ 37 ~
  37. 37. The True Jihad Peace in the Qurangives a clear injunction on this subject: “And goodand evil deeds are not alike. Repel evil with good.And he who is your enemy will become yourdearest friend.” (41:33-34) That is to say, Islambelieves in turning one’s enemy into a friendthrough peaceful means, instead of declaring himan enemy and then waging war against him.Islam does give permission to do battle. But suchpermission is given only in the case of an attack byopponents in spite of the policy of avoidance beingfollowed by the Muslims, thus creating a situationwhere self-defence is required. The Quran has thisto say: “Permission to take up arms is hereby givento those who are attacked because they have beenwronged” (22:38). At another place the Quran givesa valid reason for fighting: “They were the first toattack you” (9:13).This shows that according to the teachings of Islam,war is to be waged not against the enemy butagainst the aggressor. If Muslims hold someone tobe their enemy, that does not give them the right toattack him. The one and only right given to them isto convey the peaceful message of Islam. Islam ~ 38 ~
  38. 38. The True Jihad Peace in the Quranpermits defensive fighting against violentaggression, but only when all efforts at avoidanceand reconciliation have failed. The practicalexample of the Prophet Muhammad, may peace beupon him, provides an incontrovertible proof of thevalue of this policy.THE POWER OF PEACEAccording to a hadith, “God “God grants togrants to gentleness what He gentleness whatdoes not grant to harshness.” he does notThat is to say, peaceful activism grant tois distinctly superior to violent harshness.”activism. There is nothingmysterious about the point made —The Prophetin this hadith. It is a simple and a Muhammadwell-known fact of life that in asituation of war and violence, feelings of hatred andenmity flare up between the two sides and, in theprocess, the existing resources are destroyed.People from both sides get killed and the entiresociety turns into a jungle of negative feelings. It isquite obvious that in such an atmosphere noconstructive and consolidated work can be done. ~ 39 ~
  39. 39. The True Jihad Peace in the QuranThere is nothing to be achieved in war and violence,save death and destruction.On the contrary, an atmosphere of peace enablesnormal relations to be established between people.It makes it possible for feelings of love andfriendship to prevail. In a favourable atmosphere constructive activities flourish War brings and the existing resources can nothing but death be used for development or and destruction. other creative activities. A Whereas peace positive bent of mind will prevail which will help fosters benign develop academic and creativity. intellectual advancement.The greatest ill-effect of war is that it limitshuman endeavour, whereas the greatest benefitof peace is that to the ultimate extent it opens upopportunities for improvement. War invariablyresults in further loss, while peace invariablyresults in further gain. That is why Islam teachesus to avoid war and confrontation at all costsand commands us to establish peace to thegreatest possible degree. ~ 40 ~
  40. 40. The True Jihad Peace in the QuranCLARIFICATION OF A FALLACYThere are certain verses in the Quran which conveyinjunctions similar to the following: ‘Kill themwherever you find them.’ (2:191)Referring to such verses, there are some whoattempt to give the impression that Islam is areligion of war and violence. This is totally untrue.Such verses relate in a restricted sense, to those whohave unilaterally attacked the Muslims. The aboveverse does not convey the general command ofIslam.The truth of the matter is that the Quran was notrevealed in the complete form in which it existstoday. It was revealed from time to time, accordingto the circumstances, over a time span of 23 years. Ifthis is divided into years of war and peace, theperiod of peace amounts to 20 years, while that ofwar amounts only to 3 years. The revelations duringthese 20 peaceful years were the peaceful teachingsof Islam as are conveyed in the verses regarding therealization of God, worship, morality, justice, etc. ~ 41 ~
  41. 41. The True Jihad Peace in the QuranThis division of commands into different categoriesis a natural one and is found in all religious books.For instance, the Gita, the holy book of the Hindus,pertains to wisdom and moral values. Yet alongwith this is the exhortation of Krishan to Arjun,encouraging him to fight. (3:30) This does not meanthat believers in the Gita should wage wars all thetime. Gandhiji, after all, derived his philosophy ofnon-violence from the same Gita. The exhortation towage war in the Gita applies only to exceptionalcases where circumstances leave no choice. But forgeneral day-to-day existence it gives the samepeaceful commands as derived from it by MahatmaGandhi.Similarly, Jesus Christ said: “Do not think that Icame to bring peace on Earth. I did not come tobring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew, Chapter 10)It would not be right to conclude that the religionpreached by Christ was one of war and violence, forsuch utterances relate purely to particularoccasions. So far as general life is concerned, Christtaught peaceful values, such as the building up of a ~ 42 ~
  42. 42. The True Jihad Peace in the Qurangood character, loving each other, helping the poorand needy, etc.The same is true of the Quran. When the Prophet ofIslam emigrated from Makkah toMadinah, the idolatrous tribes The Qur’anwere aggressive towards him. But states that thethe Prophet always averted their prophets wereattacks by the exercise of patience sent to theand the strategy of avoidance. world as aHowever on certain occasions noother options existed, save that of mercy to theretaliation. Therefore, he had do peoplebattle on certain occasions. It was (21:107).these circumstances whichoccasioned those revelations relating to war. Thesecommands, being specific to certain circumstances,had no general application. They were not meant tobe valid for all time to come. That is why, thepermanent status of the Prophet has been termed a‘mercy for all mankind.’ (21:107) ~ 43 ~
  43. 43. The True Jihad Non-Violence and IslamNON-VIOLENCE AND ISLAM “We have sent you as a mercy for all the nations.” (The Quran, 21:107)Non-violence should never be confused withinaction or passivity. Non-violence is action inthe full sense of the word. Rather it is moreforceful an action than that of violence. It is afact that non-violent activism is more powerfuland effective than violent activism. Non-violentactivism is not limited in its sphere. It is a courseof action which may be followed in all matters.Whenever individuals, groups or communitiesare faced with a problem, one way to solve it isby resorting to violence. The better way is toattempt to solve the problem by peaceful means,avoiding violence and confrontation. Peacefulmeans may take various forms. In fact, it is thenature of the problem which will determinewhich of these peaceful methods is applicable tothe given situation. ~ 44 ~
  44. 44. The True Jihad Non-Violence and IslamIslam is a religion which teaches non-violence.According to the Qur’an, God does not love fasad,violence. What is meant here by fasad is clearlyexpressed in verse 205 of the second chapter.Basically, fasad is that action which results indisruption of the social system, causing huge lossesin terms of lives and property.Conversely, we can say withcertainty that God loves non- Those whoviolence. He abhors violent activity seek toin human society, as a result of please Godwhich people have to pay the pricewith their possessions and even will betheir lives. This is supported by guided byother statements in the Qur’an. For Him to “theinstance, we are told in the Qur’an paths ofthat Peace is one of God’s names peace”.(59:23). Those who seek to please (16:5)God are assured by verse 5 of thesixteenth surah that they will be guided by Him to“the paths of peace.” Paradise, which is the finaldestination of the society of God’s choice, is referredto in the Qur’an as “the home of peace” (89:30), etc. ~ 45 ~
  45. 45. The True Jihad Non-Violence and IslamThe entire spirit of the Qur’an is in consonance withthis concept. For instance, the Qur’an attaches greatimportance to patience. In fact, patience is set aboveall other Islamic virtues with the exceptionalpromise of reward beyond measure. (39:10)Patience implies a peaceful response or reaction,whereas impatience implies a violent response. The word sabr exactly expresses the The Qur’an notion of non-violence as it is understood in modern times. That sets patience patient action is non-violent action above all other has been clearly expressed in the Islamic Qur’an. According to one tradition, virtues. Its the Prophet Muhammad, may rewards is peace be upon him, observed: God “beyond grants to rifq (gentleness) what he measure.” does not grant to unf (violence). (Abu Dawud, Sunan, 4/255)The word rifq has been used in this hadith as anantithesis to unf. These terms convey exactly what ismeant by violence and non-violence in presenttimes. This hadith clearly indicates the superiority ofthe non-violent method. ~ 46 ~
  46. 46. The True Jihad Non-Violence and IslamGod’s granting to non-violence what He does notgrant to violence is no simple matter. It has verywide and deep implications, embodying as it doesan eternal law of nature. By this very law of nature,all bad things are associated with violence, while allgood things are associated with non-violence.Violent activities breed hatred in Violence is thesociety, while non-violent activities way ofelicit love. Violence is the way ofdestruction, while non-violence is destructionthe way of construction. In an while non-atmosphere of violence, it is violence is theenmity which flourishes, while in way ofan atmosphere of non-violence, it friendship which flourishes. Themethod of violence gives way to negative valueswhile the method of non-violence is marked bypositive values. The method of violence embroilspeople in problems, while the method of non-violence leads people to the exploiting ofopportunities. In short, violence is death, non-violence is life. ~ 47 ~
  47. 47. The True Jihad Non-Violence and IslamBoth the Qur’an and the Hadith have attached greatimportance to jihad. What is jihad? Jihad meansstruggle, to struggle one’s utmost. It must beappreciated at the outset that this word is used fornon-violent struggle as opposed to violent struggle.One clear proof of this is the verse of the Qur’an(25:52) which says: ‘Perform jihad with this (i.e. thewords of the Qur’an) most strenuously.’ The Qur’an is a book of ideology. Jihad with the In such a case performing jihad Quran means with the Qur’an would mean an an ideological ideological struggle to conquer struggle to peoples’ hearts and minds through Islam’s superior philosophy. conquer peoples’ In the light of this verse of the hearts and Qur’an, jihad in actual fact is minds. another name for peaceful activism or non-violent activism. Whereqital is violent activism, jihad is non-violent activism.PEACEFUL BEGINNINGWhen the Qur’an began to be revealed, the firstverse of the revelation conveyed the injunction: ~ 48 ~
  48. 48. The True Jihad Non-Violence and Islam‘Read!’ (iqra) (96:1). By perusing this verse we learnabout the initiation of Islamic action. It begins fromthe point where there is hope of continuing themovement along peaceful lines, and not from thatpoint where there are chances of its being marredby violence.What are the advantages of non-violent activismover violent activism? They are briefly stated asunder:1. According to the Qur’an there are twofaculties in every human being which are mutuallyantipathetic. One is the ego, and the other is theconscience, called respectively nafs ammara and nafslawwama (The Qur’an, 12:53; 75:26). What theviolent method invariably does is to awaken theego, which necessarily results in a breakdown ofsocial equilibrium. On the other hand, non-violentactivism awakens the conscience. From this resultsan awakening in people of introspection and self-appraisal. And according to the Qur’an, themiraculous outcome of this is that “he who is yourenemy will become your dearest friend.” (41:34) ~ 49 ~
  49. 49. The True Jihad Non-Violence and Islam2. A great advantage of the non-violent methodis that, by following it, no part of one’s time iswasted. The opportunitiesavailable in any given situation The trulymay then be exploited to the desirablefullest extent—as happenedafter the no-war pact of revolution isHudaybiyya. This peace treaty that whichenabled the energies of the permits gradualbelievers to be utilised in and beneficialpeaceful constructive activities changes. Andinstead of being dissipated in a this can befutile armed encounter. Onegreat harm done by violent achieved only onactivism is the breaking of the basis of non-social traditions in the violence.launching of militantmovements. Conversely, the great benefit thataccrues from non-violent activism is that it can beinitiated and prolonged with no damage totradition.Generally speaking, attempts to improve or replaceexisting systems by violent activism are counter-productive. One coup d’état is often the signal for a ~ 50 ~
  50. 50. The True Jihad Non-Violence and Islamseries of coups and counter-coups. The trulydesirable revolution is that which permits gradualand beneficial changes. And this can be achievedonly on the basis of non-violence.SUCCESS THROUGH THE NON-VIOLENTMETHODAll the great successes of the first phase of Islam aswell as the succeeding periods were achieved bynon-violent methods. Listed below are someexamples of these successes.1. Of the 23-year period of prophethood, the initial13 years were spent by the Prophet in Makkah. TheProphet fully adopted the way of pacifism or non-violence during this time. There were many suchissues in Makkah at that time which could havebeen the subject of clash and confrontation. But,sedulously avoiding all such issues, the ProphetMuhammad, may peace be upon him, strictlylimited his sphere to peaceful propagation of theword of God. This resulted in da‘wah work beingperformed in full force throughout this period. Oneof the great gains during these 13 years of da‘wahwork was the entry into the Islamic fold of men of ~ 51 ~
  51. 51. The True Jihad Non-Violence and Islamthe highest moral calibre, who were responsible forforming the history of Islam, for instance, Abu Bakr,Umar, Uthman and Ali, etc.2. In Makkah when the Quraysh leaders were all set to wage war against the Prophet, even then, instead of Had the Prophet opting for the way of reaction and his and retaliation, what the companions Prophet did was to secretly adopted the path migrate to Madinah. of confrontation Migration, by its very nature, instead of was a clear example of non- peaceful violent activism. This peaceful migration, the strategy enabled the Prophet history of Islam and his followers, about two hundred in number, to form a might have been powerful centre of Islam in buried shortly Madinah. Had they adopted after its the path of confrontation inception. instead of peaceful migration, the history of Islam mighthave been buried right there in Makkah shortlyafter its inception. ~ 52 ~
  52. 52. The True Jihad Non-Violence and Islam3. After the emigration, his antagonists took theunilateral decision to wage war against him.Consequently such bloody encounters as those ofBadr and Uhud took place. Then the Prophet madea 10-year peace treaty known in history as Sulh-al-Hudaybiyya, by accepting all the conditions of hisopponents. This has been called a ‘clear victory’ inthe Qur’an. It was this peace treaty, paving the wayfor peaceful constructive activities which ultimatelymade possible the conquest ofMakkah and the whole of Arabia. “The religion4. At the end of the pious caliphate, of Muslimsa bloody encounter had taken place hasbetween the Banu Hashim and the conqueredBanu Umayyah. This stopped the where theiradvance of Islam for a period of ten arms hadyears. What set this process in failed.”motion once again was thevoluntary withdrawal of Hasan ibn Ali (d. 50 A.H.)from the battlefield. This was undeniably a practicalform of non-violent activism. This peaceful move onthe part of Hasan ibn Ali re-opened to Islam thelocked doors of progress. ~ 53 ~
  53. 53. The True Jihad Non-Violence and Islam5. During the last days of the Abbasid caliphateMongol tribes attacked the Muslim world and rightfrom Samarkand to Aleppo destroyed the entireMuslim world. The history of Islam had apparentlycome to a standstill. At that moment the spirit ofda‘wah work was born within the Muslims. As aresult, the majority of the Mongols converted toIslam. And that miracle took place which has beendescribed by an orientalist in these words: “Thereligion of Muslims has conquered where theirarms had failed.” 6. Islamic history took a crucial All the precious turn when, in the years books and the succeeding the pious caliphate, rot had set in, in the system of classical literature the government, and the of Islam are a caliphate had turned into result of the monarchy. At that juncture, peaceful activities many factors emerged which during the time of would have resulted in serious the tabi‘un and friction between the ruler and their succeeding the ruled. But, following the guidance of the Prophet, the generations. Muslims totally avoided ~ 54 ~
  54. 54. The True Jihad Non-Violence and Islampolitical confrontation. This history, beginning withthe Umayyad caliphate, continued for severalcenturies. This was possible because the tabi‘un(companions of the Prophet’s companions) andtheir succeeding generations, consisting oftraditionists, jurists, ‘ulama, sufis and other greatreligious scholars, all scrupulously avoided anyclash or confrontation with the rulers.It was during this period that, on the one hand,peaceful da‘wah work was started in variouscountries, while on the other, the disciplines ofHadith, fiqh and other Islamic sciences came intoexistence on a large scale after a long period of greatstruggle. All the precious books which adorn ourlibraries, all the classical literature of Islam, are theresult of these peaceful activities.For instance, the Hadith as a source of Shari’ah issecond only to the Qur’an in Islam. These traditionsnow exist in the form of printed books. These booksare so precious that, without them, it would nothave been possible to develop Islam into a completesystem as it exists today. Under the rule of theUmayyads and Abbasids, when the political system ~ 55 ~
  55. 55. The True Jihad Non-Violence and Islamhad begun to deteriorate, where were these tens ofthousands of traditions? All of them existed in thememory of the religious scholars, whose names arementioned in the books as chains in the link ofauthorities who have handed this legacy down tous. Had they adopted the principle of violentactivism and clashed with the ‘oppressive’ rulers,they would all have been slaughtered by them andthe entire legacy of traditions, instead of finding aplace on the pages of books, would have beenburied along with them in the graveyards. It is bythe miracle of having adopted non-violence insteadof violence that the precious sources of traditionshave survived in book form and, till today, adornour libraries.POLITICAL REVOLT UNLAWFULDespite the blatant perversion in the Muslim rulersafter the pious caliphate, the Muslim ulama did notlead an insurrection against these corruptindividuals. For about a period of one thousandyears they remained detached in this matter andcontinued to engage all their efforts in non-political ~ 56 ~
  56. 56. The True Jihad Non-Violence and Islamfields. This was not a matter of accident but inobedience to the express injunctions of the shariah.As we know, in the books of Hadith detailedtraditions have been set down in the chapters titledKitab al-Fitan. The Prophet Muhammad observed inplain words that in later times perversions wouldset in in the rulers, they would become tyrannicaland unjust, but that Muslims should not wield theirswords against them. They should rather move tothe mountains with their goats and camels.By ‘goats and camels’ are meant the opportunitiesin non-political fields which exist, even when thepolitical institutions are corrupted. This injunctiongiven by the Prophet meant that the Muslimsshould avail of such opportunities by avoidingclash and confrontation in the political field. Inshort, by ignoring the political problem, theyshould avail of the non-political opportunities.These injunctions of the Prophet Muhammad wereso clear that the Muslim ulama of later times formeda consensus to make insurrection against the rulersunlawful. ~ 57 ~
  57. 57. The True Jihad Non-Violence and IslamImam An-Nawawi, commenting upon sometraditions as set forth by Sahih Muslim (Kitab al-Imarah) observes: “You should not come intoconflict with the rulers in matters of their power.Even if you find them going against express Islamicinjunctions, you should attempt to make the truthclear to them solely through words of wisdom andadvice. So far as revolt and war against them inorder to unseat them is concerned, that is totallyunlawful according to the consensus of the ulama,even when the rulers are zalim and fasiq (tyrants and corrupt).” (Sahih Muslim, bi sharh an-Nawawi, 12/229) The Prophet forbade any This command of the Prophet, as clearly expressed above, uprising against was based on extremely political important considerations. In institutions. The actual fact, in the early phase resulting absence of of Islam (as well as in the later strife permitted the phase) da‘wah and reform uninterrupted works had to be performed, propagation of without which the history of Islam would not have been Islam. complete. If the ulama of the ~ 58 ~
  58. 58. The True Jihad Non-Violence and IslamMuslim community had tried to pose a threat to thepolitical institutions, certainly all this constructivework would have been left undone. That is why theProphet Muhammad, may peace be upon him,expressly prohibited any clash with politicalinstitutions. This avoidance of strife guaranteed thatnon-political constructive work would continue tobe performed without any break.In every society there are always two systems sideby side, one political and the other non-political.The latter is established through various non-political institutions.According to the scheme of There is noIslam, non-political institutions aggressive orestablished at the social level offensive war inhave always to remain stable. Islam. IslamIn this way there is acontinuing endeavour—even allows only awhen the political institutions defensive war andhave become corrupt, or keep that, too, onlychanging—to keep Islam when there is nofirmly established at the level other option.of the non-political system. ~ 59 ~
  59. 59. The True Jihad Non-Violence and IslamTHE COMMAND OF WAR IN ISLAMIt is a fact that certain verses in the Qur’an conveythe command to do battle (qital) (22:39). What thespecial circumstances are which justify the issuanceof and compliance with this command we learnfrom our study of the Qur’an.1. The first point to be noted is that aggression orthe launching of an offensive by the believers is nottotally forbidden. It is permissible, but with certainprovisos. We are clearly commanded in the Qur’an:Fight for the sake of God those that fight againstyou, but do not be aggressive. (2:190)2. Only defensive war is permitted in Islam. Such awar is one in which, as the Qur’an says: “They werethe first to attack you.” (9:13) i.e. aggression iscommitted by some other party so that the believershave to fight in self-defence. Initiating hostilities isnot permitted for Muslims.Furthermore, even in the case of the offensive beinglaunched by an opposing group, the believers arenot supposed to retaliate immediately. Rather in thebeginning all efforts are to be made to avert war, ~ 60 ~
  60. 60. The True Jihad Non-Violence and Islamand only when avoidance has become impossible, isbattle to be resorted to in self-defence.3. According to the Qur’an, there was one form ofwar which was time-bound strictly in relation to itspurpose. This was to put an end to fitna. ‘Fightagainst them until fitna is no more.’ (2:193) In thisverse fitna signifies that coercive system which hadreached the extremes of religious persecution. Inancient times this coercive political systemprevailed all over the world. This absolutism hadclosed all the doors of progress, both spiritual andmaterial. At that time God commanded thebelievers to break this coercive system in order tousher in freedom, so that alldoors of spiritual and material According toprogress might be opened to the teachings ofman. Islam, war is toBringing monarchy to an end be waged notand establishing the caliphate in against theits place in the first phase of enemy butIslam was the beginning of thisprocess. The system was first against theestablished in Arabia. At that aggressor. ~ 61 ~
  61. 61. The True Jihad Non-Violence and Islamtime there were two major empires, the Byzantineand the Sassanid, to both of which the reformmovement in Arabia posed a challenge. As a result,these empires wanted to crush it. The Prophet’scompanions therefore faced stiff resistance, but byGod’s succour they were successful in their missionand the coercive system, termed “absoluteimperialism” by the French historian Henri Pirenne,was uprooted.It took this revolutionary event to end a coercivesystem which had been established for centuriesand replace it with a system based on freedom. Thisgoal could not have been achieved in its first stage.But by divine succour Islam succeeded in breakingthe historical continuity of this ancient coercivesystem in the 7th century. Subsequently, thischange affected all of human history and as acontinual process, ebbed and flowed until it reachedits culmination in the 20th century. Then came thede-centralization which took place at the beginningof the 20th century, political power being limitedsolely to the administration. And the interference ofpolitical institutions became very limited. Socialdepartments became generally independent of it. ~ 62 ~
  62. 62. The True Jihad Non-Violence and IslamThis great change in the pattern of human life wasexactly in accordance with Islam. It thus becamepossible for believers, whether they possessedpolitical power or not to attain constructive goalswithout any hindrance. It was this system whicheffected the transition from the age of kingship tothe age of institutions.Thus it has become possible for the believers to setup various establishments of theirown on a large scale, and indirectly Jihad inbring political institutions under actual fact istheir influence. And in so doing, anotherthey can penetrate society, whichwas earlier possible only through name ofpolitical power: for instance, in peacefultraining the new generation, activism orcreating an intellectual atmosphere non-violentby making available the print and activism.electronic media, the propagation ofideas through books, continuing the process ofijtihad through research foundations, safeguardingreligion by opening more mosques and schools, theacquisition of finance through industrialinstitutions, universal realization of one’s objectives ~ 63 ~
  63. 63. The True Jihad Non-Violence and Islamthrough the means of communication, realization ofreligious and cultural affairs through differentchannels, etc.In modern time those nations who have understoodthis have achieved success even without havingpolitical power. Some have become established andexcelled in the field of education, while others haveset up empires in industry, communications orfinance. The last in the list of these non-governmental empires is that of computers. Thishas given man the opportunity to keep his finger onthe pulse of human activity not only at the nationallevel, but also at the international level.When the Quran says, “And religion is wholly forAllah” it portrays the most important aspect of thechange of times. This change has reduced the statusof political power to the point where it is no longernecessary for believers to wage a war for itsacquisition, as it is no longer needed to secure thedesired benefits. Non-political institutions serve thispurpose equally well.This mission was undertaken and brought to asuccessful conclusion at the internal level within ~ 64 ~
  64. 64. The True Jihad Non-Violence and IslamArabia during the life of the Prophet. Later, duringthe pious caliphate, the Sassanid and Byzantineempires were dismantled with special divinesuccour. Consequently, intellectual oppression atthe international level was replaced by intellectualfreedom.In this connection those traditions are worth notingwhich are enshrined in Sahih al-Bukhari. When, afterthe fourth Caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib, political conflictensued between Abdullah ibn Zubayr and theUmayyads, Abdullah ibn Umar, one of theseniormost companions of the Prophet, held himselfaloof from the battle. People approached him and,quoting the verse of qital-al-fitna, asked him why hewas not joining in the battle. Abdullah ibn Umarreplied that ‘fitna’ as mentioned in the Qur’an didnot refer to political infighting, but rather to thereligious coercive system, that had already been putan end to by them. (Fathul Bari, 8/60)From this we learn that the war against fitna was awar of limited duration, temporary in nature, meantto be engaged in only until its specific purpose hadbeen served. ~ 65 ~
  65. 65. The True Jihad Non-Violence and IslamInvoking the Qur’anic exhortation to do battleagainst fitna in order to validate acts of war whichhad quite other aims is highly improper. This versecould be cited only if the same state of affairs asexisted at the time of its revelation, were to prevailonce again.The biographers of the Prophet Muhammad, maypeace be upon him, have put the number of ghazwah(battle) at more than 80. This gives the impressionthat the Prophet Muhammad, may peace be uponhim, in his 23-year prophetic career waged aboutfour battles in a year. But this impression is entirelybaseless. The truth is that the Prophet Muhammad,may peace be upon him, in his entire prophetic life,engaged in war only on three occasions. All theother incidents described as ghazwat were in actualfact examples of avoidance of war and not instancesof involvement in battle.For instance, in the books of Seerah, the incident ofAl-Ahzab is called a ghazwah (battle), whereas thetruth is that on this occasion the armed tribes ofArabia, twelve thousand in number, reached theborders of Madinah with all intentions of waging ~ 66 ~
  66. 66. The True Jihad Non-Violence and Islamwar, but the Prophet and his companions dug adeep trench between them, thus successfullypreventing a battle from taking place. The same isthe case with all the other incidents called ghazwah.The opponents of the Prophet repeatedly tried toembroil him in war, but on all such occasions, hemanaged to resort to some such strategy as avertedthe war, thus defusing the situation.There were only three instances ofMuslims really entering the fieldof battle—Badr, Uhud and Believers doHunayn. But on all these not have theoccasions, war had become right to wageinevitable, so that the Prophet wars againstwas compelled to encounter the their enemies.aggressors in self-defence. Their duty is toFurthermore, these battles lasted peacefullyonly for half a day, eachbeginning at noon and ending convey to themwith the setting of the sun. Thus it the message ofwould be proper to say that the Islam.Prophet in his entire life span hadactively engaged in war for a total of a day and ahalf. That is to say, the Prophet had observed the ~ 67 ~
  67. 67. The True Jihad Non-Violence and Islamprinciple of non-violence throughout his 23-yearprophetic career, except for one and a half days.The Islamic method, being based totally on theprinciple of non-violence, makes it unlawful forbelievers to initiate hostilities. Except in cases whereself-defence has become inevitable, the Qur’an in nocircumstance gives permission for violence.THE MODERN AGE AND NON-VIOLENCEThe greatest problem facing Islam today is, as I seeit, that Muslims have almost totally forgotten thesunnah (Prophet’s way) of non-violence. In latertimes when the Ottoman and Mughal empiresdisintegrated and problems like that of Palestinehave had to be confronted by the faithful, Muslimsall over the world have fallen a prey to negativereaction on a colossal scale; they have failed toremember that the policy of Islam is not that ofviolence but of non-violence. It is the result of thisdeviation, that despite almost a 100-years of bloodywars, Muslims have achieved no positive gain.Rather whatever they already had has been lost bythem. ~ 68 ~
  68. 68. The True Jihad Non-Violence and IslamAccording to Imam Malik, later generations of thisummah (Muslim community) will be able to settlematters at issue in the same way that earliergenerations had done, i.e. by non-violent methods.Similarly, Muslims of modern times must likewiseresort only to non-violent methods. Just as no gaincould accrue from violent methods earlier, no gaincan accrue from violent methods today.The state of affairs of Muslims in modern timesresembles that which prevailed at the time ofHudaybiyya. Today once again—only on a farlarger scale—this hamiyat al-jahiliya, prejudicesprevailing in pre-Islamic Arabia (48:28) is beingdisplayed by the other party. In the first phase ofIslam its solution lay in Muslims sedulouslyavoiding an equivalent display of prejudice, and inholding firmly to kalima at-taqwa (the word of piety)they became entitled to the succour of God andwere granted a clear victory (48:26).At the time of the Hudaybiyya peace treaty, theQuraysh, who had secured the leadership of Arabia,were bent on waging war. The Kabah was in theirpossession. They had expelled the Prophet and his ~ 69 ~
  69. 69. The True Jihad Non-Violence and Islamcompanions from their home-town. They had taken possession Muslims canof Muslims’ homes and other rewrite theproperties, and spared no effort in history ofdisseminating negativepropaganda against Islam. Islam provided theyGiven this state of affairs, there make timelywere only two options before the use ofbelievers. One was to attempt toput an end to tyranny and launch outright war on the other partyin the name of securing their rights. The result ofsuch a move would certainly have been further lossin terms of lives and property.The second option was to remain patient in the faceof immediate loss, be it political or material, and, inspite of the losses, avail of whatever opportunitieswere already available. The Prophet Muhammad,may peace be upon him, and his companions chosethis second course. The result was that the entirehistory of Arabia was revolutionized in just a fewyears time. ~ 70 ~
  70. 70. The True Jihad Non-Violence and IslamThe same state of affairs is widespread in moderntimes. Although today Muslims have suffered greatlosses, political and material, at the hands of othernations, there still exist a great number ofopportunities on a far larger scale. If availed ofwisely, we can rewrite the history of Islam inmagnificent terms.THE MANIFESTATION OF RELIGIONThe modern age is regarded by Muslims as beingfraught with problems for Islam. But this is quitecontrary to the actual situation. The modern age isin fact the age of Islam, just as the rainy season isthe part of the year most beneficial to farmers. ButMuslims, lacking in understanding and awareness,have failed to understand this;hence their failure to convert this Izhar ad-dinpotential into reality. signifiesWhat is called izhar ad-din in the intellectualQur’an does not refer to and ideologicalsomething which is temporary in dominance,nature. It, in fact, refers to an not politicaleternal ideological ascendancy of dominance.Islam. It means that in the world ~ 71 ~
  71. 71. The True Jihad Non-Violence and Islamof ideology, such a revolution would be broughtabout as would establish the ideological supremacyof Islam forever. God has already brought it intoexistence potentially: believers have only to tap andconvert this potential into reality.The aim of the revolution brought about by theProphet and his companions in the seventh centuryis stated to be izhar ad-din in the Qur’an: They desire to extinguish the light of Allah with their mouths: but Allah seeks only to perfect His light, however much the disbelievers may abhor it (9:32-33).Izhar in Arabic means dominance/ascendancy/supremacy. Here izhar ad-din signifies intellectualand ideological dominance, not politicaldominance. This means that in intellectual andideological respects, God’s religion assumesascendancy over all other ideologies and religionsfor all time.Granting ideological ascendancy to God’s religionwas no simple matter. It amounted to the writing ofhistory afresh. For although God’s religion had ~ 72 ~
  72. 72. The True Jihad Non-Violence and Islamalways been in a superior position ideologically, ithad become obscured by false and misguided ideas,the reason being that in ancient times people wereheavily under the influence of superstitiousthinking. Their arts and learning in general had allbecome fettered by superstition and idolatry. Thishad led to a veil being thrown over true religion,which was the only vehicle for God’s truth.God desired that through the final Prophet anintellectual revolution be brought about whichwould alter this unfavourable and artificial state ofaffairs. Human sciences themselves have becomesupporters of the true religion so that, by academicstandards themselves, the religion of monotheismmay be made an establishedreligion for the people. The latest scientificIzhar ad-din in the above verse developmentrequired this same divine plan tobe carried into effect through a now upholdrevolution by the Prophet and his age-oldcompanions. This revolution set in religiousmotion a new process in human truths.history. Its purpose was to unravel ~ 73 ~
  73. 73. The True Jihad Non-Violence and Islamall the veils of superstition which clouded humanjudgement, and to lay bare the scientific proofshidden in nature, so that the truth of monotheismcould be brought to light for all humanity. Inmodern times this revolution has reached itsculmination. There were two main aims of this izharad-din. One, that the system of religious persecutionbe put to an end, so that a propitious atmospherecould be created for the performance of da’wah ofthe true religion. In ancient times this task could beperformed only in a very adverse atmosphere. Thesecond purpose was to rally all arguments insupport of God’s true religion. Both these taskshave been performed on a large scale in presenttimes. A brief mention of these is made here.In ancient times the monarchical system prevailedall over the world. An individualistic system likemonarchy could be established by force alone. Thatis why a coercive system of governance wasestablished by the monarchs. They inevitablycrushed any sign of intellectual or religious freedomfound among their subjects. This state of affairsposed a permanent obstacle to the generaldevelopment of human thought or to the spreading ~ 74 ~
  74. 74. The True Jihad Non-Violence and Islam of any religious mission. The coercive Ultimately this coercive political and oppressive system was destroyed by the political system revolution brought about by the was destroyed Prophet and his Companions. by the This abolition of oppressive revolution systems and the freeing of brought about peoples’ minds from by the Prophet superstition ushered in an era of freedom and democracy. The and his effect of this revolution in companions human history set in motion a which set in process of intellectual motion a process liberalization. Later on western of intellectual nations contributed greatly liberalization. towards this revolution in human thought. Now thisprocess has culminated in the unparalleledscientific achievements of the present day. Inconsequence, it has become possible for the taskof da’wah of truth to be performed in anatmosphere of freedom, which was earlierseriously hampered by the oppressiveatmosphere. ~ 75 ~
  75. 75. The True Jihad Non-Violence and IslamIdolatry is another name for areligion of superstitions. In ancient The advent oftimes this shirk (idolatry) the moderndominated the minds of the scientific agepeople, having rendered theprogress and development of has madescience impossible. The Prophet possible theand his Companions made great globalsacrifices to put an end to this propagation ofsuperstitious system. In this way Islam for thethe age of science had its first time inbeginnings. The changes wroughtby it influenced the course of world history.history over the centuries.The scientific revolution, which was in actual fact aby-product of the Islamic revolution, gave usmodern communications. The advent of this newage made it possible for the first time in humanhistory for the propagation of Islam to be carriedout on a universal scale. According to a hadith atime was to come when God’s words would enterall the homes in the world. (Musnad, Ahmad) Thiswas indirectly, a prediction of the modern age ofcommunications. ~ 76 ~
  76. 76. The True Jihad Non-Violence and Islam One outcome of the modern According to scientific revolution is that we have at our disposal a number of a hadith, a new arguments in support of time was to Islamic beliefs. Prior to this come when revolution the da‘is of Islam could God’s words resort only to traditional would enter arguments in support of the truth all the home of Islam. But today it has become in the world possible to measure up Islamic realities by the highest standards (Musnad, of human knowledge and to Ahmad). establish their authenticity by purely logical arguments.In ancient times religion could be studied only assomething sacred and as a matter of dogma. Thatis why established and unestablished religionshad not academically been distinguished fromone another. In modern times, owing to theinfluence of the scientific revolution, the studyof religions can be done as objectively and ascritically as any other matter which comes underscientific scrutiny. ~ 77 ~
  77. 77. The True Jihad Non-Violence and IslamSuch critical study has proved,purely academically, that by Only under ahistorical standards, there is normalonly one reliable religion, and relationshipthat is Islam. All other religions between the da‘iare lacking in this historical and the mad’u,credibility. After this can the messageintellectual revolution it hasbecome possible to establish of Islam bethe truth of Islam vis-à-vis conveyed in aother religions purely on the propitiousbasis of human knowledge. atmosphere.That Islam is the only authenticversion of divine religion may be fully supportedby arguments.These modern developments in our times havetaken Islam to the point of unopposed victory. Nowthe need of the hour is for Muslims to put an endunilaterally to all violent activities against mad’unations, so that a normal relationship may beallowed to grow between da‘i and mad’u: only thencan the message of Islam be conveyed in apropitious atmosphere. Now, in the wake of thescientific revolution, it has become possible to begin ~ 78 ~
  78. 78. The True Jihad Non-Violence and Islama serious and beneficial dialogue between Islam andnon-Islam, the result of which will necessarily be infavour of Islam.ISLAM IN THE PRESENT AGENow the question arises as to whether an Islamwhich teaches non-violence can be of relevance inthe present age, and assume a superior positiononce again in new situations.The answer is entirely in the affirmative. The truthis that Islam’s being a peaceful religion shows that itis an eternal religion. Had it been a religion ofviolence, it would not have been eternal. For, inmodern times, the way of violence has been totallyrejected by contemporary thinking. Now, only thatsystem is worthy of consideration and acceptancethe teachings of which are based on peace and non-violence.Modern thinking, for example, has rejectedcommunism. One of the major reasons was thatcommunism had to be sustained by violence. Andunder no circumstances is violence acceptable to themodern mind. Nazism and Fascism too have been ~ 79 ~
  79. 79. The True Jihad Non-Violence and Islamrejected on similar grounds. Modern man,therefore, disapproves of both religious and non-religious extremism, because they lead manultimately to violence.But Islam is a religion of nature. The time hasIt has held violence asinadmissible from the outset. come today forIslam has been an upholder of Islam to play apeace, not violence, from day greatone. constructive role, leadingIn the past, Islam played a greatrole in the development of human historyhumanity, as a result of which once again intohuman history entered a new a new age ofage of progress and progress.development. The time has cometoday for Islam to play a great constructive role,leading human history once again into a new age ofprogress.What is called scientific or technical progress is theresult of the discovery of some of the great secretsof nature. But if nature and its mysteries havealways existed in our world, why has there been ~ 80 ~