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Jihad becomes obligatory upon every Muslim

Jihad becomes obligatory upon every Muslim

Al-Qaradawi stresses, alongside classical and contemporary scholars, the consensus that jihad becomes obligatory upon every Muslim if a Muslim land is attacked, or Muslims suffer fitna (are prevented from freedom of faith), and that every Muslim must practice some form of jihad, be it striving against one's desires, against evil and corruption, and striving to promote good and support religion, as much as one is able to. However, Al-Qaradawi, through his study and analysis of the various texts related to jihad and the views of classical and contemporary scholars, concluded the following:

1. That Quranic verses, particularly those of surat al-Tawba commanding fighting against all polytheists, are to be understood as a reaction and an equal retribution, just as the verse says "as they fight you all together", and not a general command or a basis for dealing with all non-Muslims, but was rather concerning a specific group of the Arab polytheists which declared war on Islam since its emergence, chased it out and followed it to its new home, broke treaties and mobilized everyone to eradicate it "Will you not fight people who violated their oaths, plotted to expel the Messenger, and took the aggressive by being the first to assault you?" (The Quran, 9:13). Within the same chapter, as well as in other chapters, there are limits and conditions restricting the above -seemingly general- command: "And if they incline to peace, then incline to it" (8:61). There is no need to set one verse of the Quran against another; rather one should look at all relevant verses and ahadith, all of which confirm the rule that Islam seeks peace with those who are peaceful towards it, and fights those who fight it.

2. Military jihad is not an individual obligation upon every Muslim, of the same level as the obligations of the testimony of faith, prayer, fasting, alms giving and pilgrimage, for despite its importance within Islam, it was not included in the inherent characteristics of the God-conscious in surat al-Baqara, nor in the characteristics of the believers as described in surat al-Anfal or surat al-Mu'minun, nor in the characteristics of those with true understanding as described in surat al-Ra`d, nor in the characteristics of the servants of the Most Merciful as described in surat al-Furqan, nor in the characteristics of the pious in surat al-Dhariat, nor of the righteous ones described in surat al-Insan. Thus, the practice of military jihad only becomes an obligation upon Muslims when its conditions arise such as an attack on Muslims, their land or their religion. Preparing for such an incidence, on the other hand, is an obligation upon them, according to their ability, in order to deter enemies and maintain peace.

3. There is no obligation upon Muslims to invade the lands of non-Muslims, if they are safe from them. It is sufficient for them to have a powerful army in possession of the latest weapons and trained soldiers guarding their borders and deterring enemies such that the latter do not thing of attacking Muslims, for the collective duty to be fulfilled (p. 91). It is worth noting that Al-Qaradawi prefers using the term non-Muslims instead of kuffar or disbelievers, for that is the way of the Quran which uses the terms "O people of the Book", "O people", "O Man", "O Children of Israel", "My people", "O Children of Adam". It never addressed non-Muslims as disbelievers, except in a few exceptional cases where there were negotiations regarding creed.

 Islam recognised freedom of belief and each individual's responsibility for his belief before God. On that basis, its societies, on the whole, did not experience religious wars. Under it, various monotheistic and pagan religions coexisted and continue to coexist, under the system of Dhimma which granted citizenship to non-Muslims regardless of religion. All they needed to do in order to enjoy the rights of protection by the Muslim state alongside Muslims was for those able to pay the jizya tax to do so, which is equivalent to the military service tax in some modern systems. According to Al-Qaradawi, unifying the tax rate and generalising military service make such a system which has been misunderstood and misused unnecessary.

5. It was historical conditions, rather than the texts of Islam, that made many jurists believe offensive jihad to invade non-Muslim lands to be obligatory. The ummah was constantly threatened by its powerful neighbours, the Persians and Romans (p. 82), and there were no international laws based on mutual recognition of state sovereignty and prohibition of hostility as is the case today- despite their contravention by the powerful.

6. The natural state of affairs in relations between Muslim and others is peace and cooperation in goodness. Islam abhors war and only engages in it unwillingly and as a necessity "Fighting is prescribed for you, though it is hateful to you" (Quran, 2:216). Peace is the essential character of Islam; it is the greeting of Muslims, the greeting of the people of Paradise, it is one of the names of Allah. The most hated name in Allah's sight is Harb- which means war, one of the ancient Arab names, as Arabs were warriors. However, when the Prophet, peace be upon him, was told by his son-in-law that his daughter Fatima had given birth to a boy and that he called him Harb, he commanded him to name him Hasan (meaning good).

7. Islam welcomes international conventions that prohibit transgression and promote peace between nations, and welcomes international bodies that protect such laws, such as the United Nations, UNESCO, etc. However, the West still maintains its belief in the principle of power in its relation with other states and other nations. An example of that is the exclusive enjoyment of its major states of the right to veto, in a flagrant disregard for the principle of equality, thus guaranteeing the protection of their interest and the avoidance of any condemnation of its violations, as the US and UK did in their invasion of Iraq, without any legitimacy, with full impunity from any condemnation, and similarly with their continuous protection of the Zionists' various forms of hostility against Palestine and its people.

8. Under international recognition of human rights, including freedom of belief and preaching, as well as freedom to establish institutions and protect minorities, one of the principal justifications of jihad al-talab becomes redundant, that is invasion in order to enable the call to Islam by dismantling oppressive regimes which used to prevent their people from thinking freely or choosing beliefs that are different to those of their rulers, such as the Pharaoh who reprimanded the Children of Israel for believing without his permission: "He said: You believe in him before I give you leave?" (Quran, 20:71). In contrast, today, unprecedentedly, in any previous era of Islam history, mosques and Muslim minorities are found everywhere, making our need greater for "huge armies of competent preachers, teachers, media experts, all suitably trained and able to address the world in its different languages, and using methods of this modern age, which, unfortunately, we possess less than a thousandth of what is required", (p.16). Al-Qaradawi laments that you may find many who are ready to die for Allah's sake, but very few who are willing to live for His sake.

9. The sources of Islam reveal that, according to Islam, the world is three abodes: dar al-Islam, the abode of Islam, where its law reigns, where its rituals are publicly practiced, and where its adherents and preachers are secure; Dar al-`ahd- the abode of accord, that is states between which and the Muslim state there is mutual recognition and prohibition of hostility; and finally dar harb, or the abode of war. Al-Qaradawi regards Muslims, in view of their being part of the system of the United Nations, as being in a state of accord/pact with other states, except with the Zionist state, because of its usurpation of the land of Palestine and its dispossession of its people, which unfortunately took place with the support of major states. Thus Al-Qaradawi considers the greatest problem in our relation with the West to be its constant and unlimited support of Israel and its continuous aggression against Palestine and its people.

10. Al-Qaradawi distinguishes between jihad and irhab- terrorism, or between legitimate irhab -being feared by the enemy to deter it from any aggression, and illegitimate irhab, that is terrorizing innocent people as done by groups using the name of Islam, which declare world on the whole world in an illegitimate use of jihad in an inappropriate setting, terrorizing innocent people- Muslims and non-Muslims- in order to achieve alleged political ends inside or outside Muslim lands, flagrantly contravening the principles and ethics of jihad in Islam. Hence Al-Qaradawi condemned violent acts committed by extremist groups in Muslim and non-Muslim countries against innocent people, whether tourists or others. He further stripped the indiscriminate killing and shedding of innocent lives committed by these groups of any legitimacy.

11. Al-Qaradawi is extremely careful to distinguish between extremist groups that declare war on the whole world, killing indiscriminately, tainting the image of Islam and providing its enemies with fatal weapons to use against it, on the one hand, and on the other groups resisting occupation. And as much as he condemns the former and delegitimizes its foundations, he defends the latter, and calls on the ummah to support them, particularly in Palestine, as long as their operations are against military targets. He does not hesitate to justify martyrdom operations, considering them to be the weapon of one with no other options, who is deprived of equivalent weapons to those of the enemy, in order to defend his home and his land. God's justice does not allow the weak to be completely deprived of any weapon, hence the latter's use of his own body as a deterrent weapon. In any case, the ethics of jihad must always be respected, and only combatants can be targeted.

12. As he stresses that the first jihad to be obligatory upon the ummah in this age is liberation from colonialism, particularly in Palestine, Al-Qaradawi warns and stresses the fallacy of those who wrongly believe that the conflict between us and Zionists is due to the fact that they are Semites- for we are also Semites, both of us coming from the progeny of Abraham- or that it is a religious conflict- for Muslims regard Jews as People of the Book, whose food is lawful, with whom marriage is lawful, and who have lived amongst Muslims in safety and have sought refuge in our lands when Spain and other European countries expelled them, finding refuge nowhere but among Muslims. In reality, the conflict between us and Zionists started for one single reason: their appropriation of the land of Palestine, dispossessed its people, and imposed their presence with violence. The conflict will continue as long as its causes remain. No one can give up any Muslim land, but it is possible to have a truce with Israel for an agreed period of time. As for the principle of "Land for Peace", it is indeed a bizarre principle imposed by the logic of the enemy's brute force, for the land is our land, not the enemy's, so that it can bargain it in return for peace (p. 1090).

13. Just as he, and his mentor Sheikh Muhammad al-Ghazali, had a leading role in confronting those extremist groups and preventing them from hijacking Islam and diverting it from its mainstream towards the margins, through stripping their actions of any legitimacy based on jihad, both inside and outside Muslim lands, Al-Qaradawi praised the important revisions made by the most important of those groups, which found great support in his writings- after having attacked and rejected his views- in order to engage in their revisions, which he described as brave and enlightened (p. 1168).