Rushing to the Defense of the Oppressed
Before touching this subject and the verses relating to it, a point must be mentioned. I stated that the permission for jihad is subject to some conditions. What conditions? One is that the opposing side is in a state of aggression. Those comprising this side are attacking us, and because they are fighting against us we must fight them. Are the conditions for jihad limited to just this: that the other side wants to fight us?
Or are there other factors? Perhaps the other side does not propose to fight us, but is guilty of a gross injustice towards another group of human beings, and we have it in our power to save those human beings from the clutches of that aggressor. If we do not save them, what we are doing in effect is helping that oppressor's oppression against the oppressed. We may be in a situation whereby a party has not transgressed against us but has committed some type of injustice against a group from another people, who may be Muslims, or who may be non-Muslims. If they are Muslims - like today's plight of the Palestinians who have been exiled from their homes, whose wealth has been seized, who have been subjected to all kinds of transgression - while, for the moment, the transgressor has no intentions against us, is it permissible for us in such circumstances to hurry to the help of those oppressed Muslims and deliver them, or is this is not permissible?
Certainly this too is permissible. In fact it is obligatory. It would not be a case of commencing hostilities, it would be rushing to the defense of the oppressed especially if they are Muslims, to deliver them from the clutches of oppression.
But if the tyrannized person or party is not a Muslim, then the tyranny can be of two types. There is a time when the oppressor has positioned a people in a vacuum and blocks the call of Islam. Islam gives itself the right to spread its message throughout the world, but this depends upon there being the freedom for it to spread.
Imagine some government that says to the Muslims who are delivering the call of Islam to a nation: "You have no right to say what you are saying. We do not allow it." In these circumstances it is not permissible for us to fight with that nation, with those people who are blameless and unaware. But is it permissible for us to fight against that corrupt regime which props itself up with a putrid ideology that it uses like a chain around the necks of the people to imprison them in a blind alley, isolated from the call of truth; a regime which acts as a barrier against that call? Is it permissible for us to fight that regime so as to remove that obstacle? Or, in real terms, is it permissible for us to fight against that prison of epression or not? In the view of Islam this is also permissible for this itself would be a form of uprising against zulm, against injustice and oppression. It may be that the mazlum, the wronged, the ppressed, are not aware of the nature of the injustice and have not sought for help, but in fact there is no need for them to request it.
The seeking of help is another issue; assuming that the oppressed seek help from us, is it permissible or obligatory for us to help them? Even if they do not apply for help, is it still permissible for us to help them, or even obligatory? The answer is that it is not necessary for them to seek our help. The simple fact that the oppressed are oppressed, that an oppressive regime has erected a wall, a barrier, for its own well-being, preventing a nation from becoming aware of the Call wherein lies the prosperity and happiness of that nation, the Call which if they hear and become aware of, they are sure to accept; prompts Islam to say that we can break that barrier which, between it and those people, exists in the form of a repressive government.
Adapted from the book: "Jihad; The Holy War of Islam and Its Legitimacy in the Quran" by: "Ayatullah Morteza Mutahhari"
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