Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Shiraz Maher on Jihad

Nov 13th, 2002, 04:39 AM

Assalam u Alaikum brother Mo Best, I pray that you, along with all followers of the divine guidance are in good health,The premise for our discussion must be that if you wish to dispute anything it must be on the basis of the Islamic texts and backed up by such texts.Myth: Jihad is only defensive A distortion that is promoted is the idea that Jihad is only defensive. The protagonists of this idea again utilise certain misinterpretations to justify their positions. "Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress the limits. For Allah loves not the transgressors” [TMQ Al-Baqarah: 190]. “And if they incline to peace, you incline to it also, and trust in Allah. Verily! He is the hearer, the knower” [TMQ Al-A’raf: 61]. These two verses however, cannot abrogate the 119 other verses of Qur’an that suggest that Jihad is not merely limited to defensive war alone. These 119 verses, which are general and absolute, indicate that Jihad encompasses all of the following types of war: 1. Defensive war 2. Offensive war 3. Limited war 4. Unlimited war 5. Protective war Before we go into the details of the subject let us first clarify what we mean by the terms “general” (aam) and “absolute” (mutlaq). When a verse is described as “general” it means that it covers everything related to the subject. “Absolute” means that the verse is not limited in a particular aspect of the subject in question. If a verse is general, another verse (or evidence from Sunnah) is required to make it specific (khass) otherwise it must remain as general. Similarly if the verse is absolute another evidence is required to “limit” (muqayad) it, otherwise it to remains absolute. The verses concerning Jihad were revealed as general and absolute without limitation. Accordingly an evidence from Shari’ah is required to limit these verses concerning Jihad. However there are no evidences from Qur’an or Sunnah that place limitations on Jihad. Thus, Jihad encompasses all of the aforementioned types of war. There are many verses concerning Jihad that could be drawn upon to illustrate this understanding. It is sufficient to focus on Surah At-Taubah (Repentance), which is one of the last Surahs to be revealed. Thus no one can claim that the verses are abrogated, limited or specified by later revelations. "Fight against such of those who have been given the scripture as believe not in Allah nor the last day, and forbid not that which Allah hath-forbidden by his messenger, and follow not the Deen of truth, until they pay the Jizya readily, being brought low” [TMQ At-Taubah: 29]. "Verily! The number of the months with Allah is twelve months by Allah's ordinance in the day that he created the heavens and the earth, four of them are sacred: that is the right Deen, so wrong not yourselves in them. And wage war on all the idolaters as they are waging war on all of you, and know that Allah is with those who keep their duty (unto him)” [TMQ At-Taubah: 36]. "O Prophet! Strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites! Be harsh with them, their ultimate abode is hell, a hapless journey's end” [TMQ At-Taubah: 73]. "Verily! Allah hath bought from the believers their lives and their wealth because the garden will be theirs: they shall fight in the way of Allah and shall slay and be slain. It is a promise which is binding on him in the Torah and the Gospel and the Qur’an. Whoever fulfils his covenant better than Allah? Rejoice then in your bargain that you have made, for that is the supreme triumph" [TMQ At-Taubah: 111]. "O you who believe! Fight those of the disbelievers who are near to you, and let them find harshness in you and know that Allah is with those who keep their duty (unto him)" [TMQ At-Taubah: 123]. If we examine these verses we see that they include: “Fight against those who…have been given the scriptures as believe in Allah and the last day…until they pay the jizya.” “Fight all the idolaters as they fight you.” “Fight against the disbelievers and the hypocrites and be harsh with them.” “ …the garden, will be theirs, they shall fight in the way of Allah.” “Fight those of the disbelievers…” These verses command Muslims to fight, generally and absolutely. The verses impose no restrictions or conditions. Therefore this is clear evidence that “Jihad” may be offensive or defensive. These verses of At-Taubah were revealed under certain circumstances. The following verses chronologically precede these verses of Surah At-Taubah. They provide an insight into the circumstances in which Surah At-Taubah was revealed. “Let not the unbelievers think that they can outstrip (Allah's purpose). Verily! They cannot escape” [TMQ: At-Taubah: 2]. “Make ready for them all you can of (armed) force and of horses tethered, in order that you may dismay the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others beside them whom you know not. Allah knows them. Whatsoever you spend in the way of Allah it will be repaid to you in full, and you will not be, wronged” [TMQ Al-Anfal: 60]. “And if they incline to peace, you also incline to it, and trust in Allah. Verily! He is the hearer, the knower” [TMQ Al-A’raf: 61]. The meaning of abrogation (naskh) is that the rule (hukm) of one revelation is completely cancelled by another later revelation. When something is specified it is abrogation of a kind i.e. partial abrogation but it is only in the stated areas of the subject. The criteria for abrogation and specification is that the abrogating or specifying revelation must have been revealed at a later date. It should be noticed that the verses of Surah At-Taubah were the last to be revealed concerning Jihad. A misunderstanding of abrogation and specification by some of the Muslims may have resulted in these people saying that Jihad is a purely defensive war. Others however are happier distorting Islam in order to please the rulers in the Muslim lands or the Western lands rather than please Allah (Subhanahu Wa ta’ala). However a further point to be clarified is that the mere appearance of contradiction between two statements (either Qur’an or Sunnah) is not sufficient to claim abrogation. There must be a divine evidence to state that the abrogation is actually relating to the abrogated. There must be a clear context concerning the occurrence of the abrogation. There are a number of incidents where two, apparently contradicting revelations where implemented in total compatibility. Concerning the above verses from At-Taubah they should be understood without abrogation. Two verses may refer to one subject, such as Jihad, but differ in their context and situation. Therefore one verse may be applicable to a particular situation, and a different verse, seemingly contradictory, is applicable in a totally different situation. Consequently there is no abrogation. When we examine the verses of Jihad we see that they refer to the same subject but in different situations. Therefore, Jihad cannot be understood as being neither purely defensive nor purely offensive. The two verses quoted at the beginning relate to the situation of peace and the verses from At-Taubah relate to the situation of conflict. Conflict and peace are two different situations. To explain this, one must look to the accepted explanations of Qur’an and the opinion of our great scholars. Az-Zamakhshari in his Tafseer of the Qur’an, Al-Kashaf, says: “If they tend towards peace you must accept it, but this depends on what the Imam sees as a benefit for Islam and Muslims. It is not a must on the Imam to fight always, nor is it a must on him to accept peace always.”

Nov 13th, 2002, 04:41 AM
Shiraz Maher

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Thus both are compatible, but used under different situations and conditions. Both As-Sadi and Ibn Zaid have stated: “If they ask you for peace, accept it from them and there is no abrogation in it.” Hence according to As-Sadi and Ibn Zaid it is incorrect to say that the “sword verses” abrogate the “peace verses”. Abu Bakr Ibn Arabi in his Tafseer of the Qur’an, Ahkam ul Qur’an comments; “The answer here differs…Allah says, ‘don't weaken, don't call for peace whilst you have the upper hand. If Muslims are mighty with strength, invincible, and numerous in groups let there be no peace’ [TMQ Muhammad: 35].” Thus peace may be accepted but not if Muslims have the upper hand. In addition to the evidences of the Qur’an, Sunnah and Ijma-as Sahabah present clear evidences of the reality of Jihad. Abdullah ibn Umar (ra) relates that the Prophet of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “I have been ordered to initiate the fighting of people, until they testify that there is no god save Allah, that Muhammad is Allah's Prophet, establish Salat and pay Zakat. If they do that they save their blood from me, except by the right of Islam, their account will be to Allah” [Bukhari and Muslim]. In another hadith related by Anas ibn Malik; “Three are the origin of faith, to refrain from saying; 'they are disbelievers,' if they say there is no god save Allah, merely because of a sin or bad action. Secondly, that Jihad is continuous until the Day of Judgement, till the last one of my Ummah fights the 'Dajjal'. Thirdly to believe in the Qadr.” If Jihad is only defensive war how can it continue until the Day of Judgement? If it was so Jihad would be periodic and would not be continuous. Moreover, this completely contradicts evidences from the life of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and the example of Sahabah. In the nine years that followed the Hijrah to Madinah (where permission was given to fight) the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) personally led 28 military campaigns, and during the same period the Companions (ra) embarked on another 51 military campaigns. If one looks in detail at these expeditions and battles one finds clear evidence that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and the companions undertook both defensive and offensive action. The battles of Uhud and Ahzab are clear examples of defensive battles - on the other hand, Tabuk and Mutah are clear examples of offensive wars. Indeed the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) took part in thirteen expeditions and eleven major battles in which he took the initiative and launched offensive action. Likewise of the 51 Sariyah (campaigns), 39 were offensive. How can one say, therefore, that Jihad is only defensive? I hope this answers your questions,

Was Salaam,Shiraz Maher


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