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Jihad Under Fire

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    Jihad Under Fire

    “Never will the Jews nor the Christians be pleased with you till you follow their religion. Say: ‘Verily, the guidance of Allah is the (only) guidance.’ And if you were to follow their desires after what you have received of Knowledge, then you would have against Allah neither any protector/guardian nor any helper.” (TMQ 2:120)

    In 1857, the Muslims of India rose up and fought a jihad against their British occupiers. They were brutally suppressed. In the reprisals that followed, the ‘civilised’ Brits stuffed pork into the mouths of those due for execution, and sewed them into pigs’ skins. Many were then fired live out of cannons.

    A new brand of ‘scholar’ emerged after what is now referred to as the Indian Mutiny. These mentally defeated modernists, anxious to please their British masters, insisted that armed resistance was not justified and sought to re-define jihad. Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan, knighted for saving the life of a senior British army officer during the uprising, presented Islam as a pacifist religion. Another loyal subject, Maulavi Cheragh Ali, wrote A Critical Exposition of the Popular “Jihad”. According to the subtitle, the books appendices showed ‘that the word jihad does not exegetically mean warfare.’

    Egypt, too, has had its fair share of anti-jihad modernists who wanted to reconcile Islam with Western ways, among them the notorious freemasons Muhammad Abduh and Jamaluddin Afghani. The former was rewarded by being appointed Shaykh of Al-Azhar by the British.

    Anwar Sadat, the Egyptian President who was assassinated because he had signed the infamous Camp David accords with Israel, did not shy away from trying to derail the concept of jihad. In 1979, the same year as the peace treaty, he wrote an article entitled The Greater Jihad for the first issue of a Sufi journal. He promoted the idea that fighting against the disbelievers is far less important than struggling against one’s own desires.

    He based his argument on a rather weak narration, which describes struggling against the desires as being better than fighting on the battlefield. The narrator, Yahya ibn al-‘Ala’, is described by Ahmad bin Hanbal as “a liar and forger of ahadith”. Ibn Hajar Asqalani says “he was accused of forging ahadith”. Moreover, this narration contradicts the many authentic ahadith which prove the clear understanding of jihad.

    In the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Centre, George Bush declared, “Islam is peace”. The concept of jihad came under scrutiny and a number of apologists were wheeled out to tell the West what they wanted to hear. One of these media darlings, who was given “100% security clearance” by the FBI and now advises the White House, declared: “The Prophet said the greatest jihad is the struggle of a man against his own evil influences.” He also insisted in a BBC interview on October 7, the same day the attack on Afghanistan began, that the U.S. had “no option” but to take military action. He maintained, “Americans have a right to defend and pre-empt any acts of aggression against themselves, most certainly”. Apparently, while America is entitled to carpet bomb Afghanistan, Muslims must focus on following the Sufi path!

    On British T.V., another self-appointed ‘shaykh’ proclaimed: “Jihad is a term used in the Qur’an for striving, not for fighting…For instance if I actually work as a teacher, as a carpenter, as anything I am called a mujahid, I am making jihad, that is striving to serve the community at large.”

    In fact, the Shari‘ah meaning of jihad is to exert one’s utmost effort in fighting the disbelievers for the sake of Allah (swt), directly by fighting in the battlefield or indirectly by helping this struggle by monetary means, scholarly verdicts, and encouraging people to participate in the jihad. Other tasks which may be difficult and thus involve some exertion but are not related to fighting, such as fixing a boiler or making a chair, are not termed jihad as understood in the Shari‘ah.

    In the verses of the Qur’an and ahadith about jihad, the expression fi sabil illah (in the cause of Allah) is commonly used. The following hadith clarifies what this means:

    Narrated Abu Musa al-Ash’ari (may Allah be pleased with him): A man came to the Prophet (saw) and asked, “A man fights for war booty; another fights for fame and a third fights for showing off; which of them fights in Allah's cause?” The Prophet (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) said, "He who fights so that Allah’s word (i.e. Islam) should be superior fights in Allah’s cause.” (Bukhari)

    After the establishment of the first Islamic state in Madina, the Prophet (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) strove to make Allah’s word superior through da‘wa, and by waging jihad when the call was rejected so as to remove the obstacles in the way of the Islamic call. The Quraysh had to be removed, as it was a physical barrier between Islam and the people, who could then be invited to Islam while witnessing the justice of its rule. This method of spreading Islam was followed by the Muslims after the Prophet (sallalahu alaihi wassalam) - Muslims such as Rib‘i bin ‘Amir who was sent by Umar (ra) as an emissary to the court of the Persian general Rustum, and who announced:

    “Allah has sent us forward so that we may liberate, whomsoever he wills, from following men (and lead them) to the obedience of Allah, and pull them out of their narrow world into the broader one, and from under the tyranny of (various) ways of life into the justice of Islam.” (Ibn Kathir, al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah).

    Today, the whole world suffers under the unchallenged tyranny of Capitalism and U.S. hegemony. The rule of Islam and its propagation through da‘wa and jihad is humankind’s only hope.

    Abdul Malik

    World Affairs Correspondent

    Kcom Journal

    09 November 2001