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The Truth About Jihad
The Truth About Jihad
Description

About the Book

 

This book seeks to address popular misconceptions regarding the Islamic concept of jihad. The book firmly establishes that the ideology of violence in the name of Islam as articulated by various terrorist groups is a crass misinterpretation of the Islamic scriptures. Nomani’s work verifies the essential altruism that Islam espouses. It studies, at length, the Prophet’s teachings on multifarious issues such as war, peace, jihad, inter-state relations and relations between Muslims and others, and, in the process, establishes that Islam, if properly interpreted, has no room for terrorism.

 

While translating Nomani’s work from Urdu into English, Yoginder Sikand has maintained the spirit of the original work.

 

About the Author

 

Yoginder Sikand is the author of over a dozen books on Islam and Muslims in South Asia. He has a PhD in History from the University of London, and was a post- doctoral research fellow at the Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World, Leiden, The Netherlands. He is presently associated with the Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion at the National Law School, Bangalore.

 

Maulana Yahya Nomani is Associate Editor of al-Furqan, an Urdu religious magazine founded by his grandfather, the late Maulana Manzoor Nomani. He holds regular Qura’nic classes in mosques and Islamic camps for youth. Recently, he set up the al-Mahad al-Ali lil Dirasat al-Islamiya (Institute for Higher Islamic Studies) in Lucknow, which provides a two-year course for madrasa graduates, to ‘make them aware of modem issues, concerns and challenges’.

 

Foreword

 

This book is an English translation of my Urdu book titled AI-Jihad. Many people, including my mentor, Maulana Atiq ur-Rahman Sambhali, Professor Syed Salman Nadwi, and other noted ulema, repeatedly insisted that it should come out in English in order to reach out to the wider, English-speaking public-not just to Muslims but also others who wish to understand the truth about jihad.

 

The Islamic concept of jihad has been greatly misunderstood. It has even been deliberately misinterpreted, particularly by Western writers, in order to damage the image of Islam and Muslims. The American authorities must surely be aware of the actual perpetrators of the attacks of 9/11, but after that incident, a huge propaganda offensive was launched to give jihad a bad name and to justify Western imperialist offensives against Muslims and occupation of Muslim lands, as in Iraq and Afghanistan. Present-day conflicts between Muslims and the West have their roots in the colonial age, and have now developed into proxy occupation of Muslim countries. The horrendous crimes committed by Western powers in the course of their naked occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan in the name of combating jihad have, naturally, led to heightened anger among Muslims. Even in Europe and America itself, a lot of peace-loving non-Muslims have stridently protested against these policies and atrocities. However, Western governments and the mass media have, through their massive propaganda machine, tried to brutally crush voices that cry out for justice. In this situation, it is not surprising that this continuing wave of oppression has inflamed a section of the Muslim youth. Their youthful zeal did not permit them to take cognizance of the demands of wisdom and practical realities. Consequently, some of them resorted to deviant behaviour and acts, inspired by extremist thinking in the name of jihad. Goaded by immense grief and pain, they began considering such acts as jihad that have no sanction whatsoever in the Islamic Shari’ah. The conditions under which they laboured also gave rise to the ideology of extremism.

 

This unfortunate situation requires that the Islamic concept of jihad be properly interpreted and explained afresh in accordance with the Shari’ah so that the wrong allegations against jihad can be effectively countered and people do not continue to get swayed by misinterpretations of jihad that would lead them to extremism and impermissible actions, causing harm not only to themselves but also to the worldwide Muslim community or ummah in general.

 

It is thus indispensable for Muslims to have a proper understanding of jihad and its principles and rules. Many of our non-Muslim brethren who sincerely wish for peace and justice are also eager to know what the concept of jihad is all about. I hope that the English translation of my book will meet that need in a modest way.

 

Both Muslims as well as non-Muslims are victims of misunderstandings about the reality of jihad. The changing times and conditions of the world and the transformation of global affairs have created the urgent need for fresh interpretations of the concept of jihad and for the formulation of new regulations covering its crucial aspects. Many rules governing jihad depend on the prevailing international context and the conditions of human civilization. The views about jihad of many classical Islamic jurists or fuqaha and the Muslim Caliphs may have been appropriate for their own particular historical context, but today, when the entire state structure, international relations, and global affairs have undergone tremendous changes, it has become difficult to understand those rules in today’s context. I hope this book will be considered a balanced contribution in this regard.

 

I use the word ‘balanced’ here because while I uphold and fully respect the Shari’ah texts, I have sought to operate within the classical framework of ijtihad or creative reflection on the sources of the Shari’ah in order to seek to derive Islamic guidelines for today’s context. For instance, in the corpus of classical fiqh or Muslim jurisprudence, there is simply no concept of permanent peace between Muslim and non-Muslim states. It only mentions short-term peace agreements. It lays down that an Islamic state is permitted to make peace with a non-Muslim state only if the, former is weak or is under such compulsion that it simply cannot wage war against the latter. Imam Shafi’i (767-820 CE), for example, argues that an Islamic state cannot make a peace treaty with a non-Muslim state for a period of more than 10 years.

 

Today, however, we are faced with a very different international situation. What, for instance, is the Shari’ah guidance in a situation when Muslims are faced with a non-Muslim state that does not oppress its citizens (including Muslims) or put any hurdles in the path of inviting people to Islam, and allows free and uninhibited practice of Islam in its domains? Can jihad be declared against such a state? To insist that in such a context too jihad must be declared and that such a state must be forced to accept a Muslim government cannot be justified at all. Every community should have the right to be governed by its own people, as long as this government does not engage in persecution and atrocities.

 

The Qur’an (8: 61) itself states that if one’s enemy inclines towards peace, Muslims must willingly embrace peace. Then why, one might ask, did the classical fuqaha of the early medieval period claim that peace with non-Muslim states was possible only on a temporary basis? This contradiction can easily be resolved if we take into account the historical context which these fuqaha were addressing. I have sketched an outline of this context in this book in such a way that the reader might be convinced that while the opinions of the classical fUqaha may have been appropriate for their own times, in today’s context the situation is different, because of which we need to seek guidance on the matter in the light of the Qur’an and the sunnah, the practice of the Prophet Muhammad.

 

Lamentably, some Muslims with only a superficial under- standing of the Qur’an and the sunnah still continue to believe that it is the duty of the worldwide Muslim ummah to wage war against the rest of the world. This erroneous belief has been reinforced by the ongoing and relentless imperialist offensives of Western powers and state-sponsored terrorism in other countries, which has forced a section of Muslims to fall prey to extremism and radicalism and to wrong understandings about the Islamic concept of jihad.

 

Today, in contrast to the times of the classical fuqaha, we live in an age where it is possible to conceive of permanent, sustained peace and an international order based on such peace. Further, at least theoretically, no country in the world now places any hurdles in the path of Islamic missionary work or inviting its people to Islam. Because of the astonishing development of the means of communication, we now have new possibilities for Islamic missionary work available to us. This vastly changed context thus leaves no basis, in reason and in the Shari’ab, for holding on to the old concept, according to which Muslim states should, as far as possible, avoid entering into peace treaties with other states, and instead, they should wage war against them and thereby seek to bring them under the flag of Islam.

 

Many Muslim scholars have well understood, and sought to avail of, the possibilities that have been made available in today’s vastly changed context, including the now widely-held notion of international peace, in order to invite others to the path of service to, and worship of, God alone. They have sought to redefine discourses about jihad based on their understanding that jihad does not mean snatching the reigns of power from another community or establishing Muslim rule. They rightly point out that as long as possibilities exist for leading one’s life according to God’s religion and for inviting other people to it, and people are not subjected to imperialist oppression or religious persecution, Muslims must abide by peaceful activism in order to call people to the path of God, revive Islam and to instill within Muslims piety and firm commitment to God so that they lead their lives in accordance with the faith-these are all faces or forms of jihad.

 

Undoubtedly, if imperialist oppression and religious persecution can only be ended through resort to force, it can constitute jihad-indeed, the best form of jihad-provided that this jihad is waged in accordance with the aims, rules and conditions that God has laid down. Yet, it must also be noted that in the context of today’s vastly changed conditions, for this to take a practical form that is in accordance with the spirit of the Qur’an and the sunnah and that does not violate their explicit texts is extremely difficult. From a believer’s viewpoint, it is possible that we may want to empathetically evaluate the position of the classical fuqaha when they insist that establishing peace with a non- Muslim state is permissible only if an Islamic state is compelled to do so and has no other choice. At the same time, we should realize the altogether different situation prevailing today. Here we need to possess a proper awareness of the new conditions and context of today as well as a deep understanding of the Qur’an and the sunnah.

 

Unfortunately, very limited effort has been made in this regard so far, and that too only superficially and without adducing strong evidence from the Shari’ah. Some scholars who have written on the subject have erred, explicitly or otherwise, in the direction of seeking to legitimize Western oppression, past and present. Others have presented a few textual references to back their particular interpretations while ignoring the arguments and references offered by those whose views they critique. Clearly, this is inadequate.

 

Preface

 

The Islamic doctrine of jihad has for long been a source of debate and controversy. An enormous number of books have been written on the subject, by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Jihad remains at the heart of contemporary discussions about Islam and its place in the modern world and about Islamic teachings with regard to people of other faiths.

 

Some months ago, I chanced upon an Urdu book tided Al-Jihad written by a Lucknow-based Islamic scholar, Maulana Yahya Nomani. So fascinating did I find his book that once I began reading it, I could not put it down till I had finished it. Although I had read several books in English and Urdu before on the issue of jihad, this book struck me as quite distinct. Written by a young scholar trained in a traditional Indian madrasa, it seemed to appeal to Muslims as well as non-Muslims alike. It was equally critical of portrayals of jihad by Islamophobic scholars as being allegedly akin to terrorism as it was of radical self-styled Islamists, who believe it to be a license for indiscriminate slaughter of non- Muslims as well as Muslims who do not subscribe to their vision of Islam. While I did not agree with everything that the author had to say, I felt that on the whole, the book made a valuable contribution to longstanding and still on-going debates about the doctrine of jihad. I believed that the book definitely deserved a much larger audience, and that is why I decided to translate it into English after seeking permission from the author.

 

Some salient issues that this book raises are the concept and purposes of jihad; the limits and rules governing jihad; the conditions under which armed jihad may be resorted to; the various non-violent forms of jihad; the treatment of non- Muslim combatants and non-combatants or civilians during armed jihad; the need for the contextual revision of certain rules related to jihad that are contained in the medieval corpus of fiqh or Muslim jurisprudence; the impermissibility of proxy war and communal conflict in the name of jihad; the duties and responsibilities of Muslim citizens or residents of non-Muslim states; and Islamic teachings about relations between Muslims and followers of other faiths.

 

Contents

 

 

Preface

vii

 

Foreword

ix

1

The Truth About Jihad

1

2

Not War, But Struggle in the Path of God

13

3

Reconciliation and Jihad

39

4

Important Conditions and Rules Regarding Jihad

53

5

Jihad and Abiding by Treaties

63

6

Non-violent Forms of Jihad

119

7

Islamic Teachings about Relations

 

 

with Non-Muslims

135

 

The Truth About Jihad

Item Code:
NAI348
Cover:
Hardcover
Edition:
2011
ISBN:
9789380828107
Language:
English
Size:
8.5 inch X 5.5 inch
Pages:
182
Other Details:
Weight of the Book: 390 gms
Price:
$24.00   Shipping Free
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About the Book

 

This book seeks to address popular misconceptions regarding the Islamic concept of jihad. The book firmly establishes that the ideology of violence in the name of Islam as articulated by various terrorist groups is a crass misinterpretation of the Islamic scriptures. Nomani’s work verifies the essential altruism that Islam espouses. It studies, at length, the Prophet’s teachings on multifarious issues such as war, peace, jihad, inter-state relations and relations between Muslims and others, and, in the process, establishes that Islam, if properly interpreted, has no room for terrorism.

 

While translating Nomani’s work from Urdu into English, Yoginder Sikand has maintained the spirit of the original work.

 

About the Author

 

Yoginder Sikand is the author of over a dozen books on Islam and Muslims in South Asia. He has a PhD in History from the University of London, and was a post- doctoral research fellow at the Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World, Leiden, The Netherlands. He is presently associated with the Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion at the National Law School, Bangalore.

 

Maulana Yahya Nomani is Associate Editor of al-Furqan, an Urdu religious magazine founded by his grandfather, the late Maulana Manzoor Nomani. He holds regular Qura’nic classes in mosques and Islamic camps for youth. Recently, he set up the al-Mahad al-Ali lil Dirasat al-Islamiya (Institute for Higher Islamic Studies) in Lucknow, which provides a two-year course for madrasa graduates, to ‘make them aware of modem issues, concerns and challenges’.

 

Foreword

 

This book is an English translation of my Urdu book titled AI-Jihad. Many people, including my mentor, Maulana Atiq ur-Rahman Sambhali, Professor Syed Salman Nadwi, and other noted ulema, repeatedly insisted that it should come out in English in order to reach out to the wider, English-speaking public-not just to Muslims but also others who wish to understand the truth about jihad.

 

The Islamic concept of jihad has been greatly misunderstood. It has even been deliberately misinterpreted, particularly by Western writers, in order to damage the image of Islam and Muslims. The American authorities must surely be aware of the actual perpetrators of the attacks of 9/11, but after that incident, a huge propaganda offensive was launched to give jihad a bad name and to justify Western imperialist offensives against Muslims and occupation of Muslim lands, as in Iraq and Afghanistan. Present-day conflicts between Muslims and the West have their roots in the colonial age, and have now developed into proxy occupation of Muslim countries. The horrendous crimes committed by Western powers in the course of their naked occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan in the name of combating jihad have, naturally, led to heightened anger among Muslims. Even in Europe and America itself, a lot of peace-loving non-Muslims have stridently protested against these policies and atrocities. However, Western governments and the mass media have, through their massive propaganda machine, tried to brutally crush voices that cry out for justice. In this situation, it is not surprising that this continuing wave of oppression has inflamed a section of the Muslim youth. Their youthful zeal did not permit them to take cognizance of the demands of wisdom and practical realities. Consequently, some of them resorted to deviant behaviour and acts, inspired by extremist thinking in the name of jihad. Goaded by immense grief and pain, they began considering such acts as jihad that have no sanction whatsoever in the Islamic Shari’ah. The conditions under which they laboured also gave rise to the ideology of extremism.

 

This unfortunate situation requires that the Islamic concept of jihad be properly interpreted and explained afresh in accordance with the Shari’ah so that the wrong allegations against jihad can be effectively countered and people do not continue to get swayed by misinterpretations of jihad that would lead them to extremism and impermissible actions, causing harm not only to themselves but also to the worldwide Muslim community or ummah in general.

 

It is thus indispensable for Muslims to have a proper understanding of jihad and its principles and rules. Many of our non-Muslim brethren who sincerely wish for peace and justice are also eager to know what the concept of jihad is all about. I hope that the English translation of my book will meet that need in a modest way.

 

Both Muslims as well as non-Muslims are victims of misunderstandings about the reality of jihad. The changing times and conditions of the world and the transformation of global affairs have created the urgent need for fresh interpretations of the concept of jihad and for the formulation of new regulations covering its crucial aspects. Many rules governing jihad depend on the prevailing international context and the conditions of human civilization. The views about jihad of many classical Islamic jurists or fuqaha and the Muslim Caliphs may have been appropriate for their own particular historical context, but today, when the entire state structure, international relations, and global affairs have undergone tremendous changes, it has become difficult to understand those rules in today’s context. I hope this book will be considered a balanced contribution in this regard.

 

I use the word ‘balanced’ here because while I uphold and fully respect the Shari’ah texts, I have sought to operate within the classical framework of ijtihad or creative reflection on the sources of the Shari’ah in order to seek to derive Islamic guidelines for today’s context. For instance, in the corpus of classical fiqh or Muslim jurisprudence, there is simply no concept of permanent peace between Muslim and non-Muslim states. It only mentions short-term peace agreements. It lays down that an Islamic state is permitted to make peace with a non-Muslim state only if the, former is weak or is under such compulsion that it simply cannot wage war against the latter. Imam Shafi’i (767-820 CE), for example, argues that an Islamic state cannot make a peace treaty with a non-Muslim state for a period of more than 10 years.

 

Today, however, we are faced with a very different international situation. What, for instance, is the Shari’ah guidance in a situation when Muslims are faced with a non-Muslim state that does not oppress its citizens (including Muslims) or put any hurdles in the path of inviting people to Islam, and allows free and uninhibited practice of Islam in its domains? Can jihad be declared against such a state? To insist that in such a context too jihad must be declared and that such a state must be forced to accept a Muslim government cannot be justified at all. Every community should have the right to be governed by its own people, as long as this government does not engage in persecution and atrocities.

 

The Qur’an (8: 61) itself states that if one’s enemy inclines towards peace, Muslims must willingly embrace peace. Then why, one might ask, did the classical fuqaha of the early medieval period claim that peace with non-Muslim states was possible only on a temporary basis? This contradiction can easily be resolved if we take into account the historical context which these fuqaha were addressing. I have sketched an outline of this context in this book in such a way that the reader might be convinced that while the opinions of the classical fUqaha may have been appropriate for their own times, in today’s context the situation is different, because of which we need to seek guidance on the matter in the light of the Qur’an and the sunnah, the practice of the Prophet Muhammad.

 

Lamentably, some Muslims with only a superficial under- standing of the Qur’an and the sunnah still continue to believe that it is the duty of the worldwide Muslim ummah to wage war against the rest of the world. This erroneous belief has been reinforced by the ongoing and relentless imperialist offensives of Western powers and state-sponsored terrorism in other countries, which has forced a section of Muslims to fall prey to extremism and radicalism and to wrong understandings about the Islamic concept of jihad.

 

Today, in contrast to the times of the classical fuqaha, we live in an age where it is possible to conceive of permanent, sustained peace and an international order based on such peace. Further, at least theoretically, no country in the world now places any hurdles in the path of Islamic missionary work or inviting its people to Islam. Because of the astonishing development of the means of communication, we now have new possibilities for Islamic missionary work available to us. This vastly changed context thus leaves no basis, in reason and in the Shari’ab, for holding on to the old concept, according to which Muslim states should, as far as possible, avoid entering into peace treaties with other states, and instead, they should wage war against them and thereby seek to bring them under the flag of Islam.

 

Many Muslim scholars have well understood, and sought to avail of, the possibilities that have been made available in today’s vastly changed context, including the now widely-held notion of international peace, in order to invite others to the path of service to, and worship of, God alone. They have sought to redefine discourses about jihad based on their understanding that jihad does not mean snatching the reigns of power from another community or establishing Muslim rule. They rightly point out that as long as possibilities exist for leading one’s life according to God’s religion and for inviting other people to it, and people are not subjected to imperialist oppression or religious persecution, Muslims must abide by peaceful activism in order to call people to the path of God, revive Islam and to instill within Muslims piety and firm commitment to God so that they lead their lives in accordance with the faith-these are all faces or forms of jihad.

 

Undoubtedly, if imperialist oppression and religious persecution can only be ended through resort to force, it can constitute jihad-indeed, the best form of jihad-provided that this jihad is waged in accordance with the aims, rules and conditions that God has laid down. Yet, it must also be noted that in the context of today’s vastly changed conditions, for this to take a practical form that is in accordance with the spirit of the Qur’an and the sunnah and that does not violate their explicit texts is extremely difficult. From a believer’s viewpoint, it is possible that we may want to empathetically evaluate the position of the classical fuqaha when they insist that establishing peace with a non- Muslim state is permissible only if an Islamic state is compelled to do so and has no other choice. At the same time, we should realize the altogether different situation prevailing today. Here we need to possess a proper awareness of the new conditions and context of today as well as a deep understanding of the Qur’an and the sunnah.

 

Unfortunately, very limited effort has been made in this regard so far, and that too only superficially and without adducing strong evidence from the Shari’ah. Some scholars who have written on the subject have erred, explicitly or otherwise, in the direction of seeking to legitimize Western oppression, past and present. Others have presented a few textual references to back their particular interpretations while ignoring the arguments and references offered by those whose views they critique. Clearly, this is inadequate.

 

Preface

 

The Islamic doctrine of jihad has for long been a source of debate and controversy. An enormous number of books have been written on the subject, by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Jihad remains at the heart of contemporary discussions about Islam and its place in the modern world and about Islamic teachings with regard to people of other faiths.

 

Some months ago, I chanced upon an Urdu book tided Al-Jihad written by a Lucknow-based Islamic scholar, Maulana Yahya Nomani. So fascinating did I find his book that once I began reading it, I could not put it down till I had finished it. Although I had read several books in English and Urdu before on the issue of jihad, this book struck me as quite distinct. Written by a young scholar trained in a traditional Indian madrasa, it seemed to appeal to Muslims as well as non-Muslims alike. It was equally critical of portrayals of jihad by Islamophobic scholars as being allegedly akin to terrorism as it was of radical self-styled Islamists, who believe it to be a license for indiscriminate slaughter of non- Muslims as well as Muslims who do not subscribe to their vision of Islam. While I did not agree with everything that the author had to say, I felt that on the whole, the book made a valuable contribution to longstanding and still on-going debates about the doctrine of jihad. I believed that the book definitely deserved a much larger audience, and that is why I decided to translate it into English after seeking permission from the author.

 

Some salient issues that this book raises are the concept and purposes of jihad; the limits and rules governing jihad; the conditions under which armed jihad may be resorted to; the various non-violent forms of jihad; the treatment of non- Muslim combatants and non-combatants or civilians during armed jihad; the need for the contextual revision of certain rules related to jihad that are contained in the medieval corpus of fiqh or Muslim jurisprudence; the impermissibility of proxy war and communal conflict in the name of jihad; the duties and responsibilities of Muslim citizens or residents of non-Muslim states; and Islamic teachings about relations between Muslims and followers of other faiths.

 

Contents

 

 

Preface

vii

 

Foreword

ix

1

The Truth About Jihad

1

2

Not War, But Struggle in the Path of God

13

3

Reconciliation and Jihad

39

4

Important Conditions and Rules Regarding Jihad

53

5

Jihad and Abiding by Treaties

63

6

Non-violent Forms of Jihad

119

7

Islamic Teachings about Relations

 

 

with Non-Muslims

135

 

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