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Jihad - Ibn Taymiyyah

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IBN TAYMIYYAH ON JIHAAD

The Religious and Moral Doctrine On Jihad

"Al-Siyaasa Al-shar`iyya fee slaah Al-raa`ee wa Al-raa`iyya"

(Governance according to Allah’s Law in reforming both the ruler and his flock)

 

 

The penalties that the Sharee'ah has introduced for those who disobey Allah and His Messengers are of two kinds:

 

1) The punishment of those who are under the sway [of the Imam], both individuals and collectivities, as has been mentioned before [in the chapter on criminal law], and;

 

2) The punishment of recalcitrant groups, such as those that can only be brought under the sway of the Imam by a decisive fight.

 

That then is the jihad against the unbelievers (Kufaar), the enemies of Allah and His Messenger. For whoever has heard the summons of the Messenger of Allah, (salallaahu'alayheewasallam), and has not responded to it, must be fought, "Until there is no persecution and the religion is Allah’s entirely." [Qur'an., 2:193, 8:39]

 

When Allah sent His Prophet (salallaahu'alayheewasallam) and ordered him to summon the people to His religion, He did not permit him to kill or fight anyone for that reason before the Prophet (salallaahu'alayheewasallam) emigrated to Medina.

 

Thereafter, He gave him and the Muslims permission with the words

 

"Leave is given to those who are fought because they were wronged - surely Allah is able to help them - who were expelled from their habitations without right, except that they say ‘Our Lord is Allah.’ Had Allah not driven back the people, some by the means of others, there would had been destroyed cloisters and churches, oratories and masjids, wherein Allah’s name is much mentioned. Assuredly Allah will help him who helps Him - surely Allah is all-strong, all-mighty - who, if We establish them in the land, perform the prayer, and pay the alms, and bid to honour, and forbid dishonour; and unto Allah belongs the issue of all affairs." [Qur'an., 22:39-41]

 

Then, after that, He imposed fighting on them with the following words: "Prescribed for you is fighting, though it be hateful to you. Yet it may happen that you will hate a thing which is better for you; and it may happen that you love a thing which is worse for you. Allah knows and you know not." [Qur'an., 2:216]

 

He has emphasized this command and glorified jihad in many of the Medinese Sooraas. He has criticized those who fail to participate in it and called them hypocrites (Munaafiq) and sick in their hearts. Allah has said:

 

"Say: ‘If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your clan, your possessions that you have gained, commerce you fear may slacken, dwellings you love - if these are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger, and to struggle in His way, then wait till Allah brings His command; Allah guides not the people of the ungodly.’" [Qur'an., 9:24]

 

And:

 

"The believers are those who believe in Allah and His Messenger, then have not doubted, and have struggled with their possessions and their selves in the way of Allah; those - they are the truthful ones." [Qur'an., 49:15]

 

And:

 

"Then, when a clear surah is sent down, and therein fighting is mentioned, thou seest those in whose heart is sickness looking at thee as one who swoons of death; but better for them would be obedience and words honourable. Then when the matter is resolved, if they were true to Allah, it would be better for them." [Qur'an., 47:20-21]

 

There are numerous similar verses in the Qur'an and equally frequent is the glorification of jihad and those who participate in it, [for instance] in Surat al-Saff (the Ranks):

 

"O believers, shall I direct you to a commerce that shall deliver you from a painful chastisement? You shall believe in Allah and His Messenger, and struggle in the way of Allah with your possessions and your selves. That is better for you, did you but know. He will forgive you your sins and admit you into gardens underneath which rivers flow, and to dwelling places goodly in Gardens of Eden; that is the mighty triumph; and other things you love, help from Allah and a nigh victory. Give thou good tidings to the believers." [Qur'an., 61:10-13]

 

And [elsewhere] He has said:

 

"Do you reckon the giving of water to pilgrims and the inhabiting of the Holy Masjid as the same as one who believes in Allah and the Last Day and struggles in the way of Allah? Not equal are they in Allah’s sight; and Allah guides not the people of the evildoers. Those who believe, and have emigrated, and have struggled in the way of Allah with their possessions and their selves are mightier in rank with Allah; and those - they are the triumphant; their Lord gives them good tidings of mercy from Him and good pleasure; for them await gardens wherein is lasting bliss, therein to dwell forever and ever; surely with Allah is a mighty wage." [Qur'an., 9:19-21]

 

And:

 

"O believers, whosoever of you turns from his religion, Allah will assuredly bring a people He loves, and who love Him, humble towards the believers, disdainful towards the unbelievers, men who struggle in the path of Allah, not fearing the reproach of any reproacher. That is Allah’s bounty; He gives it unto whom He will." [Qur'ân., 5:54]

 

And He has said: "That is because they are smitten neither by thirst, nor fatigue, nor emptiness in the way of Allah, neither tread they any tread enraging the unbelievers, nor gain any gain from any enemy, but a righteous deed is thereby written to their account; Allah leaves not to waste the wage of the good-doers. Nor do they expend any sum, small or great, nor do they traverse any valley, but it is written to their account, that Allah may recompense them the best of what they were doing." [Qur'ân., 9:120-121]

 

Thus He has mentioned [the reward] resulting from their deeds and the deeds they must practice.

 

The command to participate in jihad and the mention of its merits occur innumerable times in the Qur'ân and the Sunnah.

 

Therefore it is the best voluntary [religious] act that man can perform. All scholars agree that it is better than the hajj (greater pilgrimage) and the 'Umrah (lesser pilgrimage), than voluntary Salaah and voluntary fasting, as the Qur'an and the Sunnah indicate.

 

The Prophet, (salallaahu'alayheewasallam) has said: "The head of the affair is Islam, its central pillar is the Salaah and the summit is the Jihaad."

 

And he (salallaahu'alayheewasallam) has said: "In Paradise there are a hundred grades with intervals as wide as the distance between the sky and the earth. All these Allah has prepared for those who take part in Jihaad." There is unanimity about the authenticity of this Tradition.

 

Al-Bukhari has transmitted that he (salallaahu'alayheewasallam) has said: "Him whose feet have become dusty in the way of Allah [i.e. Jihaad] will Allah save from hellfire."

 

And, as related by Muslim, he (salallaahu'alayheewasallam) has said: "A day and a night spent in ribaat [remaining at the frontiers of Islam with the intention of defending Islamic territory against the enemies] are better than one month spent in fasting and vigils. If he dies [in the fulfillment of this task], he will receive the recompense of his deeds and subsistence, and he will be protected from the Angel of the Grave."

 

It is related in the Sunan that: "A day spent in ribaat in the way of Allah is better than a thousand days spent elsewhere."

 

He (salallaahu'alayheewasallam) has said, "Two eyes will not be touched by the fire: the eye that has wept out of fear for Allah, and the eye that has spent the night on the watch in the way of Allah."

 

Al-Tirmidhi has said about this tradition that it is good (Hasan). In the Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal we find: "A night spent on the watch in the way of Allah is better than a thousand nights and days spent in nightly vigils and fasting."

 

In the Saheeh of al-Bukhaaree as well as the Saheeh of Muslim we find: "A man said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, tell me of an act that equals jihad in the way of Allah.’ He (salallaahu'alayheewasallam) answered: ‘You will not be capable of it.’ The man said: ‘Tell me anyway.’ The Messenger of Allah (salallaahu'alayheewasallam) said: ‘Can you, when a jihad warrior has gone out on expedition, fast without interruption and spend the night in continuous prayer?’ The man said: ‘No.’ Then the Messenger of Allah Muhammad (salallaahu'alayheewasallam) said: ‘This then is what equals jihad.’"

 

In the Sunan we find that Muhammad, (salallaahu'alayheewasallam) has said: "Every community has its devotional journeys and the devotional journey of my community is jihad in the way of Allah."

 

This is a vast subject, unequalled by other subjects as far as the reward and merit of human deeds is concerned. This is evident upon closer examination. The [first] reason is that the benefit of jihad is general, extending not only to the person who participates in it but also to others, both in a religious and a temporal sense.

 

[secondly,] Jihaad implies all kinds of worship, both in its inner and outer forms. More than any other act it implies love and devotion for Allah, Who is exalted, trust in Him, the surrender of one’s life and property to Him, patience, asceticism, remembrance of Allah and all kinds of other acts [of worship]. And the individual or community that participates in it, finds itself between two blissful outcomes: either victory and triumph or martyrdom and Paradise.

 

[Thirdly,] all creatures must live and die. Now, it is in jihad that one can live and die in ultimate happiness, both in this world and in the Hereafter. Abandoning it means losing entirely or partially both kinds of happiness. There are people who want to perform religious and temporal deeds full of hardship in spite of their lack of benefit, whereas actually jihad is religiously and temporally more beneficial than any other deed full of hardship. Other people [participate in it] out of a desire to make things easy for themselves when death meets them, for the death of a martyr is easier than any other form of death.

 

In fact, it is the best of all manners of dying.

 

Since lawful warfare is essentially jihad and since its aim is that the religion is Allah’s entirely [2:189, 8:39] and Allah’s word is uppermost [9:40], therefore, according to all Muslims, those who stand in the way of this aim must be fought.

 

As for those who cannot offer resistance or cannot fight, such as women, children, monks, old people, the blind, handicapped and their likes, they shall not be killed, unless they actually fight with words [e.g. by propaganda] and acts [e.g. by spying or otherwise assisting in the warfare].

 

Some [jurists] are of the opinion that all of them may be killed, on the mere ground that they are unbelievers, but they make an exception for women and children since they constitute property for Muslims.

 

However, the first opinion is the correct one, because we may only fight those who fight us when we want to make Allah’s religion victorious. Allah, Who is exalted, has said in this respect:

 

"And fight in the way of Allah those who fight you, but transgress not: Allah loves not the transgressors." [The Qur'an, 2:190]

 

In the Sunan it is reported from the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (salallaahu'alayheewasallam): "That he once passed by a woman who had been slain. The Messenger of Allah Muhammad (salallaahu'alayheewasallam) halted and said: ‘She was not one who would have fought.’ Then he (salallaahu'alayhee wa sallam) said to one of [his Sahaabah]: ‘Catch up with Khaalid ibn al-Waleed and tell him not to kill women, children and serfs.’"

 

It is also reported in the Sunan that he used to say:

"Do not kill very old men, nor small children or women."

The reason is that Allah has [only] permitted to shed blood if that is necessary for the welfare of the creation. He has said: "Persecution is more grievous than slaying." [The Qur'an, 2:191]

 

This means that, although there is evil and abomination in killing, there is greater evil and abomination in the persecution of the unbelievers. Now, the unbelief of those who do not hinder the Muslims from establishing Allah’s religion, is only prejudicial to themselves.

 

In the same vein, the jurists have said that the one who propagates innovations (BID'AH) that are contrary to the Qur'an and the Sunnah must be punished much more severely than the person [who holds such beliefs but] remains silent.

 

"A mistake that is kept secret," says a Tradition, "Only harms the person who has committed it, but if it becomes public and is not denounced, it harms the community."

 

The Sharee'ah enjoins fighting the unbelievers, but not the killing of those who have been captured. If a male unbeliever is taken captive during warfare or otherwise, e.g. as a result of a shipwreck, or because he lost his way, or as a result of a ruse, then the head of state (Imaam) may do whatever he deems appropriate: killing him, enslaving him, releasing him or setting him free for a ransom consisting in either property or people. This is the view of most jurists and it is supported by the Qur'aan and the Sunnah. There are, however, some jurists who hold that the options of releasing them or setting them free for a ransom have been abrogated. As for the People of the Book and the Zoroastrians (Majoos), they are to be fought until they become Muslims or pay the tribute (jizya) out of hand and have been humbled. With regard to the others, the jurists differ as to the lawfulness of taking tRibute from them. Most of them regard it as unlawful of taking tribute from them. Most of them regard it as unlawful to accept it from [heathen] Arabs.

 

If a rebellious group, although belonging to Islam, refuses to comply with clear and universally accepted commands, all Muslims agree that jihad must be waged against them, in order that the religion will be Allah’s entirely. Thus Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq and other Sahaabah, (radiallaahu'anhum), have fought those who refused to pay Zakaah. Initially some of the Sahaabah hesitated in fighting them, but eventually they all agreed. 'Umar ibn al-Khattaab said to Abu Bakr, (radiallaahu'anhumaa): "How can you fight these people? Has Rasulullaah (salallaahu'alayheewasallam), not said: ‘I have been ordered to fight people until they profess that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger. If they say that, their lives and properties will be inviolable for me, unless there is a rule of law that allows taking them. [For their actions] they must render account to Allah.’’" Abu Bakr then said: "The [obligation to pay] Zakaah is such a rule. Wallaahee (By Allah), if they refuse to give me one she-kid which they used to give to Rasulullaah (salallaahu'alayheewasallam), I shall fight them for this refusal." 'Umar said: "Then I realized immediately that Allah had opened his heart for fighting and I knew that that was right."

 

There are various authentic Traditions according to which the Prophet Muhammad (salallaahu'alayheewasallam), has ordered to fight the Khawaarij. In the Saheeh of al-Bukhaaree as well as the Saheeh of Muslim it is reported on the authority of 'Alee ibn Abee- Taalib, (radiallaahu'anhu), that he said: "I have heard Rasulullaah (salallaahu'alayheewasallam), saying: ‘Towards the end of time a group will emerge, young of age and simple of minds, who will speak the most beautiful words, but whose faith does not go deeper than their throats. They will abandon the religion just like an arrow pierces and then abandons a game animal. Wherever you will find them you must kill them since those who kill them will be rewarded on the Day of Resurrection.’"

 

Muslim has reported that 'Ali, (radiallaahu'anhu), said: "I have heard Rasulullaah (salallaahu'alayheewasallam), saying: ‘A group of people will emerge from amongst my community, who will recite the Qur'an [very well]. Your recitation is nothing compared to theirs. Likewise your way of performing Salaah and your way of fasting are nothing compared with theirs. They will recite the Qur'an believing that it [text] supports them, whereas [in reality] it condemns them. Their recitation does not go deeper than their collarbones. They will abandon the religion just like an arrow pierces and then abandons a game animal. If the army that reaches them would know how much [reward] the Prophet has promised them, they would rely on this deed [alone and not worry about other good deeds]."

 

In another version of this Tradition, transmitted on the authority of Abu Sa'eed from the Prophet, (salallaahu'alayheewasallam), we find the following words: "They will fight the people of faith and leave the idolaters. If I live long enough to meet them, I shall kill them in the manner the tribe of 'Aad was killed."

 

There is unanimity about the authenticity of this tradition.

 

In another Tradition reported by Muslim it is said: "My community will fall apart into two parties. From amongst them there will emerge heretics (maariqa). The party that is closest to truth will be in charge of killing them."

 

These were the people that were killed by the Ameer-ul-Mu'mineen (Commander of the Faithful) 'Alee, when the breach between the people of Iraq and the people of Syria took place. They were called hurooriyya. The Prophet, (salallaahu'alayheewasallam), has made it clear that both parties into which the community had fallen apart, belonged to his community and that the partisans of 'Alee were closer to the truth. He incited to fight only those heretics that had abandoned Islam and had left the community and that had permitted the taking of the lives and properties of the other Muslims. It has been established on the authority of the Qur'an, the Sunnah, and the Ijmaa (Consensus) of the Community, that those who depart from the law of Islam must be fought, even if they pronounce the two professions of faith.

 

The jurists disagree about the permissibility to fight rebellious groups that abandon an established supererogatory act of worship (Sunnah- raatiba), such as the two [extra] rak'as of dawn prayer. There is, however, unanimity that it is allowed to fight people for [not observing] unambiguous and generally recognized obligations and prohibitions, until they undertake to perform the explicitly prescribed prayers, to pay Zakaah, to fast during the month of Ramadaan, to make the pilgrimage to Makkah and to avoid what is prohibited, such a marrying women in spite of legal impediments, eating impure things, acting unlawfully against the lives and properties of Muslims and the like. It is obligatory to take the initiative in fighting those people, as soon as the Prophet’s (salallaahu'alayheewasallam) summons with the reasons for which they are fought has reached them.

 

But if they first attack the Muslims, then fighting them is even more urgent, as we have mentioned when dealing with the fighting against rebellious and aggressive bandits.

 

The most serious type of obligatory Jihaad is the one against the unbelievers and against those who refuse to abide by certain prescriptions of the Sharee'ah, like those who refuse to pay Zakaah, the Khawaarij and the like. This Jihaad is obligatory if it is carried out on our initiative and also if it is waged as defence. If we take the initiative, it is a collective duty (Fard Kifayah), [which means that] if it is fulfilled by a sufficient number [of Muslims], the obligation lapses for all others and the merit goes to those who have fulfilled it, just as Allah, He is exalted, has said:

 

"Such believers as sit at home - unless they have an injury - are not equals [of those who struggle in the path of Allah with their possessions and their selves. Allah has preferred in rank those who struggle in the path of Allah with their possessions and their selves over the ones who sit at home; yet to each Allah has promised the reward most fair; and Allah has preferred those who struggle over the ones who sit at home for the bounty of a mighty wage, in ranks standing before Him, forgiveness and mercy." [Qur'an., 4:95-96]

 

But if the Enemy wants to attack the Muslims, then repelling them becomes a duty for all those under attack and for the others to help them. Allah, He is exalted, has said:

 

"Yet if they ask you for help, for religion’s sake, it is your duty to help them." [Qur'an., 8:72]

 

In the same vein the Prophet (salallaahu'alayheewasallam) has ordered Muslims to help fellow Muslims.

 

The assistance, which is obligatory both for the regular professional army and for others, must be given, according to everybody’s possibilities, either in person, by fighting on foot or on horseback, or through financial contributions, be they small or large. When the Muslim were attacked by the enemy in the year of the Trench, Allah did not permit anybody to abandon Jihaad, although He did allow them not to take part in Jihaad [after the siege was lifted] in order to pursue the enemy. At that occasion He divided them into two categories, those who sat at home and those who marched out, and He criticized those who were asking the Prophet Muhammad (salallaahu'alayheewasallam) for leave [not to take part in Jihaad]:

"[And a part of them were asking leave of the Prophet,] saying, ‘Our houses are exposed’; yet they were not exposed; they desired only to flee." [Qur'an., 33:13]

 

So the latter [form of Jihaad] consists in defense of the religion, of things that are inviolable, and of lives. Therefore it is fighting out of necessity. The former [type of jihad], however, is voluntary fighting in order to propagate the religion, to make it triumph and to intimidate the enemy, such as was the case with the expedition to Tabook and the like.

 

Now, this form of punishment [i.e. Jihaad] must be administered to rebellious people. As for inhabitants of the territory of Islam who are not rebellious [but refuse to carry out religious duties], they must be forced to carry out their obligations such as the five fundamental duties of Islam and others like the delivering of trusts to their owners and the preserving of covenants in social relations.

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