Answer (Aggressive and Defensive Jihad)

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

Respected Sir,

Asslam-o-Alaikum wa Rahmatullah-wa- Barakatuhu.

I am in receipt of your esteemed letter. Whatever you have written about Jihad can be summarized as this “If a non-Muslim state allows for preaching Islam in its country, Jihad against it does not remain lawful.” If this is what you mean, my humble self does not agree with it. Obstruction in the way of preaching Islam does not mean only a legal obstacle, but greater power or domination of a non-Muslim state against Muslims is by itself a great obstacle in the propagation of Islam. There are no legal restrictions in most of the countries today on preaching Islam, but since their grandeur and authority is established in the world, it has led to developing a universal feeling which forms a greater obstacle than the greatest legal binding in the way of free propagation of Islam.

For this reason the most important purpose of Jihad is to break this grandeur so that the resulting psychological subordination should come to an end and the way of accepting the Truth becomes smooth. As long as this grandeur and domination persists, the hearts of people will remain subdued and will not be fully inclined to accept the religion of Truth. Hence Jihad will continue. The Qur’an said:

Here, killing is to continue until the unbelievers pay Jizyah after they are humbled or overpowered. If the purpose of killing was only to acquire permission and freedom of preaching Islam, it would have been said “until they allow for preaching Islam.” But the obligation of Jizyah and along with it the mention of their subordination is a clear proof that the purpose is to smash their grandeur, so that the veils of their domination should be raised and people get a free chance to think over the blessings of Islam.

Imam Razi has written the following commentary on this verse:

“The purpose of “Jizyah” is not to let the unbelievers stay in their contumacy against Islam but sparing their lives to give them a chance for a time during which they may hopefully get convinced of the truth of Islam and embrace it. So when an unbeliever is given time wherein he would be observing the respect and honor of Islam, and hearing the arguments of its validity, and also observing the baselessness of disbelief, these things would convince him to turn towards Islam. This, in fact, is the real purpose of legalizing Jizyah.

The other question worthy of notice is: Do we find an example that the Prophet (PBUH) and his companions ever sent any missionary groups in other countries before Jihad and waited for their reaction to allow or disallow the missionary work? Did they go for Jihad only when they were refused to carry out the missionary work for Islam? Was any mission sent to Rome before attacking them? Was any attempt made to avoid Jihad against Iran and did they contend on seeking a permission for preaching Islam for that purpose? Obviously it was not so. Thus there can be no other conclusion that only a permit for missionary activities was not the aim. If that would have been the only aim many of the bloody combats could be stopped only on one condition that no obstacle would be placed in the way of the mission of Islam. But at least in my humble knowledge there has not been a single incident in the entire history of Islam where Muslims had shown their willingness to stop Jihad just for one condition that they will
be allowed to preach Islam freely. On the contrary the aim of Muslims as declared by them in the battle of Qadsia was, “To take out people from the rule of people and put them under the rule of Allah”. Similarly, the Qur’an said:

“And (you O Believers) fight them until persecution is no more and the Din is all for Allah.”

In the exegesis of this verse my revered father Mufti Muhammad Shafi has written:

“The meaning of religion is “Authority and domination”. Thus the meaning of this verse would be that Muslims should continue until the Muslims are safeguarded against their contumacy, and the religion of Islam becomes a dominating power so that it offers protection to Muslims from the atrocities and mischiefs of others.”

He further said:

“The nutshell of this explanation is that Jihad against the enemies of Islam is obligatory on Muslims until the danger of their mischief or evil-doings is over, and the domination of Islam is established over all other religions. Since this will occur only near the end of the world, the command of jihad remains till the last day.” (Ma’arif-ulQur’an vol 4, p.Z33)

In short, my humble self is of the view that the purpose of Jihad is not just to get the right of missionary activities in any country, but it aims at breaking the grandeur of unbelievers and to establish that of Muslims. As a result no one will dare to show any evil designs- against Muslims on one side and on the other side, people subdued from the grandeur of Islam will have an open mind to think over the blessings of Islam. Factually, this aims at safeguarding Islam. It is for this reason that the scholars who have called Jihad “A Protection” must be looked in the above context. But the basic element of this “protection” is to break the grandeur of unbelievers and establish the authority of Islam. Hence this basic element cannot be excluded from it. I think that all Ulema (Religious scholars) have established the same concept about the purpose of Jihad.

Moulana Idrees Kandhalvi stated:

“By commanding Jihad Allah does not mean that all the unbelievers be killed outright, but the aim is that the religion of Allah should dominate the world, and Muslims live with honor and dignity, and obey and worship Allah in peace and tranquility and there be no danger from unbelievers to interfere in the religion of Islam. Islam is not in enmity with the personal existence of its enemies. It resists such a grandeur and power that may become a threat for Islam and Muslims.” (Seerat-ul-Mustafa vol: 2, p.388)

At another place he writes:

“The implication of this verse is an obligation imposed on Muslims to fight against the unbelievers till the disorder and mischief cease to exist and the religion of Allah becomes supreme. By ‘mischief, in this verse, is meant the mischief anticipated from the grandeur and power of disbelief. And “The religion is all for Allah” means the exhibition and domination of religion, while in another verse it is stated that  the religion of Islam should gain so much domination and power that it may not be subdued by the power of infidelity and the religion of Islam becomes fully secure from the mischief and danger of disbelief’ (Ibid voL 2, p.386)

If the need for Jihad was abandoned just on getting the permission of Tableegh (Missionary activities), then we see that Muslims already have this permission in most of the non -Muslim countries of the world (It is a pity that this permission is not given in some Muslim countries) which implies that Muslims should never have to lift the sword. As a result disbelievers may establish and hoist flags of grandeur all over the world and their awfulness and supremacy on the people would stay dominating. The policies will be theirs, the commandments will be theirs, ideologies will be theirs, views will be theirs and the strategies will be theirs, yet the Muslims would have to be contended with the permission for their missionaries to enter those countries. The question arises how many people would be prepared to listen to the Muslims or give a serious thought to their speeches and writings in an
atmosphere where disbelief had established its grandeur and awe throughout. How can the efforts of Muslim missionaries be effective in an atmosphere where anti-Islamic doctrines are being spread on the strength of political power with full vigor, and their propagation carried out with means not possessed by Muslims?

If however, Islam and Muslims attain such a power and grandeur against which the power and grandeur of disbelievers be subdued or at least it may be unable to create sedition and mischief mentioned above, then, of course, mutual compromise through peace treaties with non-Muslim countries is not against injunctions of Jihad. Like wise as long as the required capabilities for breaking the grandeur of disbelief are not possessed by Muslims, peace agreements with other countries, along with all efforts to accumulate the sources of power, are indeed lawful. In other words, there can be two types of agreement with non-Muslims.

Mutual compromise and peace agreements can be made with countries that have no power which could threaten the grandeur and domination of Muslims. This will be enforced as long as they do not become a threat to the Muslims again.

If Muslims do not possess the capability of “Jihad with power” agreement may be made till the power is attained. My article published in March, 1971 as referred to by you, pertains to these particular types of agreements. The excerpts of the article published in June, 1981 pertain to the state where the grandeur of unbelievers dominates over the Muslims. Hence your expression that, “Aggressive Jihad is obligatory against hostile, and non-compromising non- Muslim states subject to capability, so that their power breaks and they do not form obstacles in the way of Muslim Missionary works. Jihad is not advisable against non-hostile and compromising non-Muslim states who allow freedom of missionary activities” It is correct if it means what I explained above. But if it means that just by permitting missionary activities a non-Muslim state becomes ‘non-hostile and compromising’ and Jihad against them does not remain lawful or desirable, then in my view this is not correct. Arguments in favour of my view have already been advanced.

As for your deliberation that “… Particularly these days, when territorial expansion is generally condemned, contrary to the times when conquering the land was common, which was regarded as a credit to the attribute of the kings and rulers. The Aggressive Jihads forming the major parts of Islamic history all belong to the same era.” With all the respects for you I strongly condemn it, because, if this is taken to be correct it would mean that Islam does not have a measure to determine a thing as good or bad. If a bad thing is counted as an “essential attribute” at the particular time Islam would begin to march on the footsteps of this practice and when people begin to condemn it at another time Islam would also follow the suit. The question is whether Aggressive battle is by itself is commendable or not? If it is, why the Muslims should stop simply because territorial expansion in these days is regarded as bad? And if it is not commendable, but deplorable, why Islam did not stop it in the past? Did it continue to practice because this was regarded as a creditable attribute of the kings”?

In my humble opinion this interpretation of the Aggressive Jihad of Islamic history is extremely incorrect and far away from the facts. Even in those days when this thing was considered to be a creditable “Attribute of the kings” aggressive Jihads were waged not because it was customary for that period of time but because it was truly commendable for establishing the grandeur of religion of Allah. There were other “Attributes of the kings” that in the excitement of victory they never made any distinction between women, children and old people when persecuting them. But Islam did not encourage it just because it was customary. On the contrary Islam not only framed such military rules and regulations but also practically enforced them as could not even be imagined by the “kings”. These were a matter of great surprise and rather unbelievable for the people who had not only become used to the barbarism of those kings but also became their admirers.

Aggressive Jihad is lawful even today for the purpose it was lawful in those days. Its justification cannot be veiled only because the peace-loving inventors of Atom Bombs and Hydrogen Bombs label it as “Expansionism” and resent those who have put the chains of slavery around the necks of the people of Asia and Africa. They are still bleeding under these heavy chains.

With due apologies, I may point out that it seems to me the result of the grandeur of the paganism that people have fixed their standard of good and bad on the basis of the propaganda which produces a lie as truth and truth as lie and then causes it to work into the minds of people to the extent that, to say nothing of non-Muslims, the Muslims themselves are overawed and inclined to adopt an apologetic attitude. If breaking such grandeur of falsehood and evil comes under the definition of “Expansionism” we should venerate the blame of this expansionism with complete self-confidence, rather than stand humble before them as though saying, “when you thought that Aggressive Jihad was good we practiced it, but since you have started condemning it in your books and only in books… ..We have also forbidden it on ourselves.”

My humble self can never agree with this way of thinking.

Humbly yours,

Muhammad Taqi Usmani.

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