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Aims of Islamic Jihad

By: Martyr Ayatullah Dr Muhammad Husayni Behishti & Martyr Dr Muhammad Jawad Bahonar

Jihad literally means utmost effort to achieve an objective. In Islamic terminology it means to endeavour and make sacrifice for the cause of Allah, that is, for the deliverance of the people from injustice and subjugation, restoration of belief in Allah's unity and establishment of a just social system.

Defence is a special form of jihad which aims at preventing an attack by an aggressor. In the religious texts of Islam it has been described as resistance to the aggressive designs of an enemy against a Muslim land and thwarting his attempt to gain the control of the natural resources of a Muslim country. Hence defence is a form of jihad for the cause of righteousness and justice.

Aims of Islamic Jihad

Islam with its vast revolutionary programme aims at establishing unity of human society on the basis of justice and mutual love. It wants to restore human freedom and humanize the world. Hence it fights against every kind of polytheism, injustice and subjugation. The Muslim ummah considers itself responsible not only to lead individually and collectively a life based on justice and Unity of Allah, but also, as far as possible, does its utmost to propagate righteousness, to awaken the ignorant, to fight for the cause of the oppressed and the under?privileged, to put an end to corruption and to restore freedom.

It is a basic duty of the Muslims to work for the removal of all obstacles in the way of human growth and develop­ment, and not to show indifference to them. The Muslims not only should defend the existing sphere of their religious influence but also should try to expand it.

It is also a duty of the Muslims to resist enemy aggression in every possible way, to forestall injustice and corruption and to co?operate with others in this respect.

We conclude, therefore, that the following are the aims of jihad:

(1) Expansion of the belief in Allah and adherence to His commandments.

"Fight in the way o f Allah against those who fight against you". (Surah al?Baqarah, 2:190).

"Fight for the cause of Allah with due determination" . (Surah al?Hajj, 22:78).

(2) Helping the weak and the deprived.

"What stops you from fighting for the cause o f Allah and of the helpless men, women and children?" (Surah al?Nisa, 4:75).

(3) Putting an end to persecution.

"Fight them until there is no persecution ". (Surah al?Anfal, 8:39).

Aggression is bad, whosoever may be the aggressor.

A fighter in the way of Allah must always be careful that in his zeal and ardour he may not exceed the limits of justice. The Muslims must in no case violate the basic human rights.

"Fight in the way o f Allah against those who fight against you, but do not commit aggression, for Allah does not like the aggressors". (Surah al?Baqarah 2:190).

"(Attack them) in the sacred month (if they attack you) in the sacred month, and sacred things are (also) subject to retaliation. If any one attacks you, attack him as he attacked you. Have fear o f Allah and remember Allah, and do not with your own hands cast yourselves into destruction. Do good, for Allah likes those who do good". (Surah al?Baqarah, 2:194).

A Divine system cannot have a double standard. When it regards aggression as evil and fiendish for others, it cannot consider it to be sacred and divine for its own followers.

Jihad against Egoism

Addressing a party which had returned from a battle with the enemy the Prophet of Islam said:

"I congratulate you that you have carried out the minor jihad successfully. Now you have to carry out the major jihad ". They asked: "O Prophet of Allah! Which jihad is the major one? He replied: `Jihad against egoism". (Wasail al-Shi’ah vol. 6, p. 122).

Imam Ali (P) is reported to have said:

"The best jihad is his, who fights against his own wild passions". (Wasail al-Shi’ah vol. 6, p. 124).

Islam is a world system

Islam has not come for any particular people. It is a world system. From the point of view of a Muslim, every place is the domain of Allah and everything has been created by Him. Islam is not peculiar to any nation, nor is it confined to any race. It has not come for the guidance of any particular society. Islam wants the whole world to be benefited by its life?giving teachings. The Qur'an described itself as guidance for all and the Prophet of Islam as a blessing for the whole world.

All human beings, irrespective of the race and the country of their origin, can become the members of the great Muslim society by accepting the fundamental principles of Islam, and thus become the brethren of other Muslims.

In order to form a society free from all doctrinal errors and every kind of misconduct, it is the duty of all, especially the believers, to guide the people to the right path.

Hence the scope of the Islamic responsibilities is not confined to any particular territory. It is universal and no conventional frontiers should be a barrier to the spread of the ideas of freedom and Muslim unity.

This persistent effort is not meant to impose Islamic doctrine on others. As the Qur'an has declared, there is no compulsion in the matter of religion and the right and wrong paths are quite distinct.

"There is no compulsion in religion. True guidance has become distinct from error". (Surah al?Baqarah, 2:256).
This vast effort should be exclusive aim at relieving thought of the burden of myths, unfastening the shackles of injustice and delivering man from every kind of exploitation, subjection and ignorance.

Look into this Qur'anic verse:

"What stops you from fighting for the cause of Allah and of the belpless men, women and cbildren? tVbo say: Our Lord! Deliver us from this town of the oppressors, and appoint for us from you a protector and send us someone that will help us". (Surah al?Nisa, 4:75).

Before having recourse to fight truth should be explained

Usually there are at least some persons among the enemy troops who have been dragged to fight against truth either forcibly or because of their ignorance of the facts. As one of the aims of jihad is to deliver the people from every kind of subjection, exploitation and ignorance, it is the duty of the commander of the Muslim forces that before the start of fight he should do whatever he can to enlighten all enemy soldiers and to show them the right path so that they may not be unnecessarily killed out of ignorance.

Imam Ali (P) is reported to have said:

"When the holy Prophet sent me to Yemen, he said: O Ali! Don't fight against anyone until you have invited him to Islam and to accept the truth. By Allah! If you succeed in guiding even one person to the right path, that is a great achievement. 'You will be in fact his saviour". (al?Kafi, vol. 5, p. 34).

Special facilities provided by Islam for this purpose

If anyone from among the enemy soldiers wants to come to the Muslims to have discussions with them with a view to have a more clear idea about Islam, or wants to study the individual and collective way of life of the Muslims from a close quarter in order to know the truth about them, he may be provided due facilities. For this purpose even if a simple Muslim soldier gives an assurance of security, his pledge will be respected by all Muslims, even the Muslim Government.

The holy Prophet has said:

"All Muslims have a common responsibility. A pledge given by one of them is the pledge of all".

If a single soldier gives protection to anyone, that is to be regarded as the protection given by the whole Muslim ummah.

Peace in Islam

"Peace is better; but men are prone to avarice". (Surah al?Nisa, 4:128).

Generally speaking, all men by nature prefer peace. That is why all social systems, including those, which base their philosophy on contradiction and conflict, try to promise undisturbed peace to the world in the long run.
The Qur'an strongly denounces every war which is not necessary for the defence of the cause of Allah and rescuing the people from the clutches of the devils.

"Believers, enter all of you into peace and do not follow, in the footsteps of Satan. No doubt he is an open enemy of you". (Surah al?Baqarah, 2:208).

Islam not only wants the internal relations of the Muslims to be peaceful, but it also gives similar instructions in regard to their relations with the non?Muslims.

"If they incline to peace, incline you also to it and put your trust in Allah. No doubt He is All?hearing, All knowing". (Surah al?Anfal, 8:61).

But care should be taken that the leaning of the enemy toward peace may not be a military or political ruse and a mere hoax.

"But if they intend to deceive you, Allah is sufficient for you. It is He who has supported you with His help and with the believers". (Surah al?Anfal, 8:62).

Full preparedness to face the enemy

Though Islam gives so much importance to peace, it wants the Muslims to be alert and prepared. It wants them to be so strong that none of their open or secret enemies may dare to think of any aggression against them.

`Make ready for them whatever force and well?bred horses you can in order to strike terror into the enemies of Allah and your own enemies". (Surah al?Anfal, 8:60).

It may be remembered that the word, `force' in this verse includes every kind of industrial force also. As industrial development is a constant process, it is the religious duty of the Muslims to acquire modern industries and latest technology. They should equip themselves with the modern weapons not for the purpose of attacking others, but to ward off any aggression against them because of their weakness.

Horse racing and archery

To prepare the Muslim masses to participate in the jihad for gaining independence or defending their existence, an effective programme of horse?racing and archery was introduced. Muslims were encouraged to take part in these competitions. To create interest among the youth, suitable prizes were awarded to the winner. The idea was to make the Muslims fit for fighting.

It is obvious that horse?racing and archery were chosen for this purpose keeping in view the conditions of that time. The general spirit of this Islamic instruction is that every Muslim should in accordance with the tactics of his own time, take part in a general programme of training with a view to prepare himself for jihad. On the whole, every Muslim is expected to be strong and fit to defend himself, his ideology, and his country, so that no aggressor may ride roughshod over him.

It is an eternal divine practice that a nation which is not prepared to make sacrfices for the defence of the right and justice and does not safeguard its own rights and its own existence, is dragged to humiliation and ruination.

"He who abandons jihad and shows disinclination to it, is humiliated by Allah. He is surrounded by disasters. His heart becomes gloomy. He goes away far from truth. As he has not done justice to jihad, he is involved in worries and troubles and is deprived of justice". (Nahj al?Balaghah, vol. 10).


The Qur'an regards jihad as the life?giving stimulant for the individual and the human society.

"Believers, respond to Allah and the Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life, and know that Allah comes in between a man and his heart, and that it is He to whom you shall be mustered" . (Surah al?Anfal, 8:24).

A fighter who lays down his life for the cause of Allah, is immortal, and every Muslim is required to have faith in the immortality of the martyrs who make supreme sacrifice in the way of Allah. (For details see, The Martyr, ISP 1979).

"Do not consider those who have been killed in the way of of Allah to be dead. They are indeed alive and receive their sustenance from their Lord. Well?pleased with the favour which Allah has granted them by His grace and rejoicing for the sake of those who have not yet joined them but are left behind, that they shall have no fear nor shall they grieve. They rejoice because of Allah's favour and grace and that Allah does not deny the believers their reward". (Surah Ale Imran, 3:169 ? 171).

Faith in Allah and His Prophet and the realization of the fact that righteousness demands self?sacrifice, impels a believer to fight for the cause of Allah. In spite of his intense love for his parents, his children, his hearth and home and his job and occupation, when he hears a call to go out in the way of Allah, he is filled with a zeal far above these attachments and is attracted towards the battle­field. A man trained by Islam knows that his personal interests and attachments are natural and proper provided they do not exceed their limits, do not kill his manly spirit and do not make him weak and coward. Otherwise his fate will be the same as has been of all the weak and the coward in history.

"Believers, do not regard your fathers and brothers as your friends if they give preference to infidelity over faith. They are the wrong?doers who befriend them. Say: If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your relatives your property that you have acquired, the trade, the dullness of which you fear and the dwellings which you love, are dearer to you than Allah, His Messenger and the struggle for His cause, then wait till Allah brings His command to pass. Allah does not guide the wicked people". (Surah al?Taubah, 9:23 ? 24).

Fighters who do not lag behind in their effort

"The believers who stay behind, apart from those who suffer from a disability, are not equal to those who struggle for the cause o f Allah with their property and lives. Allah has 'given those who struggle with their property and lives a rank higher than those who stay behind. To both Allah has promised, a good reward, but He will show His preference to the fighters by giving them a far richer reward: (By the bestowal of) His own ranks, forgiveness and mercy. Allah is Forgiving and Merciful". (Surah al?Nisa 4:95 ? 96).

Invincible and indefatigable fighters

`Allah likes those who fight for His cause lined up as if they were a solid structure ". (Surah al?Saff, 61:4).
`As for those who say that our Lord is Allah and then they remain firm in their faith, the angels will descend on them (saying): Let nothing alarm or grieve you, but be happy in the Paradise you were promised.We are your protecting friends in the worldly life and the Hereafter. There in Pradise you shall have whatever you may ask for. As a matter of hospitality from Allah, the Forgiving, the Merciful". (Surah Fussilat, 41:30 ? 32).

"Believers, when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, do not turn your backs to them. And if anyone on that day turns his back to them, unless he does so for tactical or to join another detachment, be shall incur Allah's wrath and Hell shall be his abode. What a bad fate!" (Surah al?Anfal, 8:15 ? 16).

The society which Islam wants to build is a society which is living, moving, powerful and bearer of a world mission. The characteristics of this society, which we have briefly stated in this book, should inspire you to study more detailed books on this subject, which are available in various languages.

In the end we would like to point out that the building of a true Islamic social system depends on three things.

(1) Clear understanding of all the aspects of a society to be built on the basis of Islam.

(2) Understanding of the practical ways of bringing about such a society.

(3) Conscious and determined effort accompanied by every kind of sacrifice.

With lack of knowledge and lack of effort we cannot expect that we shall ever be able to enjoy a just system of Allah's liking. From Islamic point of view, there is an immutable social principle:

"As you will be, so your rulers will be".

So let us all pray:

"O Lord, we would serve You under the graceful government which would bring dignity to Islam and to the Muslims, disgracing infidelity and the infidels. O Lord, in such a government, make us among those who invite people to Your obedience, leading them to Your path, and give us, thereby, the graces of this world and the world Hereafter".

"O Lord, bestow Your peace and blessings upon Muhammad and his progeny. Give brightness to my eyes in the awareness of my religion; give confidence to my heart in the sincerity of my deeds and help me to thank You till the end of my life".

"O Lord, I seek refuge in You from my evil?self; for it induces me to bad deeds unless You have mercy on me. I seek refuge in You from the evils of the accursed Satan who increases my sins.

O Lord, make me one of your armymen, for Your army will always be triumphant; make me one of your partymen for your party will always be pros­perous; and make me one of Your loved ones for Your loved ones will always have no fear and no grief".

Notes :

[54] Here the word Shi'ah has been used in the sense of a follower and the verse means that one of those who followed Noah (P) was Ibrahim (P).(Vide Surah al?Saffat, 37:83).

[55] Sharh Nahj al?Balaghah by Ibn Abil Hadid Mo'tazali. V.4 p. 87

[56] Tarikh Tabari vol. 7, p. 267.

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