The Importance Of Jihad In The Life Of A Muslim
by Sheikh Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo
April 6 2002 – Like Christianity, Islam permits fighting in self-defence, in defence of religion, or on the part of those who have been expelled forcibly from their homes. It lays down strict rules of combat, which include prohibitions against harming civilians and against destroying crops, trees and livestock. Nowhere does Islam enjoin the killing of innocents. The Quran says: “Fight in the cause of Allah against those who fight you, but do not transgress limits. Allah does not love transgressors.” (Quran 2:190) “If they seek peace, then seek you peace. And trust in Allah for He is the One that heareth and knoweth all things.” (Quran 8:61)
In the Holy Qur’an many verses clearly show the importance of Jihad (struggling for the sake of Allah) in the life of a Muslim and urges the believers to take part in this noble duty. Allah mentions jihad in conjunction with imaan or belief, paradise and His pleasure. Any person who claims to be a sincere believer in Allah should understand the obligation of jihad.
Allah (SWT) says, “O you who believe! Shall I show you a commerce that will save you from a painful doom? You should believe in Allah and His Messenger, and should strive for the cause of Allah with your wealth and your lives. That is better for you, if you did but know.” (al-Saff 10-11)
This verse should be enough to encourage anybody with the slightest amount of faith in his heart to strive and sacrifice for the sake of Allah. It states that in addition to imaan of belief, jihad is an essential component of this trade that will save the Muslim from a grievous punishment.
In another verse. Allah (SWT) says, “Lo, Allah has 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. It is a promise which is binding on him in the Torah and the Gospel and the Qur’an. Who fulfills His covenant better than Allah? Rejoice then in your bargain that you have made, for that is the supreme triumph” (al-Tauba 111).
The sincere believers are anxious to sacrifice their wealth and lives for the sake of Allah and do their best to fight with their fellow Muslims who are oppressed by the enemies of Islam.
When jihad becomes obligatory on the Muslim and he does not concern himself with it, then he is similar to those bedouins who claim to have faith yet the true and complete faith had not actually entered into their hearts. They say that they believe but they do not meet Allah’s description of the believers.
Again these verses state: “The true believers are only those who believe in Allah and His Messenger and afterward doubt not, but strive with their wealth and their lives for the cause of Allah. Such are the sincere” (al-Hujuraat 14-15)
Exhortation to Take Part in Jihad
Many verses and ahadith are commanding believers to take part in jihad, and promised those who sacrifice for Allah’s sake great rewards in both this life and the Hereafter.
Allah (SWT) says, “Those of the believers who sit still, other than those who have a (disabling) hurt, are not on an equality with those who strive in the way of Allah with their wealth and lives. Allah has conferred on those who strive with their wealth and lives a rank above the sedentary. Unto each Allah has promised good, but He has bestowed on those who strive a great reward above the sedentary degrees of rank from Him. and forgiveness and mercy. Allah is ever Forgiving, Merciful.” (al-Nisaa 95-96)
Therefore, jihad is not just a way to get closer to Allah and to earn His pleasure but it is a dividing line between faith and desbelief, between sincerity and hypocrisy. In fact, it seems that it is only the unbeliever or hypocrite who is completely unwilling to sacrifice for the sake of Allah. Allah (SWT) says, “Lo Allah loves those who battle for His cause in ranks, as if they were a solid structure” (al-Saff 4).
Jihad, Imaan and Hypocrisy
How can anyone claim to be deserving of paradise while he is not even willing to sacrifice the smallest thing for the sake of Allah? Perhaps this is why the Prophet (PBUH) said, “Whoever dies and had not fought [for the sake of Allah] or did not even consider fighting [for the sake of Allah], dies upon a branch of hypocrisy.”
The hypocrites during the time of the Prophet (PBUH) almost died from fear when verses concerning fighting were finally revealed. They try their best to avoid the jihad and make excuses for their lack of participation in the jihad. In fact, it is characteristic of the hypocrites that they become very happy whenever they are able to avoid any kind of jihad.
Allah says about them, “Those who were left behind [from the jihad] rejoiced at sitting still behind the Messenger of Allah, and were averse to striving with their wealth and their lives in Allah’s way. And they said: Go not forth in the heat! Say: The heat of hell is more intense, if they but understood. Then let them laugh a little; they will weep much, as the reward of what they used to earn. If Allah brings you back (from the campaign) unto a party of them and they ask of you permission to go out (to fight) then say unto them: ‘You shall never more go out with me nor fight with me against a foe. You were content with sitting still the first time. So sit still, with those who stay behind.’ And never pray for one of them who dies, nor stand by his grave. Lo, they disbelieved in Allah and His Messenger, and they died while they were evildores” (al-Taubah 81-84).
Another verse from the Qur’an reads: “How can you not fight for the cause of Allah and of the feeble among men and of the women and the children who are crying: Our Lord, bring us forht from this town of which the people are oppressors and raise for us from You one who will protect; and raise for us from You one who will help.” (al-Nisaa 75).
How can the people who claim to be believers today read this verse and other similar verses and not be moved to sacrifice for the sake of Allah? In how many places around the world have Muslims cried out for help? How can any Muslim think about the situation of the Muslims in Palestine, Afghanistan, India, Kashmir, Philippines, Chechnya, etc.. and not be moved? Where is the imaan of the Muslims and their willingness to sacrifice if they are not moved by what they hear and see in the world today? Is there any true imaan left in their hearts or have their hearts become hardened?
Abu Hurairah related that a man came to the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) and said, “O Messenger of Allah, show me a deed that is equal to jihad,” The Prophet (PBUH) told him, “I do not find such a deed.” Then he told him, “Can you, while the Muslim fighter is in the battlefield, enter your mosque to perform prayers without cease and fast and never break your fast?” The man said, “Who could do that?” The Prophet (PBUH) told him, “The one who makes jihad is rewarded even for the footstep of his horse while it wanders about for grazing while tied on a long rope.” (Recorded by al-Bukhari)
The Perils of Abandoning Jihad
The abandonment of jihad is a source of destruction in both this life and Hereafter. With respect to this life, if people do not make an effort to propagate and defend what they believe in, they may be subjugated and despised by others and will not be able to live freely. With respect to the Hereafter, the person who does not perform jihad may not be deserving of Allah’s mercy and he may actually be destroying himself. Allah says, “Spend your wealth for the cause of Allah, and be not cast by your own hands to ruin; and do good, Lo, Allah loves the beneficent.” (al-Baqarah 195)
This verse was explained by the Companion Abu Ayyoob al-Ansaari. “When the Muslims were trying to penetrate and throw themselves into the enemy’s ranks at Constantinople, some of them said that they were not supposed to kill themselves by their own hands. Abu Ayyoob said, “We are more knowledgeable about this verse. It was revealed concerning us, the Companions of the Prophet (PBUH). We participated in the battles with the Prophet and Allah aided us.”
“Then when Islam spread and we were victorious, we said, ‘Allah has honored us by being Companions of the Prophet and He aided him until Islam spread and its followers’ numbers were many. We sacrificed our time with our families, wealth and children. Now, the burden of war is over and we should return to our families and children and spend our time with them.’ Then Allah revealed concerning us, ‘Spend your wealth for the cause of Allah, and be not cast by your own hands to ruin; and do good. Lo, Allah loves the beneficent,’”
Thus, by abandoning spending in the way of Allah and, therefore, jihad, the person is actually destroying himself by his own hands.
The Necessity of Jihad for Muslims
The abandonment of jihad is a reason for humiliation and disdain. The Prophet (PBUH) said, “If you abandon the jihad, take after the tails of cattle [that is, spend all of your time with your agriculture and wealth] and deal in eena (type of Riba), then Allah will make you accompanied with humiliation and you will not get rid of it until you repent to Allah and return to your old state.”
Under certain conditions, the abandonment of jihad is also a source of punishment from Allah. Allah says in the Qur’an, “If you go not forth [for jihad] He will afflict you with a painful doom, and will choose instead of you a folk other than you. You cannot harm Him at all. Allah is able to do all things” (al-Taubah 39).
In Sayyid Qutb’s tafseer he wrote, The punishment that is awaiting them is not just of the Hereafter but there is also a punishment in this life. This punishment includes the humiliation that comes to those who stay back from the jihad and facing their enemies. Therefore, their enemies overtake them and prevent them from bounties. Furthermore, they will also lose lives and wealth much more than what they would have lost if they would have faced their enemies and taken part in jihad… there is no nation that has left jihad except that Allah has afflicted it with humiliation.”
Jihad Is Necessary for the Good of Humanity
If one studies all of the Messengers he will see that their goal was justice and the removal of dhulm (oppression, wrongdoing) regardless of whether that be dhulm committed by the person on himself by disbelief, evil deeds and sinfulness, or dhulm to others by harming their persons, family, wealth and honor.
That is what is concluded from Allah’s saying, “we verily sent Our messengers with clear proofs, and revealed with them the Scripture and Balance, that mankind might observe justice; and He revealed iron, wherein is mighty power and many uses for mankind” (al-Hadeed 25).
Therefore, consistent with the mission of all of the messengers of Allah, the purpose of Islam is the correct worship of Allah alone, in its totality, this also includes implementing the law of Allah on this earth. It implies that no one is allowed to put himself as the god or lord of another, as there is just one Lord or God to this creation.
But, furthermore, the job of the believer is not just to safeguard his own religion but his job is to purify and cleanse the whole earth of kufr (disbelief) and dhulm (wrongdoing and oppression). As Rabee ibn Amir told the Emperor of Persia, “We have been sent by Allah to deliver whom He pleases from the lordship of His slaves (that is, humans) to His own lordship, and from the narrow confines of this world to the boundlessness of the next and from the oppressiveness of other ways of life to the fairness and justice of Islam.” Allah says about this community, “You are the best nation raised for mankind; you order the good and you forbid the evil and you believe in Allah” (al-Imraan 110).
Why Jihad is an Imperative
The unbelievers, who are inevitably aligned with Satan, will never be satisfied and will never rest until they eradicate every form of obedience and worship of Allah as they can. Allah clearly states, “And they will not cease from fighting against you till they have made you renegades from your religion if they are able to.” (al-Baqarah 217)
Now it can be seen why Jihad is an imperative and a must in the life of the Muslim. As a whole, the unbelievers will not leave the Muslims completely free to follow their religion. They will meddle in the affairs of Muslim communities throughout the world, sometimes in the name of human rights, democracy, freedom and so forth.
The only way a Muslim will be able to stick to his religion would be through the greater jihad (the jihad of struggling against the desires sometimes found in one’s soul) all the way to jihad against the disbelievers.
Allah says, “And the Jews will not be pleased with you, nor will the Christians, until you follow their way of life” (al-Baqarah 120).
Therefore, the only way that Allah’s law, justice, right and truth will prevail on this earth is if the believers in Allah sacrifice their time, wealth and souls for the establishment of truth. That is, they must participate in jihad until the Day of Judgment since the ungodly forces will not rest until that time. Allah says, “And if Allah had not repelled some men by means of others, the earth would have been corrupted” (al-Baqarah 251).
Therefore, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) himself said, “The head of the matter is Islam. its pillar is the prayer. And its apex is jihad.”
Finally, the only way a believer in Allah can freely and properly worship Allah and the only way for him to fulfill his duties to Allah is through jihad, in all of its comprehensive forms.