Published On:27 July 2012
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Holy Qur’an on Jihad -- Striving hard in the way of God

“Jihad” in Islam does not mean an armed fight, which at best is only a part of it. Jihad, in fact is an incessant struggle to spread what is good and uproot what is evil. The best Jihad, according to Islam is against one’s self.

By Dr. Javed Jamil

Jihad has for long been one of the most talked about subjects throughout the world. Enemies of Islam have been unrelenting in misusing Jihad as a weapon to malign the religion as a supporter and propagator of violence. They have been assiduous in their efforts to attribute the phenomenal rise of Islam to the use of violent means by its followers. Many Islamic scholars, on the other hand, in the face of the virulent propaganda, have taken an unnecessarily defensive, often apologetic, position. I shall discuss the subject in its true spirit.

Islam is not a religion aimed merely at spiritual training of individuals. It is also not there just for social reform. Its area of action encompasses every sphere of individual and collective life, viz. health, education, politics, economics and social affairs, including those at the national and international levels. It is not merely a set of rituals and customs or a way of life. It is a fully-grown system, which, like every other system of governance, needs to propagate its ideology, safeguard its interests, protect its followers and areas of influence and combat any actions of hostility directed against it. It has the right to self-defence like any other country or organisation has. Jihad means struggle; it denotes earnest efforts to achieve Islamic objective of grand peace and safeguard its ideological, political and geographical sovereignty. Under normal circumstances, Jihad primarily involves intellectual, political and social means; in extraordinary circumstances, it does not shy away from adopting military or militant means. What differentiates Islamic method of armed confrontation however from that in vogue in the current international arena is that in Islam Jihad is not for selfish geographical, political and economic interests of a country or a group of countries. In contrast, it is aimed at ensuring peace, rescuing people in duress and fighting the forces of evil, exploitation and injustice. But Qur’an categorically states that fighting should be restricted only for the stated objectives, namely in the event of aggressive intents or actions of a hostile force, infraction of agreement, widespread chaos, exploitation or oppression and to counter excesses. It also makes clear that while during fighting every effort must be made to strike telling blows to the enemy, Muslims must return to the negotiating table as soon as the enemy appears inclined to cease-fire and lasting peace.

The term “Jihad” in Islam does not mean an armed fight, which at best is only a part of it. Jihad, in fact is an incessant struggle to spread what is good and uproot what is evil. The best Jihad, according to Islam is against one’s self. And when this definition is extended to a social level, it again means struggle against forces that exploit human weaknesses or oppress the weak and poor. Jihad through Qur’an is another important kind of Jihad, which also means an intellectual dialogue with the opponents of Islamic system.

Every ideology and system takes all the necessary measures to protect it from external and internal mischief and to consolidate it. Islam is no exception and it has greater right to work in that direction because it aims to establish the rule of God, not an oligarchy. All ongoing struggles in the world cannot be equated with terrorism. To fight against the occupation by external forces, usurpers of land, tyrannical rulers, exploiters, forces of evils and oppressors cannot be regarded terrorism. To sacrifice one’s life in a bid to harm the enemies for a justified cause cannot be condemned as “suicide attacks”; any bombing that is for a justified cause and is aimed at justified targets must be termed sacrificial bombing. There are some Islamic scholars who argue that Jihad can be undertaken only by an Islamic state. They are awfully mistaken, playing in the hands of those who want to reserve all military options open for themselves including pre-emptive strikes and at the same time want Muslims to forego their right to fight altogether. If Muslims can fight only under the command of a state, it means they cannot fight against an occupying force and against a tyrannical ruler. If the government of a state is corrupt, anti-Islamic or oppressive, nobody can deny the people the right to organise into groups and campaign against it. However, deliberate killing of innocents cannot be regarded desirable even if it is in response to killing of innocents by a country or a group. Though Qur’an allows Muslims to transgress against the enemy if it transgresses against them, this is surely the last and not the first option.

Another allegation that is labelled against Islam is that Qur’an calls for killing all the unbelievers. The protagonists of this thesis base their arguments on the verses that call for killing the Unbelievers, forgetting that these verses are war-time-injunctions. “Unbelievers” in these verses mean only the unbelievers engaged in the combat. It is clear also that the injunctions of Qur’an are almost similar in the case of fights between factions of Muslims. It asks its true followers to also fight those Muslims who are unjust.

Jihad in Islam is obligatory. It is an important constituent of the Islamic mission of universal peace and justice. It is in fact incumbent on all the human beings to engage in this mission. But for Muslims it is a divine duty. Jihad is meant for protecting the weak against the mighty; for alerting the forces of evil that their sordid adventures will not go unchallenged; for giving the oppressed sections a voice and wrecking the nerve-centres of the tyrants; and for giving the exploiters sleepless nights. Jihad prepares a person to sacrifice his possessions including his life if required for the cause of God. But Mujahids must clearly know that the objective of Jihad is not to bring certain persons to power, nor to bring theocracies to the whole world through sheer use of force. “Deen”, the system of God does not necessarily mean the establishment of a theocratic government through violent means; it means the rule of justice. Fighting is only the last but an open option in Jihad. If conditions are justifiable for fighting, it becomes obligatory; if conditions do not demand fighting, it becomes aggression. If its objectives are for the welfare of the masses it is desirable; if it is an excuse for selfish ends, it is an unparalleled sin. Jihad through peaceful means must always continue without halt; Jihad through arms must be an aberration. But once the conditions are justifiable, fighting must see no sympathy for the enemy; it must be given a crushing below. Fighting against the wicked is no violence; it is an exercise aimed at minimising violence. Killing bacteria and viruses through antibiotics and antiviral drugs is essential to maintain a healthy life. If microbes are not killed, they will kill the very person who provides them the food for their sustenance.

Islam however does not accept that “all is fair in love and war”. Even in war, all Islamic conditions must be followed in letter and spirit. As soon as the conditions are bright for an honourable settlement, fighting must be stopped without delay; for the ultimate objective is not the subjugation of the enemy but an end to mischief, anarchy, chaos and oppression. The powers that dominate do always try to take the right to fight away from others, so that they can continue to hold reins. They amass massive stocks of deadly weapons, but deny others the right to possess them. They do not hesitate a second to attack or invade the positions of their challengers, but make too much fuss of even the smallest acts of armed resistance. They kill innocents in big numbers and label it as ‘collateral damage’; and lambaste their opponents, through the weapons of words and war, if their actions cause the deaths of even a handful of innocents.

Jihad in Quran

Real Jihad

And We shall try you until We test those among you who strive their utmost and persevere in patience; and We shall try your reported (mettle). (47: 31/A)

Jihad against self

Those who believe, and suffer exile and strive with might and main, in God’s cause, with their goods and their persons, have the highest rank in the sight of God. They are the people who will achieve (salvation). Their Lord doth give them glad tidings of a Mercy from Himself, of His good pleasure, and of gardens for them, wherein are delights that endure. (9: 20-21/A)

Ideological Jihad

Therefore listen not to the Unbelievers, but strive against them with the utmost strenuousness with the (Quran)....(25: 51-52/A)

Armed struggle

Fighting is prescribed for you..(2: 216/A)

Against aggression

Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for God loveth not transgressors. (2: 190/A)

Against oppression

And why should ye not fight in the cause of God and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)?- Men, women, and children, whose cry is: “Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from thee one who will protect; and raise for us from thee one who will help!” (4: 75/A)

Against the forces of evil

Those who believe fight in the cause of God, and those who reject Faith fight in the cause of Evil: So fight ye against the friends of Satan: feeble indeed is the cunning of Satan. (4: 76/A)

Against the breakers of treaty

But if they violate their oaths after their covenant, and taunt you for your Faith,- fight ye the chiefs of Unfaith: for their oaths are nothing to them: that thus they may be restrained. Will ye not fight people who violated their oaths, plotted to expel the Messenger, and took the aggressive by being the first (to assault) you? (9: 12-13/A)

They ask thee concerning fighting in the Prohibited Month. Fighting therein is a grave (offence); but graver is it in the sight of God to prevent access to the path of God, to deny Him, to prevent access to the Sacred Mosque, and drive out its members.” Tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter. (2: 217/A)

Breach of treaty

A (declaration) of immunity from God and His Messenger, to those of the Pagans with whom ye have contracted mutual alliances:- Go ye, then, for four months, backwards and forwards, (as ye will), throughout the land, but know ye that ye cannot frustrate God (by your falsehood) but that God will cover with shame those who reject Him. (9: 1-2/A)

And an announcement from God and His Messenger, to the people (assembled) on the day of the Great Pilgrimage,- that God and His Messenger dissolve (treaty) obligations with the Pagans. If then, ye repent, it were best for you; but if ye turn away, know ye that ye cannot frustrate God. (9: 3/A)

(But the treaties are) not dissolved with those Pagans with whom ye have entered into alliance and who have not subsequently failed you in aught, nor aided any one against you. So fulfil your engagements with them to the end of their term..(9: 4/A)

But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for God is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. (9: 5/A)

But (even so), if they repent, establish regular prayers, and practise regular charity,- they are your brethren in Faith: (thus) do We explain the Signs in detail, for those who understand. (9: 11-12/A)

Against transgressors

If then any one transgresses the prohibition against you, transgress ye likewise against him.. (2: 194/A)

Against treachery

If thou fearest treachery from any group, throw back (their covenant) to them, (so as to be) on equal terms: for God loveth not the treacherous. (8: 58/A)

Conduct when fighting begins

And slay them wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. (2: 191/A)

O ye who believe! when ye meet the Unbelievers in hostile array, never turn your backs to them. If any do turn his back to them on such a day - unless it be in a stratagem of war, or to retreat to a troop (of his own)- he draws on himself the wrath of God, and his abode is Hell,- an evil refuge (indeed)! (8: 15-16/A)

If ye gain the mastery over them in war, disperse, with them, those who follow them, that they may remember. (8: 57/A)

O ye who believe! When ye meet a force, be firm, and call God in remembrance much (and often); that ye may prosper: And obey God and His Messenger. And fall into no disputes, lest ye lose heart and your power depart...(8: 45-46/A)

But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks;- except those who join a group between whom and you there is a treaty (of peace), or those who approach you with hearts restraining them from fighting you as well as fighting their own people. (4: 89-90/A)

If they withdraw not from you nor give you (guarantees) of peace besides restraining their hands, seize them and slay them wherever ye get them: In their case We have provided you with a clear argument against them. (4: 91/A)


Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of God and your enemies, and others besides, whom ye may not know, but whom God doth know. (8: 60/A)

O ye who believe! Take your precautions and either go forth in parties or go forth all together. (4: 71/A)


And say not of those who are slain in the way of God. “They are dead.” Nay, they are living, though ye perceive (it) not. (2: 154/A)

And if ye are slain, or die, in the way of God, forgiveness and mercy from God are far better than all they could amass. (3: 157/A)

Reward for jihad

Those who leave their homes in the cause of God, and are then slain or die,- on them will God bestow verily a goodly Provision: Truly God is He Who bestows the best provision. (22: 58/A)

Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in fight), smite at their necks; at length, when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: until the war lays down its burdens. (47: 4/A)

Fight among Muslims

Whenever two factions of believers fall out with one another, try to reconcile them. If one of them should oppress the other, then fight the one, which acts oppressively until they comply with God’s command. If they should comply, then patch things up again between them in all justice, and act fairly. God loves those who act fairly. (49: 9/Z)

Conditions for cessation of fighting

Be not weary and fainthearted, crying for peace, when ye should be uppermost: (47: 35/A)
..but if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practise oppression. (2: 193/A)

Therefore if they withdraw from you but fight you not, and (instead) send you (Guarantees of) peace, then God hath opened no way for you (to war against them). (4: 90/A)

Peace for peace

But if the enemy incline towards peace, do thou (also) incline towards peace, and trust in God. (8: 61/A)

Treaties to be adhered to

……with those Pagans with whom ye have entered into alliance and who have not subsequently failed you in aught, nor aided any one against you. So fulfil your engagements with them to the end of their term: for God loveth the righteous. (9: 4/A)


If one amongst the Pagans ask thee for asylum, grant it to him, so that he may hear the word of God. And then escort him to where he can be secure. That is because they are men without knowledge. (9: 6/A)


And know that out of all the booty that ye may acquire (in war), a fifth share is assigned to God,- and to the Messenger, and to near relatives, orphans, the needy, and the wayfarer... (8: 41/A)

Exempt from fighting

There is no blame on those who are infirm, or ill, or who find no resources to spend (on the cause), if they are sincere (in duty) to God and His Messenger. (9: 91/A)
No blame is there on the blind, nor is there blame on the lame, nor on one ill (if he joins not the war)... (48: 17/A)

No fight against peace loving people

God forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for God loveth those who are just. God only forbids you, with regard to those who fight you for (your) Faith, and drive you out of your homes, and support (others) in driving you out, from turning to them (for friendship and protection). It is such as turn to them (in these circumstances), that do wrong. (60: 8-9/A)

[Dr. Javed Jamil is Executive Director, International Centre for Applied Islamics PEACE, 214- K, Sarita Vihar, New Delhi, India. He can be contacted at doctorforu123@yahoo.com]

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on July 27, 2012. Filed under , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

By Indian Muslim Observer on July 27, 2012. Filed under , , , . Follow any responses to the RSS 2.0. Leave a response

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