What is the jihad? What does jihad means in islam? What is the enjoining the good in islam?
Believers who want the best of both worlds must use their lives, wealth and everything Allah has given them in the way of serious endeavors. For a person absorbed by the thought of death and beyond, there can be no greater purpose than the pleasure of Allah (jj). The Qur’an declares:
“We will surely test you with your wealth and lives.” (Al Imran, 3: 186)
For that reason, wasting Allah’s blessings for no particular purpose pushes one to destruction.
“The day when no wealth or children will benefit anyone. But only one who comes to Allah with a sound heart.” (Al-Shu’ara, 26: 88-89)
Allowing ignorance to consume what Allah has given leads to unrest both in the individual and society. However, acting with a sound heart will bring paradise on earth, where society finds the peace and comfort it yearns for.
Abu Said al-Khudri (ra) narrates:
“The Messenger of Allah (saw) was once asked, ‘Who is the best of men?’
He said, ‘He who offers jihad, with his life and wealth, in the way of Allah!’” (Al-Bukhari, Jihad, 2; Muslim, Imarah, 122,123)
Another hadith says, “True jihad is to wage war on the ego.” (Al-Tirmidhi, Fada’il al-Jihad, 2/1621)
A Muslim defeats grief and captures joy by believing in Allah (jj) and doing good things. A true believer is a person others benefit from, both in words and action.
A wonderful example of this is companion Musab ibn Umayr (ra).
Despite coming from a wealthy Meccan household, the young Musab (ra) risked it all to become Muslim. He took no notice of his parents’ threats that they would deprive him of their fortune, as he migrated to Medina, poor and estranged from his family. There, he enthusiastically began work in the way of the Lord and served as a means in guiding many people. Musab (ra) was a flagbearer during the Battle of UHud, 11: where he was eventually martyred while trying to defend the Prophet (saw). An angel then assumed the form of Musab (ra) and picked up the flag. The Prophet (saw), who in the heat of the battle had not yet realized that Musab (ra) had fallen, called out:
The angel then threw a glance back. That was when the Prophet (saw) understood that it was an angel and that Musab (ra) had been martyred.
Although Musab’s (ra) body was later found on the battlefield, the companions could not find even a shroud to cover him. He is among the people the Qur’an praises in the verse below:
“Among the believers are men true to what they promised Allah. Some of them have fulfilled their vows to the death, and others are awaiting their chance…without having turned back on their word in any way!” (Al-Ahzab, 33: 23)
The Almighty also says:
“Allah has purchased from the believers their lives and properties in return for paradise. They fight in the cause of Allah, so they kill and are killed. It is a true promise binding upon Him, written in the Torah, the Gospel and the Qur’an. And who is truer to his covenant than Allah? So rejoice in the transaction you have just made. And in that is the greatest of all profit!” (Al-Tawbah, 9: 111)
It has been reported that the above verse was revealed during the second pledge at Aqabah. Abdullah ibn Rawahah (ra), who was among the 70 people who gave their word to the Prophet (saw), said:
“Messenger of Allah! You can lay down any condition on behalf of your Lord and yourself”
To that, the Prophet (saw) replied:
“On behalf of my Lord, I ask you to worship Him and not hold anyone as His partner. And on behalf of myself, I ask you to protect me, just as you protect your lives and properties.”
The companions asked, “If we do, what is in it for us?”
“Paradise!”, said the Prophet (saw).
“What a profitable trade!”, they exclaimed. “We will not turn back on it. And why would we even want to?” (Ibn Kathir, Tafsir, II, 406)
The companions’ lives offer a vivid picture of what it means to struggle in the way of Allah. They built their characters on what they obtained from the depths of the Prophet’s (saw) heart, and they absorbed his emotions to the best of their capabilities. It is remarkable that although 120,000 companions joined the Prophet (saw) during his Farewell Pilgrimage, only 20,000 of them are buried in Mecca and Medina. The rest of them took to all four corners of the world, far and wide, to spread the message of Islam and hold the word of Allah aloft. The furthest point they reached was where they were eventually buried.
They never shirked from sacrificing their wealth or their lives in the way of good. Whenever the Prophet (saw) asked them to make sacrifices for a high purpose, they generously surrendered whatever they had. The female companions would give their earrings, bracelets and necklaces without the slightest hesitation.
Sumayya (rha) donated her life and in doing so, became the first martyr of Islam.
The family of Uthman (ra) gave away all their jewelry.
When he became caliph, Umar ibn Abdulaziz donated all his wealth to the state to be used for the needs of the poor.
Again, during the Tabuk Campaign, which the Qur’an describes as saat’ul-usra or ‘the tough hour’, all women brought their jewels to the Prophet (saw). An 11-year-old girl was also keen on giving her earrings. However, she was unable to remove them from her ears, so she ripped them out, and placed the bloodied earrings in front of the Prophet (saw).
Aisha’s (rha) sister Asma (rha) had become blind in the later stages of her life. His son Abdullah ibn Zubayr (ra) was about to embark on a military campaign. When she hugged her son, she realized he was wearing an armor. She said to him, “Are you wearing an armor like a coward? Take it off, now!”
Hansa (rha) fought along with her four sons in the Battle of Qadisiyah. On the night before the battle, she gave them the following advice:
“My sons! You became Muslim by choice and have come all the way here with your own will. You well know of the great rewards the Almighty has prepared for those who fight against disbelievers for His own sake. You are well aware that the home of the hereafter is better than the fleeting stay on earth. The Almighty declares:
“O you who have believed! Persevere, endure, remain steadfast and fear Allah that you may succeed.” (Al Imran, 3: 200)
So, if, by the will of Allah, you make it to tomorrow, keep your eyes open and fight the enemy. Once the battle heats up and becomes ferocious, advance right into the heart of their ranks, and swing your swords on their commanders. You will then be granted victory and the spoils of war. But above all, you will be honored in the highest paradise!”
With those words echoing inside their minds, the brothers went into battle the next morning. They fought with great valor and courage, and all four of them were martyred. When the news of her sons reached Hansa (rha), she said:
“Praise be to Allah who has honored my sons with martyrdom. I pray that He unites me with them in His infinite mercy.” (Ibn Abdi’l-Barr, al-Isti’ab, IV, 1827-29)
Before she became Muslim, Hansa (rha) was a poet renowned for the elegies she had written about her slain brothers. This time, after tasting the zest of faith, she had used her artistic prowess to inspire her own sons to martyrdom. After hearing that she had lost her children, her own flesh and blood, to the battlefield, she did nothing but thank the Lord.
These are only a handful of examples of countless other women who have given it all in the way of the Lord.
It must be made clear that jihad in the way of Allah does not just mean swinging a sword on the battlefield. A sword is no more than a piece of iron that should be raised only in times of necessity, such as in cases of ending oppression and instating justice. The true battle is not to conquer lands but to conquer hearts.
The Qur’an uses many terms related to jihad, but only on a very few occasions does it use the term qital, which means warfare. Again, it does so only out of necessity, at times when war is absolutely unavoidable. There can be no war other than to protect Islam and raise Allah’s word (ilay-i kalimatullah). Wars waged only to extend borders are a shame to humanity. Islam allows war only to instate justice, get rid of tyranny and save those who are oppressed. In the words of the Qur’an:
“Whoever kills a soul unless it is for a soul or for corruption in the land, it is as if he has slain all mankind. And whoever saves one, it is as if he has saved all mankind.” (Al-Maidah, 5: 32)
Thus, any action taken in the way of saving and guiding people is part of jihad.
The Qur’an further declares:
“Take (Muhammed) from their wealth a charity to purify and increase them and invoke blessings upon them. Indeed, your invocations are reassurances for them. And Allah is Hearing and Knowing.” (Al-Tawbah, 9: 103)
Following Allah’s command to ‘take charity’, the companions virtually raced with each other to present whatever they had to the Prophet (saw). Those who had nothing to give began chopping and selling wood from the hills or carrying water from wells, and donated all the money they earned. They avoided wasting their spiritual and physical energies for the passing leisure of the world and facing poverty in the afterlife. They were fully conscious of the fact that Allah was the true owner of all wealth and assets; and that man simply kept an eye over them for a limited time. They traded their short lives on earth for a life of eternity.
Ahead of the Tabuk Campaign, the Prophet (as) was raising donations, and all Abu Aqil (ra) could offer was a cupful of dates, even though he needed them more than anybody else.
“Messenger of Allah”, he said. “I carried water on my back all night for two cups of dates. I left one cup at home for my kids and I have brought the other to you, hoping My Lord will accept it!”
The Prophet (saw) said to him, “May Allah bless what you have brought and what you have left behind.” (Al-Tabari, Tafsir, X, 251)
Uqbah ibn Amr (ra) remembers the following:
“When the ‘charity verse’ was revealed, we carried goods on our back to earn money to donate. One man came along and donated a lot. The hypocrites remarked, ‘He is showing off!’. Another man came and donated a cup of dates. This time, the hypocrites commented, ‘Allah does not need this handful of fruit’. It was then that the Almighty revealed:
“As for those who criticize the believers about their charities, and ridicule those who have nothing else to give except an effort…Allah will ridicule them, and for them is a painful punishment.” (Al-Tawbah, 9: 79) (Al-Bukhari, Zakat, 10; Muslim, Zakat, 72)
The below words by the Prophet (saw) are a chilling warning to those who abandon jihad:
“By Allah, who has given me life, you either enjoin good and forbid evil, or Allah will send down a punishment, after which your prayers will be of no avail!” (Al-Tirmidhi, Fitan, 9)
That means that running away from the duty of inviting people to good will only take one to the edge of divine punishment. What suits Muslims is to speak and defend the truth. Both the Qur’an and the Prophet (saw) command us to correct a wrong when we see it. The Almighty says:
“And who is better in speech than one who invites to Allah, does good and says, ‘I am indeed of the Muslims.’” (Al-Fussilat, 41: 41: 33)
The Prophet (saw) warns:
“When you witness something wrong, correct it with your hand. If you do not have the power to do so, then correct it with your tongue. And if you do not have the power to that, then condemn it in your heart. But be aware that this is the weakest level of faith.” (Muslim, Iman, 78)
There is no place to go beyond this world other than heaven or hell. Allah will personally pose the following question to those who have wasted their lives and wealth in trivial pursuits:
“Did not My Messenger come and deliver the truth to you? Did not I shower you in blessings and riches? What have you prepared for today?” The person will look left and right but find no one by his side. He will then look ahead, and see nothing but the flames of hell.
Our Prophet (saw) has said:
“On the day of judgment, the person will be brought forward to defend his case. Allah the Almighty will say:
‘Did I not give you eyes, ears, wealth and children? Did I not put animals and plants in your service and allow you to benefit from them? Did you not, for once, think that there would come a day when you would be brought to face Me?’
The person will reply, ‘No’.
Allah will say, ‘Then I will forget you today, just as you had forgotten me on earth!’” (Al-Tirmidhi, Qiyamah, 6/2428)
The time will come when those who recklessly squandered their days on earth, will burn with agony over the times they laid to waste. A terrifying fire awaits those who have been unable to gain the pleasure of Allah (jj) in this world. Eyes that shut in denial on the deathbed will reopen in the pitch darkness of the grave.
The Almighty warns:
“Let there arise from you a nation inviting to good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong. And it is them who will be saved.” (Al Imran, 3: 104)
This verse leaves no room for doubt about the need for there to be a group among believers, who are commit themselves to inviting people to the truth. At the beginning, Islam spread through the selfless efforts of companions, and later, through the toils of genuine scholars, saints and devoted believers. Allah has promised enormous rewards to those who follow their lead.
Anas (ra) narrates from the Prophet (saw):
“Let me inform you of a group of people. They are neither prophets nor martyrs. However, on the Day of Judgment, they will be envied by prophets and martyrs. They will be seated on pulpits of light. And everyone will recognize them.”
The companions asked, “Who are they?”
“They are those who endear Allah to people, and people to Allah. They roam the earth to give advice and speak the truth.”
Anas (ra) says he then asked, “Messenger of Allah…Making people love Allah is clear enough. But how do we make Allah love people?”
The Prophet (saw) thereupon said:
“They advise people to do things Allah loves and abstain from things Allah dislikes. And once people listen, Allah the Almighty loves them.” (Ali al-Muttaqi, III, 685-686; al-Bayhaki, Shu’ab al-Islam, I 367)
The best provision a person can take to the hereafter is taqwa. The best day is that which is better than yesterday. We must save up more provisions by doing more today than what we did in the last.
Those who lived before us are long gone. We will join them sooner than we suspect. We will die just like we fall asleep, and be revived just as we wake up. We will then be judged on all that we have done. The best and securest ranks in paradise are reserved for the pious. All things flow to Allah (jj), and to Him is the ultimate return.
May the Lord fasten our hearts on the path He is pleased with! May He protect us from our egos and the evils within!