Defense of Humane Values
According to this, the Quran limits jihad strictly to a type of defense and only permits it in the face of aggression. But in our last lecture, we said that jihad for the expansion of human values, even if they are not threatened, cannot be condemned, and we also said that the meaning of aggression is a general one, meaning that it is not necessary for aggression to be against life, against property, against chastity, against land - it is not even necessary for it to be against independence, against freedom - if a group transgresses against values that are counted as human values, then this is aggression.
I wish to cite a simple example. In our age, huge efforts are being directed at uprooting various diseases. So far the primary causes of some diseases like cancer have not been discovered, and their cure is likewise still not known. But at present, there exists medicines which can temporarily delay the effect of these diseases. Supposing that some institution discovers the cure to one of these diseases, and that those other institutions which profit from the very presence of that disease, those factories which manufacture the medicines that can be used to postpone the effects of that disease, in order to prevent their market from collapsing - in which case millions, billions of dollars would be lost - destroy that newly discovered cure which for humanity is so beneficial; destroy those who are connected with it; destroy the newly discovered formula so that no one would know about it. Now, is such a human value to be defended or not? Can we say that no one has attacked our lives or our property, no one has interfered with our chastity, our independence or our territory, but that in one of the corners of the world, somebody has made a discovery and someone else is trying to destroy it, and ask, what has it got to do with us? No. This is not the place for such a question. Here a human value is being threatened. In such a case, if we take the stance of resistance and war, are we to be called aggressors? No, we have risen to oppose aggression, and to fight the aggressors.
So, when we say that the basis of jihad is defense, we do not mean defense in the limited sense of having to defend oneself when one is attacked with the sword, gun or artillery shell. No, we mean that if one's being, one's material or spiritual values are aggressed or in fact, if something that mankind values and respects and which is necessary for mankind's prosperity and happiness, is aggressed, then we are to defend it.
Here, we come again to our previous discussion about whether tawhid is a personal issue, whether it is one of the values of humanity. If it is the latter that must be defended, so that if amongst a set of laws there is one which dictates that tawhid must be defended on the principle of it being a basic human value (as in Islam, for example), this does not mean that aggression is considered lawful. It means that tawhid is a spiritual value and the meaning of defense is so wide that it includes the defense of spiritual values.
Nevertheless, I will again repeat that Islam does not say we must fight to impose tawhid, for tawhid is something that cannot be imposed because it is faith. Faith is built on discernment and choice, and discernment is not influenced by force. The same applies to choice. "La ikraha fid-din" means we must not compel anyone for faith is not something that can be forced upon someone. However, "La ikraha fid- din," does not imply that we are not to defend the rights of tawhid. It does not mean that, if we see "La ilaha illallah," "No god but Allah," being threatened from some direction, we are not to defend it. No, not at all.
Adapted from the book: "Jihad; The Holy War of Islam and Its Legitimacy in the Quran" by: "Ayatullah Morteza Mutahhari"
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