Fiqh of Jihad (Book Review) III

Al-Qaradawi’s Fiqh of Jihad (Book Review 2/11)

Part 2: A Comparative Study of Jihad, its Rulings and Philosophy


Difference Between Jihad and Fighting

Defensive Jihad and Preemptive Jihad  

Jihad Ruling: Obligatory or Voluntary?

Opinion of Imam Al-Jassass

Opinion of Imam Abu Ja`far An-Nahas

Opinion of Al-Hafez Ibn Hajar

Opinion of Ibn Al-Qayyim

 Our Comments    

How Should a Collective Duty Be Done?

When Is Jihad an Individual Duty?

Woman’s Jihad     


After the introduction and preliminary definitions, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi discusses the reality of jihad, as well as its concept and rulings.

The core issue in the first chapter is the ruling of jihad and whether it is an obligation at all times and in all situations, or whether it is an obligation only in the case of self-defense, not as in the case of preemptive jihad.

Supported by a number of scholars, many Muslims are convinced that jihad is an obligation in both self-defense and preemption, and that the imam (community leader) of the Muslims has to perform jihad at least once a year. The Sheikh took on the huge task of convincing people of an opinion that greatly differed to what the youth learn in their early years and the elderly have been adopting throughout their lives.

The Sheikh examined every aspect of Islamic jurisprudence to provide what he considers the proper opinion, then he corroborates his stance with convincing evidence. Before delving into this important issue, he concentrates on some of the definitions related to the fiqh of jihad, because a precise understanding of these definitions leads to the correct understanding of this issue.

Difference Between Jihad and Fighting

Many people and scholars are confused about the difference between jihad and fighting. Every time the word jihad is mentioned it is misunderstood and thought to mean fighting or engaging in battle. In fact, jihad has a broader and more comprehensive meaning than simply fighting, which is only one type of jihad. The comprehensive meaning of jihad extends to spending one’s wealth, to jihad by the word, internal jihad, and so on.

Expanding the meaning of jihad and not confining it to “fighting” provides every Muslim, male or female, capable or incapable, with the opportunity to play an important role in the realm of jihad.

The Sheikh says, “So, we see that the term jihad has a broader meaning than fighting, even though it has been established in the convention of Islamic jurisprudence that it means fighting. That is what has been normally acceptable and it is not subject to contention.”

Although the term comprises one’s personal struggle, jihad against oneself and against Satan, one’s jihad by calling for virtue and prohibiting vice, speaking the truth to a despotic ruler, and so on, Jihad also involves fighting for Allah’s sake.

Scholars have juristically designated it as “Legitimate fighting against the disbelievers or aggressors.” Some scholars defined it as “Calling people to the right religion and fighting against those who do not accept it.” Others defined it as, “Exertion of all effort and capability in fighting for Allah’s sake, whether physically, by spending from one’s wealth, by opinion, by speech, or by adding to the magnitude of the Muslims’ militant power, and so on.”

This last definition is probably the most acceptable as it includes most of the types of jihad referred to in the Noble Qur’an and Sunnah. Moreover, the definition does not confine jihad to fighting the disbelievers, but it also comprises all those who reject a well-established ritual of Islam such as ritual Prayer, zakah, prohibition of riba, adultery, and drinking alcohol.

Defensive Jihad and Preemptive Jihad

If the distinction between these two types of jihad is not clearly understood, Muslims will be led to error. The Sheikh defines defensive jihad as resisting the enemy that enters a Muslim land, and occupies part of it, regardless of how small this area is; or the enemy that launches an assault against Muslim lives, property, or sanctities even without entering or actually occupying their land.

Jihad is necessary against those who persecute Muslims because of their faith, or those who plot to dissuade Muslims away from their faith or deprive them of their right to choose their own religion, or force them to renounce it through harm and torture.

On the other hand, preemptive jihad is directed against the enemy whom Muslims pursue and target in their own land, in order to expand and secure the land of Islam.

In this case, we surprise the enemy before the enemy surprises us. We may do that to enable the enemy to listen to the new call of Islam as these barriers must be removed to enable Muslims to convey Allah’s call to all people, or to liberate nations from the tyrants who dominate and harm them.

Jihad Ruling: Obligatory or Voluntary?

After the introduction, the Sheikh defines the ruling on the important issue of jihad. In doing so, the Sheikh presents the views of early jurists before offering his own opinion in order to avoid being accused of disbelief. Some Muslims believe that any unique opinion is an innovation and that all innovations are false.  

Opinion of Imam Al-Jassass

The Sheikh cites the statements of Imam Al-Jassass concerning the tafseer (exegesis of Qur’an and Sunnah) and related rulings of Ibn Shubruma, Al-Thawry, and others that jihad is voluntary and not obligatory. The same view is said to be shared by ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Umar and ‘Amr ibn Dinar. After Al-Jassass discusses this view, he says,

It is believed by all Muslims that if the inhabitants on the frontier with the enemy fear being attacked and they do not have the means of resistance and they are concerned about their lands, their lives, and their offspring, jihad becomes obligatory on the entire Muslim Ummah (nation). The enemies must be fought so that the Muslims can be saved from their aggression. This is a matter of consensus among the whole Ummah. No Muslim has ever said it is permissible to let the enemy shed Muslim blood or capture Muslim offspring. However, the point of disagreement among them is, “If there is adequate Muslim resistance and the Muslims do not fear being defeated, can the Muslims stop their jihad until the enemies surrender or pay the jizyah?” Ibn `Umar, `Atta’, `Amr ibn Dinar, and Ibn Shubruma say that the imam and the Muslims may stop fighting the enemy and wait.

There are others who say that the Imam and Muslims must invade them at all times until they either embrace Islam or pay the jizyah. This is the view of our contemporary jurists as well as the predecessors we have already mentioned: Al-Miqdad ibn Al-Aswad, Abu Talhah, and other Companions and the first generation after Prophet Muhammad.

The Sheikh comments on the foregoing by saying, “It is not only our right but our duty to highlight the importance of such views, which Imam Al-Jassass cited from some of the Ummah’s jurists, including the Companions, such as Ibn `Umar, and the first generation after Prophet Muhammad, such as `Ataa’ and `Amr ibn Dinar, and imams such as Al-Thawry and Ibn Shubruma, stating that it is the Muslims’ duty to invade the disbelievers even if they are protected against them. Jihad is necessary when their evil and aggression against the Muslims is feared.”

Opinion of Imam Abu Ja`far An-Nahas

The Sheikh then mentions the opinion of Abu Ja`far An-Nahas concerning the abrogating and the abrogated verses when Almighty Allah’s words are interpreted:

(Fighting is prescribed for you, and you dislike it.) (Al-Baqarah 2:216)

 Then, he cites all the relevant views of the predecessors and discusses them one by one.

 A group of people say, “This verse abrogates disallowing fighting against them since they were ordered to be tolerant and forgiving in Makkah.” Another group says, “It is abrogated.” They say the same about Almighty Allah’s words

(Go you forth, (whether equipped) lightly or heavily, and strive and struggle, with your goods and your persons, in the cause of Allah.) (At-Tawbah 9:41)

The abrogating verse is

(Nor should the believers all go forth together: If a contingent from every expedition remained behind, they could devote themselves to studies in religion and admonish the people when they return to them — that thus they (may learn) to guard themselves (against evil).) (At-Tawbah 9:122)

A third group says, “It is recommended, not obligatory.” A fourth group says, “It is obligatory, and jihad is an obligation.” `Ataa’ says, “It is obligatory for others, not for us,” meaning it was addressed to the Companions.

Abu Ja`far says that there are five views on this issue. Then, he chose to call it an abrogating verse, and that jihad is an obligation which must be performed.

Opinion of Al-Hafez Ibn Hajar

As far as people are concerned, jihad applies to two cases; one was in the lifetime of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), and a second after his death.

The first case was when jihad was legislated: after the Prophet’s (peace and blessings be upon him) Hijrah (emigration from Makkah) to Madinah by consensus. However, after jihad was legislated, was it an individual or a collective duty? There are two well-known scholarly opinions in this respect. They both pertain to the Shafi`i school of fiqh.

Al-Mawardy said, “It was an individual duty imposed on the emigrants from Makkah, and no one else.” He corroborates this view by referring to the obligation of emigration to Madinah on every Muslim convert before the conquest of Makkah to defend Islam.”

Al-Suhaily says, “It was an individual obligation imposed on the Ansar (Muslims of Madinah) and no one else.” He corroborates this view by their pledging allegiance to Allah’s messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) on the night of Al-‘Aqaba, promising to shelter and protect him. From these two sayings we conclude that it was an individual obligation for both parties and a collective duty for the others. However, generalization is not applicable to both parties. It was the duty of the Ansar if an enemy attacks Madinah, and it was the duty of the emigrants if it was a preemptive war against the disbelievers. This is supported by the event of Badr as related by Ibn Ishaq, which is explicitly indicative in this respect.

The second case is as follows: After the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), passed away the most famous opinion is that jihad is a collective duty unless there is a necessity, like when the enemy launches an attack. It is imposed on whoever is assigned by the Imam. It is the view of the majority of jurists that a collective duty must be carried out once a year. Their argument is based on the fact that jizyah may replace it and they agree that it should not be paid more that once a year. This also applies to its replacement.

There is an overriding saying, that jihad is an obligation whenever possible. The ruling of jihad continued as it had been at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) till the conquest of most countries was completed, and Islam had spread in most parts of the world. At that time, its ruling changed to the views mentioned above.

It is the duty of each Muslim to do one of the kinds of jihad against the disbelievers; whether it is physical jihad, jihad by speech, jihad by spending from one’s wealth, or jihad by the heart.

Opinion of Ibn Al-Qayyim

Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim says, “It is verified that jihad is an individual obligation, either by heart, by speech, by spending of one’s wealth, or by hand. Every Muslim must struggle through one of these types of jihad.”

Physical jihad is an individual duty, but there are two opinions regarding jihad by spending one’s wealth. It is correct to say that it is an obligation, since jihad by spending one’s wealth has the same ruling as physical jihad in the Noble Qur’an.  

In light of these citations, the Sheikh concludes his juristic opinion which is, in brief, that defensive jihad is an obligation according to the unanimous agreement of both early and contemporary jurists. There is scholarly disagreement over preemptive jihad, and he considers it is only a must when there is necessity.

The Sheikh says,

Consequently, we see that what many believed concerning preemptive jihad and conquering the enemy once a year as a commonly accepted collective duty imposed on the Ummah is not true. The consensus in this respect is over two indisputable issues:

First, What Ibn Rushd mentioned: “When the enemy invades a Muslim country, all Muslims there must struggle against that enemy and all other Muslims must support them till the enemy is defeated.”

Second, Mobilization of armies and preparing to defend their sovereignty by preparing sufficient military power to deter the enemy. They should also have well-trained human power, on land, air and sea, as required. This is according to the conditions of that era as commanded by Almighty Allah:

(Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of Allah and your enemies.)(Al-Anfal 8:60)

 Then the Sheikh reviews the historical reality and links the matter to the fiqh of politics, and says, “The truth is that conquering the disbelievers’ countries or deep incursion into their lands once a year, as suggested by scholars who consider it a collective duty imposed on the entire Ummah represented by its caliphs or emirs, who are responsible for dealing with all that relates to such imposed invasion (conquest), is subject to changing circumstances.”

Therefore, we can appreciate that the duty of invading the enemy every year depends, in reality, on the fiqh of politics. This is a wide branch of fiqh characterized by flexibility, liability to development, and plurality of views, as it is primarily based on the fiqh of intentions and interests; and the fiqh of prognoses, balances, and priorities.

Within these areas of fiqh there is ample opportunity for constructive and selective jurisprudential deliberations as well as diversity of types and plurality of views and visions, with no team superseding the other as long as the constants are respected, and the basics of Shari`ah are observed in addition to the established regulations. 

Our Comments

The Sheikh suggests that Muslims do not fight those who extend peace to them nor inflict any harm on them, and his stance is absolutely flawless. It is supported by the correct juristic vision and by the common purposes of Muslim law, which calls for the preservation of human life, whether of Muslims or non-Muslims.

However, the questions that arise here are, “Has this been the case throughout human history? Has the world ever lived with no wars that devour everything? Did the Persians and the Romans, in olden times, or the Communists, the Jews, the Christians, and Secularists, in modern times, spare the Muslims their sacrilege, violations of sanctities, and military and cultural invasions in addition to looting their wealth and lands?

We do hope that one day mankind would enjoy peaceful coexistence. We hope that the powerful would not abuse the weak, nor would the rich subdue the poor. For this to be true, the theory of repelling stated in the Noble Qur’an will remain valid:

(By Allah’s will they routed them, and David slew Goliath, and Allah gave him power and wisdom and taught him whatever (else) He willed. And were it not for Allah’s repelling some men with others, the earth would certainly be in a state of disorder, but Allah is full of bounty to all the worlds.)(Al-Baqarah 2:251)

 Almighty Allah says,

(Those who have been expelled from their homes without a just cause except that they say, “Our Lord is Allah.” And had there not been Allah’s repelling some people by others, certainly there would have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques in which Allah’s name is much remembered.)(Al-Hajj 22:40)

 How Should a Collective Duty Be Done?

 After the Sheikh discusses the collective duty according to the Hanafi and Shafi`i schools, he says,

This means that the requirements for the implementation of a collective duty are a powerful Muslim army the enemy fears, which should be equipped with the most sophisticated arms and weapons. Its soldiers must be highly trained, its forces should be deployed on all land and sea ports so that no single place is jeopardized without providing it with full protection and invulnerability. This is likely to repel the enemy and dissuade them from attacking the Muslims. This proposition is approved today by all countries of the world. Sovereignty of any state entails it having armed forces capable of defending its borders and independence against any attack on it or on its sanctities, or any attempt to seize a small tract of its land.

 When Is Jihad an Individual Duty?

 Here the Sheikh says that jihad should be an individual duty in the following specific circumstances:

1- When the enemy attacks a Muslim country.

2- When the Imam commands a certain individual or group to participate in jihad.

3- When the army needs the expertise of a specific person.

4- When they are actually present on the battlefield.

The Sheikh then concludes this chapter by discussing two important issues: the first is, how the individual duty is realized in jihad, and the second is about women’s jihad.

Regarding the first issue, he says, “Here we are faced with an extremely important question: What should be done if the people of a country are incapable of stopping the invading enemy or they weakened before the enemy and their neighbors refused or were unable to support them and the individual duty became their neighbors’ and then the closest Muslims until it includes all Muslims around the world?”

Would it be the duty of all Muslims all over the world to move to the Muslim land that had been occupied by the enemy? Should women head to that land without the permission of their husbands, or sons without the permission of their fathers, or should subordinates go to that land without the permission of their superintendents? 

After the Sheikh discusses this proposition and asserts the impossibility of its application and shows how it is generally futile, he says,

All that I can safely say here is that the people of the invaded country who are taken by surprise must exert all their power to resist the invaders. Each of them should muster all his capabilities and skills as organized or arranged by the authority in charge of the jihad, whether it is an existing state authority or one who has been elected by the majority of influential people in the absence of the state. Men should do what befits them and so should women and children, as well as the literate and the illiterate. Each person should be in their rightful place.

On the other hand, if the invaded country along with its neighbors fails to resist the enemy for any reason, or if they weakened, rebelled, or disobeyed and the duty becomes the responsibility of the entire Ummah, I find that the Ummah’s duty here is not for all Muslims to physically move to the battlefield, as this would be impossible and not beneficial. The duty in this case is that all Muslims should provide support and help to save their fellow Muslims and make their victory a reality. Each person should contribute according to his or her ability, and should provide them with the arms, equipment, supplies, money, and manpower they need. They should satisfy their needs as promptly as possible especially for the things they badly need.

Woman’s Jihad

On this issue, the Sheikh reviews women’s jihad as it was at the time of Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) and of his honored Companions, and confirms that the role of women in the service of Islam is not inferior to that of men, since she is equally responsible. However, the Sheikh says that there are many tough tasks that are incommensurate with a woman’s nature and with the characteristics Almighty Allah has singled out for her and which would help her to play her role and achieve her mission in life.   

Consequently, the Sheikh distinguishes between two types of jihad; namely, defensive jihad and preemptive jihad. He sees that jihad is imposed on women as it is imposed on men as far as defensive jihad is concerned. However, preemptive jihad is not imposed on women. She could generally help men in jihad according to her nature and capabilities.

The Sheikh says, “Jurists have distinguished between two types of jihad: defensive and preemptive jihad. It is not the woman’s duty to take part in preemptive jihad when Muslims invade their enemy attacking them on their own land. However, she may do it voluntarily for the sake of Allah, and in pursuit of His doubled reward for the mujahideen.”

As regards defensive jihad, when the enemy attacks a Muslim country, or moves into a Muslim country to occupy it and subdue its people, it is the duty of each and every Muslim individual to defend their country and protect their sanctities with all the power and means at their disposal.

No one should try to avoid jihad; each person should contribute according to his or her ability. It is a case of general mobilization, and some scholars opine that sons may go to jihad without their parents’ permission, women may go to jihad without their husband’s permission, and servants may go to jihad without their master’s permission, as previously mentioned. In this case, the country and its people are exposed to danger.

If there is a clash between collective and individual rights, collective rights are given priority as survival of the group means the survival of the individual, while the loss of the group means the loss of the individual.

This is the duty of jihad imposed on women, the same as that imposed on men, even though what the woman is required to do may not be the same as the man. It is the duty of both men and women to exert all their powers and potentials to repel the aggressors.


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