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This article is typically sanitized as is most articles on jihad by Muslims and their supporters. I will sprinkle some thoughts thoughout the article in red proceeded by Bo.


Avatar of Kazi Lutful

Jihad | The Holy War

14 May, 2012
Published by Kazi Lutful in Understanding Islam – Muslim

The Quranic term ‘Jihad‘ means, “Holy fighting in the Cause of Allah or any other kind of effort to make Allah’s Word (i.e. Islam) superior. Jihad is regarded as one of the fundamentals of Islam.”
The literal meaning of Jihad is struggle or effort, and it means much more than holy war.

Bo: So, does jihad mean holy war or not? The author claims that it does as does the Saudi approved translation called the Noble Qur’ an. Yet, there a number of other Islamic authors which argue that jihad does not mean and cannot refer to a holy war.

Classification of Jihad:

Sufi writers say that there are two Jihads: al-Jihadu ‘l-Akbar , or ”the greater warfare,” which is against one’s own lusts; and al-Jihadu ‘l-asghar , or ”the lesser warfare,” against infidels.

Bo: See the author’s section below called The Greater Jihad controversy. The fact is that the hadith which many Islamic imams, scholars and politicians use is Da’ if (weak) because the isnad is corrupted. In reality there is only one jihad or struggle. Yet, the one jihad has a number of categories within it. The doctrinal concept of jihad is as much an all-encompassing ideology as tawhid (Islamic monotheism). Greater And Lessor Jihad

Jihad in The Quran

The Quran has many passages about fighting. Some of them advocate peace, while some are very warlike. The Bible, the Jewish and Christian scripture, shows a similar variety of attitudes to war.

Bo: Actually, this is not true. The passages which are peaceful are Meccan. Every peaceful passage was written while Mohammad was in the city of Mecca which constitutes the first 13 years of his prophetship. Allah did permitted Mohammad to da’ wah, pray and practice the form of jihad whereby, the Muslims of that period struggled with themselves. The passages that are war-like are all from the Medinan period. The Medinan period is set off by Mohammad’s hajj to the city of Medina, the institution of the first Caliphate, the first Islamic center and the use of jihad bis saif (of the sword). In the Meccan period Islam was forced to get along with the non-Muslim groups because Islam was weak. After the hajj to Medinan Islam becomes strong and no longer is forced to live side-by-side with non-Muslim religions but can now use force to (1) among Muslims who live the faith, (2) to remove obstacles to the Da’ wah of Islam and create dhimmis and (3) to kill the unbelievers.

There is no such structure with the Bible. In fact,  Israel was permitted by God (not the God of Ishmael) to offensively attack the nations in Canaan even though those nations did not attack them first nor heard any message from God. These nations had become so evil God decided to punish them by destroying them and giving the land to Israel for God’ s plan.

Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors. Quran 2:190

Bo: So, Muslims are not permitted to begin hostilities even though history shows they do. How does this work? Lets look at Mecca. Mohammad gets his revelation. He goes into Mecca and for 13 years Da’ wah (preaches Islam). All but 150 Meccans reject the message. Mohammad continues to proclaim that the Meccans are religiously wrong and the idols in the Ka’ bah need to be destroyed. His preaching angers the Meccans until they demand of his uncle that he shut Mohammad up. He does not and instead protects Mohammad but eventually he dies and the Meccans demand Mohammad and his merry band of Muslim leave. Mohammad leaves, goes to Medina, begins a Caliphate, permits jihad bis saif and then turns and destroys Mecca.

Now in this case, Islam claims that the Meccans were the aggressors because they rejected and fought against Mohammad with words, finally kicking him out of Mecca. So, because the people of Mecca were the aggressors Mohammad could attack them physically and claim to have not started the hostilities. Yet, in reality Mohammad was the aggressor. He began the hostilities because when the Meccans refused to accept his teaching he did not move on as Jesus’ apostles and preachers did during the New Testament period. Rather, he antagonized  the Meccans so much until they demanded his removal from their town. But the Meccans never once used force. So, Mohammad began the hostilities through his Da’ wah, continued to Da’ wah until the people wanted him thrown out of the town and then, turns around and destroys Mecca for refusing his message. This is in fact how every Islamic war began. Islam confronts a non-Islamic nation, proclaims Islam, explains that refusal means war and when non-Muslims refuse Islam, Muslims attack. Yet, Islam is never the aggressor because the non-Muslim country began the hostilities by refusing Islam. Ingenious.

This same process is setting up America for jihad since hundreds of millions of Americans reject Islam.

To those against whom war is made, permission is given (to fight), because they are wronged;- and verily, Allah is most powerful for their aid. Quran 22:39

Bo: This ayat (verse) reveals the real reason for every Islamic jihad (war). Muslims are allowed to fight those by whom they have been wronged. How? The non-Muslim rejected their Da’ wah. Mohammad did not attack Mecca, Persia or the Romans because these groups first attacked the homes and families of these Muslims. They attacked to gain land, booty and only after these groups refused Da’ wah. This is the Islamic view of what it means to be wronged.

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

Bo: This verse does not consider those who refuse to stop fighting. Almost every group will stop fighting if the enemy chooses to stop fighting. But what happens if non-Muslims refuse to stop fighting? Muslims are to continue to fight. (Al Baqarah 1:190-193, note verse 193)

But if the enemy incline towards peace, do thou (also) incline towards peace, and trust in Allah: for He is One that heareth and knoweth (all things).

Bo: This ayat (verse) is no different from the previous ayat. Please keep in mind that an enemy does not have to physically attack Muslims for Muslims to claim that hostilities have began. According to Islamic doctrine all that is necessary for hostilities to begin is the non-Muslim to slandered Islam, rejected Islam’s Da’ wah or oppress Muslims. According to the Umdat Al-Salik slander is defined as merely anything that a Muslim does not like. Rejecting Da’ wah is simple enough because the non-Muslim refuses to become either a Muslim or dhimmi. It is easy to oppress a Muslim but the greatest oppression is not permitting Muslims to engage in Shar’ ia in a non-Shar’ ia country.

Muslims & Jihad:

Muslims use the word Jihad to describe three different kinds of struggle:
1.  A believer’s internal struggle to live out the Muslim faith as well as possible
2. The struggle to build a good Muslim society
3.  Holy war: the struggle to defend Islam, with force if necessary

Bo: Defending something does not necessarily mean that the act of defense is defensive. Today is June 6. Sixty-nine years ago the Allies defended their way of life by overtly attacking the Axis during what has come to be called D-Day. So, it is possible to defend something by striking out proactively and Muslims know this. This is, in fact, Islam’s history. Mohammad did not fight any wars of “survival” but rather lead offensive wars directed toward those who refused the Da’ wah.

Many modern writers claim that the main meaning of Jihad is the internal spiritual struggle, and this is accepted by many Muslims. “Jihad is one of the chief meritorious acts in the eye of Islam – and it is the best source of earnings, but it shall be undertaken with the intention of self-defence.” “Mishkat” II, page 340 – explanatory note).

The Greater Jihad controversy

The Prophet is said to have called the internal Jihad the “greater Jihad”.
On his return from a battle, the Prophet said: “We are finished with the lesser jihad; now we are starting the greater jihad.” He explained to his followers that fighting against an outer enemy is the lesser jihad and fighting against one’s self is the greater jihad (holy war).
This quotation is regarded as unreliable by some scholars. They regard the use of jihad as meaning ‘holy war’ as the more important.

What can justify Jihad?

There are a number of reasons, but the Quran is clear that self-defence is always the underlying cause.
Permissable reasons for military Jihad:
a) Self-defence
b) Strengthening Islam

Bo: I find it interesting the author does not define what he means by “strengthening Islam.” In one sense it could refer to fitnah or a civil war in which the hypocrites (Muslims who are not following the faith) are either forced to submit or are killed. It could also refer to the doctrine of sacred space in which Islam is commanded to retake any land which has fallen into the hands of the unbelievers. But it could also refer to striking out against dar al-harb and subjugating unbelievers under Islamic rule in which a person has the choice to become a Muslim, dhimmi or die.

c) Protecting the freedom of Muslims to practise their faith
d) Protecting Muslims against oppression, which could include overthrowing a tyrannical ruler

Bo: Categories c and d are very important. Jihad is permitted to be used if there are Muslims in either dar al-harb or a country who is a part of dar al-Islam whose ruler is a tyrant to release those Muslims so they can faithfully worship Allah. Right now, in America there are groups like CAIR which go to great links to document what they believe are incidents in which Muslims are being oppressed and cannot properly worship Allah. In every email CAIR sends out there is a story or two about some Muslim who is being oppressed. According to the author jihad can be used against America now because it is allowing Muslims to be persecuted. The host country does not have to have attacked an Islamic state first for it to be attacked because it is in essence attacking Islam by persecuting Muslims. This is a great example of the use of offensive warfare in self-defense.
e) Punishing an enemy who breaks an oath

Bo: According to At-Tawbah 9, Islam is not permitted to make an oath or treaty with a non-Muslim nation.But what if Islam does make a treaty? According to At Tawbah Allah has released himself and Islam from any obligation to keep the treaty since 9 AH. So, if Islam does make a treaty it can break it whenever it feels the desire or need to.

f) Putting right a wrong

Bo: See statements under C and D.

What a Jihad is not?

A war is not a Jihad if the intention is to:
a) Force people to convert to Islam

Bo: The rest of these categories are useless really. But section a is the most important. The author is either lying, deceived or ignorant of the Hadith. It could also be that the author is lying hoping that no one in his audience knows Islamic doctrine. This is called taqiyya.

Mohammad stated that Allah sent him specifically to fight (kill) non-Muslims unless they accept the Shahahada. He states;

The Messenger of Allah said: “I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, and they establish prayer and pay zakat.” (Sahih Muslim 1:33)

So, despite the attempts of Islamic apologists to make Islam peaceful and self-protective, Mohammad claims Allah sent him to offensively kill non-Muslims until they accept Islam. This is forced conversion.

b) Conquer other nations to colonise them
c) Take territory for economic gain
d) Settle disputes
e) Demonstrate a leader’s power

Although the Prophet engaged in military action on a number of occasions, these were battles to survive, rather than conquest, and took place at a time when fighting between tribes was common.

The rules of Jihad:

a) The opponent must always have started the fighting.

Bo: Remember Islam’s enemy does not have to physically attack but can slander Islam, reject Allah’s Da’ wah or oppress a Muslim.
b) It must not be fought to gain territory.

Bo: This is false. Mohammad claimed that Allah has given the earth as a mosque to Islam. But for the world to be a proper mosque, Islam must occupy and control the entire land mass. So, yes it is about territory. According to At Tawbah 9 Allah does not permit non-Muslims to maintain his mosques. The world is Allah’s mosque and therefore, only Muslims are permitted to maintain the world and therefore, all territory must become dar al-Islam.
c)  It must be launched by a religious leader.

Bo: Originally, jihad could only be launched by the Caliph. But over time and due to the different interpretations that arose within Islam and the loss of the Caliphate the original teaching was reduced to the claim that an imam/caliph could launch jihad.
d) It must be fought to bring about good – something that Allah will approve of.

Bo: This is so broad that it can include anything that is called good in the Qur’ an, Hadith or Sira. But here is one example. It is good according to all three Islamic authoritative texts that all mankind be governed by Allah through Shar’ ia. America is not governed by Shar’ ia therefore, since jihad can be used to bring the conditions for the implementation of Shar’ ia it is permissible to use jihad to overtly attack America and force Shar’ ia on the land. Why? It is good.
e) Every other way of solving the problem must be tried before resorting to war.
f)  Innocent people should not be killed.

Bo: This is an argument Muslims continue to recycle. It is true that Shar’ ia does not permit the killing of innocent people. But who is innocent? Muslims claim that anyone who rejects Da’ wah is no longer innocent. What is interesting is that a person does not have to hear the Da’ wah to have rejected it! How convenient. So, this means that no non-Muslims in America is innocent. Therefore, this article is meaningless.
g) Women, children, or old people should not be killed or hurt.
h) Women must not be raped.
i) Enemies must be treated with justice.

Bo: According to the Umdat Al-Salik Justice includes jihad. So, by jihading against Allah’s enemies Muslims are treating non-Muslims with justice.
j) Wounded enemy soldiers must be treated in exactly the same way as one’s own soldiers.
k) The war must stop as soon as the enemy asks for peace.
l) Property must not be damaged.
m) Poisoning wells is forbidden. The modern analogy would be chemical or biological warfare.