What is Jihad?


Comparisons and Contrasts (2)
What is Jihad?
Jalal Abualrub of www.IslamLife.com wrote: Current jihadi movements cause Muslims and non-Muslims to believe that the entire Islamic religion is synonymous with jihad and, to jihadis, jihad is only synonymous with warfare. Jihadist propaganda rarely speaks about other aspects of Islam or even about the other part of jihad performed physically, that being, jihad with wealth and money. Allah often joins these two together, such as in ayah 4:95, {Not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home), except those who are disabled (by injury or are blind or lame), and those who strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allâh with their wealth and their lives. Allâh has preferred in grades those who strive hard and fight with their wealth and their lives above those who sit (at home). Unto each, Allâh has promised good (Paradise), but Allâh has preferred those who strive hard and fight, above those who sit (at home) by a huge reward.}
The implication of ayah 4:95 is that with regards to jihad, there are those who perform warfare jihad, those who do jihad of donating money and wealth, those who do both, and those who do none. Yet, they all are called ‘believers’ in the ayah, and are promised Allah’s reward. However, those who do correct, sincere jihad with their wealth and lives are promised more reward. In comparison, the modern-day khawarij promise Hell for everyone, especially those who do not join them in their jihad, and even those who do jihad, but with other competing jihadi groups.
Since jihad is an act of worship, just like prayer, fasting, paying zakah and making hajj, then defining its types and methods should be strictly taken from the Quran and Sunnah and the way Muhammad, the Prophet of Allah, and his companions, understood and practiced jihad. Ignoring the Islamic legislations that regulate all types and actions done in the name of jihad, only leads to confusion and committing horrible mistakes in the name of jihad.
Contrasts: to jihadis, armed jihad is everything; there is no time to learn the religion; the ummah is dying; there is no time for the Sunnah; jihad, jihad, jihad. Translation: Someone may enter Islam or reenter it after they have not been practicing. Normally, new Muslims devote time and effort to learn the major aspects of the religion and to practice what they learn. Jihadists, on the other hand, go through a more amazing transformation, from being new Muslims, to directly establishing jihad, and the khilafah and its laws. When asked what they are trying to accomplish through the khilafah, they say, “To establish Islamic law; to rule by what Allah has revealed to Muhammad.”
However, how can they establish Islamic law if they don’t know Islamic law? How can they rule by what Allah has revealed, if they haven’t learned what Allah has revealed? How can they use wisdom and smart strategies in their warfare if they belittle spending the time learning what Allah has revealed to Muhammad, at least in the aspects of jihad? Those who, before Islam, used to drink, dance, rap, sing, use drugs, never prayed, were sexually dishonorable, who, after Islam, still do not know how to read the Quran properly or scientifically prove even the simple aspects of Islam using evidence from the Quran and Sunnah: how can they suddenly become jihadists and reestablish the Islamic khilafah and its laws?
Jihadists may respond and say that there were those who, during the Prophet’s time, became Muslim, then fought and died before they learned the religion, with the Prophet’s testifying that they died as martyrs.
The response to the jihadis is: “They did not have time to learn, but you do.” Most jihadists linger in this life for years and even decades, especially their leaders who hide in caves where they live in comfort, being afraid of drones. Why can’t jihadis learn their religion, since they have plenty of time at hand? Also, those who died as martyrs during the Prophet’s time before learning Islam, the Prophet testified to their sincerity; had they lived, they would certainly have learned the religion. Who testifies to the sincerity of today’s jihadis? Also, warfare jihad started in its entirety by the Prophet and his companions after tau’heed was established on earth in creed, statement and action. The majority of those who made jihad during the Prophet’s time were taught Islam by the Prophet. When their jihad started, they had faith, they had knowledge.
The community of the Prophet’s companions established the religion in their hearts, words and actions as taught to them by the Messenger of Allah, peace be on him. They, after that, practiced the hardest action in Islam, jihad warfare against combatant enemies, after the teachings of Islam were already established in Madinah. Before that in Makkah, when Islam was weak and its pillars not yet established, Muslims were learning the religion; they were not allowed to fight. Had they fought and been killed before migrating to Madinah, Islam would never have been established on earth.
Proof to the last statement: The battle of Badr against Makkan pagans, which occurred after Muslims migrated to Madinah, occurred after having spent 13 years in Makkah only learning and practicing as much as they could of Islam, while refraining from jihad warfare. The Prophet’s invocation to Allah during Badr was, “O Allah! If this group, the people of Islam (his companions) perishes, you will not be worshipped on earth” (Sahih Muslim). Jihad is, therefore, meant to protect tau’heed and keep it and its people alive on earth. If all Muslims become jihadists and they all die, the collective aims intended behind jihad will not be accomplished.
More contrasts: Warfare jihad, in the jihadist view, is the entire religion, as if being the sixth pillar of Islam, even more significant. However, the jihad of warfare is only a branch of the religion, not the entire religion. To be accepted by Allah, jihad has to be founded on tau’heed and be in accordance with the Prophet’s Sunnah teachings, {So whoever hopes for the Meeting with his Lord, let him work righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of his Lord} (18:110). Therefore, for one’s jihad to be correct and accepted, it requires tau’heed and learning how the Prophet of Islam conducted jihad, so one can imitate him.
Further, jihad is not a pillar of Islam. The Prophet of Islam declared that, “Islam is built on (the following) five (pillars): To testify that there is none owing the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger; to offer (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly; to pay zakat (obligatory charity); to perform hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah); to observe fast during the month of Ramadan” (Bukhari and Muslim).
Here is another hadeeth that offers an interesting insight into the correct notions of jihad. Nafi` narrated that a man came to Abdullah Ibn `Umar and said, “What made you perform hajj in one year, and umrah in another year, and leave jihad for Allah’ Cause, although you know how much Allah recommends it?” Ibn `Umar replied, “O son of my brother! Islam is founded on five principles: belief in Allah and His Messenger, the five compulsory prayers, fasting the month of Ramadan, paying zakat, and hajj to the House (of Allah).” The man said, “Won’t you listen to what Allah mentioned in His Book, {If two groups of believers fight each other, then make peace between them, but if one of then transgresses beyond bounds against the other, then you all fight against the one that transgresses} (49.9), and, {And fight them until there is no more fitnah (affliction)}?” Ibn `Umar said, “We did that during the lifetime of Allah’s Messenger, when Islam had only a few followers. A man would be put to trial because of his religion; he would either be killed or tortured. But, when Muslims increased, there were no more afflictions or oppressions.” (Bukhari)
This man said these words to Abdullah Ibn Umar, who is one of the Prophet’s greatest and most knowledgeable companions, who made remarkable jihad during the Prophet’s time and after his time. Does not this interesting conversation sound like a debate between a modern-day khawarij and a modern-day scholar of the Sunnah?
Finally, here is a comprehensive view of the true understanding of the Islamic jihad offered by a true scholar, a true mujahid who, just like his mujahid teacher, Ibn Taimiyyah, struggled hard to establish Islam in creed, action and statement.
Here is a segment from the book, Holy Wars; Crusades; Jihad, where the definition and types of Jihad are reported as follows: “When studying Islamic topics, it is necessary to search for and collect relevant Quranic and Prophetic statements and interpret them in accordance with the understanding of the Prophet’s companions. The same method must be used to understand the topic of jihad in Islam, in order to properly comprehend its rulings. Jihad is an act of Islamic worship and, just like other acts of worship, is well defined and explained by a set of rules and regulations. Jihad, is derived from, juhd, which means, ‘effort and striving.’ Thus, jihad, pertains to meanings of struggling, enduring, striving and paying the best effort (Al-Wajeez, Abdul-`Adheem Ibn Badawi, Pg., 479; Fiqh As-Sunnah, Sayyid Sabiq, Vol. 3, Pg., 82).
Abdullah Ibn Abbas, the Prophet’s paternal cousin and one of the most knowledgeable companions in the meaning of the Quran, learned from the Prophet, peace be on him, and also from other companions. Abdullah Ibn Abbas gave a comprehensive meaning to jihad defining it as, ‘To strive hard, fearing none, except Allah.’ Muqatil, one of the scholars of Tafsir (interpretation) of the Quran, stated that jihad means, ‘To perform good deeds for the sake of Allah as they should be performed, and to worship Him as He should be worshipped.’ In addition, Abdullah Ibn Al-Mubarak, a great imam, scholar and mujahid of the third generation of Islam, said that jihad means, ‘To strive to repel the desires and inner temptations.’ (Ibn Qayyim Al-Jauziyyah, the Arabi version of, Zad-ul Ma`ad fi Hadyi Khairi al-`Ibad, Vol. 3, Pg., 8)
All of the meanings given here are accurate and provide a comprehensive definition for the Arabi word, jihad. According to imam Ibn Qayyim Al-Jauziyyah, jihad has four categories: Jihad An-Nafs, Jihad Ash-Shaitan, Jihad Al-Kuffar wal-Munafiqin, and, Jihad Arbab Adh-Dhulm wal-Bida` wal-Munkarat (Ibid; Vol. 3, Pg., 9-11). We will explain the types of jihad mentioned here in the following paragraphs.

  1. Jihad An-Nafs (Jihad against One’s Own-self). Imam Ibn Qayyim Al-Jauziyyah said, ‘Jihad An-Nafs, meaning, striving hard against one’s own self, has four grades. The first grade involves one striving hard against his own self to learn the correct [Islamic] guidance and the Religion of Truth, because without this knowledge one will not earn success or happiness in this, or the Next Life. When one loses the chance to attain this knowledge, one earns misery in this life and the Hereafter. The second grade involves one striving hard against his own self to abide by what one has learned, because, knowledge without implementation will not benefit and may be harmful. The third grade involves one striving hard against his own self to call to what one has learned in order to teach it to those who do not know it. If one does not do this, they will be considered among those who hide and conceal what Allah sent down regarding guidance and clear evidences. Consequently, one’s knowledge will neither be of any benefit, nor can earn one safety from Allah’s wrath. The fourth grade involves one striving hard, in Allah’s sake, against one’s own self, to patiently endure the difficulties and harm experienced while propagating the call to Allah. When one attains all four grades of this type of jihad, one becomes among the, Rabbaniyyun. The Salaf (Righteous Ancestors of Muslims) agreed that a scholar will not be considered among the Rabbaniyyun, unless and until one [patiently] learns the truth, abides by it and teaches it. Indeed, those who learn, implement and teach (religious knowledge) will be called, ‘great,’ in the kingdom of the heavens.’

As proof to this type of jihad, we mention here an authentic hadeeth wherein the Prophet, peace be on him, said, ‘The Mujahid is he who performs jihad (strives) against his own self” (collected by Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi and Ibn `Hibban; also, Al-Albani, Sahih At-Targheeb wa-t-Tarheeb 2:150).

  1. Jihad Ash-Shaitan (Jihad against Satan): [Imam Ibn Qayyim Al-Jauziyyah continued,] ‘Jihad Ash-Shaitan has two grades, the first pertaining to striving hard to repel the doubts and suspicions regarding faith that Satan places in one’s heart. The second grade of this jihad involves striving hard to repel the temptations Satan places in front of mankind in the form of corrupt ideas and vain desires. One’s effort to practice the first grade earns him [or her] certainty; learning endurance is the outcome of practicing the second grade of this jihad. Allah the Exalted said, {And We (Allah) made from among them (Children of Israel), leaders, giving guidance under Our Command, when they were patient and used to believe with certainty in Our Ayât (proofs, evidences, revelations, etc.) } (32:24). In this ayah, Allah stated that gaining religious leadership is only earned through observing patience and having certainty. Patience repels vain desires and corrupt intentions, while certainty repels doubts and suspicions.’ …
  2. Jihad Al-Kuffar wal-Munafiqin (Jihad against Infidels and Hypocrites): Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim continued, ‘There are four grades to jihad against the infidels and the hypocrites: using the heart, the tongue (words), one’s wealth and one’s own self. Jihad against the infidels mainly requires the hand, while Jihad against the hypocrites is usually practiced using the tongue.’

Using the heart here means rejecting and condemning evil, polytheism and its doers, while using the tongue pertains to saying words of admonishment to hypocrites.

  1. Jihad Arbab Adh-Dhulm wal-Bida` wal-Munkarat (Jihad against the Unjust, the Innovators and the Sinners): [Imam Ibn Qayyim Al-Jauziyyah continued,] ‘As for jihad against the unjust, the innovators [in religion] and the sinners, it has three grades. The first grade involves practicing Jihad physically, by using the hand, if one is able to do so. If one is not able, then one practices the second grade, meaning, using words [of admonishment]. If one is not able, then one practices the third grade, using the heart [by condemning evil inwardly].’

Islam instructs Muslims to reject evil by enjoining righteousness and forbidding evil, by using these available means. The Prophet, peace be on him, said, ‘Whoever among you witnesses an evil should reject (stop; change) it with his hand, if unable to do so, then with his tongue (words), if unable to do so, then with his heart as this is the weakest faith” (Sahih Muslim 70).

  1. Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim concluded by saying, ‘These are a total of thirteen grades [of jihad]. Indeed, he who dies without performing jihad or talking about it to himself dies with a part of hypocrisy.’

The last sentence Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim mentioned here is found in a hadeeth collected by Imam Muslim (3533).” (Jalal Abualrub, Holy Wars; Crusades; Jihad, second edition, Pg. 99)
These are the words of the scholars of Islam. Their words are authoritative and wise, because they rely on knowledge in the Quran and Sunnah, according to the way the Prophet of Islam and his companions understood and implemented them. Jihad, in its proper context, includes all aspects of the Islamic religion. Compare and contrast this knowledgeable definition of jihad to the rebellious jihad practiced by modern-day khawarij, such as Al-Qa’idah, An-Nusrah, Ansar Ash-Shari`ah, Ash-Shabab, Boko Haram, ISIS, and so forth; they have different names, but their call is, at the heart of the matter, one.
Compare and contrast the outcome of proper jihad as established in the Quran and Sunnah according to the way the Prophet and his companions understood and implemented them, to the jihad of modern-day khawarij.
Outcome of proper jihad: Islam won decisively; Islam currently is the largest religion on earth; Muslims earned safety for their religion, lives, honor, property, and lands. The outcome was clear victory and triumph for Islam and its people.
Outcome of khawarij jihad: killing and maiming far more Muslims than non-Muslims; Muslim lands became devastated through destruction, death, insecurity, mass expulsion; jihadist youth were hunted down by non-Muslims; jihadist youth commit suicide, which Islam forbids, in the midst of Muslims, publically in marketplaces and Masajid, while their leaders remain alive for decades, since the leaders order what they, themselves, would never practice; things went progressively worse for Islam and Muslims all over the world; wherever khawarij jihadis went, Christian (Western) occupation and mass attacks on Muslims and their lands followed.
So, where is their victory; where is their triumph?
Jalal Abualrub (www.IslamLife.com)