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Jihad

Any account of Muslim missionary activity would be incomplete without some mention of the Jihad, or religious war, as the word is commonly translated, if only for the fact that the faith of Islam is commonly said to have been propagated by the sword and the typical Muslim missionary is represented as a warrior with the sword in one hand and the Qur'an in the other offering to the unbelievers the choice between the two. How inadequate is such an account of the spread of Islam may be judged from the preceding pages ; it remains now to see whether the teaching of the Qur'an authorises forced conversion and exhorts the believer to an armed and militant propaganda,-in fact whether Islam has been missionary despite itself.

The aim of Jihaad is the elevation of Allah's word and this cannot be achieved without Jihaad. For this reason the most virtuous deed stated in this hadith is Jihaad. Another reason for Jihaad being the most virtuous deed is that a person sacrifices his two beloved things, which are, his life and his wealth, which is unlike other deeds.

The Shaheed has sacrificed his life by fighting in the path of Allah and this sacrifice is his most beloved and worthy possesion. Allah therefore, honors and blesses him with these high grades and status and Allah's forgiveness and Mercy surrounds him. Allah says in the Qur'an "And if you are killed or die in the way of Allah, forgiveness and mercy from Allah are far better than all that they amass (of worldly wealths etc)." (3:157)

It is because of this honor from Allah that the Shaheed's deeds are forever lasting as Allah says "But those who are killed in the way of Allah, He will never let their deeds be lost". (Muhammad: 4)

The respect and honor of the Shaheed is such that the Muslims have been prohibited from calling the Shuhada dead because they are alive as Allah swt says - "And say not of those who are killed in the Way of Allah, "They are dead", Nay they are living, but you perceive (it) not." (2:154) The Muslims are not only prohibited from calling the Shuhada dead but further prohibited from even thinking of them as dead because the Shaheed has sacrificed his life for such a great cause, as Allah says: "Think not of those who are killed in the Way of Allah as dead. Nay, they are alive, with their Lord and they have provision". (3:169-170) Another reason for these great virtues and grades for the Shaheed is because he has performed the best Jihaad.

There are no passages to be found in the Qur'an that in any way enjoin forcible conversion, and many that on the contrary limit propagandist efforts to preaching and persuasion. It has further been maintained that no passage in the Qur'an authorises unprovoked attacks on unbelievers,1 and that, in accordance with such teaching, all the wars of Muhammad were defensive.

It is further maintained that the common, popular meaning of 'warfare against unbelievers' attached to the word Jihad, is post-Qur'anic, and that the passages in which this word or any of the derivatives from the same root occur, should be translated in accordance with the primitive meaning. The meaning of the simple verb, jahada is 'to strive, labor, toil, to exert oneself ; to be diligent, or studious ; to take pains' : it is applied to exertion in any kind of affair, even the churning of butter or the eating of food,-in the 4th form ajhada, also to swearing, and (in the case of things) to their becoming much and spreading : the 8th form, ijtahada, denotes 'to take pains to form a right judgment,' and the noun of action from the same form, ijtihad,' a lawyer's exerting the faculties of the mind to the utmost, for the purpose of forming an opinion in a case of law, respecting a doubtful and difficult point.'

The meaning of the noun of action, jihad is "the using, or exerting, one's utmost power, efforts, endeavor, or ability, in contending with an object of disapprobation," and it some argue from the above account of the various meanings of different forms that the root assumes, that primarily the word bears no reference to war or fighting, much less to fighting against unbelievers or forcible conversion of them, but derives its particular application from the context only.

Abrogation is an Islamic legal doctrine that holds that what was revealed later in the period of revelation to Mohammed controls or overrules those things that were revealed earlier where disagreement exists. Therefore, the peaceful verses of the Quran (" .. . there is no compulsion in religion") are abrogated by chronologically later violent verses (" ... fight and slay them (unbelievers) where you find them.").

It is unaccountable why this greatest force in Islam, religious warfare, or Jihad, is not mentioned as a pillar of religion. A religious war against infidels is a duty plainly taught by the Koran and by tradition, e.g.: "Kill those who join other gods with God, wherever ye shall find them." And a dozen other passages command believers to make war, to kill, and to fight in the path of God. Some apologists for Islam attempt to avoid the fact of an appeal to use the sword by interpreting these passages in a semi-spiritual way, and they even try to make Jihad mean a sort of Christian Endeavor Society for propagating Islam.

The duty of religious war (which all commentators agree is a duty extending to all time) is laid down in the Qur'an in the following verses, and it is remarkable that all the verses occur in the al-Madinah Surahs, being those given after Muhammad had established himself as a paramount ruler, and was in a position to dictate terms to his enemies.

Surah ix. 5,6: " And when the sacred months are passed, kill those who join other gods with God wherever yo shall find them; and seize them, besiege them, and lay wait for them with every kind of ambush: but if they shall convert, and observe prayer, and pay the obligatory alms, then let them go their way, for God is 'Gracious, Merciful. If any one of those who join gods with God ask an asylum of thee, grant him an asylum, that he may hear the Word of God, and then let him reach his place of safety. This, for that they are people devoid of knowledge."

Surah ix. 29: " Make war upon such of those to whom the Scriptures have been given as believe not in God, or in the last day, and who forbid not that which God and His Apostle have forbidden, and who profess not the profession of the truth, until they pay tribute {jizya) out of hand, and they be humbled."

Surah ii. 214,215: " They will ask thee conerning, war in the Sacred Month. Say: "war therein is had, but to turn aside from the cause of God, and to have no faith in Him, and in the Sacred Temple, and to drive out its people, is worse in the sight of Ood ; and civil strife is worse than bloodshed. They will not cease to war against you until they turn you from yonr religion, if they be able: but whoover of you shall turn from his religion and die an infidel, their, works shall be fruitless in this world, and in the next: they shall be consigned to the fire; therein to abide for aye. But they who believe, and who fly their country, and fight in the cause of God may hope for God's mercy : and God is Gracious, Merciful."

Surah viii. 39-42: " Sat to the infidels: If they desist from their unbelief, what is now past shall be forgiven them ; but if they return to it, they have already before them the doom of the ancients! Fight then against them till strife be at an end, and the religion be all of it God's. If they desist, verily God beholdeth what they do: but if they turn their back, know ye that God is your protector : Excellent protector 1 excellent helper ! And know ye, that when ye have taken any booty, a fifth part belongeth to God and to the Apostle, and to the near of kin, and to orphans, and to the poor, and to the wayfarer.

The following is the teaching of the Hanafi school of Sunnis on the subject of Jihad, as given in the Hidayah, vol. ii. p. 140: " The sacred injunction concerning war is sufficiently observed when it is carried on bj any one party or tribe of Muslims, and it is then no longer of any foroe with respect to the rest. It is established as a divine ordinance. by the word of God, who said in the Qur'in, ' Slay the infidels,' and also by a saying of the Prophet,' War is permanently established until the Day of Judgment' (meaning the ordinance respecting war). The observance, however, in the degree above mentioned, suffices, because war is not a positive injunction, as it is in its nature murderous and destructive, and is enjoined only for the purpose of advancing the true faith-or repelling evil from the servants of God; and when this end is answered by any single tribe or party of Muslims making war, the obligation is no longer binding upon the rest, in the same manner as in the prayers for the dead.... except where there is a general summons (that is, where the infidels invade a Muslim territory and the Imam for the time being issues a general proclamation requiring all persons tc go forth to fight), for in this case war becomes a positive injunction with respect to the whole of the inhabitants, whether men or women and whether the Imam be a just or an unjust person; and if the people of that territory be unable to repulse the infidels, the war becomes a positive injunction with respect to all in that neighbourhood ; and if the also do not suffice it, then comes a positive injunction with respect to the next neighbor and in the same manner with respect to all to Muslims from east to west.

"It is not lawful to make war upon any people who have never before been called to the faith, without previously requiring them to embrace it, because the Prophet so instructed his commanders, directing them to call the infidels to the faith, and also because the people will hence perceive that they are attacked for the sake of religion, and not for the sake of taking their property, or making slaves of their children, and on this consideration it is possible that they may be induced to agree to the call, in order to save themselves from the troubles of war.

"If the infidels, upon receiving the call, neither consent to it nor agree to pay capitation tax, it is then incumbent on the Muslinrs to call upon God for assistance, and to make war upon them, because God is the assistant of those who serve Him, and the destroyer of His enemies, the infidels, and it is necessary to implore His aid upon every occasion; the Prophet, moreover, commands us so to do. And having so done, tbe Muslims must then with God's assistance attack the infidels with all manner of warlike engines (as the Prophet did by the people of Ta'if), and must also set fire to their habitations (in the same manner as the Prophet fired Baweera), and must inundate them with water and tear up their plantations and tread down their grain because by these means they will become weakened, and their resolution will fail and their force be broken; these means are, therefore, all sanctified by the law."

" It is no objection to shooting arrows or other missiles against the infidels that there may chance to be among them a Muslim in the way either of bondage, or of traffic, because the shooting of arrows and so forth among the infidels remedies a general evil in the repulsion thereof from the whole body of Muslims, whereas the slaying of a Muslim slave or trader is only a particular evil, and to repel a general evil a particular evil must be adopted...

"There is also neither fine nor expiation upon the warriors on account of such of their arrows or other missiles as happen to hit the children or the Muslims, because the war is in observance of a divine ordinance, and atonement is not due for anything which may happen in the fulfilment of a divine ordinance, for otherwise men would neglect the fulfilment of the ordinance from an apprehension of becoming liable to atonement....

"If the Imam make peace with the aliens for a single term (namely, ten years), and afterwards perceive that it is most advantageous for the Muslim's interest to break it, he may in that case lawfully renew the war after giving thorn due notice, because, upon a change of tho circumstances which rendered peace advisable, the breach of peace is war, and the observance of it a desertion of war, both in appearance and also in effect, and war is an ordinance of God, and the forsaking of it is not becoming (to Muslims)."

A man must shut his eyes to the broadest and most conspicuous facts of the history of Islam who denies that the sword has been the great means of propagating this religion. Until Mohammed appealed to the sword his faith made very little way. The history of the Wahabis in the nineteenth century, the Armenian massacres, the Mahdis of the Sudan and of Somaliland, - all these are proofs that Jihad is one of the religious forces of Mohammedanism. The sword is in its sheath, but the giant still wears it at his side, and it has never been rusty.

The ideological vulnerabilities of Jihadism are apparent on an existential level. Jihadism requires establishing a culture in conflict with tradition and the prevailing intellectual environment. This is a demanding task and requires considerable intellectual investment. However, members of militant groups are frequently not sufficiently instructed in Islamic doctrine. And as the government forces fought back, whatever level of knowledge was available was progressively thinned out. The implication of this lack of trained scholarly resources made itself felt on two fronts: firstly, the propaganda and public relations front, and secondly (and uniquely to this form of revolutionary conflict) the strategic front where doctrinal propriety not only influenced, but was impacted by, militant operations. With the failure of the Syrian Jihadi rebellion in the 1980s, Jihadi thinkers focused on the need for more thorough doctrinal training. This fact allows counter-ideology practitioners to map and measure their intellectual rearmament as it develops.

It is difficult for an ideologically purist movement of the rigor of Jihadism to contract relationships with less purist groups. In addition to this confusion, several endemic excesses further confused the Jihadi message and weakened the appeal of the mujahideen in the broader community. These excesses include unruliness, incitement, loquacity, bad manners, low culture, noisiness, excessive zeal, inappropriate and unqualified pronouncements on matters of religious law, and disrespect for scholars with divergent views, along with the historical inattention given to public relations.




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