Archive for the ‘Islamic Scriptures Unveiled’ Category

Jihad in the Way of Allah


Jihad means literally to struggle or strive. Of course this can be interpreted in many ways and the way Islamic apologists especially in the West construe its meaning, gives the impression that jihad is the internal struggle of man to overcome sin and lead a life in the way of Allah. But when the common man hears the word jihadist, images of terrorists in various shapes and forms come to mind. So what really is the reality of Jihad?

Looking at the scriptures and the life of Muhammad himself, a lucid picture depicting the truth of Islamic jihad is revealed? What proportion is related to internal self struggle for personal improvement as opposed to a struggle to spread Islam and subdue the non-Muslims? What emphasis and rewards are placed on jihad as a means of conquering the earth for Allah as opposed to the jihad as an internal mental struggle? Just a cursory glance of the scriptures is very informative.

Sahih Bukhari 53:353 records Muhammad as saying, “Allah guarantees him who strives in His cause and whose motivation for going out is nothing but Jihad in His cause and belief in His word, that He will admit him into Paradise if martyred or bring him back to his dwelling place with what he gains of reward and booty.”

This verse calls for one who strives in Allah’s cause and who believes Allah’s words to perform Jihad. And what is this Jihad? It is the striving and motivation to go out and kill or be killed with rewards of booty or paradise.

The Qur’an is also very clear in this matter Q4:74 – Let those fight in the way of Allah who sell the life of this world for the other. Whoso fights in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward.

Here Allah is promising vast rewards for those who fight and are slain in his way. But what if you were not prepared to fight in the way of Allah? Muhammad says in SM 20:4696 “One who died but did not fight in the way of Allah nor did he express any desire or determination for Jihad died the death of a hypocrite.” Jihad here clearly means fighting in the way of Allah, and those Muslims who do not desire conquering the unbelievers, are liable to an afterlife on par with the hypocrites in Hell.

The Qur’an also guarantees forgiveness for every sin if one is slain in the way of Allah. Q3:157 And if ye are slain, or die, in the way of Allah, forgiveness and mercy from Allah are far better than all they could amass.

Muhammad says that paradise would be a wonderful habitat for those fortunate enough to enter, The smallest reward for the people of Paradise is an abode where there are 80,000 servants and 72 wives, over which stands a dome decorated with pearls, aquamarine…” Sunan Al-Tirmidhi, 4:21:2687

So who gets the highest abode of heaven? Muhammad tells us, “Whoever cheerfully accepts Allah, Islam and Muhammad is entitled to enter Paradise. But there is another act which elevates the position of a man in Paradise to a grade one hundred times higher, Jihad in the way of Allah! Jihad in the way of Allah!” SM 20:4645.

The very next saying confirms what this jihad in the name of Allah is, “In case you are killed in the way of Allah and you always fought facing the enemy, never turning your back upon him your sins will be blotted out.” SM 20:4646.

In Qur’an 9:20 Allah informs his subjects, Those who have left their homes and striven with their wealth and their lives in Allah’s way are of much greater worth in Allah’s sight. These are they who are triumphant. This striving, which is the greatest worth in Allah’s sight, is again related to fighting; leaving home to fight, using wealth and sacrificing life to further Muhammad’s ambitions.

On the basis of scripture, the concept of leaving home for Jihad must be to do battle with the non-Muslim and could not in any way be related to conquering man’s internal struggles. Muhammad confirms in Sahih Muslim that leaving home to perform Jihad will result in a reward greater than this world and all its contents. SM 20:4639 The Messenger of Allah said: Leaving for Jihad in the way of Allah will merit a reward better than the world and all that is in it.

And when the believer is commanded in Qur’an 9:29 to Fight those who believe not in Allah nor acknowledge the religion of Truth (Islam), or in 9:5 to wait after the sacred month then slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them captive, and besiege them, we can understand why Islam through the centuries has had no issues invading other nation in the path of achieving Allah’s rightful dues – ownership of the earth.

Of course with verses like these, the apologetics are out in force, brimming with defences to allay the fears of the naïve kuffar. Ranging from, “that was only intended for that time”, or “these verses only apply to when you are being attacked”, to “you cannot cherry pick verses out of context without knowing the history”, etc. Such excuses hold no water though. Waiting until after the holy month can have nothing to do with being attacked. Actual Muslim history shows the majority of Muhammad’s battles were offensive, usually attacking the unbelievers by surprise, for not accepting his invitation to Islam. These verses do not say fight those who attack you; they say fight the unbelievers until they become believers. Essentially no ambiguity involved and hence no need for apologetic explanations. The histories of Islamic conquests of other nations through to the sixteenth century when they were held at the Gates of Vienna illustrate very clearly the intentions of Muhammad in his Qur’an.

And for those Muslims who did not desire to go into battle, Allah has this to say: Q9:39 If ye go not forth He will afflict you with a painful doom. In this verse Allah will punish the believer with a grievous penalty for not going forth into battle. But if you do go forth, no matter how badly equipped, that would be the best thing for you, Q9:41 Go ye forth, whether equipped lightly or heavily, and strive and struggle, with your goods and your persons, in the cause of Allah. That is best for you. Again, this striving (jihad) which is the best for you is fighting in the way of Allah, to further Muhammad’s cause.

So how are the followers of Islam influenced by such teachings? From Sahih Bukhari we read:
Our Prophet, the Messenger of our Lord, has ordered us to fight you till you worship Allah Alone or pay Jizya (tax); and our Prophet has informed us that our Lord says: “Whoever amongst us is killed shall go to Paradise to lead such a luxurious life as he has never seen, and whoever amongst us remain alive, shall become your master.” SB 53:386.

So the Muslims are telling the non-Muslims their prophet has ordered them to fight until Islam is adopted by all mankind. This would appear to be the fundamentals of Jihad and basis for spreading Islam.

Since the unbelievers are headed for hell anyway, Muhammad sees no problem with fighting them in the cause of Allah, Q9:73 Strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites, and be firm against them. Their abode is Hell an evil refuge indeed. A few verses later he states Q9:123 O ye who believe! Fight the disbelievers who are near to you, and let them find harshness in you, and know that Allah is with those who keep their duty unto Him. These verses confirms that a Muslim’s duty is to fight the unbelievers with the backing of Allah and the gaining of their Lord’s blessings.

The believers’ lives and wealth has been purchased by Allah hence it is their duty to use it to strive and fight in the way of Allah:

Q9:88 Those who believe strive and fight with their wealth and their persons: for them are all good things, they will prosper.

Q9:111 Allah hath bought from the believers their lives and their wealth because the Garden will be theirs: they shall fight in the way of Allah and shall slay and be slain. Rejoice then in your bargain that ye have made, for that is the supreme triumph.

As you would notice, a number of the Qur’anic verses above are taken from the ninth chapter of the Qur’an. This is one of the last chapters Muhammad revealed, subsequent to taking control of Mecca. Muhammad was now the supreme warlord of Arabia, He had immense power and hence no appeasing of the disbelievers was necessary to further expand his empire. Therefore his final revelations were all about conquest of the world in the name of Allah and Islam.

Muhammad was determined to convert humanity to his new found religion and have them accept him as the last and complete prophet. Allah supposedly told him that he must fight with the unbelievers until they either submitted to Islam or paid the jizya tax. That was the only way their lives and property could remain safe.

SB 1:24 Muhammad said: “I have been ordered by Allah to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle, and offer the prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity, so if they perform that, then they save their lives and property from me…”

Essentially fighting must be conducted until everyone testifies to Islam. This fighting is the best duty a Muslim can perform and is rewarded with the greatest honour in Paradise.

The hadiths are very clear in their interpretation of what Jihad meant to Muhammad, his companions and those who to this day still see their original purport.

SB 52:44 A man asked, “What deed equals Jihad in reward.” Muhammad replied, “I do not find such a deed. Can you, while the Muslim fighter is in the battle-field, enter your mosque to perform prayers without cease and fast and never break your fast?”  Here, Muhammad says that the Muslim fighter is the one performing Jihad. There is no other deed that equals it, for to do that, one would have to pray in the mosque and fast for the duration that the fighter is away in battle. This equating of fighting with praying is further elaborated in a hadith by Ibn-e-Majah in which Muhammad states, “Acting as Allah’s soldier for one night in a battlefield is superior to saying prayers at home for 2,000 years.” (from Ibn-e-Majah, vol.2, p.162). Two thousand years of prayers cannot even take a Muslim to the heights of religious merit that just one night of fighting for Muhammad could achieve. Which believer, with their heart and soul indoctrinated in Islam would not choose the more superior and easier option as enunciated by their prophet?

Muhammad again elaborates, SB 52:46 The example of a Mujahid (Muslim fighter) in Allah’s Cause – and Allah knows better who really strives in His Cause – is like a person who fasts and prays continuously. Allah guarantees that He will admit the Mujahid in His Cause into Paradise if he is killed, otherwise He will return him to his home safely with rewards and war booty.

Allah sees the fighter as the one who really strives in His cause. Such a fighter will be admitted into paradise or will obtain war booty. The fighter is equivalent to one who can achieve the impossible task of praying and fasting continuously.

Muhammad said, “The martyr who, on seeing the superiority of martyrdom, would like to come back to the world and get killed again in Allah’s Cause. A single endeavor of fighting in Allah’s Cause in the afternoon or in the forenoon is better than all the world and whatever is in it.” SB 52:53.

The martyr who dies in the way of Allah will understand how superior it is to die for Allah’s cause and hence will want to come back again and again to fight the disbelievers. For according to Muhammad the endeavour of fighting is better than the entire world and all its contents.

On the day of the Conquest of Mecca Muhammad said, There is no emigration after the Conquest, but Jihad and intentions. When you are called for fighting, go forth immediately.” SB 52:79. This is a very important text in relation to the spread of Islam, conquest of the world and meaning of jihad. Initially when Muhammad was not accepted in Mecca he had to migrate to Medina to ensure his movement could flourish. Now that Islam was in the ascendancy he declared that Muslims no longer had to migrate to other lands, all they had to do was Jihad, conquest, going forth immediately, fighting when called to do so.

While twisting the mane of a horse with his fingers Muhammad said: A great reward for rearing them for Jihad and spoils of war, has been tied to the forelocks of horses until the Day of Judgment.” SM 20:4614. Jihad here is concerned with rearing horses for battle. Certainly in no way related to internal struggles to be a better Muslim. Muhammad said that until the day of judgement there will be great benefit in rearing horses for Jihad. He obviously was not aware of tanks, planes and ships being available prior to his envisaged last day.

Abu Ishaq narrated when Muhammad revealed the verse: “Those who remain at home from among the believers and those who go out for Jihad in the way of Allah are not equal” The son of Umm Maktum complained of his blindness. Onto the Holy Prophet at this, descended the revelation: “Those of the believers who sit (at home) without any trouble (illness, incapacity, disability)…” SM 20:4676. Here again Jihad means going out to battle. It is not equal to staying home for it attracts more favours from Allah. Also the short sightedness of Allah is revealed here. Initially he forgot to take into account the lame. But when questioned about those with disabilities, Muhammad got an update from Allah excluding those who were physically unable to do battle.

There is insufficient space to comprehensively discuss all the verses calling on Jihad which are directly linked to fighting in the way of Allah. However a few more enlightening texts from the hundreds available, are listed below:

SM 20:4626 Muhammad said, “I do not have abundant means to provide the Mujahids (Muslim fighters) with riding beasts and all the means of Jihad. I love to fight in the way of Allah and be killed, fight and again be killed and to fight again and be killed.”

SM 20:4631 The Messenger of Allah said: “I would not stay behind when an expedition for Jihad was being mobilised if it were going to be too hard upon the believers.”

SB 52:288 Muhammad on his death-bed, gave three orders one of which was, “Expel the pagans from the Arabian Peninsula, ..”

SAD 2489  An infidel and the one who killed him will never be brought together in Hell {the Muslim who kills an infidel while fighting in Allah’s cause will not be going hell but to Paradise.}

SM 41:6981 Allah’s Messenger saidYou will fight against the Jews and you will kill them until even a stone would say: Come here, Muslim, there is a Jew hiding himself behind me; kill him.

SM 1:33, SB 8:387 Muhammad said“I have been ordered to fight against people until they say that “there is no god but Allah”, that “I am the messenger of Allah”, they pray, and pay religious taxes. If they do that, their lives and property are safe.” 

SM 4678 A man said: Messenger of Allah, where shall I be if I am killed? He replied: In Paradise. The man threw away the dates he had in his hand and fought until he was killed.

Jihad was very important to Muhammad and he stressed it even if it meant travelling over the seas. He was under the impression that fire existed below the sea and hence should not be sailed upon except for two very important reasons – jihad or pilgrimage.

SAD 2483 The Prophet said: No one should sail on the sea except the one who is going to perform pilgrimage, or the one who is fighting in Allah’s path, for under the sea there is a fire.

But how did the original Islamic commentators and scribes of the Qur’an understand jihad and fighting in the way of Allah?

It has always been standard in written Qur’ans for commentary to be added, as explanation of verses. This tradition is known as tafsir. One of the most renowned Islamic scholars who added commentary to the Qur’an was Ibn Kathir. In the book Tafsir of Ibn Kathir, when commenting on verse 2:191 of the Qur’an, he provides the following commentary regarding jihad:

As Jihad involves death and the killing of men, Allah draws our attention to the fact that the disbelief and polytheism of the disbelievers and their avoidance of Allah’s path are far worse than killing. Thus Allah says, “And Fitnah (unbelief) is worse than killing.” This is to say that shirk (Polytheism) is more serious and worse than killing (volume 2, page 116)

One of the greatest and most respected of scholars in Islamic history, who in a time where there was no necessity for political correctness, explained jihad just as Muhammad and his Allah intended it; the fighting and killing of non-believers. Importantly he goes on to clarify that unbelief is worse than killing. In other words, someone who did not accept Islam was committing a greater sin or crime than the Muslim who is advised to kill him. Therefore to reduce this heinous crime of unbelief, genocide of non-Muslims is the Qur’anic recommendation.

In the book Reliance of the Traveller we have a definition of jihad and its root source: Jihad means to war against non-Muslims, and is etymologically derived from the word ‘mujahada’, signifying warfare to establish the religion.

Ibn Kathir’s tafsir on verse 48:28 of the Qur’an is: Allah the Exalted and Most Honored said, while delivering the glad tidings to the believers that the Messenger will triumph over his enemies and the rest of the people of the earth.

And what example did Muhammad and his companions set for triumphing over their enemies? Jihad in the name of Allah. Once in the ascendancy Islam can use this jihad to triumph over all the peoples of the earth.