Concept of Jihad
in the Qur'an
by Abdul Rehman
[Originally, I wrote this
article as a 'comment' on a Islamophobia spreading forum viz. Jihad Watch of
Robert Spencer... it has become a very good article for understanding the
doctrine of Jihad as well as to remove Islamophobia from the hearts of
Before interpreting the Qur'an, you need to know the Rules of Interpretation of
There is a science of Interpretation of the Holy Qur'an, known as
Usul-e-Tafseer. Usul means principles and Tafseer is derived from the root word
`Fussaira' meaning to explain. Thus Usul-e-Tafseer means the rules of
interpretation of the Holy Qur'an.
The most important things which one should know before interpreting the Qur'an
are the following sayings of the Prophet (P.B.U.H.) :-
Abdullah ibn Abbas (R.A.A.) reported that Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) said:
"Whoever says something in interpreting the Qur'an based on his own opinion
should find his place in the Fire." (Tirmidhi)
Jundub, May Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Messenger of Allah, may
Allah bless him and grant him peace, said: "Anyone who speaks on the Qur'an by
his own opinion and is right is still wrong." (Abu Dawud)
The knowledge of Tafseer was given to the Prophet (P.B.U.H.) and it was
described by him:-
"And We have also sent down unto you (O Muhammad P.B.U.H.) the reminder and the
advice (the Qur'an), that you may explain clearly to men what is sent down to
them, and that they may give thought." [Surah An-Nahl 16:44]
This verse tells us two things:-
(i) The correct interpretation of the Qur'an was described by the Prophet
(ii) Giving one's own thoughts on the Qur'an is after the description of the
Prophet (P.B.U.H.) This means that the meaning of a particular verse cannot be
circumscribed by one's own thoughts; it should be in the light of the Prophet's
So, to understand a verse, we should first take into account all the verses
related to that matter. Then, we must search the Prophet's (P.B.U.H.)
traditions/sayings/actions (henceforth, Hadith [plural: Ahadith]) Then, the
Companions (R.A.A.) and the Successors (R.A.) were the experts and their sayings
must be taken into account. After searching all these, we still do not find
anything, we can interpret an ayah (verse) according to the principles of the
Arabic language and after that one can use deliberation & deduction. All these
constitute what are known as "The Sources of Tafseer."
Sources of Tafseer
These are 6 in total and are enumerated below:-
(1) The Qur'an itself
(2) The Ahadith
(3) The Sayings of the Companions (R.A.A.)
(4) The Sayings of the Successors (R.A.)
(5) The Arabic language
(6) Deliberation & deduction
Types of Tafseer
Thus tafseer can be divided into two main types:-
(1) Tafseer bil Riwayah i.e. tafseer based on authentic reports.
(2) Tafseer bil Ra`y i.e. tafseer on one's own thoughts and
opinions; this is concerned Haram (forbidden.)
Differences in Tafseer
One may raise a question here: `Why are there differences in the interpretation
of Qur'an between the scholars?' The reasons are:-
- Disregard for isnad (chain of transmission of a tradition)
- Genuine mistake in comprehension
- Interpretation based on unconscious preconceived notion
- Multiplicity of meanings in the revelation from Allah
- Difference in the rules regarding the reports (Ahadith)
One may also raise another question here: "Isn't it possible for someone to do
an interpretation, from the six sources, which completely distorts the meaning
of the Qur'an?" The answer is to base tafseer upon previous Tafaseer (plural of
Tafseer.) Whenever someone coins a new interpretation for any verse, which has
not been mentioned by any previous scholar, it is a sign of going astray from
the correct meaning!
Important Note: The
above rules of interpretation are specifically for Aayat-e-Ahkamaat i.e.
verses dealing with commandments. The rules for interpreting other verses, for
example, verses dealing with worldly knowledge, is not the same as for the
verses dealing with commandments of Shari'ah.
One can read the following article regarding more knowledge of
This was only the Prologue for my interpretation of the verses regarding Jihad;
if you haven't understood it or did not read it completely/carefully, then I
request you to go back and do it now!
Concept of Jihad
Now, we come to the real task of interpreting the verses related to Jihad. We
first enumerate the conditions under which Jihad is prohibited (Haram.)
Conditions under which Jihad is prohibited
(i) We find in Surah al-Anfaal, the following verse:-
"But if they incline to peace, you also incline to it, and (put your) trust in
Allah. Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower." [Surah Anfaal 8:61]
This verse shows that you cannot attack a nation if it "inclines to peace." This
means that launching Jihad against someone is prohibited if a Muslim nation has
signed a peace treaty with it.
(ii) In Surah at-Touba, we find the following verse:-
"Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor
forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger; (2) and those
who acknowledge not the religion of truth among the people of the Scripture:
until they pay the Jezyah `Ayn Yaden Wa Hum Zaghiroon' " [Surah Touba
I have retained some words in Arabic, because, if I translated them literally,
this may cause someone to misinterpret the ayah. Remember, you cannot interpret
an ayah, according to the 5th source i.e. the Arabic language, until you have
searched the first four sources.
When we search the first four principles, we find that we cannot translate those
words literally. Imam Shafi'i, who was of the successors (Taba'i Tab'ieen) and
was a Mujtahid fi Shar'ah (highest rank of scholar), said regarding this ayah
that in this ayah, `Yadeh' is in the meaning of power/authority/sovereignty and
`Ayn' means "due to." Furthermore, `Zaghiroon' means that the non-muslims start
obeying the common law (not any Personal law; they can follow their personal
law.) This saying of Imam Shafi'i is also cited in Tafseer Ma`ariful Qur`an of
the late Grand Mufti of Pakistan & president of Darul Uloom Deoband, Mufti
Muhammad Shafi Usmani.
Thus the ayat, if correctly explained, means that you cannot fight the citizens
of a non-Muslim state (dhimmis) as long as they pay Jezyah (a low tax) and obey
the General law of that Muslim country. In matters of personal law, they are
free to follow their religion. Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) allowed the
non-Muslims to follow their personal laws; he (P.B.U.H) accepted their marriages
as valid and allowed them to eat pork and drink wine. [Cf. Ma'ariful
Qur'an - English Edition, Mufti Muhammad Shafi, Vol.3, p.157]
Thus we came to know that the citizens of a non-Muslim state (dhimmis) are 100%
safe and protected, if they fulfill their obligations i.e. paying Jezyah and
obeying the common law.
Note: Those non-Muslims who did not fight personally against a
Muslim army, in the battlefield, but, now their land has been conquered by the
Muslims, THEY WILL BECOME DHIMMIS i.e. RESPECTFUL CITIZENS. They are NOT "Maal-e-Ghaneemat"
(Booty of War) meaning that they do NOT become slaves or liable to death
penalty. Those Spencer-type characters who spread such a misconception are
themselves astray, because, they fail to distinguish b/w Maal-e-F`ay and
(iii) Below is one of those ayahs which are most-often misinterpreted by
"Then when the Sacred Months (The 1st, 7th, 11th, and 12th months of the Islamic
calendar) have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them [in
Mecca and Medina], and capture them and besiege them, and prepare for them each
and every ambush. But if they repent and perform Salah and give Zakah, then
leave their way free. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." [Surah at-Touba
This ayah which if taken literally and out of context may make an "ignorant"
non-Muslim jump out of his seat, but, actually it is being detached from the
very next ayah, which is:-
"And if anyone of the polytheists seeks your protection then grant him
protection, so that he may hear The Word of Allah (Qur'an), and then escort him
to where he can be secure..." [Surah at-Touba 9:6]
From this ayah, we came to know that if a non-Muslim comes to a Muslim state
after taking permission, which now-a-days is in the form of VISA/Passport, then
it is incumbent upon the Muslims to protect him/her, until he/she reaches his
own state/country. Such a non-Muslim who has entered a Muslim state after taking
permission is known as "Mustam'ain" in the Islamic Fiqh.
I once read a review posted on Amazon by some non-Muslim; he wrote:-
"To proceed to clarify some issues, let me use an example. The honorable late
President John F. Kennedy during his Presidency and while the US was going to
war with Vietnam said something to the effect, `Defend your country, show
courage and galor, and fight all vietnamese whereever you see one.' So do you
still fight a vietnamese when you see one? No, this command was for that
instance only. Hence, in the Quran, when Allah The AlMighty says: `fight the
non-believers wherever you see one' falls in the same category."
(iv) From many verses of the Qur'an and ahadith, it becomes clear that if
someone accepts Islam by saying the "Kalima" then it is prohibited to launch
Jihad against him/it.
Types of Jihad
These were the conditions under which Jihad is impermissible; thus only two
types of Jihad is permissible:-
(i) Defensive (Defa'i) Jihad
(ii) Offensive (Iqdami) Jihad
Defensive Jihad is self-explanatory i.e. if a non-Muslim state has
attacked a Muslim state, they can do Jihad against them. When a non-Muslim state
attacks a Muslim state, it is obligatory upon the Muslims of that country, as
many as are required, to do Jihad; if that state alone does not posses enough
power, the obligation of Jihad extends to neighbouring countries. If even they
do not posses enough power, the obligation extends to their neighbours and this
obligation can extend, if required, to the all the Muslim states.
Offensive Jihad can be undertaken if the four conditions mentioned
above are not fulfilled, for example, a non-Muslim state violates the peace
treaty, etc. It can also be undertaken if a non-Muslim state is forcibly trying
to convert Muslims to non-Muslims or stopping Muslims from preaching the
teachings of Islam PEACEFULLY (Daw'ah.) According to some scholars, Offensive
Jihad is impermissible in the 1st, 7th, 11th, and 12th months of the Islamic
Then, there are other conditions which must be observed during Jihad, the
details of which can be found in the books of Islamic Fiqh, for example, it is
impermissible to fight with or kill women, children, aged ones, disabled, etc.
Furthermore, it is impermissible to destroy crops, cut trees, destroy someone's
house, property, cattle, do un-Islamic acts like raping women or burning people
or torturing them in any way, etc. If you want to know more, I can refer you to
some books regarding these issues.
Spreading Islam at the edge of the sword
Someone may ask here: Isn't it obligatory upon the Muslims to compell
non-Muslims to convert to Islam? The answer is a big NO!!! There are 100% clear
and explicit verses to answer this question directly:-
(1) "Let there be no compulsion in religion..." [Surah al-Baqarah 2:256]
(2) "Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought
not against you on account of religion and did not drive you out of your homes.
Verily, Allah loves those who deal with equity.
It is only as regards those who fought against you on account of religion, and
have driven you out of your homes, and helped to drive you out, that Allah
forbids you to befriend them. And whosoever will befriend them, then such are
the wrong-doers." [al-Mumtahinah 60:8-9]
(3) "...And (O Muhammad P.B.U.H.) say to those who were given the Scripture
(Jews and Christians) and to those who are illiterates: (Arab pagans) `Do you
(also) submit yourselves (to Allah in Islam)?' If they do, they are rightly
guided; but if they turn away, your duty is only to convey the Message..."
(Noteworthy is the fact that if they turn away, our duty is to convey plainly;
our duty is NOT to force them!)
(4) "Then if you turn away, you should know that it is Our Messenger's duty to
convey (the Message) in the clearest way." [Surah al-Maida 5:92]
(5) "The Messenger's [i.e. Muhammad's (P.B.U.H.)] duty is but to convey (the
Message.) And Allah knows all that you reveal and all that you conceal." [Surah
(6) "The Messengers said: `Our Lord knows that we have been sent as Messengers
And our duty is only to convey plainly (the Message).'" [Yaseen 36:16-17]
(7) "And if you deny, then nations before you have denied (their Messengers.)
And the duty of the Messenger is only to convey (the Message) plainly." [Surah
(8) "...(O Muhammad! P.B.U.H.) Say: `The signs are only with Allah, and I am
only a plain warner.'" [Surah al-Ankaboot 29:50]
(9) "So remind them (O Muhammad P.B.U.H.), you are only a one who reminds.
You are NOT a DICTATOR over them [i.e. polytheists of Mecca]." [al-Ghashiyyah
These are only some of the verses which answer off that objection. The Qur'an is
filled with such verses! Despite this fact, some people for their ulterior
motives & reaping political benefits, don't hesitate to take their eyes from
these verses, either deliberately or due to their less knowledge and thus spread
Islamophobia and end up astray.
Let me point out that this interpretation was not done by me. The above
description was actually an English translation of a Bayan (lecture) given by
The Grand Mufti of Pakistan, Mufti Muhammad Rafi Usmaani (R.A.) at madrassa
"Darul Uloom Karachi." Below is the link to the written version of the lecture
in Urdu language:-
So, would you still prefer the opinion of a deviant, non-Muslim, false-scholar
to the Grand Mufti of Pakistan? Do you ever prefer a quack to a doctor? If no,
then why don't you agree with the above given interpretation? Can you point out
any defect or error?
DIFFERENCE B/W MAAL-E-GHANEEMAT & MAAL-E-F`AY
Maal-e-Ghaneemat refers to those swords, shields, tools, etc.
which have been taken/picked up from the site of the battle.
Maal-e-F`ay refers to the people, lands, etc. over which victory
has been acheived.
Thus only the swords, shields, etc. which were picked up at the site of the
battle will be divided among the Mujahiddeen & become their private property and
the fifth-part of this Maal-e-Ghaneemat will be given in charity.
THE REST OF THE LAND WHICH HAS BEEN CONQUERED AFTER THE BATTLE IS MAAL-E-F`AY.
IT IS NOT A PRIVATE PROPERTY OF THE MUJAHIDDEEN!!!!!
THE PEOPLE OF THAT LAND WILL BECOME RESPECTFUL CITIZENS, WHO ONLY HAVE TO OBEY
THE GENERAL LAW & PAY A SMALL TAX (JEZYAH), IN WHICH RELIEF IS GIVEN TO THE
POVERTY STRICKEN. THIS JEZYAH IS TAKEN FOR THE PROTECTION OF THEIR LIFE,
SHELTER, FOOD, ETC. WHICH IS PROVIDED TO THEM BY THE MUSLIM STATE. SUCH PEOPLE
ARE CALLED DHIMMIS.
Dhimmi--not an abuse
YOU CONSIDER THE WORD `DHIMMI' TO BE INSULTING ONLY BECAUSE YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND
ARABIC AND ARE FOOLED BY OTHERS. DHIMMI LITERALLY MEANS A PERSON WHOSE
RESPONSIBILITY OF PROTECTION HAS BEEN TAKEN BY SOMEONE ELSE. IN THIS CASE, A
NON-MUSLIM IS A DHIMMI IN A MUSLIM COUNTRY, BECAUSE, THE RESPONSIBILITY OF
PROTECTION OF HIS FOOD, SHELTER, LIFE, ETC. IS ON THE MUSLIM STATE; FOR ANY HARM
TO IT, THE MUSLIM STATE WILL BE RESPONSIBILE FOR PROVIDING JUSTICE!!!
DHIMMI IS A RESPECTFUL WORD FOR NON-MUSLIMS AS IT SHOWS THAT THEIR RIGHTS CANNOT
BE NEGLECTED! LOOK AT THIS HADITH:-
Narrated `Amr bin Maimun: `Umar (after he was stabbed), instructed (his
would-be-successor) saying, "I urge him (i.e. the new Caliph) to take care of
those non-Muslims who are under the protection of Allah and His Apostle in that
he should observe the convention agreed upon with them, and fight on their
behalf (to secure their safety) and he should not over-tax them beyond their
capability." [Sahih Bukhari, Vol.4, Bk.52]
(Umar R.A.A. was breathing his last, but, he was not worried of who killed him;
rather, he was worried about the dhimmis!!! One can easily approximate the
amount of care which non-muslims are given in a TRUE muslim state!)
ALAS! SOME PEOPLE, FOR REAPING PERSONAL BENEFITS, HAVE CREATED MISUNDERTSANDINGS!
DHIMMIS COULD FOLLOW THEIR PERSONAL LAWS UNDER A ISLAMIC STATE, BUT, THEY MUST
FOLLOW THE GENERAL LAW OF THE MUSLIM COUNTRY AND PAY JEZYAH.
Taliban's interpretation of Jihad
It is pertinent to note here that the above interpretation of Jihad is
the one done by the Deobandi sect--to be precise, by Mufti Muhammad Shafi (RA)
who used to be the president of Darul Uloom Deoband. [Darul Uloom Deoband is the
heart of Deobandi sect.]
GlobalSecurity.ORG, Deobandi sect was involved in inspiring the 'Taliban
movement'. If this is true, then the poor lads will have to confess that the
Taliban do follow the above interpretation of Jihad--which clearly
excludes terrorism from Jihad.
Furthermore, according to an edict issued by the Darul Iftaa (lit.
doorway to answers) of Darul Uloom Deoband, "Jihad, in no way, means to
convert non-Muslims forcibily to Islam." [Edict No. 670, dated 5/8/1427 A.H.,
issued by Mehmood Hasan, Habib-ur-Rehman, Kafeel-ur-Rehman & Muhammad
Zafeer-ud-din -- Muftis of the Darul Iftaa]
Urdu version of the edict can be viewed online
Another important edict
Mufti Muhammad Rafi Usmani (RA), the current Grand Mufti of Pakistan,
said in an interview with BBC:-
"Two wrongs don't make a right in Islam...
If non-Muslim kill innocent citizens of a Muslim country, this does NOT
give Muslims the right to kill innocent non-Muslims of that state."
Again, this is a very important thing to note. This practice was completely
abolished by the Prophet (SAW) himself.
In those times, when a person of one tribe was killed by a person of the other
tribe, the people of the first tribe would kill anyone of the second tribe for
revenge. This was declared as a practice of Jahaliyyah (ignorance) and
was declared prohibited.
A partial truth is worst than a complete lie
This is a very important thing to note; the media uses this trick to
fool people and spread Islamophobia. I give you an example...
Mufti Ebrahim Desai wrote the following in a fatwa (lit. answer, pl. fataawa)
"Osama bin Laden is our Muslim brother and a practicing Muslim." [URL]
Since, the edict was issued after 9/11, it is very easy to fool the Westerns
that look, Muslims support Osama! This is a partial truth--it is more badder
than a lie, because, you can verify a partial truth.
What 99.99% people don't get a chance to see is the following statement of the
"Whoever was responsible for the 9/11 tragedy is
guilty of a great injustice – even if he was a Muslim." [URL]
Did you see this?! The dirty trick used by most Islamophobia spreaders is to
quote partially true things which are even dangerous than complete lies!
Kafir--not an abuse
Now-a-days, the word 'kafir' is considered to be an abuse by almost
everyone. Is it really so? The answer is NO. The word 'kafir' is derived from
the root word 'kufr' which means to deny; thus the word 'kafir' literally means
a denier. Technically, it means a person who denies the Prophethood of Muhammad
(P.B.U.H.) There are many Christian missionaries and evangelists who feel proud
in denying the Prophethood of Muhammad (P.B.U.H.), but, the same people object
as to why are they being called kafir. These people should be happy and feel
proud to be called kafir!
As 'kafir' means a person who denies the
Prophethood of Muhammad (P.B.U.H.), there is nothing bad or wrong in calling
non-Muslims as the kuffar (plural of kafir). Furthermore, if we don't
call them kafir (pl. kuffar) , what should we call them? Most
importantly, what is wrong in calling them kafir?
There is nothing bad
in it... actually, the Islamophobia spreading media takes advantage of the
ignorance of non-Muslims of the Arabic language and raise such misconceptions
which have got nothing to do with the truth. Think out yourself as to how much
absurd it is to object the word kafir!
(Any questions should be mailed to the