IN the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
My piece last week has inspired lots of comments, emails and questions. Some are positive and some negative. But I must say it gives me pleasure to further react to them, especially the one sent by one Marxwell Chambers, a non-Muslim I guess. Not only because the issue relates to the terror unleashed by Boko Haram group which some people believe is Islamic but also because it touches on terrorism which I had treated on this column and it will be better to elucidate on it particularly Jihad; a very miscontrued word in this part of the world. At the mention of the word jihad, what goes to the mind of non-muslim and unfortunately they hold on to that is a holy war. It is not about that. Essentially, it is a personal struggle to carry out righteous deeds.
Islam is not addicted to war, and jihad is not one of its ‘pillars,’ or essential practices. The primary meaning of the word jihad is not “holy war” but “struggle.” It refers to the difficult effort that is needed to put God’s will into practice at every level of your personal, social as well as political life. Let me illustrate this better with the saying of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) who told his companions as they marched home after a battle: “We are returning from the lesser jihad (the battle) to the greater jihad.” Which means Jihad is not essentially about fighting but more about your deeds to fellow human beings. I have provided detailed response on this issue below. But first just take a look at some of the questions.
Is there any hadith that says that: Paradise has been reserved for Mujahidin; Only Muslims who carry out Jihad will enter paradise; Paradise can only be attained through swords?
Furthermore, you said: “Islamic laws stand for maintenance of peace and prevention of riots and disturbances.” Is there any single ayah from the Qu’ran that says: fight those that do not believe in Allah nor the Last Day; Fighting is imposed to all Muslims whether they like it or not; Muslims should never cry for peace?
Is it written in the Qur’an that: Muslims are to fight all those that do not believe in Allah nor the Last Day? Muslims are not to take Jews and Christians as friends? Muslims are to force Christians to accept Islam?
On Mujahideen and Paradise
The Prophet (s.a.w) said, “Whoever believes in Allah and His Messenger, performs Salah and observes Sawm (fasts) of the month of Ramadhan, Allah will admit him to Paradise, no matter whether he fights in Allah’s cause or remains in the land where he was born.” The people said, “O Allah’s Messenger! (s.a.w) shall we acquaint the people with the good news?” He said, “Paradise has one hundred grades which Allah has reserved for the Mujahideen who fight in his cause, and the distance between the Heaven and the Earth. So, when you ask Allah (for something), ask for Al-Firdous which is the middle (best) and the highest part of Paradise. Sahih Bukhari, (p391, vol.1).
This Hadith recognises the efforts of Muslims in the cause of the propagation of Islam. Propagation which in other words is called Jihad and not the war-war that is ignorantly ascribed to it; can be done in several ways as explained by the Quran: i, your wealth by spending in the cause of Islam, ii, by striving with your life (not by killing) but taking a great risk with your life to preserve Islam; iii, by spreading the message, preaching, teaching, calling and encouraging people to Islam.
The hadith further illustrates the greatness of paradise stating the distance between two grades of it - the distance between the Earth and the sky. The greatness of the paradise can be further established by a Hadith in Tirmizi in which it is stated that, if the total universe was to be placed in only one of these grades of paradise, it would be adequately accommodated. Allah has created the Heavens as a gift in exchange for the sacrifices and the noble deed of Jihad. Without miscontruing the meaning of Jihad, and like I have expressed above, it is the non-muslims or better still the christians who have contrived another meaning to the word with the sole aim of decimating Islam. They are quick to manipulate the minds of people to believe just like my friend that jihad in Islam is all about killing. It is not. It is your personal struggle which does not necessarily mean fighting or killing somebody. In fact, it means more of urgent and momentous task of extirpating wrongdoings from one’s own heart and one’s immediate society. As Muslims, we do jihad in preaching and teaching the religion, we do jihad by spending to build Islam or help Muslim brother in adversity, we also do jihad by also defending the cause of Islam. Those who strive to do all these are called the Mujahids which will gain paradise, not by wantomly killing people and destroying properties. Paradise is not only meant for these people, it is meant for those whom Al mighty Allah bestows His grace for admittance. One of the conditions for deserving of this divine grace is worshipping Him and doing good deeds (Salat and Ihsan). I have not read in the Quran or the hadiths my friend’s claim that paradise can be attained through sword. If there is any verse like that in the Quran, I challenge him to bring it forward.
During the nascent Islamic era, the few early Muslims experienced a lot of anguish, persecution and killings. The Quraish people (non believers) oppressed and harmed the muslims, put them to trials and caused them a lot of afflictions in order to keep them away from their religion (Islam), even to the extent that they chased them out of their homes, some of them fled to Ethiopia, some went to Madinah.
They used to tie a rope around the neck of Bilal (a reverted Muslim) (a.s.w) and drag him through the pathways of Makkah. Yasir’s family was tormented beyond what a normal human being could endure. Abu Jahl also tried to kill the Prophet (s.a.w) while the latter was in prostration praying in the Mosque. But amidst all these, they did not fight, they did not even abuse any one of them. They fled to Madinah. Yet, the unrelenting unbelievers like we have today, grouped in Makkah and launched attack on the fleeing Muslims in Madinah. The Muslims were confused not knowing what to do until the revelation of the verse: “Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for God loves not transgressors. And slay them wherever you catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter... But if they cease, God is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful... If they cease, let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression” (2:190-193).
This is the verse that non-Muslims usually quote and they do it out of context of the revelation and meaning. At that point, it became expedient for the then Muslims to defend themselves. Note: it was not an attack. It was not even obligatory but because by its nature, war is disliked by the human soul because of the liability, of being killed, or being taken as a captive, or being injured, with the destruction of the wealth and properties, the spreading of fear and awe in people and the possibility of being exiled from one’s homeland, it is discouraged and became only the last resort in the true meaning of jihad. At that point, the Muslims did not like the option and they were reluctant until another verse was revealed that: “Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.” (Q2-216).
To be continued next week