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Removing Doubts Concerning Verses of Jihad in Quran: Do Jihad-Verses in Quran prove that Islam prefers war and fighting? Part 3

Kamaal Mustafa Azhari for New Age Islam

(Translated from Urdu by

28 May 2021

Suspicion No. 3: Jihad has been mentioned in the several verses of the Qur'an, which shows that Islam prefers war and fighting.

Important points discussed in Part 3

Linguistic Meaning of Jihad

Meaning of Jihad in the Quran and Sunnah

Jihad against devil [Satan] and the evil in oneself [nafs]

Serving the parents is also a kind of Jihad

Jihad also means doing Hajj [Obligatory Pilgrimage]


In order to remove the aforementioned suspicion, it is necessary to first clarify the meaning of jihad.

The Meaning of Jihad

Linguistically Jihad is derived from juhd meaning ability, exertion or power, or from Jahd which means fatigue or exerting oneself to the limit of one’s effort, or doing effort most vehemently, which can be seen in the following verse;

Allah Almighty says, “And the believers say, “Are these the ones who swore by Allah most vehemently (jahda) in their oaths, that they are with you?” All their deeds are destroyed, so they are ruined.” (5:53)

It is mentioned in the hadith, “I seek refuge in Allah from the jahd (stress) of calamity”. (Lisan al-Arab, 4/134)

The fighting was called jihad because it involves effort with life and property. Thus Jihad became a common usage to mean war.

The word jihad has been mentioned in the Holy Qur'an and the hadiths, however, it does not always refer to the concept of fighting that is waged against the enemies during a battle. But rather Jihad denotes several meanings in addition to fighting. We must keep in mind that jihad is mentioned 141 times in the entire Quran in which only 10 places are there where it connotes the concept of fighting.    

Jihad is also used for “making an effort to gain what is good and remove what is evil” (Bayanun li al-Naas, Jamia al-Azhar, 1/276). That refers to an effort made to achieve good and profit or remove evil and loss, which can happen in any field by any means. This notion is equally emphasized in both peace and war, for which it is not necessary to take up arms.

The meanings of jihad in the Qur'an and Sunnah

The Holy Qur'an and the Hadiths state various meanings of jihad, some of which are as follows:

1.       Jihad by da'wah and Preaching by proof

Jihad by dawah and preaching involves an act of one’s establishing evidence for the truth as opposed to its opponent.

Allah Almighty says in one of the Makki verses (which were revealed before the Prophet’s Migration from Makka to Madina, as referenced by Al-Itqan 1/37):

“So do not obey the disbelievers, and strive against them [with the Qur'an] a great striving” (25:52)

Commenting on verse 25:52, Imam Qurtubi says, “Do not obey the disbelievers” means do not obey them when they call towards their gods and Hazrat Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) says, “strive against them” with the Quran, i.e. do Jihad against them by establishing evidence from the Quran. (Tafsir al-Qurtubi, 13/57)  

In one of the Madani verses [revealed after the Prophet’s migration], Allah Almighty says, “O Prophet! Strive against the unbelievers and the hypocrites, and be severe to them. Hell shall be their abode; what an evil destination!” (9:73)

This verse, Imam Nasafi comments, ‘denotes the fighting by the sword against the aggressive infidels and by establishing evidence against the hypocrites’. (Tafsir al-Nasafi, 2/99)

This is a verse of Surah Tauba, which is Madani Surah as per the unanimous agreement of the scholars. The Prophet (peace be upon him) never commanded to take up sword against the hypocrites, but to do Jihad against them by establishing evidence. Hazrat Ibn Abbas reportedly said, “We have been commanded to do Jihad against the aggressive infidels with the sword, and against the hypocrites by the tongue (Jihad bi al-lisan/Jihad by the tongue). (Tafsir al-Qurtubi, 8/204) 

2.       Jihad against devil [Satan] and the evil in oneself [nafs]

Jihad also pertains to struggling against the evil in oneself to refrain from lusts and evil pleasures and protect oneself from matters contrary to the Shariah and to engage in obedience to Allah. 

Allah Almighty says, “Strive in the cause of Allah in a manner worthy of that striving.” (22:78)

Imam Qurtubi writes: “This verse refers to obeying all the commands of Allah Almighty and refraining from the forbidden things, that is, ‘to keep yourself in obedience to God Almighty, protect yourself from the lusts of the self, fight against the devil [Satan] and its whispering, repel oppression from the oppressors, and denying the disbelief of disbelievers”. [Tafsir al-Qurtubi: 99/12]

3.       Jihad by serving the parents

Serving the parents has also been declared a kind of Jihad.   

Hazrat `Abdullah bin `Amr reportedly said, “A man came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) asking his permission to take part in Jihad. The Prophet asked him, “Are your parents alive?” He replied in the affirmative. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to him, “Then exert yourself (i.e. do Jihad) in their service.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 3004, Book 56, Hadith 213/ Sahih Muslim 2549)

4.       Hajj [Obligatory Pilgrimage]

The term Jihad has also been used to denote Hajj.

Hazrat ‘Aisha said she asked the Prophet’s permission to take part in jihad, and he replied, “The jihad of you women is the pilgrimage [Hajj].” (Sahih Bukhari 2875 and Sahih Muslim)

Apart from this, jihad has been widely applied to non-war, such as obedience to God, patience, struggle, etc., and examples of each are abundant in the Qur'an and Sunnah.

Dear Readers!

From the above texts, it has become clear that jihad has been applied not only to the infidels and polytheists who oppose and fight against Islam but also to other matters. Therefore, the suspicion that Verses of Jihad in the Quran Prove Islamic preference of war and fighting is undoubtedly false and rejected.

If any non-Muslim examines the system of Islam without jealousy and envy, with the intention of seeking the truth, on the condition of justice, with a sound mind, and with the inclusion of divine help, he will surely avoid embracing such suspicion and accept the truth of Islam.


Mustafa Kamal Azhari, the son of a popular Sunni debator Allama Sagheer Ahmad Jokhanpuri, is a classical Islamic scholar (Aalim and Fazil). Presently he is doing research work in the Faculty of Theology at Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt.


Related Article:

Removing Doubts Concerning Verses of Jihad in Quran - Does Islam force Non-Muslims to Accept Islam -Part 1

Removing Doubts Concerning Verses of Jihad in Quran: Is Jizya in Islam an act of oppression? Part 2

Removing Doubts Concerning Verses of Jihad in Quran - Does Islam force Non-Muslims to Accept Islam -Part 1 ردِ وسیم نام نہاد در شبہاتِ آیاتِ جہاد: مذہب اسلام غیر مسلموں پر داخل اسلام ہونے کے لئے بلا وجہ جبر و اکراہ کرتا ہے ؟

Removing Doubts Concerning Verses of Jihad in Quran: Is Jizya in Islam an act of oppression? Part 2 ازالہ شبہات در آیاتِ جہاد: کیا اسلام کا جِزیہ لینا ذمیوں پر ظلم و ستم ہے ؟

Removing Doubts Concerning Verses of Jihad in Quran: Do Jihad Verses in Quran Prove that Islam likes war and fighting? Part 3 ازالہ شبہات در آیاتِ جہاد: قرآن میں متعدد بار مذکور جہاد سے معلوم کہ اسلام جنگ و قتال کو بہت زیادہ پسند کرتا ہے؟


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