Jihad – Meaning and Purpose


The ruling, concerning the special Jihad, which is fighting the disbelievers and hostile enemies, is a collective responsibility. If it is done by some Muslims, the other Muslims are excused. That is due to Allah’s statement:

Jihad in Islam

And it is not (proper) for the believers to go out to fight (Jihad) all together. Of every troop of them, a party only should go forth, that they (who are left behind) may get instructions in (Islamic) religion, and that they may warn their people when they return to them, so that they may beware (of evil).” (At – Tawbah 9:122)

However, it becomes an individual obligation for whoever the Muslim chooses to participate in it. This is due to the injunction of the Messenger of Allah (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) “When you are called to take part in a battle, then go forth.” (Recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of Ibn `Abbas – may Allah be pleased with him and his father)

Equally, if a country is invaded by the enemy, it becomes an individual obligation of each of its inhabitants – including women – to take up arms to defend and to fight off the enemy.

What are the kinds of Jihad?

1. Fighting against the disbelievers and the enemy fighters; and this could be done with hand, money, tongue and heart. The Prophet said, “Fight the polytheists with your wealth, lives and tongues.” (Recorded by Abu Dawood)

2. Fighting the mischief makers. This also can be done with hand, tongue and heart. The Prophet said, “He who amongst you sees something abominable should modify it with the help of his hand; and if he cannot, then he should do it with his tongue, and if he cannot, (even) then he should (abhor it) from his heart, and that is the least of faith.” (Recorded by Muslim on the authority of Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri – may Allah be pleased with him).

3. Fighting against Satan, and repelling all the misconceptions and lusts that he insinuates. Allah (SWT) says:

Jihad in Islam

Surely, Shaitan (Satan) is an enemy to you, so take (treat) him as an enemy.” (Fatir 35:6)

4. Struggling against one’s own soul. That is by forcing it to learn matters of the religion and to act upon them, and by keeping it away from desires and resisting its frivolities.

Making Jihad against one’s soul is, undoubtedly, one of the great acts of Jihad. That is why it is called, Al- Jihad Al-Akbar (The Greatest Jihad).

What are the pillars of Jihad?

The true Jihad that attracts either of the two rewards, leadership or martyrdom, has the following pillars:

1. Good intention: This is because, deeds are judged according to the intention of the doer; and good intention in Jihad means the purpose of engaging in it should solely be for the sake of promoting the Word of Allah.

Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari – may Allah be pleased with him – narrated that a man came to the Messenger of Allah (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) and said, “A man fights for war booty; another fights for fame and a third fights for showing off; which of them fights in Allah’s Cause?” The Prophet said, “He who fights so that Allah’s Word (i.e. Islam) should be superior, fights in Allah’s Cause.” (Recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

2. Jihad should be carried out under the leadership and permission of a Muslim ruler. As it is impermissible for Muslims, even if their number is few, to live without a leader; it is also not permissible for them to engage in Jihad without the permission of a ruler. Allah (SWT) says:

Jihad in Islam

O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger (Muhammad) and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority.” (An-Nisa 4:59)

Based on this, it is incumbent upon any group of Muslims that wants to fight in the way of Allah to liberate itself first from the grip of the disbeliever and give pledge of allegiance to a man from among the group who has more of the qualities of leadership such as knowledge, piety and ability. It should then organize its ranks, get its acts together, and fight with its tongue, wealth and hands until Allah makes it victorious.

3. Preparing the tools and getting the necessary materials such as weapons and men ready for Jihad as much as possible. And all efforts must be made in this regard. This is due to Allah’s statement, “And make ready against them all you can of power”.

4. Consent and permission of the parents: Whoever has one or both of his parents alive should seek their consent before going out for Jihad. This is due to the Prophet’s instruction to a man who came to seek his permission to join in Jihad and the Prophet asked him, “Are your parents alive?” The man answered in the affirmative. Upon this, the Prophet said, “Then go and make Jihad in them.” (Recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

However, if the enemy attacks the town by surprise or the Muslim leader specifically appoints the man to participate in Jihad, then the parents’ permission is no longer regarded as essential.

5. Obedience to the leader: If a person partakes in Jihad, having disobeyed the leader and dies in that state of disobedience, his death is that of the age of ignorance. This is due to the saying of the Prophet, “Whoever disapproves of something done by his ruler then he should be patient, for whoever disobeys the ruler even a little (little = a span) will die as those who died in the Pre-lslamic Period of Ignorance. (i.e. as rebellious Sinners).” (Recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of `Abdullah bin `Abbas – may Allah be pleased with him).

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Jihad - Meaning and Purpose
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