Thursday, August 13, 2009

Concept of Jehad

t is well known that the concept of Jehad is subject to certain conditions. Jehad is meant for upholding the uprightness of the Word of Allah, for the victory of the suppressed, for safeguarding the places of worship and for defence against the aggression and atrocities of the tyrants. It is not meant for eliminating other religions, destruction of their places of worship or unwarranted massacre of Non-Muslims. For propagation and acceptance of its teachings Islam recommends interesting and suitable form of preaching, persuasion and discussion.

"Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious. "(Surah Al Nahl, verse 125) Do not utilize power of the sword and so-called ‘Jehad'.

Permission for Jehad has been given for defence or in un avoidable circumstances, that too, subject to certain conditions. It does not mean that if you find a Non-Muslim or their group, you rush for beheading them.

In Islamic Shariah, the direction or order for killing is ap plicable to those enemies of Islam, engaged in fight against Muslims. It applies to such enemies of Islam who are determined to seize their lands. Not only that they are determined to deny the freedom to pronounce the name of Allah on the earth. So far as peace loving and non-fighting parsons are concerned, who are not inclined to murder the servants of Allah, nor they are interested in throwing them out of their homes, Islamic Shariah does not recommend or permit Jehad against them. On the contrary Islamic Shariah emphasizes treating them in fair and just manner, as explained earlier.

Objectives of Jehad:

Objectives of Jehad as laid down in Islamic Shariah do not provide that the earth should be free from the followers of religions other than Islam. The main object of Jehad is defence against the tyrants by restraining the aggressor from continuing atrocities.

"To those against whom war is made, permission is given (to fight), because they are wronged;-and verily, Allah is Most Powerful for their aid;- (They are) those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right, - (for no cause) except that they say, "Our Lord is Allah". (Surah Al Hajj. Verse 39-40)

The suppressed are permitted to fight against enemies of Islam and infidels, because they are oppressed and Allah has the power to help them. The victims are those who have been thrown out of their houses for no fault of theirs. Their only fault is nothing else but thy claim that their Providence is Allah.

Verse 190 ofSurah Al Baqarah recommends fight with those who take the initiative to fight Muslims. Further it has been provided hat there would be no excess in the matter.

"Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress limits. " There are many similar verses in the Holy Quran, in which the object of Jehad has been defined 'self-defence'. The suppressed Muslims are those who are victims of aggression..

2. There is another purpose of the fight. It may be fought to save others, who are weak and suppressed by the tyrants.

It has been stated in the verse 75 ofSurah Al Nisaa: "And why should ye not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed}?- Men, women, and children, whose cry is: "Our Lord! Rescue us from this town.

Whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from Thee one who will protect; and raise for us from Thee one who will help!"

The verse refers to two objects of Jehad, for Allah as well as in support of the weak and suppressed. The latter is included in the former. Jehad in support of the suppressed is also for Allah. That verse confirms that Jehad is the practical response to the cry for assistance by the afflicted and suffering to their God.

3. According to Holy Quran an important object of Islamic Jehad is the protection of places of worship. The definition of a place of worship does not include the places of worship belonging to only Muslims. That refers to the places of worship belonging to the followers of other religions also.

"Did not Allah check one set of people by means of another, there would surely have been pulled down monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosque, in which the name of Allah is com memorated in abundant measure." (Surah Al Hajj, verse 40)

It is worth noting that by according priority to the places of worship, belonging to other religions e.g. Jews and Christians, Islam has provided an ideal specimen of tolerance.

4. Another important object of Jehad is end of mischief in the Society and upper hand for the religion of Allah. Mischief implies everything, which creates problems on account of distinction between the Right and Wrong. Among them, the pride of place belongs to paganism and blasphemy, as they qualify for death. Paganism and blasphemy refer to elements that are inimical to Believers. Those who are bent upon destroying Islam and Muslims. That definition excludes Non-Muslims who are peace loving and willing to live with cordial relations with Muslims.

Surah AI Baqarah, which advocates Jehad against enemies of Islam, for end of mischief, also recommends peaceful living with fraternal and cordial relations with peace-loving Non-Muslims. Verses 190 to 194 clarify the position, "And fight them on until there is no more persecution and the religion becomes Allah S. But if they cease, let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression. " (Surah Al Baqarah, verse 193)

Wherever Jehad for killing is mentioned in Holy Quran, it refers to defense in the state of war. In normal conditions of peace, fight with peace-loving followers of other religions is not envisaged. However, if information is available about the preparations for aggression by a group and if strategy demands, initiative for Jehad is permitted. However, that is rare. In the history of Islam many among the battles are of defensive type and not of the aggressive type. For propagation of Islam the right method is of peaceful proclamation and not Jehad and fight.

Rules and Conditions of Jehad:

Islamic Jehad is not unprovoked armed conflict of action against enemies, motivated by national sentiment or extension of domain, as projected by enemies of Islam. Under Islamic Shariah certain rules and regulations are attached to it. The first condition of Jehad is that it should be for upholding the name of Allah. If the conflict is for personal fame or for acquisition of land, wealth or other material benefits, it has nothing to do with Jehad. Judged from the standards laid down by Shariah, it has no merit at all. Therefore, the condition, "For the sake of Allah" has been laid down for Jehad. In the books of Islamic history and Islamic jurisprudence there are many traditions and events, in which, battles have been waged for personal ends or in pursuance of regional or national sentiments. Such conflicts have been excluded from the category of Jehad. According to a famous tradition of the Prophet that one who fights or dies, motivated by prejudice is not one among us.(Kitab-ul-Jehad, Abu Dawood)

Battle for national cause, caste or community does not qualify for Jehad Islamic Jehad is only for upholding the name and message of Allah. According to Kitab-ul-Jehad of Bukhari, the fight for upholding the name of Allah is Jehad for Allah.

Jehad is not an individual action. Jehad does not mean that anyone rises and starts fighting somebody. According to Islamic Shariah, Islamic Jehad can be conducted by a government or elected leader according to Shariah. That has been laid down in an estab lished tradition. (Muslim Shrreef, Kitabul-Emarat) An Imam, according to Shariah is like a shield for leading the fight The rules and conditions attached to Jehad have been discussed in detail in the books of Islamic jurisprudence.

According to Ibn-e-Qodama Hanbali, the matters relating to Jehad depend on the discretion of the Imam or leader. The elected leader, Imam or Ameer shall lead Jehad, defensive or offensive. Another condition laid down is that the required strength and resources accompany Jehad and it is conducted independently. Unless the required conditions are fulfilled Jehad is neither justified nor likely to serve a useful purpose.

When Jehad is a necessity according to Shariah, those opting for Jehad do not have independent or autonomous position. Without the direction or consent of the leader, the Imam or Ameer a few individually or as a group opt for extraordinary action like Jehad, that is likely to cause disruption and mischief. That will provide the aggressor with the opportunity for further aggressive activities.

Therefore it is essential for Jehad that requisite strength is available under the leadership of the elected leader, to ensure desired results.

But if someone is killed while defending his legitimate rights, life and property against the aggressors, he shall be deemed a martyr and his fight shall qualify for Jehad.

Rules and Limitations of Jehad:

In addition to the conditions, Islam has laid down certain rules and limitations for Jehad. From Islamic point of view, Jehad is constructive action for ending mischief. It is not desperate action for loot, destruction and carnage.

Prohibition of killing of the aged and worshippers. Even during a battle Islam has strictly forbidden arson, killing of women, children, aged, worshippers and those incapable or participating in the battle. At several places in Holy Quran, it has been emphasized that it should be ensured that those not connected with the battle should not be harmed. Fight should be confined to the participants in the battle. The Prophet (Pbuh) has clearly dissuaded from killing persons not concerned with the battle. "Do not kill the weak, small children, women and aged during the battle." (Kitab-ul-Jehad by Abu Dawood)

Islamic jurists have held that even the intention of killing the weak, aged, women and children is unlawful even in the course of battle. Killing the worshippers and priests, who keep aloof from the fight, is forbidden. Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Abu Mohammad in 'Aseer-ul-Kabeer' have cited the opinion of Imam Abu Hanifa on the subject. Other details may be found in Al Mabsoot, Volume X by Imam Sarkhasi and Allama Mawardi in 'Ahkam-us-Sultaniya'.

Prohibition of Devastation. Islam has strictly forbidden general devastation. Unless it is unavoidable, the fields, orchards and settle ments should not be destroyed. Killing innocent persons has been declared unlawful. In the present civilized world everything belonging to enemies, although having nothing to do with the battle is targeted for destruction. However, Islam regards that disorder and mischief.

"When he turns his back, his aim everywhere is to spread mischief through the earth and destroy crops and progeny but Allah /oveth not mischief" (Surah Al Baqarah, verse 205)

Hazrat Abu Bakar Siddiq, while sending off the troops, in structed them that fruit-bearing trees should not be cut or burnt. Settlements and crops should not be destroyed. (Kitab-ul-Jehad by Imam Malik)

In the course of a battle the prophet (pbuh) came to know that a few Muslim soldiers had looted goats and intended to cook and eat their meat. He turned upside down the utensil used for cooking.

Similarly during the Battle of Khaibar, after Peace Treaty was executed with the people of Khaibar. A few fresher of the Islamic Army beat Jew women, forcibly took away their fruits, took pos session of their animals and consumed them. The chiefs of the Jews lodged a complaint with the Prophet. The Prophet sternly addressed his soldiers, 'Allah has not held it proper for your that you may enter the houses of men of Books, without their permission and maltreat their women and take possession of their fruits.'

Islam forbids the murder of prisoners. The commitment of Islam to peace is confirmed by the provision that it forbids pursuit of men fleeing from the scene of war.

After the conquest of Mecca, the Prophet (pbuh) issued special instructions that Islam is dedicated and committed to peace, justice and humanity. There is no place of disorder and terrorism in Islam. Islam invites mankind towards virtue. Those who link Islam, its teachings and symbols, practices, institutions with destruction and terrorism are terrorists themselves and pose a threat to peace, security and healthy civilized life. Islam remains the best specimen of peace and a lighthouse for the whole humanity.