By New Age Islam Staff Writer
16 September 2020
Terrorism has become almost synonymous with the Islamic concept of Jihad. The state and international security are widely concerned about this phenomenon. Regional, global and inter-state relations and policies are being reshaped with regard to international terrorism. Numerous terrorist activities carried out by the so-called Islamic groups such as ‘Al-Qaeda’, ‘Tahreek-e-Taliban’, ‘ISIS’, ‘Jaish e Muhammad’ and ‘Lashkar-e-Taiba’ etc have given a particular identity to the Islamic concept of Jihad. As a result, Jihad biI Nafs (Jihad against one’s lower self) that is the Greater Jihad has now become forgotten and once the word ‘Jihad’ is pronounced, the first meaning striking common minds is Jihad by fighting (Jihad biI Qital).
There are two popular concepts of Jihad; 1) Jihad through fighting and 2) Jihad through Nafs. The first revelation which permitted Jihad by fighting is either 2:190 or 22:39 which came much later in Madani period. Before revelation of 2:190 or 22:39, fighting even in self-defence was forbidden in Makkah and initially in Madina too. The Quranic verses which directly or indirectly debarred Muslims, in the initial period, from waging Jihad by fighting even in self-defence are 23:96, 5:13, 73:10, 16:82, 88:21-22, 50:45.
“Repel evil with the best deeds; We well know the matters that they fabricate”. (23:96)
“So, forgive them and excuse them; indeed, Allah loves the virtuous”. (5:13)
“And be patient over what they say and avoid them with gracious avoidance”. (73:10)
“Then if they turn away, O dear Prophet, (Mohammed – peace and blessings be upon him) upon you is nothing but to clearly convey (the message)”. (16:82)
“Therefore advise; indeed, you are a proclaimer of advice. (The Holy Prophet is a Remembrance from Allah.) You are not at all a guardian over them”. (88:21-22)
“And you are not one to use force over them” (50:45)
However, when the verse 2:190 or 22:39 was revealed, Jihad by fighting in self-defence against anti-social elements and religious persecutions was allowed, against those who initiated fighting; Allah Almighty says,
“And fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but do not transgress. Truly Allah loves not the transgressors.” (2:190)
The reason of Jihad becoming obligatory is that, for as long as 14 or 15 years, the Muslims were subjected to all sorts of persecutions. They suffered insults, outrages, boycotts and injuries at the hands of their persecutors. They bore all these indignities with the utmost humility and patience. When the aggression and ruthlessness of the pagan Arabs grew more hotly than ever, Allah granted permission to the believers to take up arms in their own defence. This was known as Jihad by fighting. The context of Jihad makes it clear that this Jihad can’t be performed to commit terrorism or kill civilians through suicide attacks or by any other means.
The so-called ‘JIHAD’ of terror groups, such as Al-Qaeda, ISIS and Taliban is not Jihad but an act of terrorism. Jihad in today’s context can’t be valid unless the pre-requisites of Jihad are performed. One must use one’s reasoning to understand the value of pre-requisites without which many popular obligatory actions of Islam can’t be deemed valid. In other words, every obligatory act in Islam has its respective pre-requisites or conditions that must be performed before the obligatory acts.
For example, Allah Almighty says in the Quran, “Bestow Zakat”. Now the questions are; who are the people commanded in this verse to bestow Zakat? Was it incumbent upon the slaves? Is it incumbent upon insane, children, or the Muslims who do not possess Nisab? The case is just the opposite. Zakat is an ordinance of Allah, incumbent upon every person who is free, sane, adult and Muslim, provided he be possessed, in full propriety, of such estate or wealth as are termed in the Arabic language a Nisab, and that has been in possession of the same for the space of one complete year.
The usage of the commanding word ‘bestow’ is common to every believer but only those who are free, sane, adult and Muslim have to bestow Zakat. It is not incumbent upon slaves, insane, children and non-Muslims. The details of the verse “bestow Zakat” come from the Quranic verses and Sunnah. It will be simply a matter of ignorance to apply the command “bestow Zakat” in general to the children, insane and those who do not possess the required Nisab. From this we must deduce that Zakat, which is an obligatory act, has some conditions and it is not incumbent upon those who do not meet the conditions of being free, sane, adult, Muslim and possessor of Nisab for the space of one complete year.
Similarly, Jihad which is performed through fighting has some conditions. One of the conditions of Jihad is that it is the responsibility of the state against aggressors. This can’t be waged against a country with which there is a peace agreement. Also, those Muslim states who have signed the UN Charter cannot wage an offensive jihad against any other state who is also a signatory to the UN Charter. Of course, the question of Jihad against one’s own country and it's elected government simply does not arise as the Constitution is an agreement between the state and its citizens.
Take Namaz (prayer) as another example. Through the divine command “establish prayer” it becomes incumbent upon every Muslim to perform Namaz. However, to establish prayer (Namaz/Salah), it is obligatory to perform the pre-requisites or conditions of Namaz, without which the prayer or Namaz will not be valid at all. There are six conditions for the validity of Namaz; (1) purification (2) covering the essential parts of the body (3) facing the direction of the holy Kaaba (4) Namaz must be performed in its prescribed times. It cannot be performed before its prescribed time (5) Intention and (6) proclaiming Allahu Akbar to commence Namaz.
Here some may question, does a command only require for that action to be carried out once? For example, Allah says, “establish prayer”. Can we just pray one Namaz/prayer in order for it to be sufficient? Why do we have to repeat Namaz if there is no repetition in the divine command? The answer is that here the ruling for a command being repeated is because this action was not established through the imperative sentence itself but through the repetition of the Asbab (causes) through which it has been commanded. Therefore, we do not perform these actions because of the imperative sentence, but because of the timings (Awqat) of Namaz and their causes. That is why the repetition of these timings causes us to continuously pray in accordance to it. So now, one may ask—why is there a command if the cause (Asbab) necessitates it? This is because the command (Amr) is mentioned by Allah as a reminder to us of our obligations as Muslims.
Just as Hajj, Zakat and Namaz have some prerequisites, Jihad too has some conditions. Namaz is obligatory because of its causes and becomes valid only when its prerequisites are performed. Jihad too has some pre-requisites without which ‘Jihad through fighting’ can’t be valid at all. As mentioned before, Jihad which is performed through fighting is the responsibility of the state in defence. Moreover, Jihad through fighting is not valid in this age while there is peace-agreement signed by Muslim states.
In any case the entire theology of Jihad evolved in pre-modern times when aggression was the order of the day. Acquisition of land by aggression was considered legitimate. That is no longer the case in this New Age. Nearly all countries have signed the UN Charter which ensures world peace. The days of aggressive Jihad are gone. It’s time Muslim ulema too recognise this and outlawed the very concept of Offensive Jihad whose Quranic legitimacy was doubtful even in olden days. This was more to justify the imperialist instincts of the Arab and Turk kings who went in the name of khalifas. let us build a new theology of Islam to suit our times and its imperatives.
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