Archive for the ‘Jihad’ Category

JIHAD The Teaching of Islam From Its Primary Sources – The Quran and Hadith

A Study by Rev. Richard P. Bailey

[Note: This is a 26 page study. Please don’t begin unless you intend to carefully and fully read all these verses from the Quran and the traditions on the subject of Jihad. It is my intent simply to make it possible for you to make your own judgment as to the teaching of Islam about Jihad.]


[When we consider the number of verses in the Quran which deal with the subject of Jihad or struggle in the cause of God, it becomes obvious that Jihad is one of the major themes of the Quran.

The 114 suras (chapters or parts) of the Quran are not listed in the chronological order in which Mohammad recited them, but seem to be listed in the order of length – from the longest to the shortest. Rather than list verses in the order they are placed in the Quran, I have listed them in the chronological order in which they came (according to the listing by Nöldeke). This will help to bring out the obvious progression of thought regarding Jihad.

The Ka’aba, a rectangular building in the city of Mecca, contained many idols and was the center of worship for the pagan Arabs at the time of Muhammad. Arabs from all over Arabia came to Mecca for an annual pilgrimage to worship those idols.

Mohammad began preaching Islam in 610 A.D. when he was still living in Mecca. His fellow Quraish tribesmen became increasingly angry because of his condemnation of their idolatry. 90 of the 114 suras originated during the 13 years he continued living in Mecca. These suras contained no instructions about fighting, in spite of the severe persecution, beatings, expulsion from their homes and death threats to which his small band of followers were subjected.

The last 24 suras are from the time after 622 when Mohammad and his followers migrated to Medina to escape from the persecution in Mecca. There Mohammad was made the political leader of the city and his followers increased significantly. The teaching about Jihad or fighting “in the way of Allah” began to develop in these Medinan suras. As you will see, I have displayed the development of the Quran’s teaching about Jihad in four stages. No doubt there are other ways of looking at this subject, but I have found this most helpful.]


  • “Verses from the Quran are in bold print. All are from the English translation by A. Yusuf Ali.”
  • (in brackets after each reference I have added a brief summary of the Quranic passage.)
  • [YA: “Some of the comments of Yusuf Ali, the translator of the Quran into English are interjected in smaller type and in square brackets in order to give more understanding of the Muslim interpretation of these verses.”]
  • [Other comments are my own]

STAGE ONE: (IN MECCA) – NO RETALIATION: [While still in Mecca, Mohammad and his followers did not retaliate or fight. The suras originating during that time contained teaching typified by the following verses:]

Sura 73:10,11 (be patient and bear with those who deny the truth)

“And have patience with what they say, and leave them with noble (dignity). And leave me (alone to deal with) those in possession of the good things of life, who (yet) deny the truth, [YA: “Men who enjoy the good things of life have special cause for gratitude to God, Who bestowed them. When they are in the ranks of God’s enemies, none but God can adequately deal with them..”] and bear with them for a little while.”

Sura 52:45,47,48 (leave them alone and wait in patience for the Lord to punish them)

“So leave them alone until they encounter that day of theirs, wherein they shall (perforce) swoon (with terror) … And verily, for those who do wrong, there is another punishment besides this…Now await in patience the command of thy Lord, for verily thou art in Our eyes.” [YA: “The man of God must strive his utmost to proclaim the message of God. As for results, it is not for him to command them. He must wait patiently in the knowledge that he is not forgotten by God, but is constantly under God’s eyes – under His living care and protection…”]

Sura 109:1,2,6 (Tell unbelievers, “You have your religion and I have mine.”)

“Say, O ye that reject faith! I worship not that which ye worship… To you be your way, and to me mine.”

Sura 76:8,9 (be kind even to those taken prisoner)

“And they feed, for the love of God, the indigent, the orphan, and the captive, (saying) ‘We feed you for the sake of God alone. No reward do we desire from you, nor thanks.’” [YA: “…it refers to the old state of things when captives of war had to earn their own food, or their own redemption; even ordinary prisoners in join for criminal offences often starved unless food was provided for them by private friends or from their own earnings.”]

Sura 20:129,130 (also 38:15-17) (be patient with evil things said by evil people)

“Had it not been for a word that went forth before from thy Lord, (their punishment) must necessarily have come, but there is a term appointed (for respite). Therefore be patient with what they say…” [YA: “All good men must be patient with what seems to them evil around them.”]

Sura 20:134,135 (be patient and let the unbelievers see who is right)

“And if We had inflicted on them a penalty before this, they would have said, ‘Our Lord! If only Thou hadst sent us an apostle, we should certainly have followed thy signs before we were humbled and put to shame.’ Say: ‘Each one (of us) is waiting. Wait ye, therefore, and soon shall ye know who it is that is on the straight and even way, and who it is that has received guidance.’” [YA: “The man of God can only say: ‘Let us wait the issue. My faith tells me that God’s truth must prevail.’”]

Sura 16:93 (God leaves alone those whom He allows to stray from the truth)

“If God so willed, He could make you all one people, but He leaves straying whom He pleases, and He guides whom He pleases, but ye shall certainly be called to account for all your actions.” [YA: “God’s will and plan, in allowing limited free-will to man, is, not to force man’s will, but to give all guidance, and leave alone those who reject that guidance, in case they should repent and come back into grace. But in all cases, in so far as we are given the choice, we shall be called to account for all our actions…”]

Sura 19:83,84 (Don’t be in a hurry to fight. God will allow evil people to destroy themselves.)

“Seest thou not that we have set the evil ones on against the unbelievers to incite them with fury? So make no haste against them, for we but count out to them a (limited) number (of days).” [YA: “Under the laws instituted by God, when evil reaches a certain stage of rebellion and defiance, it is left to gather momentum and to rush with fury to its own destruction. It is given a certain amount of respite, as a last chance, but failing repentance, its days are numbered. The godly therefore should not worry themselves over the apparent worldly success of evil, but should get on with their own duties in a spirit of trust in God.”]

Sura 43:88,89 (just turn away from those who reject the truth, and say “Peace” to them)

“(God has knowledge) of the (Prophet’s) cry, ‘O my Lord! Truly these are a people who will not believe!’ But turn away from them, and say, ‘Peace!’ But soon shall they know!” [YA: “The Prophet…is here told to leave them alone for a time, for the truth must soon prevail.”]

Sura 67:26 (Mohammad is only a warner; not an enforcer)

“Say ‘…I am (sent) only to warn plainly in public.’” [YA: “The Prophet’s duty is to proclaim that fact openly and clearly. It is not for him to punish or to hasten the punishment of evil.”] Sura 22:49 “Say, ‘O men! I am (sent) to you only to give a clear warning.’”

Sura 23:54 (Leave them in their ignorance)

“But leave them in their confused ignorance for a time.”

Sura 23:96 (It is best not to retaliate evil for evil)

“Repel evil with that which is best.” [YA: “It is not for you to punish. Your best course is not to do evil in your turn, but to do what will best repel the evil. Two evils do not make a good.”] “We are well acquainted with the things they say. And say, ‘O my Lord! I seek refuge with thee from the suggestions of the evil ones. And I seek refuge with thee of my Lord, lest they should come near me.’”

Sura 25:52 (struggle with all your might against unbelievers with God’s word – the “Greater Jihad”)

“Therefore listen not to the unbelievers, but strive against them with the utmost strenuousness, with the (Quran).” [YA: “… the man of God pays no heed to carping critics who reject faith. He wages the biggest jihad of all, with the weapon of God’s revelation.”] [The Arabic is “Jihad-e-Kabir” (greater Jihad). Muslims therefore believe that physical war is “Jihad-e-Saghir” (lesser Jihad), although that term is not specifically mentioned in the Quran (see 4:74-76).]

Sura 17:54 (Mohammad was not sent to dispose of men’s affairs.)

“…We have not sent thee to be a disposer of their affairs for them.” [YA:”Even men of God are not sent to arrange or dispose of men’s affairs, but only to teach God’s message.”]

Sura 16:125,126 (invite to the way of God only with gracious preaching and arguments)

“Invite (all) to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious… And if ye do catch them out, catch them out no worse than they catch you out. But if ye show patience, that is indeed the best (course) for those who are patient.” [YA: “In the context this passage refers to controversies and discussions, but the words are wide enough to cover all human struggles, disputes, and fights. In strictest equity you are not entitled to give a worse blow than is given to you. But those who have reached a higher spiritual standard do not even do that. They restrain themselves, and are patient. Lest you should think that such patience only gives an advantage to the adversary, you are told that the contrary is the case. The advantage is with the patient, the self-possessed, those who do not lose their temper or forget their own principles of conduct.”]

Sura 29:46 (don’t argue with Jews and Christians, but do something better, i.e., emphasize our oneness)

“And dispute ye not with the People of the Book [a term used for Jews and Christians], except with means better (than mere disputation) … But say, ‘We believe in the revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you. Our God and your God is One, and it is to Him we bow (in Islam).'” [YA: “In order to achieve our purpose as true standard bearers for God, we shall have to find the common grounds of belief, as stated in the latter part of this verse …”]

Sura 29:69 (God will guide those who struggle in His way.)

“And those who strive in our (cause), we will certainly guide them to our paths: For verily God is with those who do right.” [YA: “All that man can do is to strive in God’s cause. As soon as he strives with might and main, with constancy and determination, the light and mercy of God come to meet him… The way of God (sirat-ul-mustaqim) is a straight way. But men have strayed from it in all directions. And there are numerous paths by which they can get back to the right way… All these paths become open to them if once they give their hearts in keeping to God and work in right endeavour (Jihad) with all their mind and soul and resources. Thus will they get out of the spider’s web of this frail world and attain to eternal bliss in the fulfillment of their true destiny.”]

Sura 10:25,26 (God’s call to the house of peace with reward in paradise]

“But God doth call to the home of peace. [YA: “Salam, peace is from the same root as Islam, the religion of unity and harmony.”] He doth guide whom He pleaseth to a way that is straight. To those who do right is a goodly (reward) – yea, more (than in measure)! [YA: “The reward of the righteous will be far more than in proportion to their merits. For they will have the supreme bliss of being near to God, and (in Sufi language) ‘seeing His face’”] No darkness nor shame shall cover their faces! They are companions of the garden. They will abide therein (for aye)!”

Sura 6:104 (It’s not our job to watch and be sure people believe the truth)

“Now have come to you, from your Lord, proofs (to open your eyes). If any will see, it will be for (the good of) his own soul. If any will be blind, it will be to his own (harm). I am not (here) to watch over your doings.”

[Pakistani Brigadier S. K. Malik in his book, “The Quranic Concept of War” says, “… the tiny Muslim community in Mecca was the object of the Koraish tyranny and oppression since the proclamation of Islam. They were continuously subjected to the most inhuman torture, repression and persecution. They were ridiculed, browbeaten and assaulted…The enemy repression reached its zenith when the Koraish denied the Muslims access to the Sacred Mosque (the Ka’aba) to fulfill their religious obligations. This sacrilegious act amounted to an open declaration of war upon Islam. It eventually compelled the Muslims to migrate to Medina twelve years later, in 622 AD…” (p. 11) [It is a mystery to me why the Muslims wanted to worship in that Ka’aba, while it was still full of idols!] ]

[Being small in number the followers of Muhammad would have been wiped out if they had tried to retaliate. Also they were being protected by Mohammad’s uncle until his death. Finally when Muhammad received an invitation to come to Medina, they fled from Mecca. In Medina he was given the position of leader of the city and many more Arabs accepted him as a prophet. (See Yusuf Ali’s note in Sura 4:74-78a below.)]

Read the entire article at Answering Islam