Question (Aggressive or Defensive Jihad)

Beliefs & Practices, Chapter 11, Islam & Modernism / Sunday, August 17th, 2008

Moulana Muhammad Taqi Usmani Sahib,

Assalam-o-Alaikum wa Ralunatullah-wa Barakatuhu.

My humble self had recently had a chance to read some older editions of your esteemed journal “Al-Balagh”. In the issue of March 1971, I found the following suggestions under clauses 17, 18 on page 10.

(17) Compromising relations and amicable treatment could be established with such non-Muslim states as may not be hostile to Islam and Muslims.

(18) Agreements made with other countries shall be honored if they are permissible under Islamic Law, otherwise such agreements will be declared dissolved.

From these clauses it is apparent that non-Muslim states can retain their non-Muslim status in the presence of an Islamic state if they are non-hostile or hold a treaty or agreement.

In other words, the Islamic State will not wage Jihad for propagation of Islam against them, even though, I think, peaceful preaching of Islam would continue in them also, and any interference therein by a non-Muslim state shall be an open proof of hostility. Anyway, my humble self is in full agreement with both these clauses, because my view is that the real job of Muslims is preaching of Islam throughout the world rather than attaining a power for total elimination of unbelievers from the earth and establishing an Islamic State everywhere (which is the view of Moududi sahab).

However attempts (through Aggressive Jihad) must be made against hostile and non- compromising non-Muslim states to subdue them in order to be safe from their mischief.

But in the issue of June 1981 in the critique of the book “Mukhtasar Seerat-e-Nabawiyah” by Moulana Abdul Shakoor Lakhnavi, after quoting the following excerpt from the book: “The religious obligation of Jihad is only for the oppressed and for eradicating cruelties .. . .in other words Jihad is the name of protection of self determination…, hence considering the battles of the Prophetic era as devoid of defensive and protective measures is not only irreligious but is illogical also.”

You have commented, “From these sentences it appears that only Defensive Jihad is permissible while the real purpose of Jihad is propagation of Islam” which means “To establish the supremacy of Islam and damage the authority of the infidels”.

“For this purpose, taking initiative for Jihad, is not only permissible, but at times obligatory and a means for reward from Allah. Apart from the Qur’an and traditions, the entire history of Islam is full of such Jihads. We
need not make excuses and adopt apologetic attitude simply for the objections coming from non-Muslims. No single person has ever been forced to accept Islam nor is it permitted; otherwise the Islamic institution of ‘Jizyah’ would have been meaningless. Muslims’ sword has, however, been raised to establish the grandeur of Islam. If anybody wants to stay in the darkness of disbelief; he may do so, but the rule of Allah must prevail in the world created by Him. Muslims wage Jihad to raise the name of Allah and to subdue His rebels. Why should we feel shy in expressing this fact before people whose entire history is full of blood-shed for colonialism, and who have massacred millions of people simply to satisfy their lust and greed.”

I wish to make two submissions to you about this critique. Firstly in my opinion it is wrong to deduce from the extracted sentences of Moulana Abdul Shakoor that in his opinion only defensive Jihad is permissible, while he has also written that “Jihad is the name of protection of self determination” which can include every offensive Jihad.

Moulana Thanavi has stated: “Jihad is meant to defend Islam and protect self determination….. with this it should not be thought that initiative for Jihad should not be taken. The purpose of an initiative itself is this defense and protection because there is great chance of resistance. It is for checking this resistance that Jihad is obligated. In short the defense that provides a motive for Jihad is general against defense for existing situation and defense for anticipated resistance in future.” (Al-Afàdat-alYoumiya, Letter No: 497 voL 6).

Moulana Abdul Shakoor must have been aware of many Aggressive Jihads of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), and hence he cannot call such Jihads as unlawful. He, however, considers all the Jihads of the Prophet as Defensive and Protective because the purpose of all of them had been to break the force of Pagans of Arabia for the defense and protection of the integrity of Islam and Muslims so that the Religion of Truth may gain power in the region. When this purpose was achieved Allah revealed verse 3 of Surah Ma’idah on the occasion of the Last Hajj: “This day have those who disbelieve despaired of your religion, so fear them not, but fear you Me. This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My blessing on you, and have approved Al-Islam as Din (Code of life) for you”.

Obviously the Moulana has meant to include both Aggressive and Defensive Jihads under ‘Protection of integrity of Islam.” However, it would have been better if he had further classified it to avoid misunderstanding by the reader.

The second thing, which had specially been the prime cause of writing this letter, is to express my views about your critique so that you may either endorse or contradict it. (In case of contradiction, arguments of the Qur’an and Sunnah will be needed). My views will become clear to you from the following:

You have given the real purpose of Aggressive Jihad as Propagation of Message of Allah which, according to you, is to be manifested with supremacy of Islam and establish its grandeur and breaking that of disbelief and Paganism so that the rule of Allah may prevail in a world created by Him. For this to understand we must first determine the meaning of the Kalimah of Allah (Message of Allah). In view of my humble self every reasonable, true, correct and just word is the Kalimah of Allah or the Kalimah of the Truth. To make it dominating over every unreasonable, false, incorrect and unjust thing or to make people believe the meanness and evils of the latter and elegance and grace of the former is the Kalimah of the Truth or the Kalimah of Allah. Supremacy of a thing signifies that it exists in a dominant trait. For example, domination of ignorance means the illiteracy of majority of people, dominance of ‘world’ means that most of the people are involved in worldly pursuits and do not discriminate between the lawful and forbidden things. The domination of the West means that majority of people have adopted Western civilization and style of life, domination of Hanafiyat means majority of people belonging to Hanafi school of thought, etc. etc. Thus, supremacy or domination of Islam would mean that most people are its true followers, and this (religious) domination of Islam is that is required. If ‘Kalimah of Allah’ is taken to mean Islam, then the propagation of Allah’s Kalimah would mean similar type of domination of it. The method of acquiring such domination cannot be anything but convincingly preaching and producing exemplary character of the preachers and their people. This is what can cause a revolution in the hearts and minds of non-Muslims. This cannot be achieved by making them the subjects of an Islamic State, because in a situation like this the inferiority complex and the subjective feelings would to some extent prohibit them to listen to the Kalimah. Hence, Aggressive Jihad does not result in domination of the religion of Islam but in that of a political domination of Muslims, and it is their own domination that is established and not that of Islam. The grandeur of Islam means that Muslims practice the teachings of the Qur’an and Prophetic Traditions in Toto. For a political domination and grandeur their being even good Muslims is not essential, and it does not even result in the establishment of Rule of Allah on the world created by Him. As the non-Muslims would continue to abide by their entire life style after paying “Jizyah”. Intoxicants and pork would not be prohibited for them nor would they be stoned to death for rape. Their family laws would remain in place and adultery would remain unrestricted. If for some reasons the majority of non- Muslim citizens did not embrace Islam this political domination will continue only as long as the Islamic state is powerful. In case it gets weakened the non-Muslim citizens will rebel against the state and take even undue revenge of their previous subjugation as happened in Spain or is happening in India which has been more intensified after the division of the sub-continent.

I certainly do not mean that Aggressive Jihad should never be done. Rather, I believe that Jihad is obligatory against hostile, non-compromising, non-Muslim states if Muslims have enough power to carry it out, so that their force is broken and they do not obstruct the preaching of Islam. Aggressive Jihad is not advisable against those non- hostile and compromising non-Muslim states who allow preaching of Islam in their territories particularly these days when territorial subjugation is generally condemned in the world, contrary to the times when capture of land was common, it was a credit to the attribute of the kings and rulers. The Aggressive Jihads of the major part of Islamic history all belong to the same period. However,Muslims must attain their martial superiority and keep expanding it so that non-Muslim states remain subdued “for fear of Jihad”, to say nothing of actual Jihad. The Qur’an also commands to acquire and maintain the military strength. In the past despite the common practice of fighting for victory, earlier victories of Muslims were distinguished from those of other nations. Victories of other
nations were meant only to show their strength and grandeur, and, in your terminology, to fulfill their lust and greed. But Muslims did not have colonialist intentions (except for Arabia, Iran and Rome where expansionism was somewhat required). But their main intention was Propagation of the Message of Allah through preaching and inviting to this message. The safest way of doing it, at that time, was expansion of state.

Hence Qari Tayyab has said, “The companions (of the Prophet) apparently waged wars but their aim used to be propagation of the Message of Allah. If their aim had been territorial expansion they would not have made treaties allowing the opponents to continue their rule and only permit the Muslims to preach Islam unobstructed. They were assured that no one will be forced to accept Islam. People will be free to accept or reject it. Those who accepted such a treaty no concern was shown to them. If territorial expansion was aimed at such a treaty would not have been needed and their country would have been captured…. Any way when non-Muslims became bound by a treaty or agreement or became subjects they were let free because the real purpose was propagation of the Kalimah of Allah to the extent of preaching” (Qari Tayyab and his lectures. Part I, pp 237, 238.)

I have underlined my thoughts and those that were in agreement with mine to make it easy for you to reply. “I hope you are feeling well”.

Yours humbly,

Syed Badr us Salam, Jeddah.

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