Jihad in the way of Allah

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 What is jihad in islam? What does jidah means in islam? What is way of allah?

Jihad, taken in the general sense, is for a person to engage in a struggle to refine and cleanse his ego, to fulfill the commands of the Almighty with utmost sincerity, to refrain from the impermissible,[1] to enjoin his fellow Muslims with the good and hope for their best, to explain the principles of Islam to nonbelievers and provide a medium for their guidance[2] and to utilize all means, be it one’s life, wealth or speech, in protecting the religion and all that which is sacred and also in eliminating all barriers that prevent the communication of Truth, through a struggle of all kinds, certainly including, though not only, warfare.[3]

The term jihad therefore extends to and comprises all individual and social struggles and actions that are aimed towards purifying each ‘self’, and instituting an Islamic way of life, only for the sake of Allah, glory unto Him, and in the way of glorifying His religion. One would be far from exaggerating in saying that the twenty-three year period of prophethood was an exclusive commitment to this purpose.

The Almighty has rendered one’s life and wealth means for tribulation, cautioning on many an occasion to use them instead as means for struggling in His Way, as elaborated in the ayah below:

“But the messenger and those who believe with him strive with their wealth and their lives. Such are they for whom are the good things. Such are they who are the successful.” (at-Tawba, 88)

“O you who believe! Shall I show you a commerce that will save you from a painful doom? You should believe in Allah and His messenger, and should strive for the cause of Allah with your wealth and your lives. That is better for you, if you did but know.” (as-Saff, 10-11)

The Companions one day asked the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- to tell them of the most favorable person.

“A Believer”, he said, “who uses his life and wealth for jihad in the way of Allah.” (Bukhari, Jihad, Muslim, Imarat, 122)

Taking up jihad in the way of Allah, as commanded by both the Quran and Sunnah, does not only imply warfare; for taking up arms is the last resort, allowable only at times when there arises an immediate urgency to end oppression and instate justice. The ultimate jihad is that which aims at conquering hearts, which can be undertaken through various means, first and foremost through conveying the truth verbally or in writing.

Muslims had not yet acquired a serious power for warfare during the Meccan period, in spite of the revelation of numerous ayat on jihad. To comply with the Divine command at the face of the terror of the people of ignorance, Muslims were then simply embodying the character of a true Believer, in the name of advancing Islam and all notions signified by it, including truth and justice. Their approach is dubbed by the Quran as the ‘great strive/jihad’.

“So obey not the disbelievers, but strive against them herewith with a great strive.” (al-Furqan, 52)

The expression جِهَادًا كَبِيرًا, ‘a great strive’, in the above ayah, alludes to communicating the word of the Almighty with both speech and behavior and mobilizing all possible means to glorify the Truth, for the sake of uniting humankind with the guiding peace and happiness. Undertaking jihad by virtue of tabligh, or passing on the word of Truth, is doubtless more important and effective than taking up arms. Indeed, during the first few years, the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, himself, undertook his jihad simply with the Quran.

Motivated with the purpose of guiding humankind, the Quran encourages on numerous instances to undertake “jihad in the way of Allah”, only a section of which, however, pertains to qital, actual warfare, an option eligible only when the situation deems it necessary.

A majority of the battles in which the Noble Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- participated were defensive battles, as was the case in Badr, Uhud and Handak. Campaigns such as Muta and Tabuk were precautionary offensives taken to subdue probable attacks. The capturing of Mecca, on the other hand, took place only due to the Meccan violation of the treaty only recently made, actuated with the intention of restoring the breached rights of Muslims. Thus in effect, a profound notion of compassion and justice underpinned all the battles the Prophet of Mercy -upon him blessings and peace- waged and a sure mercy did they give rise to. In Islam, warfare is certainly not aimed towards taking lives,[4] seizing spoils, laying destruction on Earth, obtaining personal gains or giving vent to feelings of revenge; much the contrary, it carries the purpose of eliminating oppression, ensuring freedom of belief, leading mankind to guidance and purging all kinds of injustice.

An overview of the all the battles the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- was engaged in, shows in no uncertain terms the fact that a legitimate war cannot waged unless with the purpose of self-defense and ila’yi kalimatullah, that is upholding the word of the Almighty. Wars waged simply for the purpose of annexing territories are a disgrace to humanity. So far as Islam is concerned, a war must be grounded in the sublime purposes of spreading justice, providing means for guidance and obliterating oppression. In the words of the Quran:

“…whosoever kills a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind.” (al-Maida, 32)

All strivings undertaken by Muslims, be it with their lives or wealth, motivated strictly by Islamic concerns within the guidelines aforementioned, are therefore bound to purchase a Divine blessing as great as Paradise in return. But, sincerity is vital here, no less than it is in other matters. Abdullah ibn Amr once asked the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- to enlighten him as regards jihad and warfare.

“If, Abdullah,” said the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- , “you struggle only in hope of reaping the consent of Allah, then Allah shall resurrect you in the Hereafter as you are. But if you struggle out of pomp, to show off, you shall be resurrected as you are.” (Abu Dawud, Jihad, 24/2519)

Again, a Bedouin once asked the Noble Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- to comment on, “a person who fights for personal glory and praise, to get hold of spoils or just to show off.” Then another person interjected, insisting that the Prophet of Mercy -upon him blessings and peace- tell him just what it is “to fight in the way of Allah, as many a person fights to quell his anger or out of heroism.”

“Whoever fights to glorify Allah’s religion above any other”, replied the Blessed Prophet, “his jihad is in the way of Allah.” (Bukhari, Ilm, 45; Muslim, Imara, 149-150)

“If a man”, then another person began to ask, “wishes to fight in the way of Allah and at the same time attain something of the world…what would you say to that?”

“No reward shall await him”, said the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- .

The answer proved excruciating for the Companions, simply due to the sheer difficulty of living up to that level of sincerity. So they urged the Companion, who had asked the last question to “Ask your question once more…it could be that you misunderstood the answer”. They were only in hope of receiving a relieving response. Yet, it was of no avail, as even after three attempts, the response of the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- remained unchanged. (Abu Dawud, Jihad, 24/2516)

The Noble Messenger -upon him blessings and peace- is known to have articulated many ahadith with regard to the virtue of jihad, some of which are:

“Standing guard, for a day and night, on the border is better than a month whose days are filled with fasting and nights with worship. If one passes away while standing guard, then the reward of what he is doing shall continue to flow until the Last Day; and abounding in blessings as a martyr, he will be safe in his grave from the angels of interrogation.” (Muslim, Imara, 163)

“Standing guard on the border in the way of Allah just for a day is better than the whole world and what is within. Where your whip is destined to in Paradise is better than the world and what is within. An evening or an early morning stroll in the way of Allah is better than the world and what is within.” (Bukhari, Jihad, 6, 73; Riqaq, 2; Muslim, Imara, 113-114)

“Regarding a person who sets out to jihad in His way, Allah the Almighty says, ‘he has set out for no other way than Mine, with faith and affirmation of My prophets in his heart’, and becomes his guarantor….a guarantor for a place in Paradise if he ends up a martyr, or for rewards and spoils if he survives. By Allah, in whose Hand of Might Muhammad’s life resides, a wound opened up in the way of Allah will turn up in the Hereafter, in the same way it had been cleft, in the color of blood but smelling like musk.” (Muslim, Imara, 103; Nasai, Iman, 24)

“Nobody who is made to enter Paradise will wish to return to Earth, for Paradise has whatever the world may have and more. Except for the martyr, who because of the treats he is blessed with, will wish to return to Earth ten times over, and hope for martyrdom each time.” (Bukhari, Jihad, 21; Muslim, Imara, 108-109)

The Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- articulates the core objective for the struggles and battles he participated in, in the following:

“I have been commanded to struggle against people until they affirm that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His prophet, offer salat and give alms. Once they embrace these, they will have saved their lives and property from me, except for the punishments decreed by Islam.” (Bukhari, Iman, 17)

In view of that, the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- would never strike at night and wait until dawn, in case he might hear the calling of adhan coming from the town.[5] Before sending them out, he would emphatically command the units not to “…strike a place if you see a mosque or hear the adhan there.” (Abu Dawud, Jihad, 91/2635; Ahmad, III, 448-449)

Providing the below account is Muslim ibn Harith -Allah be well-pleased with him-:

“The Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- had once sent a unit, of which I was also part, to a certain place. When we arrived at where we were supposed to strike, I sped up my horse, and got ahead of my friends. Soon I was met with some crying women and children.

‘Would you like to salvage your lives?’ I asked them. ‘Yes’, they ardently responded.

‘Then say La ilaha ill’Allah Muhammadun Rasulullah and save yourselves’, I then told them. And they did. But then a few of my friends began to criticize me, on grounds that I had prevented them from seizing the awaiting spoils. Once we returned to the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- , they informed him of what had happened. The Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- called me next to him, and convincingly, said:

“Allah has most definitely rewarded you in abundance for each of them.” (Abu Dawud, Adab, 100-101/5080)

Burayda -Allah be well-pleased with him- explains:

“Before sending a troop out to jihad, the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- would always advise the commander to conduct himself with piety towards Allah, and with virtue towards his fellow Muslims and treat them with care, then say:

‘Fight in the way of Allah, in His name and battle with those who do not acknowledge Him. Do not be treacherous with spoils. Do not resort to brutality. Do not sever noses or ears. Do not slay the children. Once you encounter your enemies of nonbelief, invite them to accept one of three things: Invite them to Islam and let go of them if they accept. If they do not, then invite them to pay the tax of jizya, and again let go of them if they accept. If they reject that too, then trust in Allah and fight with them.’” (Muslim, Jihad, 3; Tirmidhi, Siyar, 48/1617; Ahmad, V, 353, 358)

[1] Nasai, Hajj, 4. [2] Ahmad, III, 456. [3] For related Quranic ayat see, an-Nisa, 95; al-Anfal, 72; at-Tawba, 20, 41, 44, 81, 88; and for ahadith, Bukhari, Mazalim, 33; Muslim, Iman, 226; Abu Dawud, Sunnah, 28-29.

[4] The Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-, sent as a mercy to the worlds, followed such a policy of compassion throughout his entire 120 military campaigns -29 major battles (ghazwa) and 91 minor (sariyya)- that despite taking entire Arabia under his command, he never allowed the Muslim army to shed a drop of blood more than required. According to authentic reports, the number of Muslims martyred in the 120 military campaigns waged throughout 11 years, out of various reasons, is 340, in contrast to around 800 enemy casualties. This makes the number of casualties in the entire 120 battles less than 1200. Just to take the 29 campaigns personally led by the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-; no swords were drawn in 16 of those, with the relevant purpose nonetheless realized. The remaining 13 saw an actual clash, leading to 140 martyrs and 335 enemy casualties.

Adopting a prudent and farsighted diplomatic approach, the Noble Messenger -upon him blessings and peace-was able to win the allegiance of many regions without needing to engage in battle. Many other places succumbed to him by virtue of accepting the word of guidance from beforehand. Considering this far more superior to fighting, the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- refrained from resorting to the sword unless absolutely necessary. On other occasions, a prudent diplomacy matched with handy intelligence allowed him to dissuade the enemy from entering battle, ensuring thereby the amount of blood shed to remain at a minimum level. For a given campaign to culminate in favorable result, the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- would prefer to elect a commander who was either from that area by birth, or better still, a native of the rival tribe. The Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- was always emphatic to command his the army to keep their words, keep aloof from excess and killing people for no good reason, not to touch slaves, children, women, the elderly and monks or hermits living in retreat in monasteries, not to lay waste to trees and buildings. (See, Elşad Mahmudov, Sebep ve Sonuçları İtibâriyle Hazret-i Peygamber’in Savaşları, 2005, Marmara University, Institute for Social Sciences, an unpublished doctoral thesis.)

[5] Bukhari, Adhan, 6; Muslim, Salat, 9.

Source: Osman Nuri Topbaş, The Prophet Muhammed Mustafa the Elect II, Erkam Publications

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