Wars of Early Islam
Many of the wars of Early Islam were fought for this very reason. The Muslims who went to war used to say that they had no fight with the peoples of the world, and that they were fighting governments in order to rescue peoples from the misery and slavery, imposed on them by those governments. When Rustam, the pre-Islamic champion of Persia asked those Muslims what was their goal, they replied: "To change the worship of worshippers from the worship of those who worship to the worship of God." - "Our aim is to free these creatures of God, these people whom, by your tricks and violence, you have placed under the yoke of slavery and bondage to your own selves. We are going to deliver them from the yoke of bondage to you. We are going to set them free, make them the devotees of God the Sublime, the devotees of their Creator; not the devotees of what is created by Him just as they themselves are."
In the letters that the Holy Prophet of Islam wrote to the People of the Book he particularly used to include this Quranic verse:
"Say: O You of the Book, come to an expression that is equal between us and you, that we worship none except God, and associate nothing with Him, and that some of us do not take others as our Lord." (3:64)
which instructed the Prophet to invite the People of the Book (those same people about whom the instructions of jihad were revealed) to accept an expression, an expression that was the same in respect to them as it is in respect to us. It does not say that they are to accept an expression that is for our benefit and related only to us. It says that they are to accept the expression that is the same for all and the concern of all.
If, for example, we say to a people: "Come, O people, accept our language," then those people have the right to say: "Why? We ourselves have a language, why should we come and accept yours?" Or we might say: "Come and accept our special habits and customs," and they may say: "Why should we accept your habits and customs? We have our own." But if we say: "Come and accept this thing that is not ours and not yours, but is everyone's; God is the God of us all, so accept Him," this relates no more only to us. When we say: "Worship He Who is both our Creator and your Creator, rather He Who is the Creator of all," then this is the same for them as it is for us.
The Quran says:
"Come to an expression that is equal between us and you." (3:64)
Only God, the Creator of us all is to be worshipped. And another expression that is supremely, profitable both for us and for them is:
"And that some of us do not take others as our Lords" (3:64)
Which means that the social order of master and servant is canceled, and the order of equality between human beings is established.
This verse reveals that if we fight, we fight for a thing that is the same in regards to all mankind. Having stated this, we can now say that one of the conditions which the unconditional verse can be subjected to is that if a people are bearing the oppression of a certain group, it becomes permissible for us to fight to free those people.
Now there are two other verses that I wish to recite, the first one of which is a verse from Suratul-Anfal:
"And fight with them until there is no chaos, and religion is wholly for God." (8:39)
What is the meaning of this? It means that we are to fight with those who create chaos amongst us and who want to cause us Muslims to relinquish our religion. With these we are to fight until the chaos they cause has been eliminated. This is itself a condition. A further condition is contained in verse 75 from Surah an-Nisa:
"And why is it that you do not fight in the way of God and the way of the mustazafin of men, women, and children." (4:75)
O Muslims why are you not fighting in the way of God and in the way of those who are helpless. Men, women and children who are helpless in distress; why do you not fight for them? Why do you not fight to save them?
Adapted from the book: "Jihad; The Holy War of Islam and Its Legitimacy in the Quran" by: "Ayatullah Morteza Mutahhari"
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