TOPIC:UNDERSTANDING THE ISLAMIC CONCEPT OF JIHAD(PART 2)
‘Audhu billahi minash shaytanir rajeem Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem Alhamdu lillaah al ladhee khalaqa kulla shay’in was salaatu was salaamu ;’ala nabiyihi al Kareem wa ‘alaa aalihi wa ashabihee was sallim.
In our sermon last week, we clarified the meaning of the term jihad by looking at it from the Qur’an, sunnah and views of Muslim jurists. We also established the relkationship and differences between the two concepts of jihaad and qitaal. In this part two of the sermon in shaa Allah, we intend to discuss the conditions under which it is permissible to resort to armed struggle in Islam , establish that Fighting in Islam is against aggression and not against other religions and explain the Islamic code of conduct for engaging in warfare. Muslims are not aggressors and that is why before an issue becomes one that requires armed struggle Islam gave conditions.
The major ones are as follow.
a) preventing imminent attack. An example of this is when the Prophet (SAW) mobilize an army to fight against the Byzantines who were preparing to attack Arabia and subjugate the newly-formed Islamic state. The Prophet’s expedition went to Tabuk in order to meet this imminent danger. However, when he found that the Romans had not yet taken an aggressive initiative, the Muslim army was led back without attacking Byzantine territory.
b) defence (of self or others), as in Qur’an 22:39, 2:190-193:
c) against oppression and tyranny, as in Qur’an 4:75:
d) to remove barriers to the freedom of conscience, freedom to practice Islam and the freedom of association with others (and, thereby, the freedom of sharing Islam with others). Permission to resort to armed struggle to remove these barriers (or “fitnah”, as mentioned in Q.2:193) is also based on the qualification that all other means to remove them have already been attempted; eg. letters of petition, protests, negotiations, non-violent resistance, defiance, etc.
e) when any of the above justifications for armed struggle exist, all attempts at reconciliation have been exhausted, and there are no realistic alternatives to fighting. The Prophet (SAW) said, “Do not wish to meet the enemy, but when you meet (or face) the enemy, be patient and steadfast.”
f) declaration of war must be made only by the head of an Islamic state and commander of the armed forces (referred to as the “Amīr”, “Caliph”, or “Sultan” in juridical sources).This stipulation is necessary to ensure that the state responds to its threats in a policy-driven, united and coordinated manner. Furthermore,when war or armed struggle becomes unavoidable, there are also conditions to be observed. Allah and the Prophet (SAW) forbade the killing of non-combatants (typically, women, children, old people, monks, etc. and the unjust destruction of properties, trees, animals, farms, etc. Khaled Abou El-Fadl (2002) notes that nearly every reference to qitāl (fighting) in the Qur’an is qualified by some moral conditions of restraint.
Furthermore, if the aggressors incline towards peace, the Qur’an instructs believers to also incline towards it. It is also important to note that fighting in Islam is against aggression and not against other religions. The proof that combative jihad is only directed against aggression is the fact that when the warring parties stop fighting Muslims, or incline towards peace, Muslims are required to cease fighting them and also incline towards peace, and place their trust in Allah (Q.2:192 and 8:61), since “Allah does not love aggressors” (Q.2:190). If combat were directed against a people just because they are Non-Muslims, then Muslims would not stop fighting even if the Non-Muslims concerned stopped, since their stopping does not mean they have become Muslims. Moreover, the Companions demonstrated after the death of the Prophet (SAW), and the Jurists stipulated in their works, that such fighting is also permitted against Muslims should they perpetrate aggression or injustice against fellow believers. This is most evident in the early battles against the Khawarij and other militant Muslim factions. Additional evidence that combat is only against injustice and not due to religious difference is the prohibition by the Prophet (SAW) of killing Non-Muslims who were noncombatants, such as women, children, etc. For example, he said, “Never kill women, children, and the old weakened with age” , “Do not kill hermits”, “Do not slay the old and decrepit nor…”and “Leave them (monks) and that to which they devote themselves.”To this list, scholars add other non-combatants such as the blind, chronically ill, the insane, peasants, serfs, etc. If all these categories of Non-Muslims are not to be killed, then fighting any Non-Muslim is not because they are Non-Muslims per se, but because they have been aggressive or combatants against Muslims. Allah also says in the Qur’an 5:48, “If Allah had so willed, He could surely have made you all one single community: but (he willed it otherwise) in order to test you by means of what He has vouchsafed unto you…” and “Let there be no compulsion in religion” (Q.2:256). Fighting other religious communities purely for their difference would thus be counter to Allah’s will. And Allah knows best.
Next week in shaa Allah we will analyze the three main categories in which all the verses of the Qur’an and hadith relating to warfare can be generally classified into. May Allah make it easy.