Lit. “An effort, or a striving.” A religious war with those who are unbelievers in the mission of Muhammad.. It is an incumbent religious duty, established in the Qur’an and in the Traditions as a divine institution, and enjoined specially for the purpose of advancing Islam and of repelling evil from Muslims.
When an infidel’s country is conquered by a Muslim ruler, its inhabitants are offered three alternatives:–
(1) The reception of Islam, in which case the conquered become enfranchised citizens of the Muslim state.
(2) The Payment of a poll-tax (Jizyah), by which unbelievers in Islam obtain protection, and become Zimmis, provided they are not the idolaters of Arabia.
(3) Death by the sword, to those who will not pay the poll tax.
Sufi writers say that there are two Jihads: al-Jihadu ‘l-Akbar, or “the greater warfare,” which is against one’s own lusts; and al-Jihadu ‘l-asghar, or “the lesser warfare,” against infidels.
The duty of religious war (which all commentators agree is a duty extending to all time) is laid down in the Qur’an in the following verses, and it is remarkable that all the verses occur in the al-Madinah Surahs, being those given after Muhammad had established himself as a paramount ruler and was in a position to dictate terms to his enemies.
Surah ix.5,6: “And when the sacred months are passed, kill those who join other gods with God wherever ye shall find them; and seize them, besiege them, and lay wait for them with every kind of ambush: but if they shall convert, and observe prayer and pay the obligatory alms, then let them go their way, for God is Gracious, Merciful. If any one of those who join gods with God ask an asylum of thee, grant him an asylum, that he may hear the Word of God, and then let him reach his place of safety. This, for that they are people devoid of knowledge.”
Surah ix. 29: “Make war upon such of those to whom the Scriptures have been given as believe not in God, or in the last day, and who forbid not that which God and His Apostle have forbidden, and who profess not the profession of the truth, until they pay tribute (Jizyah) out of hand, and they be humbled.”
Surah iv. 76-79: “Let those then fight on the path of God, who exchange this present life for that which is to come; for whoever fighteth on God’s path, whether he be slain or conquer, we will in the end give him a great reward. But what hath come to you that ye fight not on the path of God, and for the weak among men, women, and children, who say, ‘O our Lord! Bring us forth from this city whose inhabitants are oppressors; give us a champion from Thy presence; and give us from thy presence a defender.’ They who believe, fight on the path of God; and they who believe not, fight on the path of Tagut: Fight therefore against the friends of Satan. Verily the craft of Satan shall be powerless! Hast thou not marked those to who it was said, ‘Withhold your hands awhile from war; and observe prayer, and pay the stated alms.’ But when war is commanded them, lo! A portion of them fear men as with the fear of God, or with a yet greater fear, and say: “O our Lord! Why has Thou commanded us war? Couldst thou not have given us respite till our not distant end?’ Say: Small the fruition of this world; but the next life is the true good for him who feareth God! And ye shall not be wronged so much as the skin of a date-stone.”
Surah ii.214, 215: “They will ask thee concerning war in the Sacred Month. Say: To war therein is bad, but to turn aside from the cause of God, and to have no faith in Him and in the Sacred Temple, and to drive out its people, is worse in the sight of God; and civil strife is worse than bloodshed. They will not cease to war against you until they turn you from your religion, if they be able: but whoever of you shall turn from his religion and die an infidel, their works shall be fruitless in this world, and in the next: they shall be consigned to the fire; therein to abide for aye. But they who believe, and who fly their country, and fight in the cause of God may hope for God’s mercy: and God is Gracious, Merciful.
Surah viii. 39-42: “Say to the infidels: If they desist from their unbelief, what is now past shall be forgiven them; but if they return to it, they have already before them the doom of the ancients! Fight then against them till strife be at an end, and the religion be all of it God’s. If they desist, verily God beholdeth what they do: but if they turn their back, know ye that God is your protector: Excellent protector! excellent helper! And know ye, that when ye have taken any booty, a fifth part belongeth to God and to the Apostle, and to the near of kin, and to orphans, and to the poor, and to the wayfarer.
Long chapters in the Traditions are devoted to the subject of Jihad (see Sahihu ‘lBukhari and Sahihu Muslim, Arabic editions, Babu ‘l-Jihad) from which the following are quotations of the sayings of the Prophet:–
“God is sponsor for him who goeth forth to fight on the road of God (Sabilu ‘llah). If he be not killed, he shall return to his house with rewards and booty, but if he be slain, he shall be taken to Paradise.”
“I swear by God I should like to be killed on the road of God, then be killed and brought to life again, then killed again and then brought to life again, so that I may obtain new rewards every time.”
“Guarding the frontiers of Islam for even one day is worth more than the whole world and all that is in it.”
“The fire of hell shall not touch the legs of him who shall be covered with the dust of battle in the road of God.”
He who assists another with arms to fight in the way of God, is as the champion, and is a sharer of the rewards. And he who stayeth behind to take charge of the family of a warrior is even as a champion in war.”
“This religion will ever be established, even to the Day of Resurrection, as long as Muslims fight for it.”
“In the last day the wounds of those who have been wounded in the way of God will be evident, and will drop with blood, but their smell will be as the perfume of musk.”
“Being killed in the road of God covers all sins, but the sin of debt.”
“He who dies and has not fought for the religion of Islam, nor has even said in his heart, ‘Would to God I were a champion that could die in the road of God,’ is even as a hypocrite.”
“Fighting in the road of God, or resolving to do so, is a divine duty. When your Imam [leader] orders you to go forth to fight, then obey him.”
The following is the teaching of the Hanafi school of Sunnis on the subject of Jihad, as given in the Hidayah, vol. Ii. P. 140:–
“The sacred injunction concerning war is sufficiently observed when it is carried on by any one party or tribe of Muslims, and it is then no longer of any force with respect to the rest. It is established as a divine ordinance, by the word of God, who said in the Qur’an, ‘Slay the infidels,’ and also by a saying of the Prophet, ‘War is permanently established until the Day of Judgment’ (meaning the ordinance respecting war). The observance, however, in the degree above mentioned, suffices, because war is not a positive injunction, as it is in its nature murderous and destructive, and is enjoined only for the purpose of advancing the true faith or repelling evil from the servants of God; and when this end is answered by any single tribe or party of Muslims making war, the obligation is no longer binding upon the rest, in the same manner as in the prayers for the dead-(if, however, no one Muslim were to make war, the whole of the Muslim, would incur the criminality of neglecting it) – and also because if the injunction were positive, the whole of the Muslims must consequently engage in war, in which case the materials for war (such as horses, armour, and so forth) could not be procured. Thus it appears that the observance of war as aforesaid suffices, except where there is a general summons (that is, where the infidels invade a Muslim territory, and the Imam for the time being issues a general proclamation requiring all persons to go forth to fight), for in this case war becomes a positive injunction with respect to the whole of the inhabitants, whether men or women, and whether the Imam be a just or an unjust person; and if the people of that territory be unable to repulse the infidels, then war becomes a positive injunction with respect to all in that neighbourhood; and if these also do not suffice it, then comes a positive injunction with respect to the next neighbours; and in same manner with respect to all the Muslims from east to west.
“The destruction of the sword is incurred by infidels, although they be not the first aggressors, as appears from various passages in the traditions which are generally received to this effect.”
“It is not incumbent upon infants to make war, as they are objects of compassion; neither is it incumbent upon slaves or women, as the rights of the master, or of the husband, have precedence; nor is it so upon the blind, the maimed, or the decrepid, as such are incapable. If, however, the infidels make an attack upon a city or territory, in this case the repulsion of them is incumbent upon all Muslims, insomuch that a wife may go forth without consent of her husband, and a slave without the leave of his master, because war then becomes a positive injunction; and possession, either by bondage or by marriage, cannot come in competition with a positive injunction, as in prayer (for instance) or fasting. This is supposing a general summons; for without that it is not lawful for a woman or slave to go forth to make war without the consent of the husband or master, as there is in this case no necessity for their assistance, since others suffice, and hence no reason exists for destroying the right of the husband or master on that account. If there be any fund in the public treasury, so long as the fund lasts any extraordinary exaction for the support of the warriors is abominable, because such exaction resembles a hire for that which is a service of God as much as prayer or fasting, and, hire being forbidden in these instances, so is it in that which resembles them. In this case, moreover, there is no occasion for any extraordinary exactions, since the funds of the public treasury are prepared to answer all emergencies of the Muslims, such as war, and so forth. If, however, there be no funds in the public treasury, in this case the Imam need not hesitate to levy contributions for the better support of the warriors, because in levying a contribution the greater evil (namely, the destruction of the person) is repelled, and the contribution is the smaller evil, and the imposition of a smaller evil to remedy a greater is of no consequence. A confirmation of this is found in what is related of the Prophet, that he took various articles of armour, and so forth, from Safwan and ‘Umar; in the same manner also he took property from married men, and bestowed it upon the unmarried, in order to encourage them and enable them to go forth to fight with cheerfulness; and he also used to take the horses from those who remained at home, and bestowed them upon those who went forth to fight on foot. When the Muslims enter the enemy’s country and besiege the cities or strongholds of the infidels, it is necessary to invite them to embrace the faith, because Ibn ‘Abbas relates of the Prophet that he never destroyed any without previously inviting them to embrace the faith. If, therefore, they embrace the faith, it is unnecessary to war with them, because that which was the design of the war is then obtained without war. The Prophet, moreover, has said we are directed to make war upon men only until such time as they shall confess, ‘There is no God but one God.’ But when they repeat this creed, their persons and properties are in protection (aman). If they do accept the call to the faith, they must then be called upon to pay jizyah, or capitation tax, because the Prophet directed the commanders of his armies so to do, and also because by submitting to this tax war is forbidden and terminated upon the authority of the Qur’an. (This call to pay capitation tax, however, respects only those from whom the capitation tax is acceptable, or, as to apostates and the idolaters of Arabia, to call upon them to pay the tax is useless, since nothing is accepted from them but embracing the faith, as it is thus commanded in the Qur’an). If those who are called upon to pay capitation tax consent to do so, they then become entitled to the same protection and subject to the same rules as Muslims because ‘Ali had declared infidels agree to a capitation tax only in order to render their blood the same as Muslims’ blood, and their property the same as Muslims’ property.
“It is not lawful to make war upon any people who have never before been called to the faith, without previously requiring them to embrace it, because the Prophet so instructed his commanders, directing them to call the infidels to the faith, and also because the people will hence perceive that they are attacked for the sake of religion, and not for the sake of taking their property, or making slaves of their children, and on this consideration it is possible that they may be induced to agree to the call, in order to save themselves from the troubles of war.
“If a Muslim attack infidels without previously calling them to the faith, he is an offender, because this is forbidden; but yet if he do attack them before thus inviting them and slay them, and take their property, neither fine, expiation, nor atonement are due, because that which protects (namely, Islam) does not exist in them, nor are they under protection by place (namely the Daru ‘l-Islam, or Muslim territory), and the mere prohibition of the act is not sufficient to sanction the exaction either of fine or of atonement for property; in the same manner as the slaying of the women or infant children of infidels is forbidden, but if, notwithstanding, a person were to slay such, he is not liable to a fine. It is laudable to call to the faith a people to whom a call has already come, in order that they may have the more full and ample warning; but yet this is not incumbent, as it appears in the Traditions that the Prophet plundered and despoiled the tribe of al-Mustaliq by surprise, and he also agreed with Asamah to make a predatory attack upon Qubna at an early hour, and to set it on fire, and such attacks are not preceded by a call. (Qubna is a place in Syria: some assert it is the name of a tribe).
“If the infidels, upon receiving the call, neither consent to it nor agree to pay capitation tax, it is then incumbent on the Muslims to call upon God for assistance, and to make war upon them, because God is the assistant of those who serve Him, and the destroyer of His enemies, the infidels, and it is necessary to implore His aid upon every occasion; the Prophet, moreover, commands us so to do. And having so done, the Muslims must then with God’s assistance attack the infidels with all manner of warlike engines (as the Prophet did by the people of Ta’if), and must also set fire to their habitations (in the same manner as the Prophet fired Baweera), and must inundate them with water and tear up their plantations and tread down their grain because by these means they will become weakened, and their resolution will fail and their force be broken; these means are, therefore, all sanctified by the law.”
“It is no objection to shooting arrows or other missiles against the infidels that there may chance to be among them a Muslim in the way either of bondage or of traffic, because the shooting of arrows and so forth among the infidels remedies a general evil in the repulsion thereof from the whole body of Muslims, whereas the slaying of a Muslim slave or a trader is only a particular evil, and to repel a general evil a particular evil must be adopted, and also because it seldom happens that the strongholds of the infidels are destitute of Muslims, since it is most probable that there are Muslims residing in them, either in the way of bondage or of traffic, and hence, if the use of missile weapons were prohibited on account of these Muslims, war would be obstructed. If the infidels in time of battle should make shields of Muslim children, or of Muslims, who are prisoners in their hands, yet there is no need on that account to refrain from the use of missile weapons, for the reason already mentioned. It is requisite, however, that the Muslims in using such weapons aim at the infidels, and not at the children or the Muslim captives, because, as it is impossible in shooting to distinguish precisely between them and the infidels, the person who discharges the weapon must make this distinction in his intention and design by aiming at the infidels, and not at the others, since this much is practicable, and the distinction must be made as far as is practicable.”
“There is also neither fine nor expiation upon the warriors on account of such of their arrows or other missiles as happen to hit the children or the Muslims, because the war is in observance of a divine ordinance, and atonement is not due for anything which may happen in the fulfillment of a divine ordinance, for otherwise men would neglect the fulfillment of the ordinance from an apprehension of becoming liable to atonement. It is otherwise in the case of a person eating the bread of another when perishing for hunger, as in that instance atonement is due; although eating the bread of other people, in such a situation, be a divine ordinance, because a person perishing for hunger will not refrain from eating the provision of another, from the apprehension of atonement, since his life depends upon it; whereas war is attended with trouble and dangerous to life, whence men would be deterred, by apprehension of atonement, from engaging in it. There is no objection to the warriors carrying their Qur’ans and their women along with them, where the Muslim force is considerable, to such a degree as to afford a protection from the enemy, and not to admit of any apprehension from them, because in that case safety is most probable, and a thing which is most probable stands and is accounted as a thing certain. If the force of the warriors be small (such as is termed a Sarriyah) so as not to afford security from the enemy, in this case their carrying their women or Qur’ans along with them is reprobated, because in such a situation taking those with them is exposing them to dishonour; and taking the Qur’an with them, in particular, is exposing it to contempt, since infidels scoff at the Qur’an, with a view of insulting the Muslims; and this is the true meaning of the saying of the Prophet, ‘Carry not the Qur’an along with you into the territory of the enemy’ (that is, of the infidels). If a Muslim go into an infidel camp under a protection, there is no objection to his taking his Qur’an along with him, provided these infidels be such as observe their engagements, because from these no violence is to be apprehended.
“It is lawful for aged women to accompany an army, for the performance of such business as suits them, such as dressing victuals, administering water, and preparing medicines for the sick and wounded; but with respect to young women, it is better that they stay at home, as this may prevent perplexity or disturbance. The women, however, must not engage in fight, as this argues weakness in the Muslims. Women, therefore, must not take any personal concern in battle unless in a case of absolute necessity; and it is not laudable to carry young women along with the army, either for the purpose of carnal gratification, or for service; if, however, the necessity be very urgent, female slaves may be taken, but not wives. A wife must not engage in a fight but with the consent of her husband, nor a slave but with the consent of his owner (according to what was already stated, that the right of the husband and the master has precedence), unless from necessity where an attack is made by the enemy.
“It does not become Muslims to break treaties or to act unfairly with respect to plunder or to disfigure people (by cutting off their ears and noses, and so forth); for as to what is related of the Prophet, that he disfigured the Oorneans, it is abrogated by subsequent prohibitions. In the same manner it does not become Muslims to slay women or children, or men aged, bedridden, or blind, because opposition and fighting are the only occasions which make slaughter allowable (according to our doctors), and such persons are incapable of these. For the same reason also the paralytic are not to be slain, nor those who are dismembered of the right hand, or of the right hand and left foot. Ash-Shafi’I maintains that aged men, or persons bedridden or blind may be slain because, (according to him) infidelity is an occasion of slaughter being allowable, and this appears in these persons. What was before observed, however, that the paralytic or dismembered are not to be slain, is in proof against him, as infidelity appears in these also, yet still they are not slain, whence it is evident that mere infidelity is not a justifiable occasion of slaughter. The Prophet, moreover, forbade the slaying of infants or single persons, and once, when the Prophet saw a woman who was slain, he said, ‘Alas! This woman did not fight, why, therefore, was she slain?’ But yet, if any of these persons be killed in war, or if a woman be a queen or chief, in this case it is allowable to slay them, they being qualified to molest the servants of God. So, also, if such persons as the above should attempt to fight, they may be slain, for the purpose of removing evil, and because fighting renders slaying allowable.
“A lunatic must not be slain unless he fight, as such a person is not responsible for his faith, but yet where he is found fighting it is necessary to slay him, for the removal of evil. It is also to be observed that infants or lunatics may be slain so long as they are actually engaged in fight, but it is not allowed to kill them after they are taken prisoners, contrary to the case of others, who may be slain even after they are taken, as they are liable to punishment because they are responsible for their faith.
“A person who is insane occasionally stands, during his lucid intervals, in the same predicament as a sane person.”
It is abominable in a Muslim to begin fighting with his father, who happens to be among the infidels, nor must he slay him, because God has said in the Qur’an, ‘Honour thy father and they mother,’ and also because the preservation of the father’s life is incumbent upon the son, according to all the doctors, and the permission to fight with him would be repugnant to that sentiment. If, also, the son should find the father, he must not slay him himself, but must hold him in view until some other come and slay him: for thus the end is answered without the son slaying his father, which is an offence.”
“If, however, the father attempt to slay the son, insomuch that the son is unable to repel him but by killing him, in this case the son need not hesitate to slay him, because the design of the son is merely to repel him, which is lawful; for if a Muslim were to draw his sword with a design of killing his son, in such a way that the son is unable to repel him but by killing him, it is then lawful for the son to slay his father, because his design is merely repulsion. In a case, therefore, where the father is an infidel, and attempts to slay his son, it is lawful for the son to slay the father in self-defence a fortiori.”
“If the Imam make peace with aliens, or with any particular tribe or body of them, and perceive it to be eligible for the Muslims, there need be no hesitation, because it is said in the Qur’an: ‘If the infidels be inclined to peace do ye likewise consent thereto,’ and also because the Prophet in the year of the punishment of Eubea, made a peace between the Muslims and the people of Mecca for the space of ten years; peace, moreover is war in effect where the interest of the Muslims requires it, since the design of war is the removal of evil, and this is obtained by means of peace: contrary to where peace is not to the interest of the Muslims, for it is not in that case lawful, as this would be abandoning war both apparently and in effect. It is here, however, proper to observe that it is not absolutely necessary to restrict a peace to the term above recorded (namely, ten years), because the end for which peace is made may be sometimes more effectually obtained by extending it to a longer term. If the Imam make peace with the aliens for a single term (namely, ten years), and afterwards perceive that it is most advantageous for the Muslim’s interest to break it, he may in that case lawfully renew the war after giving them due notice, because, upon a change of the circumstances which rendered peace advisable, the breach of peace is war, and the observance of it a desertion of war, both in appearance and also in effect, and war is an ordinance of God, and the forsaking of it is not becoming (to Muslims). It is to be observed that giving due notice to the enemy is in this case indispensably requisite in such a manner that treachery may not be induced, since this is forbidden. It is also requisite that such a delay be made in renewing the war with them, as may allow intelligence of the peace being broken off to be universally received among them, and for this such a time suffices as may admit of the king or chief of the enemy communicating the same to the different parts of their dominion, since by such a delay the charge of treachery is avoided.”
“If the infidels act with perfidy in a peace, it is in such case lawful for the Imam to attack them without any previous notice, since the breach of treaty in this instance originates with them, whence there is no occasion to commence the war on the part of the Muslims by giving them notice. It would be otherwise, however, if only a small party of them were to violate the treaty by entering the Muslim territory and there committing robberies upon the Muslims, since this does not amount to a breach of treaty. If, moreover, this party be in force so as to be capable of opposition, and openly fight with the Muslims, this is a breach of treaty with respect to that party only, but not with respect to the rest of their nation or tribe, because, as this party have violated the treaty without any permission from their prince, the rest are not answerable for their act; whereas if they made their attack by permission of their prince, the breach of treaty would be regarded as by the whole, all being virtually implicated in it.
“If the Imam make peace with the aliens in return for property, there is no scruple; because since peace may be lawfully made without any such gratification it is also lawful in return for a gratification. This, however, is only where the Muslims stand in need of the property thus to be acquired; for if they be not in necessity, making peace for property is not lawful, since peace is a desertion of war both in appearance and in effect. It is to be observed that if the Imam receive this property by sending a messenger and making peace without the Muslim troops entering the enemy’s territory, the object of disbursement of it is the same as that of jizyah or capitation-tax; that is, it is to be expended upon the warriors and not upon the poor. If, however, the property be taken after the Muslims have invaded the enemy in this case it is as plunder, one-fifth going to the Imam and the remainder to be divided among the troops, as the property has in fact been taken by force in this instance. It is incumbent on the Imam to keep peace with apostates, and not to make war upon them, in order that they may have time to consider their situation, since it is to be hoped that they may again return to the faith. It is, therefore, lawful to delay fighting with them in a hope that they may again embrace Islam; but it is not lawful to take property from them. If, however, the Imam should take property from them, it is not incumbent upon him to return it, as such property is not in protection. If infidels harass the Muslims, and offer them peace in return for property, the Imam must not accede thereto as this would be a degradation of the Muslim honour, and disgrace would be attached to all the parties concerned in it; this, therefore, is not lawful except where destruction is to be apprehended, in which case the purchasing a peace with property is lawful, because it is a duty to repel destruction in every possible mode.”
[For Khalifah ‘Umar’s treatment of the garrison of Jerusalem when captured, see the treaty given in the article JERUSALEM.]
Based on Hughes, Dictionary of Islam