Jihad and Qital
(struggle and war)
Some important discourses
By Dr. Mohammad Farooq Khan
Meaning of jihad, Qital and Sabr
War in Allah’s path, definition and guidelines
Nexus between state and war
Could Muslims revolt against their rulers for a good cause?
The special status of the Holy Prophet on the basis of the great task that Allah
completed through him
Principles of Muslims-non Muslims relationship
War expeditions of the companions of the Holy Prophet
Some jurisprudential terms
War, freedom struggle and the onslaught of extremist organisations
Usama Bin Laden’s concept of Qital
1. Jihad and Qital some important discussion
1.1 Meaning of Jihad
The term Jihad signifies making utmost struggle to achieve an objective. It is a
comprehensive term that includes all kinds of endeavours made for any purpose.
When the endeavours are made for the sake of Allah, it is called Jihad in Allah’s path.
Every struggle that seeks realization of Allah’s rights, human rights and training of
self is jihad. Similarly all endeavours to help the needy and the poor, to disseminate
knowledge, to save oneself from sins and propagate religion through Quran is Jihad.
This is why Muslim jurists speak of Jihad by knowledge, Jihad by deeds and Jihad by
self which engulf every act of virtue. In short, doing any work of virtue is jihad. It is a
continuous process that continues through out a Muslim’s life.
The word is distinct from war for which Quran uses the term Qital. Jihad is a whole
while Qital is only a part of it. Jihad is an all encompassing term while Qital denotes
just its militant aspect.
The word Jihad and its corollaries have been used in the holy Quran in 29 verses.
Four of these verses relate to Makkite period. As we all know that Muslims were not
authorised armed struggle therein. We have but to restrict the meaning of the term
Jihad used in these four verses to peaceful struggle for religion. 25 of these verses are
Madinite. It is well known about the period that on the one hand peaceful propagation
of religion continued and on the other, they were allowed use of force if attacked in
order to protect the nascent state against the threats posed by its enemies. So, in
Madinite period, the term Jihad also began representing the aspect of armed struggle
or Qital along with that of hitherto known peaceful struggle. The context of the verses
makes it clear as to where the word is used for peaceful struggle and where it stands
for armed struggle. Now we would narrate the verses one by one. First four verses
were revealed in Makkite period.
1. “Certainly your Lord, to those who left their homes after trials and persecutions,
and who thereafter strived for the Faith and patiently persevered, your Lord, after
all this is Often-Forgiving, the Most Merciful.” (Chapter 16, Verse 110)
In this verse, the migration of Abyssinia by some companions of the Holy Prophet
during Mekhite period is alluded to and the Jihad referred to is the general struggle.
2. “So, don’t listen to the rejecters but strive for the greater struggle against them
with this (Quran).” (Chapter 25, verse 52)
In this verse the peaceful preaching through Quran has been declared a greater Jihad.
3. “And whosoever that strives in our way is doing it for his own soul: For Allah is
free of all needs from all creations.” (Chapter 29, verse 6)
In this verse, every struggle for the sake of religion has been dubbed as Jihad. Literal
meaning KAFFIR is the one who hides something”. According to Quran, KAAFIR is
a person who has received full knowledge about Islam for a sufficient period of time
by the best preachers and has understand that it is true. Despite this, he decides to
reject it because of prejudice or interest.
4. “And those who strive in Our Cause, We will certainly guide them to Our Paths:
For verily Allah is with those who do the right.”(Chapter 29, verse 69)
In this verse too, the word Jihad has been used for every effort for religion.
Now we will enumerate the Madinite verses. It means the period when the Holy
Prophet became ruler of Madina.
5. “Those who believed and those who suffered exile and those who struggled in the
Path of Allah, they have the hope of the mercy of Allah: And Allah is Often-forgiving
and the most Merciful.” (Chapter 2, verse 218)
This verse lies at a place where several questions put up by the Muslims have been
answered. The four sacred months have been mentioned before this verse while the
verse is followed by commandments about wine and gambling. This makes it clear
that the word Jihad here signifies general struggle in the path of Islam.
6. “Did you think that you would enter Heaven without Allah knowing those of you
who fought (in His path) and who remained steadfast? (Chapter 3, verse 142).
As this verse has come in the backdrop of Battle of Uhud, here the word Jihad stands
for armed struggle.
7. “Not equals are those believers who sit (at home) and receive no hurt and those
who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons. Allah
has granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons
than those sit (at home). Though to both Allah has promised good but Allah has
distinguished those who strive and fight above those who sit by a special reward.”
(Chapter 4, verse 95)
In this part of the chapter Nissa, war laws are being discussed. So, jihad here refers to
militant aspect of the struggle. And it should be borne in mind that while this verse
declares that though fighting for Islam is work of great reward, it is not mandatory.
Every Muslim is basically duty bound to have faith, do good and to advise others for
the truth and perseverance on the right in his environment.
Some other injunctions by the Quran make the point that it is indeed a worst kind of
hypocrisy to lag behind if a Muslim government asks for compulsory military services
in the wake of grave dangers. Unless sincerely repented, its culprit will be thrown to
hell but such a person cannot be given any punishment in this world.
8. “O’ believers! Fear Allah and seek the means of approach to Him and strive in His
Path, so that you may prosper.” (Chapter 6, verse 35)
Coming between the penal commandments and the punishment to thieves, this verse
actually cautions Muslims that they should obey the religious orders with letter and
spirit and struggle in the path of Allah at their fullest. Jihad, there fore, implies the
9. “O’ (apparently) believers! If any one from you turns back from his Faith (Allah
doesn’t care). Soon will Allah produce a people whom He will love as they love him-
lovely with the believers and mighty against the rejecters; struggling in the way of
Allah and never afraid of the reproaches of such as find fault.” (Chapter 5, verse54)
These verses address the hypocrites. In the era of the Prophet (PBUH), there were
certain elements in the Muslim community who despised Muslims and connived with
the enemies. This verse predicted the elimination of these hypocrites which got
materialised soon. Besides, the verse also lauded the true believers for their strenuous
struggle in the path of Allah who cared the least for the reproaches by others. The
background suffices to decide that here Jihad refers to the general struggle.
10-12. “Those who believed, migrated (to Madina) and struggled for the faith with
their property and persons in the cause of Allah (i.e. emigrants from Mekka), as well
as those who gave them asylum and aid (i.e. their helpers in Madina), these are (all)
friends and protectors of each other. While to those who believed but didn’t migrate,
you don’t have any duty of protection to them until they migrate (to Madina). But if
they seek your aid in religion, it is your duty to protect them, except against a people
with whom you have a treaty. And remember that Allah sees all that you do.
The opponents of the belief are protectors, one of another: Unless you do this (i.e. act
on the above law), there would be oppression on earth and great mischief.
Those who believed, adopted migration and struggled for faith in the cause of Allah,
and those who gave (them) asylum and help, these are (all) truthful believers; for
them is forgiveness (of sins) and the most generous provision.
And those who embrace the faith hereafter, adopt migration, and struggle for the faith
alongside you, they are of you. But kindred by blood have prior rights against each
other in the book of Allah. Verily Allah is well acquainted with all the things.”
(Chapter 8, Verses 72-75).
The above lines reveal the importance of territorial limits of the state of Madina.
These verses testify that Islam recognises the existence and significance of nation
state. A Muslim state in barred hereby to help Muslims residing beyond its frontiers
unless it is sanctioned by international treaties.
As this citizenship comprised all Muslims- those who participated in the war as well
as those who didn’t- the word Jihad here refers to its general sense.
13. “Do you think (O’Muslims!) that you will be exonerated whilst Allah hasn’t yet
examined (all of you) to know those amongst you who fight (in his path) and take non
for friends and protectors except Allah, His Apostle and the believers? Allah is well
acquainted with what you do.” (Chapter 9, verse 16).
This verse is preceded by a reference to war, so here the militant aspect is dominate.
14-15. “Do you make the giving of drink to pilgrims, or the maintenance of the
Sacred Mosque, equal to (the pious service) of those who believe in Allah and in the
Last Day and fight (with main and might) in the cause of Allah? They are not
comparable in the sight of Allah: And Allah doesn’t guide those who do wrong. Those
who believed, and suffered exile and fought with their properties and persons in the
cause of Allah, have the highest rank in the sight of Allah: They are the people who
will succeed.” (Chapter 9, verses 19-20)
As this verse comes amidst war discussion, here the word Jihad refers to armed
16. “(O. Prophet), say to them: if it be that your fathers, your sons, your brothers,
your mates, or your kindred; the wealth that you have gained; the commerce in which
you fear a decline; or the dwellings that you delight in, are dearer to you than Allah,
or His Apostle, or the striving in His cause; then wait until Allah brings about His
decision: And Allah never guides the rebellious.” (Chapter 9, verse 24)
During the era of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), sometimes all adult Muslims were asked
for voluntary services in the event of grave danger. Some of them would be assigned
military duties while others non-military ones. Despite this, a few persons would
deprive themselves of this reward due to feeble faith. These people are addressed in
these verses and told that even if they won’t fight beside other Muslims, Allah would
give the final victory to His Apostle. So, here Jihad refers to war.
17. “(O’ Muslims!) Go out (for this war whether equipped) lightly or heavily, and
strive with your goods and persons in the cause of Allah. That is best for you if you
knew.” Chapter 9, verse 41)
This verse came in the backdrop of the Battle of Tabook. It immediately comes after
the migration account of the Holy Prophet and Abu Bakkar. It mentions financial
sacrifice as well. Here, therefore, Jihad refers to both its armed and general aspect.
18. “Those who believe in Allah and the Last Day will never ask you to exempt them
from fighting with their goods and persons. And Allah knows well those who fear
Him.” (Chapter 9, verse 44)
This verse discusses the Battle of Ditch (war of Ahzaab). So, here the term Jihad is
specific to war.
19. “O prophet! Strive hard against these opponents of Belief and the hypocrites and
be firm onto them. Their abode is Hell- an evil refuge indeed.” (Chapter 9, verse 73)
Jihad in this verse means to confront them with full might, i.e., to defeat their
propaganda, allegations and conspiracies. As war was never fought against the
hypocrites in the Prophet’ era, so Jihad here may stand for armed struggle against the
enemies of Islam but this aspect is not referred to as far as hypocrites are concerned.
20. “(Allah is well aware of the whispers of the hypocrites) who slander such of the
believers who give happily in donations as well those who find nothing to offer except
the returns of their labour and ridicule them. Allah will throw back their ridicule on
them and they will have grievous punishment.” (Chapter 9, verse 79)
The term Jihad here stands for spending money in the cause of Allah.
21. “(On the occasion of Battle of Tabook, the Hypocrites) who were left behind
rejoiced in their lagging behind from the Apostle of Allah; they didn’t like to strive
and fight in the Path of Allah; they (the Hypocrites) said (to others too) not to go forth
in this hot summer. Say (O prophet to them that) the fire of Hell is fiercer in heat. If
only they could understand (the fact).” (Chapter 9, verse 81)
This verse was revealed in the backdrop of Battle of Tabook and it declares all those
who rendered corporal and financial sacrifices as Mujahideen. So, two aspects of the
Jihad-to offer funds for Islam and to go to war when required- are specifically
22. “(O Prophet!) Whenever a chapter if Quran (of the subject matter) came down
that enjoined them to fulfil the obligations of belief in Allah and fight alongwith His
Apostle, the affluent amongst them also came to you to seek exemption and said ,
“Leave us behind with those who sit (at homes).” (Chapter 9, verse 86)
As this verse was also revealed in the context of Battle of Tabook, here Jihad also
refers to war in the cause of Allah.
23. “But for the Apostle and those who believed with him, who strive and fight with
their wealth and persons, are (all) good bounties: and it is they who will prosper.”
(Chapter 9, verse 88)
The verse also relates to Battle of Tabook. Though the aspect of fighting in the cause
of Allah with ones’ goods and person is dominant here, the general aspect of the
struggle is also visible.
24. “And strive in Allah’s path as it deserves. He has chosen you for this struggle,
and has imposed no difficulty on you in Religion; (Allah has chosen for you) the cult
of your father Ibrahim.” (Chapter 22, verse 78)
It is evident from the context of the verse that Jihad here connotes general struggle for
the cause of Islam.
25. “And (O companions of the Apostle!) We shall try you until we filter out from
amongst you as to who are fighters and steadfast. This way will We test your
conditions.” (Chapter 47, verse 31)
The hypocrites of Madina would often complain as to why war wasn’t allowed. When
it was, they began avoiding it. Therefore Allah declared through this verse that He
will put to test all the Muslims to reveal their true worth. This background shows that
Jihad here stands for fighting in way of Allah.
26. “Only those are true believers who have believed in Allah and His Apostle, and
have never doubted since then and have strived with their goods and their persons in
the cause of Allah: these are the truthful ones.” (Chapter 15, verse 49)
Verses 14 to18 of the chapter had earlier discussed the faith of the people of the
suburbs of Madina where it was stated that they had not accepted the faith
wholeheartedly but had only apparently conformed to Islam. In this verse, the trait of
Muslims is mentioned that a Muslim is ready to offer anything he has in the cause of
Allah. Hence, Jihad here signifies all kinds of struggle for Islam.
27. “O Believers! Don’t take My enemies and yours as friends. You offer them love
while they have rejected the Truth that has come to you; they have driven the Apostle
and yourselves out (from your homes, simply) because you believed in Allah, your
Lord. If you have come out to strive in My cause and to seek My Pleasure (then how
strange is it that) you send secret messages of love to them. While I know full well all
that you do covertly or overtly. And any of you, who does this, has strayed from the
straight path.” (Chapter 60, verse 1)
These verses declare that if any state declares our country an enemy state or there is
enmity between them and us, citizens have no right and justification to seek friendship
or covert relationship with that country or its inhabitants.
The context of the verse reveals that both the general struggle and war are meant here
28. “O believers! Should I lead you to a bargain that will save you from a grievous
penalty? (It is that) you believe in Allah and His Apostle and that you strive (your
utmost) with your belongings and persons in the cause of Allah: that will be best for
you if you know.”(Chapter 61, verse 10-11)
Before these verses, the Polytheists were told that ultimate victory in Arabian
Peninsula rested with the Prophet despite it being too repugnant to them. The Muslims
are directed in this context that they should struggle in the cause of Allah with their
goods and persons to foil the designs of the polytheists and the hypocrites. So, Jihad
here encompasses every kind of struggle in that connection- even armed struggle
would not be spared if need be.
29. “O Prophet! Strive hard against these opponents of Belief and the hypocrites and
be firm onto them. And their abode is Hell- an evil refuge (indeed).”(Chapter 66,
The term Jihad here means how to present the case of Islam in discussions with non-
believers and hypocrites and to defeat their conspiracies. Obviously, the Prophet
never waged armed war against the hypocrites.
In the above pages, we have enumerated, as per our capacity, all the Quranic verses
related to Jihad. The discussion makes it amply clear that it is wrong to specify the
term Jihad to armed struggle only. In fourteen of the above verses, the term jihad
refers to armed struggle. In the rest, it means every kind of struggle for Islam.
1.2. Jihad and Ahadith
In Ahadith too, the term Jihad sometimes refers to each work of virtue while at other
places it indicates participation in the war. For example, according to an account,
when the companions of the Prophet would return from a war, they said:
“We have returned from a smaller jihad to a greater one.” (Musnad Ahmad, Tirmizi)
Or as the Holy Prophet said:
“A Mujahid is one who fights with his self in obedience to Allah.”
Similarly, the Prophet in a tradition also dubs the service of parents as jihad. It is
narrated that a man came to the Prophet. He asked for permission to go for jihad. The
Prophet asked him whether his parents were alive. He replied in affirmative. The
Prophet then asked him to go and serve them saying that was his jihad. (Bukhari,
1.3. The meaning of Qital
Quran uses the term Qital for armed struggle. Every war is Qital irrespective of its
objective. Qital is mentioned in fifty four verses of the Quran. All these verses are
Madinite. These are:
Chapter 2, verses 154, 190, 191, 193, 216, 217, 244, 246, 251, 253;
Chapter 3, verses 13, 108, 111, 121, 167, 169, 195;
Chapter 4, verses 74, 75, 76, 77, 84, 89, 90, 91;
Chapter 5, verse 70;
Chapter 8, verses 16, 17, 39, 65;
Chapter 9, verses 12, 13, 14, 29, 36, 111, 123;
Chapter 22, verses 39, 58;
Chapter 33, verses 25, 26, 61;
Chapter 47, verses 4, 20;
Chapter 48, verses 16, 22;
Chapter 49, verse 9;
Chapter 58, verse 10;
Chapter 59, verse 11;
Chapter 60, verse 9;
Chapter 61, verse 4;
Chapter 63, verse 4;
Chapter 73, verse 20.
Quran mentions three kinds of Qital: One, a war which is carried out to seek Allah’s
pleasure-it is called ‘Qital fi sabeelillah’(or war in the cause of Allah; Two, any kind
of war fought between two sides for any purpose-it is simply called Qital; Three, a
war which is started against Muslims to annihilate them or their faith- it has been
dubbed as Qital fi sabeelit taghoot (War in support of the evil or transgressor). If we
go by the concept and spirit of Islamic teachings, we can also say that any war for
genocide or enslavement of any nation, irrespective of their religion, caste or area, is a
war in the cause of Taghoot.
The first kind of war is meant when the Holy Quran declares:
“(If need be) the believers fight in the way of Allah while the rejecters fight (against
Islam and) in the cause of the Evil. Therefore, fight against the supporters of Satan:
feeble indeed are the schemes of Satan.” (Chapter 4, verse 76)
Similarly, about the general war, it has been said:
“(O Believers!) If two parties among the believers fall into a war, conciliate between
the two: But if one of them transgresses beyond limits over the other, then fight
against the transgressor until it complies with the command of Allah. If it submits,
then make peace between them with justice and be fair. For, Allah loves those who
are fair.” (Chapter 49, verse 9)
Qital will however be discussed in detail in the light of Islamic teachings later.
1.4 Meaning of‘Sabr’ (patience)
The term patience is almost forgotten by Muslims. It has rather disappeared from the
utterances and writings of Muslim scholars, reformers and political leaders. Its
importance can be judged from the fact that the term and its corollaries have been
cited in the Holy Quran for about 103 times. A careful study of these citations reveals
that patience is in fact a mentality and a behaviour pattern one aspect of which relates
to individual and the other to the community.
As far the meaning of patience related to individual life, it is that when an individual
is faced with odds, he should not lose heart; he should save himself from despair and
panic; he should adopt a well-thought out peaceful strategy after careful and cool-
minded evaluation of the situation in hand and keep on the strategy despite
provocation avoiding any reactionary or violent steps.
Similarly, when a Muslim nation is caught in grave dangers and difficulties, patience
demands that it should keep its cool, plan and prepare for the future and avoid
reactionary or problematic measures. The strategy would include all possible efforts
to avoid damage as far as possible and a belief in Allah that He is witnessing
everything. Persistence with strategy is called patience.
Contrary to that, any instant, reckless and hasty step without any objectives analysis
and preparation and lack of perseverance in strategy would be called impatience.
Impatience has been the biggest weakness and shortcoming of the Muslim nation
through out the past 200 years. Even today its leaders are indoctrinating the malady
while those who advocate patience are dubbed as cowards.
Patience has been the hallmark of the history of the prophets and their companions.
They persisted with their agenda but didn’t attempt shortcuts to realise goals quickly.
Noah and His followers preached for centuries and underwent persecutions by the
opponents but they didn’t retaliate. Only Prophet Younas showed some impatience in
his endeavours and his story was made part of the Holy Quran for all times to come.
“So, wait with patience for the command of your Lord, and don’t be like the
Companion of the Fish (Younas or Jonah) when he (from the belly of the fish) cried
out in agony. Had the grace from His Lord not reached him, he (for his haste) would
indeed have been cast off on the naked shore in contempt.” (Chapter 68, verse 48-49)
The Holy Prophet also adopted the path of patience. He never retaliated for cruelties
committed against his self and his companions in the 13 years of Makkite period.
Rather he asked them to be patient and steadfast. This despite the fact that Muslims
there had the guts and power to defeat a ten times bigger enemy in the words of the
Quran. It was only when a state came into being in Madina that the Muslims were
allowed warfare with certain conditions.
In the battle of Badar, enemy was thrice powerful in fighters and arms than Muslims.
But the reason rather than emotions prevailed in the Muslim camp. They devised the
best well thought out strategy by mutual consultations. Against this, there was
disunity in the enemy’s ranks; their steps showed recklessness and disorder. So, with
Allah’s grace, the Muslims prevailed.
Muslims were comparatively in a better position in the Battle of Uhud. The Prophet
(PBUH) had planned well, so the Muslims initially gained victory. But when, as
mentioned by the Quran, some Muslims showed impatience, they violated the orders
of their commander for love of bounty and discord ensued, Allah Almighty changed
their victory into defeat (Chapter 3, verses 144-152)
After that, in the Battle of Ditch, when the enemy had around twelve thousand of well
armed soldiers and they were unified, the Prophet adopted a defensive strategy.
Though the younger and emotional companions of the Prophet argued for open fight
outside Madina, the Prophet kept his cool and decided against it. On the advice of
Salman Farsi, he adopted the novel and modern strategy of digging a ditch around
Madina and thus not only avoided the war but also saved his people from a almost
In the sixth year of migration, the Quresh of Makkah stopped the Muslims unjustly
from performing an Umrah (pilgrimage of kaaba). But they also offered a truce. The
conditions of the truce were apparently entirely against the Muslims so much so that
even Umar also expressed his anger over the terms. For example, a term stated that if
a Muslim went back on his belief and came to Makkah, he would not be returned but
if any polytheist embraced Islam and went to Madina, Muslims would have to return
him. But the Prophet entered into a truce with the enemy even on these unfair terms.
He knew that the truce would open an opportunity to preach Islam. The prophet
thereby got a much needed peace interval from them. This is why the Quran dubbed
this apparently anti Muslim truce as clear victory.
Later when the truce of Hudaibia was wrapped up after violation by the enemy, the
Prophet started preparations silently and patiently. He alienated the enemy through his
smart diplomatic manoeuvres. Then he went with a big army and conquered Makkah
peacefully- he not only pardoned his enemies but also appointed them as his
governors. There is much to learn in these incidences for the Muslims of today if.
Immediately after that, in the Battle of Hunain, some Muslims boasted off their
strength and said they were invincible that day. Allah expressed His anger upon this
by exposing them to initial defeat.
We must understand it well that when Allah didn’t tolerate any weakness related to
worldly strategies and patience of even the companions of the Prophet, how would He
Meaning of Qital Fi Sabeelillah (war in the way of the God,
definition and principles
2.1. The meaning of Qital Fi Sabeelillah
It simply means war in the cause of Allah. It means the war is fought according to the
principles and laws of Islam for warfare and those who fight the war are only driven
by the urge to please Allah. The Prophet (PBUH) said:
“Wars are of two types. He who fought to seek Allah’s pleasure, obeyed
his ruler, spent the best of his belongings, behaved meekly with his
companions and avoided mischief in it, his sleeping and awakening all
will be rewarded. On the contrary, he who fought for grandiosity and to
get fame and name, disobeyed his rule and spread anarchy on face of the
earth, he will not be spared.”
Fighting in the path of Allah doesn’t imply that people will be forcefully converted to
Islam or that Muslim governments will be established wiping out the democratic
governments. Because Islam allows humans in both their individual and collective
capacity to lead a life of their own choice provided he doesn’t harm others. Quran
asks Muslims to be fair and just with all the nations of the world.
(Please see (chapter and verse) 2:256; 5:8; 7:37; 10:108; 18:29 and 107; 41:40; 42:15;
74:54 and 55; 76: 3 and 29; 78:39; 88:21 and 22 and many other verses.)
2.2 Types of war
Islam declares the following kinds of war as war in the path of Allah.
2.2.1 Defensive war
If a Muslim state is attacked, it has right to defend itself.
“And fight in Allah’s cause against those who wage a war against you, but do not
commit excess for verily Allah doesn’t love the transgressors.”(Baqara 2, verse 190)
“Permission (to fight) is given to those against whom war is being wrongfully waged;
and verily Allah has indeed the power to help them- (these are people) who have been
driven out from their homes ( from the land of Makkah) against all right for no other
reason than their saying, “Our Sustainer is Allah.” (Hajj 22, verses 39,40)
2.2.2 Support to oppressed and presents people (esp. Muslims)
If People esp. Muslims are subjected to cruelty in another country or the government
there hinders them to follow Islamic injunctions, a war in their support is also
allowed. But this can not be done against a state Muslims have entered into a treaty
“And how could you refuse to fight in the cause of Allah and for the utterly helpless
men, women and children who are saying, “O our Sustainer! Lead us (to freedom)
out of this land whose people are oppressors and raise for us, out of Your grace, a
protector and a helper.” (Nisaa 4, verse 75)
The holy Quran further says:
“Fight them on until there is no more persecution and the religion becomes God’s.
But if they to fight, let there be no hostility except to those who oppression. (Al-
Baqara 2: 193”.
In the above verse “God’s religion” means the principle layed down by God that
everyone in this world should be allowed to exercise free will be to have his belief
system. For the Holy Prophet this was decided by God that the people of Arabian
Peninsula will embrace Islam through their own free will if these is no persecution.
This point will be further elaborated in chapter 5.
2.2.3 Completion of the task through the Prophet (PBUH)
Allah almighty has been fulfilling one or the other task through each one of his
prophets. The Prophet (PBUH) was sent to ensure supremacy of the Laws of Allah in
the Arab Peninsula and make it the centre of Islam for all times to come. This was a
Divine task that had to be completed. The Prophet (PBUH) was given special powers
for it and the task was accomplished in direct supervision by Allah. This issue will be
discussed in a separate chapter later.
2.3 Principles of war
War in the cause of Islam is not a haphazardly carried out act of reactionary nature, it
has several guiding principles which have to be observed before or during the war.
2.3.1 Only the state can declare war
The first rule regarding the war is that no non-state actor has any right to declare or
initiate war. Only the state or government is empowered to do so. There is no concept
of war with out governmental authority- it has to be declared, managed and controlled
by the government. There is no idea of a private lashkar or jaish (army) in Islam.
Islam, it should be remembered, authorized the Prophet (PBUH) to wage war only
when he became the ruler of the state of Madina. War was prohibited for him in the
earlier thirteen years of Makkite period when he didn’t have governmental authority
with him. Allah had, through verse 77 of Nisa, asked Muslims to refrain from war
Mufti Mohammad Shafi states:
“There is unanimity in the entire Muslim community on that war with the unbelievers
was prohibited before the migration to Madina. All the Quranic verses in that period
advised Muslims to observe restraint and patience over the brutalities committed
upon them by the unbelievers.” (Ma’ariful Quran, part 1, page 469)
The first ever Quranic verses that allowed war in case of aggression were revealed in
the chapter of Hajj. Allah states:
“Permission (to fight) is given to those against whom war is being wrongfully waged;
and verily Allah has indeed the power to help them- (these are people) who have been
driven out from their homes ( from the land of Makkah) against all right for no other
reason than their saying, “Our Sustainer is Allah.” (Hajj 22-verses 39,40).
Some words in these verses warrant some discussion, so these are explained.
“ .” means allowed, that is, the war wasn’t allowed beforehand and it is only now
“. ” establishes that at first migration took place, then sovereign power ensued and
only after that war was permitted.
“ .” establishes that war in Islam is in fact waged against oppression.
Another direction regarding war was revealed through verses 190-193, 216 and 224.
“And fight in Allah’s cause against those who wage a war against you, but do not
commit excess, for verily Allah doesn’t love the transgressors.”(Baqara 2, verse 190)
Entire history of the Prophets bears testimony to the truth that they were not allowed
to wage war without sovereign power. This is why no prophet ever pronounced war
unless he first got state power. No prophet ever used power to eradicate vices which
were plenty in their opponent nations. They were subjected to brutalities by the rulers
of their times but neither did they take armed action nor ever they took revenge. They
didn’t even give up patience when they and their companions were forced out of their
homes and regions for Allah had asked them for forbearance.
The entire lifespans of Noah, Lut, Hud, Salih, Shoaib, Abrahim (Abraham), Musa
(Moses) Yunas (Jonah) and Esa (Jesus Christ) are devoid of war. Musa had postponed
armed action until he assembled and organised Bani Israel in desert of Sinai. Esa also
avoided war because he didn’t have sovereign power though the Old Testament
(Toura) the teachings of which he practiced and preached allowed war.
The principle- that only ruler could administer and wage war -was so clear to Bani
Israel that once when they wanted to regain their lost state from their enemies by war,
they asked their Prophet Samuel to appoint a ruler who could lead them in that war.
Allah subsequently appointed Taloot as their ruler. (Baqara 2:246-251)
As Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) didn’t have state authority in Makkah, he too didn’t
take armed action and advised his followers for patience. When Sumayya and her
husband Yasir, both companions of the Prophet, were brutally murdered by the
polytheists, He didn’t incite them to revenge but told them, “I predict paradise for you
in return for this cruelty.”
The Prophet (PBUH) has explained the nexus between ruler and war in the following
“The Ruler is the shield. War is fought in his leadership and people seek shelter
behind him (i.e. his decisions are followed in all matters and only he decides on peace
and war. (Bokhari, 2957)
According to another tradition, the Prophet (PBUH) is reported to have said:
“Jihad is obligatory upon you alongside all your rulers, whether they are righteous
or sinful and even if he indulges himself in greater sins.” (Abu Dawood, 2171)
In another place, the Prophet (PBUH) said:
“Wars are of two types. He who fought to seek Allah’s pleasure, obeyed
his rulers, spent the best of his belongings, behaved meekly with his
companions and avoided mischief in it, his sleeping and awakening all
will be rewarded. On the contrary, he who fought for grandiosity and to
get fame and name, disobeyed his ruler and spread anarchy on face of the
earth, he will not be spared.”
On the basis of the above mentioned verses and traditions of the Holy Prophet
(PBUH), all Muslim jurists unanimously argue that war will only be fought under a
ruler and no action will be taken without his consent. All Muslim schools of thought-
Hanafi, Maliki, Shafiee, Hanbali, Shia, and others- agree on the point.
It is also crystal clear that whatever laws and directions regarding treaties have been
given to Muslims require a sovereign government to implement them. This aspect will
be discussed in detail later.
Islam warns Muslims against disunity in their ranks and enjoins them to live in unity.
Now this can be possible only when they are loyal to their state and government, obey
its orders on every collective affair and try to remove any of its faults peacefully.
Allah Almighty says:
“And hold fast, all together, onto the bond with Allah, and do not slit into factions.
And remember the blessings which Allah has bestowed upon you: how, when you
were enemies, He brought your hearts closer, so that through his blessing you became
brethren; and (how, when) you were on the brink of a burning abyss, He saved you
from it. In this way Allah makes clear His messages for you, so that might find
guidance.” (Imran 3:103)
“And obey Allah and His Apostle, and do not be at variance with one another, lest
you lose heart and your moral strength desert you. And be patient in adversity: for,
verily, Allah is with those who are patient in adversity.” (Anfal 8:46)
It goes with out saying that the best time for unity and harmony is the time of war
with enemy. Disunity in that situation increases the prospects of victory for the rival.
But when decision of war or truce is in the hands of a government and all inhabitants
comply with it, the Muslim state can be safe.
The principle that war will be authorised and organised by the government has been
agreed upon in the earlier history of the Muslim Ummah to such an extent that none
had disagreed with it throughout the centuries. Assayyed-us-Sabiq writes in the Fiqa-
“The third category of non-obligatory duties comprises those that warrant a ruler, e.g.
war and enforcement of punishments. Only the ruler is entitled to these. No person
other than him has any right to enforce these over others. (Fiqa-os-Sunnah, volume3,
Maulana Zafar Ahmad Thanavi has also discussed this topic in detail and expressed
this agreed upon viewpoint in a separate chapter in pages 3 to 6, volume 12 of the
2.3.2 International treaties must be observed
Islam urges strict compliance to treaties with other nations in their letter and spirit.
Besides, if a nation is committing excesses against Muslims but it is part of a treaty
with Muslim government, no war can be initiated against it until the treaty holds.
“Indeed those who embraced faith, migrated and strived hard in the cause of Allah
with their lives and possessions (i.e. the emigrants of Makkah) and those who
sheltered and assisted them (i.e. Ansars-helpers- of Madina), these are (truly) the
friends and protectors of one another. But as for those who have come to believe but
didn’t have migrated, you have no responsibility for their protection until and unless
they migrated (to the state of Madina). However, if they ask you for your help in
religion, it is your duty to give them support provided it is not against a nation
between whom and yourselves there is a treaty. Allah sees all what you do (stealthily
or openly).” (Anfal 8:72)
If a Muslim state fears that an enemy nation, which is also its partner in a treaty, will
violate the pact and attack it, it is mandatory for it to first openly disown the treaty
and then start war against its enemy. Muslims are simply not allowed to indulge in
subversive activities stealthily against it in violation of an existing treaty between
“And if you fear of treachery from a people (with whom you share a treaty), there the
treaty) back at them openly, for verily, Allah doesn’t love the deceitful.” (Anfal 8: 58)
Maulana Mufti Mohammad Shafi explains this verse like this:
“In this verse, an important law about war and reconciliation has been revealed to the
Prophet (PBUH) in which the importance of observance of pacts has been
emphasised. It also states that in the event of fear of treachery or violation from the
other side, it is not essential for us to keep following the treaty. But it is unlawful that
we take an action against the enemy before we openly disown our mutual covenant. A
correct course, instead, would be that they are informed plainly that their malicious
intentions or violation has dawned upon us and that their affairs seem doubtful, so we
won’t adhere to the treaty any more…….That is when there is a treaty with a nation,
an armed action against it is a part of treachery and Allah doesn’t like the dishonest,
even if this treachery is committed against the unbelievers. However, if treachery is
feared from the other side, they should openly informed that we won’t be following
the treaty any more. But this announcement should be made in such a way that both
sides are equal in it –this announcement should not take the shape that first
preparations for an encounter with them are made and they, for being unaware, are not
prepared. Instead, preparations, if any, have to be made after the warning and
announcement.” (Maarif-ul-Quran, volume 4, page 269)
Maulana Syed Abul Aala Maudoodi, after a detailed discussion on this verse, writes:
“As per this verse, if we have a treaty with a person, group or country and its conduct
makes us feel and fear that it is lagging behind in following the accord or will indulge
in treachery against us if given an opportunity, it is illegitimate for us to decide on our
own that the treaty between it and us exists no more and that we start dealing with it
the way that can be adopted in absence of a treaty. Conversely, we are duty-bound
that if a situation like this arises, we should, before taking any action, tell the second
party in unambiguous terms that our mutual treaty doesn’t exist any more so that it
also may know about cancellation of the treaty like we do and it is not under
miconeption that the treaty still holds. Based on this Divine Law, the Prophet (PBUH)
has declared it a permanent principle of Islam’s international policy that, “A nation
that joins us in a pact should not break the terms of the treaty or else the treaty would
be cast back at them in an equal way.” The Prophet (PBUH) then expanded the rule
further and set up a principle in all matters, “Don’t be treacherous to one who has
been treacherous to you….”
“Also, if we get into a dispute with a treaty-associate nation, and we realise that
dialogue or international arbitration is not helpful in resolving the conflict or that the
other side is bent upon resolving it by force, it is legitimate for us to use force for its
resolution. But the above mentioned verse makes us morally bound that this use of
force should come after clear and open declaration. To undertake covert armed
activities, which we are not ready to admit openly, is an immorality which is not
taught by Islam.” (Tafheem-ul-Quran, volume 2, pp 153-155)
2.3.3 Material strength and a special ratio against the enemy
War is not synonymous with suicidal tendency, emotionalism and shedding of blood
for no reason. It is rather a highly serious activity that requires the utilisation of one’s
utmost mental, economic, political and military capabilities. It is not an end in itself
but a means to an end –that is, to ensure peace in the world. It is not necessary by
itself if it can’t be expected to eliminate cruelty. It has certain conditions. It requires
that all necessary ingredients of a successful military strategy –enough numerical
strength, equipments and other paraphernalia –should be arranged for. A congenial
surrounding is also needed. It should be started only if there is a strong likelihood that
Muslims will be able to win the war and eradicate injustice thereby. This is why the
Prophet (PBUH) entered into pacts with several polytheist tribes and Jewish groups
and never attacked the enemy unless it was fully alienated beforehand with smart
And when there is no possibility of a victory for Muslims, then it is also necessary
that a proper strategy for the security of the people and army should also be adopted.
The Prophet (PBUH) did this in the Battle of Ditch. The outnumbered the Muslims by
three times in that war. Therefore, the Muslims went for the ditch strategy. They
avoided an open war which obviously would be a suicidal step in that situation. At the
time of the Treaty of Hudaibia, when the Muslims were in dejected mood for its
apparently insulting conditions. But the Prophet (PBUH) knew that the treaty would
ultimately lead to the alienation of the infidels. So he went for the pact despite general
negative perceptions on it. Later when the Muslims attacked Makkah, the Qureshites
stood isolated from the rest of the Arab tribes and the Muslims enjoyed much greater
numerical and military strength than theirs.
Quran has frequently alluded to these phenomena. The entire life of the Prophet
(PBUH) is an excellent replica of this strategy. As for the war equipments, Allah
“Hence, make ready against them whatever force and tethered horses you are bale to
muster, so that you might deter thereby the enemies of Allah and those of yourselves,
and others besides these (open enemies) of whom you are unaware but Allah knows
them.” (Anfal 8:60)
Similarly, Muslims must arrange a numerical and military might against the enemy in
a ratio that is necessary for them to win the war. In the initial days of Islam when the
standard of faith of the Sahaba (companions of the Prophet (PBUH)) as the highest of
human history, Allah had said that they would overpower the enemy even in the ratio
of 1:10. Later, when the faith didn’t remain the same, Allah said that one Muslim
would suffice for two non-Muslims. That is, if numerical strength of non-believers is
double that of the Muslims, then war against them is not necessary but some other
strategy should be adopted.
“O Prophet! Inspire the believers towards war. If there be twenty of you who are
patient in adversities, they will overpower two hundred; and if there are one hundred
of you, you may overcome one thousand of the unbelievers for they are people who
cannot grasp things. Now Allah has lightened your burden, for He knows that you are
weak: So, if there be one hundred of you who are forbearing, they would overcome
two hundred; and if there be one thousand of you, they would prevail upon two
thousand by Allah’s command: for Allah is with those who show forbearance.” (Anfal
However, if we take into account the present standard of Muslims’ faith and their
standing by the scales of intellectual power and patience, it can be said that there is
hardly a ratio of 1:1 between the Muslims and others these days. It can in no way be
better than one Muslims to two, as it was the assessment between the Companions of
Holy Prophet and their enemies while our position is far inferior to theirs.
2.3.4 Peace overtures of the enemy should be accepted
If the enemy requests that it wants to resolve the contentious issues through dialogue
and the Muslim government is sure of the veracity of the offer and that it isn’t merely
a war-tactic, the offer must be accepted. Allah declares:
“Thus (O believers!) if they turn away from you, and do not make war on you, and
offer you peace, Allah also doesn’t allow you to take action against them.” (Nisa 4: a
part of verse 90)
“But (O Prophet!) if the enemy inclines to peace, you should also go for it. Keep trust
in Allah for verily He alone is all-hearing and all-knowing. And should they seek but
to deceive you, Allah alone is enough for you. He it is Who has strengthened you with
His own succour and by believers whose hearts He has brought together.” (Anfal
2.3.5 Non-combatants must not be targeted
Islam forbids killing or harming the non-combatants. Allah says:
“And fight in Allah’s cause against those who wage war against you but don’t
transgress therein.” (Baqarah 2:190)
Transgression here means that those who are not directly participating in the war are
killed. On the basis of this direction of the Quran, the Prophet (PBUH) prohibited
plunder, sacrilege and mutilation of the enemies and inhuman way of killing like
burning someone to death. He also forbade the killing of women, the sick, the
children, the non-combatants and the animals. Similarly, war against neutral and
peaceful countries has also been declared illegitimate. Allah says:
“(O believers!) Allah doesn’t forbid you to be polite and just to those (non-believers)
who don’t fight against you on account of your faith nor drive you out of your homes:
For, verily, Allah loves those who act equitably. Allah only forbids you to turn in
friendship to towards such people who have fought against you because of (your)
faith, have driven you out of your homes or aided each other in driving you forth. It is
those who befriend them who are the real wrongdoers.” (Momtahanah 60:8,9)
Or it is said on another place:
“Those who come to you with their hearts shrinking from making war either against
you or against their own people, if Allah had willed, He would have emboldened them
and they would have waged against you. Thus, if they turn away from you, do not
make war on you and offer you peace, Allah too doesn’t allow you to take any action
against them.” (Nisa 4:90)
It shows that if any country wants to live with peace with us, we are also bound to
reciprocate their desire and live peacefully with them.
2.3.6 No war in prohibited months
Four months –Rajab, ZilQa’d, Zilhaj and Mushharam –are sacred months according
to Islam. In these months pilgrimage to Makkah for Haj and Umrah is made. War,
therefore, should not be initiated by the Muslims in these months themselves.
“They ask you about fighting in the sacred months. Say (O Prophet!): fighting in it is
a gruesome act.” (Baqarah 2:217)
2.3.7 Corresponding response by Muslims
If the enemy indulges itself in a war strategy which generally is illegitimate for the
Muslims, they can adopt it as well. For example, if the enemy starts war in the sacred
months, the Muslim state too can respond to it.
The state and the war
3.1 Disadvantages of war without state’s authority
The entire world history bears testimony to the fact that only the armed struggle of
that nation has succeeded so far who had a territory under their control, had declared
independence, formed a government, and a united army under a single command. The
army should, obviously, have enough personnel and equipments as compared to its
The logic behind all this is obvious. If different political and religious groups start
developing their different armed factions and private armies without state
authorisation, if they do not respect and violate official treaties with other countries
and begin wars on their own, the country would be seized by lawlessness and chaos.
This disorder will then have negative effects on its internal situation as well as on its
international standing and relations with other states. Most probably, there will also be
mutual fighting amongst these militant clichés. To avoid all these negative fallouts, it
is, therefore, essential that only the state should have the authority to declare matters
of war and truce.
This is why only states have had formed armies round the world. Unjustified wars
even by states could result in great losses but if different groups start fighting each
other or against states on their own, the losses could be even bigger as its end result is
This is why declaration of war, as per Islamic teachings, is the exclusive right of the
state and government. The state too can’t exercise this power arbitrarily; it can do so
only when it has to fight against brutality, it fights when it is in a position of victory
and the war itself is within the framework of international treaties.
Unluckily, from 1980s onwards armed clichés were developed by different Muslim
sects that began militant activities in different parts of the world. The phenomenon
has spread so much that now there is common perception that the enemy can be
defeated by even these outfits. This group-based militancy gained widespread
acceptance particularly after occupation of Afghanistan by Soviet Army.
It goes without saying that this Russian attack was an unjust and wrong step. But how
Pakistan reacted to it was extremely questionable and lamentable.
Pakistan then had two options available to it diplomatic strategy and militant
First, Pakistan could have opted for peaceful political and diplomatic channels to deal
with the situation. The problem should have been taken to UNO and a dialogue with
USSR should have been started. It certainly would have allayed Soviet apprehensions
and most probably it would have withdrawn its forces once an independent, impartial
or non anti-USSR Afghanistan had been guaranteed. In this case Pakistan would have
UNO, Muslim countries and the non-aligned countries on its side. Besides, it was a
correct path from religious point of view as well.
The second option was that of active resistance. But this necessitated formation of a
sovereign Afghan exiled government and united army. That government should have
been recognised by the UN and some important countries; this government should
have entered into military pacts with USA, Pakistan and other countries under which
these states would have promised military support to it. This pact should have been
backed by the UN and through the united army under this government; Afghanistan’s
independence struggle should have been started. This strategy would have helped
form a stable government after the cessation of war in Afghanistan. And from
religious point of view too, this was a correct path.
But General Zia-ul-Haq, the then military dictator of Pakistan, adopted a third path
which was extremely flawed and dangerous, of which there is no example of success
in history. He divided the Afghan resistance into six factions and various splinter
groups were formed across Afghanistan on linguistic, territorial and sectarian
grounds. Each group was given money and arms and each started armed struggle
against the Russians. This strategy was against Islamic and safe heaven Pakistan
teachings and it served as the basis for subsequent destruction of Afghanistan.
Let us consider with an example from the near past. In 1970, Awami League swept
elections in former East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). But military dictator General
Yahya refused to hand over the power to it and instead started a military operation
there against AL in 1971. Millions of people and most of the AL leaders sought
refuge in the neighbouring India.
Now India took various smart moves to turn the situation into its favour. First, it
announced formation of an ‘independent exiled Bangladesh’ and AL leader Tajuddin
Ahmad was made its president. He formed an army, Mukti Bahini, under the
command of Colonel Usmani. After that, this government made an open treaty with
India for training its army and helping it in independence struggle. Then, the Indian
government signed a military pact with the erstwhile USSR to pre-empt the possibility
of the US coming into the rescue or help of Pakistan. After that, the ‘independent
Bangla government’ declared war on East Pakistan and asked India to help it. As a
result of this war, as soon as Pak army surrendered in December 1971, the transfer of
power took place without any delay and the ‘independent Bangladesh’ government
took reign of power into its hand.
India had developed this policy in the light of past war experiences. Its success would
have been impossible had it not planned that meticulously. Compare this Indian
strategy with that of Pakistan it adopted vis-à-vis Afghanistan, the difference will
become crystal clear.
Our religion teaches us that only the state has a legitimate authority to declare or
initiate war. We were bound to act upon this principle.
3.2 An appraisal of objections raised against this viewpoint
The Muslim world in our times is witnessing an extraordinary surge in militant
activities by non-state armed groups. These groups dub their terrorist activities as
Jihad. They have attacked the principle that declaration of war is only the concern of
3.2.1 Abu Baseer example
Their first objection is based on the action of Abu Baseer. They say he came to
Madina after he converted to Islam. Quresh sought him as per the terms of the Treaty
of Hudaibia. The Prophet handed him over to them. When he was being taken to
Makkah, Abu Baseer killed one of the guards while the other escaped. Abu Baseer
later developed a group near the route of trade-caravans of the Quresh with the help of
those who embraced Islam but faced persecution in Makkah. This group under his
command attacked their trade-caravans making it virtually impossible for them to
carry on trade with the outside world. It proves that group-based militancy is
legitimate from Islamic point of view, they argue.
This statement is untrue. It may be remembered that when Abu Baseer returned to
Madina after killing overpowering his guards, the Prophet told him to leave at once
and live outside the jurisdictions of the state of Madina telling him that if he was there
and the Quresh came again to seek his custody, he would be handed over to them as
per the terms of the treaty. Abu Basee thus had to leave Madina. He was not allowed
to form a faction in the limits of Madina to attack and harm the Quresh.
In fact, at the time, when the Prophet (PBUH) and the Quresh signed the Treaty of
Hudaibia, many Muslims were living outside the boundaries of the state of Madina.
The Quran had made it clear about these people that unless they migrated to Madina,
they are not the citizens of Madina and the Prophet (PBUH) won’t have any
responsibility for any of their actions and utterances.
“But as far those who have come to believe without having migrated (to the state of
Madina), you are in no way responsible for their protection until they migrate (to
you). Yet, if they ask you for help in matters of religion, it is your duty to give them
succour, except against a nation between whom and you there is a treaty.” (Al-
Maulana Maudoodi explains this verse this way. “This verse impacts the foreign
politics of any Islamic state. The responsibility of the Islamic states, as per this verse,
is restricted to those living inside its borders. It has no liability whatsoever in respect
of Muslims that live outside its borders…thus Islam has uprooted the very dispute that
often originates international complexities. Because when a country takes it upon
itself to support some minorities living in other countries, it creates such anomalies
which could not even by solved by recurrent wars,” (Tafheem-ul-Quran, volume 2,
Abu Baseer and others lived outside the boundaries of state of Madina, so the Prophet
(PBUH) was in no way accountable for their actions. This is why the Prophet (PBUH)
said, “I am not duty bound to support and defend a Muslim who lives amongst the
atheists.” Therefore, Muslims scholars believe that Abu Buser had formed a small
state of his own under his leadership in the shape of that colony and the Prophet
(PBUH) was exempted from his activities. It may be reminded that the Prophet
(PBUH) had also disliked Abu Buser’s strategy and said:
“May his mother be calamity-hit, he would surely provoke war if he found out some
partners.” (Bukhari No.2734)
And when the Quresh requested the Prophet (PBUH) to do something to stop Abu
Buser’s activities, he promptly called him and his companions to Madina to ensure
that they discontinue their attacks.
3.2.2 Imam Husain’s approach
Their second objection is that Imam Husain had fought a jihad against Yazid though
he was not the ruler of state.
This objection is historically incorrect. In fact, the Imam had received hundreds of
letters from Iraqis in which he was asked to come to Iraq as entire Iraq was ready to
accept him as their ruler. As is obvious, the letters didn’t tell of the ground situation in
Iraq, Therefore he left for there along with his family in order to find out the real
situation there. Neither he had any army nor did he intend to fight wars. Obviously,
those who intend to fight neither take their women and children nor. 72 persons with
them to fight many a thousands. He was just going to create awareness among the
When Ibne Ziad’s army stopped his convoy on his way to Iraq, the Imam put three
options to solve the problem. The Imam asked that he should be allowed to return to
Madina; that he should be allowed to go to Yazid solve the matter through dialogue.
All these options were reasonable enough and displayed his desire to avoid the war in
a graceful manner. But Ibne Ziad was bent upon his insult. He insisted that Imam
should first take oath of allegiance and hand over his arms before any talks could take
place. As a result, his army surrounded and attacked the Imam’s convoy and this
gruesome tragedy took place.
The above narration makes it crystal clear that Imam Husain tried in every possible
and dignified manner to avoid war. He had not attacked any one, rather he was
attacked. And he had not taken oath of loyalty to any ruler till then.
And it should also be borne in mind that all the aged companions of the Prophet
(PBUH) had forbidden him to proceed on this journey because they knew the hazards
involved in it. All these details can be seen in a book ‘The event of Karbala and its
background’, written by Maulana Ateeq-ur-Rehman Sunbali, the son of Mualana
3.2.3 Rulers are cowards; for how long we’ll wait
Another of their objection is that the Muslim rulers of today are either afraid of the
non-believers or are their stooges. As there is no question of these rulers going ever to
war with their masters, we can neither leave jihad nor wait for them any more and will
have to wage war against the ‘enemies of Allah’ ourselves.
Answer to this observation is that on similar occasions Allah advises for restraint and
patience. This advice occurs at over a 100 times in the Holy Quran. If we are of the
opinion that our government should start war against a certain country, we will
repeatedly try to bring it to its notice and exert pressure on it in peaceful way. But if it
still declines to start war, we certainly have no right to form factions and start fighting
on our own. This obsession on our part portends great destruction and it is unlikely to
benefit any Muslim country. But of course we can peacefully struggle to change the
government. In democratic societies, we invariably have an opportunity to do that.
This should also be borne in mind that when an independent nation reaches at a high
place in terms of morality and worldly power, Allah doesn’t let wrongful rulers
govern them. Instead, it gets competent and honest leaders. Similarly, if a subjugated
nation gets united, begin following the basic human morals and continue peaceful and
non-violent struggle for its liberation, Allah does open the path of freedom for it as He
is Just and justice is His way.
There is no bigger force than unity, peaceful struggle and perseverance. If a nation
sticks to these three ideals, it is bound to succeed. It is possible that success may be
elusive for several years or even some generations, but Allah does decide its favour at
an appropriate time. It is the only correct path. Impatience and haste, conversely, bear
no fruit but are a bargain of loss in the long run.
All the Muslim groups and parties that are for armed struggle without authorisation by
the state have used the above argument to justify their struggle. This point of view,
therefore, necessitates greater and in-depth analysis. Various aspects of this stance
warrant detailed discussion.
It has already been stated that Allah didn’t give the right to wage war without the
government to even his Prophets. They got entitled to initiate war after they
established their rule in an area. And it is obvious that when each Prophet of Allah
preached, the government of the time was in the hands of their worst enemies who
practised each kind of sins. Yet no Prophet was allowed to execute armed action
against them or any other enemy until he had established a state. No Muslim can have
faith better than a Prophet and no enemy of Islam can be bitter to Muslims than an
enemy of a Prophet. So, how is it possible after all that a right that was not conferred
on the prophets would be given to the ‘Mujahideen’ of today? Our faith and struggle
have no status in comparison to those of the prophets while at the same time Allah
directly supported them. But they were not authorised to declare war with out the
government. it clearly means that even a group of most pious of Muslims, what to talk
of the common Muslims, have no right to carry out any armed activity unless they
have formed their government.
The second aspect of this issue should also be projected. It is an agreed upon principle
that enforcement of punishment and declaration of war solely rest with the
government. Let us suppose that a ruler shows indifference or laxity to enforce
punishment. In that event can any one kill a person or enforce any punishment
himself? Obviously he cannot. It is also the case as far as declaration of war is
concerned. Rather war is greater in significance as human lives are involved in it.
Hence, the correct course here will be that the ruler’s attention and consent would be
sought after but no action will be taken without his orders.
The third aspect of the matter is that whatever commandments have been given on
war by Islam relate to government. No private organisation can act upon them. For
example, there are detailed laws about wars and reconciliation in Islam. Only a
government could act upon these directions. No groups without having any
governmental authority could implement them. If there had been any room for private
jihad, commandments about its certain important aspects would necessarily have been
revealed but this is not the case.
The fourth aspect of the issue is that if this kind of war is allowed, it will invariably
push the world to anarchy and chaos. Armed groups of the people would decide
things on their own everywhere. Hundreds of armed groups would emerge.
Sectarianism will be the order of the day. Treaties and directives by the state would be
held in derision. In this milieu, various armed groups with extremely sinister and
secret agendas would also come into being. Thus the Ummah would stand sharply
divided. It will be taken over by the Kalashnikov culture. It will be the same situation
that has been dubbed as “being on the verge of burning abyss” by the Quran. It is this
situation that gives the enemy an opportunity to cripple the power of the Muslims.
So, the stance, that the people can form armed clichés and declare war on their own if
the government is not ready to declare war, is wrong and can lead to extremely
It is the unanimous viewpoint of all the four religious schools of thought –Hanafi,
Maliki, Shafiee and Hanbali. They agree that declaration of war is solely the task of
the ruler. None else has the right to declare war. There is no room for any concession,
exemption and leniency in this principle for any one else.
3.2.4 Difference between offensive and defensive wars
Their fourth objection to this rule is that wars are of two kinds –offensive and
defensive ones. They say that while the offensive war is conditioned with declaration
and management by the state, the defensive one is mandatory for all and it is but only
conditional with Nafeer-e-aam (common knowledge of attack).
In fact both offensive and defensive wars are state-specific. When a Muslim state
invades an enemy, the war is offensive. When it is attacked by the enemy and it
defends itself, the war is defensive on its part. Muslim jurists had differentiated
between these two types centuries ago but this difference was specific to that age.
Means of communication were limited and poor at that time. Borders were hundreds
of miles away from the capital. Dissemination of information from there would take
lots of time to reach the capital. So, timely directives from the rulers were not possible
then. Hence it was a pre-determined policy of each government of the time that in the
event of an assault by the enemy, the commander and inhabitants of the boundary
areas would start immediate resistance before the information of attack was passed on
to the ruler and the regular army could come into action, i.e., in case of attack on the
state, it was the standing order from the ruler for all to start resistance without any
Common sense also demands that when the country was attacked while the ruler
could not be immediately contacted and there was a standing order for instant
resistance beforehand, resistance to the enemy must be started without any further
delay. All this shows that the criterion of difference between offensive and defensive
wars for legitimatisation of war was only possible in the past. There is no such
difference today. Conditions have changed. Minute details from even the remotest
frontier regions reach the head-quarter in a flash as means of communication have
developed enormously. Regular army also patrols the border while each state has a
fully equipped ready for combat duties all the time.
The attack and the standing order was a nafeer-e-aam. Nafeer means a hooter. The
term signifies that the hooter has been blown for all to join the war. In that case
, the war, certainly, was mandatory for all as it is the foremost duty of a state to
defend its geographical frontiers against attack.
But the most important thing in this respect is that both the two preliminary war-
related Verses in the holy Quran deal with the defensive war. Through Al-Hajj 22: 39-
40, the Muslim state was allowed to declare war if it was attacked. In Al-Baqara
2:190, the Muslims were directed to fight against those who wage war on them. Both
these verses address the state. So, it becomes crystal clear that defensive war is also
the concern of the state and not of non-state actors.
3.2.5 Wrong inference from Ahadith
According to a tradition, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) said, “Jihad continues ever-since
I was sent. It will continue till the last people of my Ummah fight Dajjal. It could
neither be eliminated by the oppression of an oppressor nor by the justice of a Just
ruler.” (Abu Dawood 2170)
This hadith implies that till doomsday such conditions would continue to emerge that
would require the Muslim rulers to wage war against cruelty. This world has been
created for trial and it certainly will have trying periods in it. But this hadith in no
way denotes that Muslims will be busy fighting forever. This neither was the case in
the era of the Prophet (PBUH) nor his devoted companions. In their time too, war
occurred at times after intervals of several months and lasted for one or two or a few
days and in their middle peace prevailed. Similarly, in the last years of caliph Usman
and in the entire reign of caliph Ali, no war was fought at all against the non-Muslims.
Likewise, when the Prophet (PBUH) said that Paradise lies beneath the shadow of
swords, this he said in a particular background. The real tradition is like this. “Never
wish for a war with the enemy and seek safety from Allah. But yes, if you have ever to
confront them, then be resolute and know that Paradise lies under the shadow of
swords.” (Bukhari 2801)
As is clear, as per this hadith, the Prophet (PBUH) rather expressed his displeasure
over a desire for war. But if a war is necessary, then every soldier should remain
steadfast. Steadfastness on this occasion will be highly rewarded in the hereafter.
4.1 Can Muslims fight against their rulers for a good cause?
Quite often the rulers of Muslim states develop some vices that are widely resented:
They do not care for the religious commandments; they do no follow the law and
consider themselves above it; due to their weaknesses, negligence and bad strategies,
the country is taken over by corruption, dishonesty, injustice, immorality and
lawlessness. In this situation, every sensitive and patriotic person wishes to rectify the
situation. This desire for reformation sometimes increases to such an extent that one is
inclined to form an armed group to forcefully eliminate all vices from the society. So,
the question is: Can arms be taken up against the rulers of a Muslim country for the
promotion of goodness and eradication of evils. This question has paramount
importance these days as numerous armed groups are continuing their militant
struggle to achieve their objectives.
Islam is very clear on the issue. It strictly prohibits armed struggle against the Muslim
rulers of a Muslim country. Reformation struggle will be carried out but it will be a
peaceful struggle based on the principle of non-violence. Allah almighty says:
“O believers! obey Allah and obey his Prophet (PBUH) and your men of authority;
and if you ever disagree on any matter, refer it to Allah and the Prophet, if you truly
believe in Allah and the Last Day. It is the best method and also the best in the end.”
This order was revealed when the Prophet (PBUH) was alive and the Quran was being
revealed. When there was any dispute then between the people and the administrators
appointed by the Prophet (PBUH), it would be brought to the Prophet (PBUH) and he
would decide upon the issue. But then a question arose as to how would be matters
resolved after the departure of the Prophet (PBUH) for the life hereafter. The Prophet
(PBUH) told the Muslims that a correct path for them would be that they remain
linked with their states, that they obey their rulers even if they see some unpleasant
things in them and the rulers do not give the people their rights. The Prophet (PBUH)
“You are bound to listen to and obey your rulers whether you are in ease or in trouble
and whether this obedience is voluntarily or reluctantly given and despite the fact that
you are not given your due.” (Muslim, 4754)
Similarly the Prophet (PBUH) said:
“If someone ever hears some disgusting things from his ruler, he should observe
patience. Because if any one went out even a hand-sized distance from obedience of
his government and died thus, he died in a state of ignorance.” (Bukhari 7053)
The Prophet (PBUH) further said
“Whoever saw anything abhorrent from his ruler, he should observe patience. For
any one who dissociated himself from the Muslim polity a hand-size distance and died
in that state, he died in a state of ignorance.” (Bukhari, 7054)
It becomes crystal clear from the above mentioned AHadees that if vices are observed
in the rulers, we would continue our struggle for reformation but would obey their
commandments in the meantime.
Now the question is: Ignoring the personal evils of rulers and the systemic drawbacks,
what if a ruler ever directs someone to do a sinful act. For example, if he asks him to
drink wine, what should such a man do? The Prophet (PBUH) replied to this question
“It is obligatory for each Muslim to listen to and obey his rulers, whether he likes it
or not, except when he is asked to commit a sin. So, if he is ordered to commit a sinful
act, he will neither listen to him nor obey him.” (Muslim, 4763)
As per the aforementioned Hadees, if a Muslim is ordered to do a sinful act, he musty
not obey the order. And if, as a consequence of that disobedience, the man is
subjected to oppression by the ruler, he should forebear such cruelty for which he will
be rewarded on the doomsday. (It should be borne in mind that today no Muslim or
non-Muslim ruler is coercing any Muslim to commit a sinful act at all.
Here arises another question. That is, if a ruler ever degenerates to such an extent that
he starts ordering his subjects for sinful acts, can armed action be taken against him?
The Prophet (PBUH) replied that no arms could be taken up against a ruler until he
renounces the prayers and openly adopts heresy while disowning Islam. Ubada bin
“The Prophet (PBUH) one day called for us for a Bay’at (solemn oath for obedience)
and we took the oath wherein we committed ourselves on that we would listen to and
obey our rulers, and whether this obedience is voluntarily or reluctantly given and
whether we are in ease or in difficulty and despite the fact that we are not being given
our rights. We were also made to take oath that we would not fight against our rulers
in the matters of rule. The Prophet (PBUH) told us, “You can rise against your rulers
only when you see clear heresy on their part and you have a distinct Divine
justification in this matter with you.” (Muslim 4771)
Similarly, about the future Muslim rulers, the Prophet (PBUH) said:
“(In future) you would be governed by persons whose some habits you would like and
others you would dislike. So, whoever despised their bad things, he would get
exemption (from punishment in the life hereafter). And whoever repudiated their bad
things, he would also become safe. But whoever agreed to their bad things and
followed them, he would be asked about it (on doomsday). Sahabah (companions of
the Prophet (PBUH)) asked: When this is the case (i.e., our leaders ask us to commit
sinful acts) shouldn’t we fight against them? The Prophet (PBUH) replied: No, not
until they continue offering their prayers (you are not authorised to wage war against
them).” (Muslim, 4801)
Here arises another question: what if a ruler, chosen by the people, develops some
vices in his characters? The Prophet (PBUH) said that revolt against such ruler was a
big crime. “When (majority amongst) you agree on a person and you see that
someone amongst you wants to disturb your unity or stands up to create dissension in
your ranks on the issue of government, kill him.”
Now here is a question. If armed struggle against a ruler is prohibited, what could be
done to reform the ruler and government? The Prophet (PBUH) responded to this
question that truth would be told in front of such rulers. Obviously, they would either
accept the advice or neglect it or would start subjecting the person who spoke the
truth against him to cruelties. It is a great degree of Jihad to show forbearance and
steadfastness on such cruelty. The Prophet (PBUH) said:
“The biggest form of Jihad is to speak the truth on face of a cruel ruler.”
He further said:
“Verily, in amongst the greatest of Jihad is when one speaks the right thing against
an oppressive ruler.” (Tirmizi, 2174)
The holy Quran asks the Muslims on several occasions to preach their religion wisely
and in a good manner. Their duty is only to advise on and remind the truth. They are
not entitled to force the people or government to come to the right path. The prophets
of Allah too were sent for this job and were not given any other responsibility beyond
that. That is why all the prophets have been given the names of “Nazeer and Basheer
(one who warns as well as gives good tidings). Both the Quran and Hadees instruct
that reformation and change should be sought in such a way as to bring ease rather
than hardships for the people. Muslims are also advised to seek change in the
behaviour and minds of the people and the administration slowly and gradually.
“Invite (all the mankind) to the path f your Sustainer with wisdom and beautiful
wording and argue with them in the best possible way.” (An-Nahl 16: 125)
“And so, keep reminding them for verily your task is only to remind and you are not a
sent to force your will over them.” (Al-Ghashiyah 88:21,22)
“Your duty is no more than to convey the message and (their) reckoning is our duty.”
Again, vice in return for vice has been forbidden. Rather goodness is to be done
against it. If a person or ruler is to be advised or corrected, all this should be done in a
good manner. Allah said:
“Good and evil are not equal. So, repel the evil with something that is better. You will
see that one between whom and you were enmity (may then become) as if he had been
your close friend. (And do remember) this wisdom is only given to those who show
patience and it is not given to any except those who have a good fortune. Hence, if it
should happen that a prompting from Satan stirs you up (to anger). Seek refuge with
Allah. Behold, He alone is all-hearing and all-knowing.” (Fussilat 41: 34-36)
It means a desire for tit-for-tat response in religious work is a satanic line of action.
Religious preaching demands persistent patience on our part. This patience is to be
observed both vis-à-vis the reformation of a society and a government. If someone’s
mind is ever attracted to violence, he should understand it, renounce it and seek refuge
Religious work should always be done peacefully and under good intentions. The
Prophet (PBUH) said:
“Religion is goodwill and well-wishing for Allah, for his Prophet, for the leader of
Muslims and for the common Muslims.”
Sayyeda Ayesha, the mother of Muslims, says:
“The very first thing revealed in the Quran were Muffassil, (the surahs that) surah
that discusses Paradise and Hell. Later it was when the people entered the sphere of
Islam that commandments about the allowed and prohibited things. (The fact is that)
if drinking of wine had been banned from the earliest, people would never have given
up drinking it and if it had been ordered not to commit adultery (from day one),
people would have said, “We will at no cost give up indulging ourselves in adultery.”
It means that every religious thing should be taught to the masses and rulers slowly
and gradually so that it inculcates well in their minds and becomes a part of their
habits and mind set.
Religious preaching should be done in a courteous and affectionate manner. It should
be in the form of good tidings rather than being polluted by hatred, anger and
The Prophet (PBUH) said:
“Give good news to the people; don’t harass them,” (Bukhari, 69)
Similarly, he said:
“You (Muslims) have been sent as facilitators and not as trouble-makers or difficulty-
creators,” (Bukhari, 217)
4.2 kinds of Muslims and of their governments
Muslims could be of three varieties: the best, the average and bad Muslims. Likewise,
their governments could also be divided into the best, the in-between and the below
average categories. Just as a Muslim, despite many of his vices, cannot be declared a
non-Muslim until he adheres to the fundamental beliefs of Islam, a bad Muslim
government is also a Muslim government until it adopts clear heresy. In today’s
parlance, the terms Muslim government and Islamic government are one and the same
About these three kinds, the holy Quran says:
“Then We made heirs of this Book those whom We chose from amongst Our servants.
Some amongst them are cruel against themselves, some are half-way (between the
right and wrong) and some, by Allah’s leave, are foremost in goodness: (and) this
indeed is a merit most high,” (Al-Fatir 35:32)
A question arises here: why do a bad person and government are dubbed as Muslim
by Islam and why aren’t they cast-out of Islam? There could be several reasons.
The first reason is that as long as a Muslim person or government are deemed part of
the Ummah, they have sense of belonging to the community. This realisation keeps
them attached to the Ummah. They think like as Muslims. Their conscience is
awakened to some extent and there is always a likelihood that that they would return
to goodness. Therefore, no person or government should be cut off from the Ummah
unless and until they openly renounce Islam themselves.
When a person or government are advised or criticised considering them as Muslims,
their hearts are open to that advice and there is always a possibility that this advice,
criticism and truth would work on them.
The second reason is that the person or government may not be brought around to the
correct path but it can be hoped that, if they are dealt as Muslims, the posterities of the
person and the successor government may be ready for change and reformation.
Conversely, if they are declared as non-believers, the path to transforming the
incoming generation and government is blocked.
The third reason is that undoubtedly a below average Muslim government is better
than a government of proclaimed non-Muslims. If common Muslims are allowed to
take up arms against their governments due to their vices, each Muslim state would
witness civil-war. This will not only entail losses to lives, properties and honours of
all but would also weaken their states making them easy targets for their enemies.
The above discussion makes it crystal clear that taking up of arms against even a
wrong-doer and bad government is prohibited. On the other hand, each peaceful
method for reformation should be taken up.
4.3 Practice of the scholars in past 1400 years
All the Muslim religious scholars for the last fourteen centuries have always utilised
peaceful means for the reforming the people and the governments. There were a
thousand shortcomings in the governments of their times but never did they take up
arms against their rulers. There were innumerable vices in the rulers related to
different dynasties –Banu Umayyah, Banu Abbas, Samani, Fatimi, the Slave kings,
Taimuri, Usmani, Mughal,Saljuqi and others. Some of their shortcomings were even
greater than those possessed by the present day rulers of the Muslim world. Drinking
was rampant in king-courts of Banu Abbas and Banu Ummayyah; hundreds of slave-
women were kept in each palace of the kings; the shameful tradition of eunuchs was a
common sight in their courts; the ruling families and higher officials were generally
above the law. But despite all these and other big vices, Ulema just resorted to verbal
advice and never took up arms against the government. (For detailed study of the
topic, please refer to the book, ‘Ummat-e-Muslima: the way to success, pp 24-64)
Some of the outstanding Muslim scholars were alive during the reigns of these
governments. For example, Saeed Bin Musaayib, Urwah Bin Zubair, Hasan Basri,
Mujahid Bin Jubair, Sha’abi, Qatadah, Makhool, Yazid Bin Hubaib, Hammad and
Essa Bin Umar were present in the Ummayad dynasty but they never took up arms
against any bad ruler.
Similarly, during the reign of Banu Abbas, Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Malik, Imam
Shafi, Imam Ahmad, Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim were alive but they never took
up arms against any wrongful government from their own sides. However, they
always spoke the truth on their faces for which they were also subjected to
It is because of the reform struggle of these Ulema that the Muslim society has
survived as a whole. If these Ulema had resorted to fighting against their
governments, the Muslim community would have been whitewashed by the internal
civil-war by now.
4.4 Wrong inference from a Hadess.
The Prophet (PBUH) is reported to have said:
“When any one of you sees any disgusting thing(Munker), he should stop (change) by
hands. If he doesn’t have the courage to do that, he should stop it by his tongue. And
if even he doesn’t have guts to do that, he should deem it bad in his heart (and mind
you) it is the weakest form of the faith.”
On the basis of this tradition, some people have been arguing that it is the duty of each
Muslim that whenever he sees something bad, he should stop it by force. However, if
this argument is accepted, then there would be no laws, rules and regulations left in
the world. Every person will use force to stop anything that he personally thinks is
vice and there would be conflicts, chaos and anarchy everywhere.
This is why the men of knowledge have never inferred from this Hadees as such. Such
inference also goes against Quran which on several places has told the Prophet
(PBUH) that he was not sent as dictator on the people. The Makkite life of holy
Prophet (PBUH) also bears witness that every possible vice was present there in the
atheists of Makkah from idolatry to lasciviousness to usury, but neither the Prophet
(PBUH) nor his Sahabah ever used force to eradicate these vices. Could we even
assume (may Allah forbid us) that the Prophet (PBUH) ever had come down below
the highest standard of faith in his entire life? It is obviously an unthinkable
supposition. In the Madinite period as well, no Muslim did ever eradicate vice with
his own hands but the matter was brought to the notice of the holy Prophet (who was
a ‘ruler’) and then a legal action was taken on the issue.
It makes it clear that such inference from the above tradition is wrong. This is why
the learned people say that this tradition addresses the people of legal authority only
That is, wherever a person has legal authority, he should, to the extent of that
authority and responsibility, first try to use power to stop a vice from happening. If he
doesn’t have courage or prowess to do so, he should try to stop it through verbal
advice or should at least deem it bad in his heart. The sphere of authority of a ruler is
entire country. The area of authority of a head of an institution is his organisation. A
police inspector is responsible for his jurisdiction. Likewise, the sphere of
responsibility of parents is their children and so on. The Prophet (PBUH) explained
this point thus:
“Every one of you is responsible and he would have to account for people under his
authority. A man is responsible for his family, so he will be questioned about it. A
woman is responsible for the home of her husband, therefore she will be asked about
it. A servant is responsible for the property of his master and he will have to account
for it. A man has duty towards the property of his father and he will be asked of it. In
fact, each one amongst you has a responsibility and he will have to account for his
sphere of responsibility.”
This Hadees clearly suggests that a person has real responsibility only about his
sphere of authority and out of it his only responsible to remind the truth.
Munkir means a known and familiar vice, i.e., a thing which is considered a vice by
the entire humanity. Every one should stop vice in his sphere of authority. An
example of this was the recent sugar crisis when a few hoarders stocked the
commodity. It resulted in unprecedented price hike of sugar and many hardships for
the people. The government, at first, said it would take action against the hoarders.
But then having no courage to do that, it backtracked on its commitment and started
requesting the hoarders to bring in their stocks to the markets. Later when it realised
that the sugar mafia was unhappy even over that, it gave up its verbal advice also. We
don’t know as to whether the rulers then even considered this hoarding bad in their
hearts or not.
The entire life of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was the highest depiction of faith and
practice. The excellent model of his life teaches us that we should use our authority in
our own sphere only. No one should take any action outside his jurisdiction because it
results in chaos, commotion, quarrels and anarchy in a society.
4.5 Meaning of Shariat and the method of its struggle
The word shariat has been used in the Quran on four occasions. It means the entire
Deen (religion). Some of the people amongst us consider the word shariat as
synonymous with the judicial laws of Islam. It is not correct. No where in the holy
Quran and Hadees, it has been made specific to this meaning. In fact when a person
embraces the five fundamental beliefs and admits that Islam has five mandatory
pillars, he enters the sphere of shariat, that is, becomes a Muslim legally. Now he has
several options in front of him for practicing Islam. Going by the standard, he should
enter into Islam completely and always follow all the Islamic teachings. However as
there are human frailties in Muslims and as no one is innocent except the Prophets,
compliance to Islam in entirety and forever is not possible. Some Muslims may have
very few shortcomings. Some others may have a few more while some others may
have plenty of frailties in their characters.
This also is the case with the governments. A government is actually the
manifestation of the people composing it. Therefore, some Muslim governments have
a few shortcomings, others have comparatively more and some others have too many
As already said, the only way to remove the shortcomings of the Muslim governments
or persons is the peaceful way based on the principle of non-violence that comprises
the strategies of education, incitement, persuasion, encouragement, giving good
tidings and cautioning on the vices.
It should also be borne in mind that the only way for the government to codify the
Islamic teachings into laws is the step or gradual by step method. The government
will follow the target slowly as such that first it will train the people for it, then it will
remove any possible obstructions to its implementation and then enforce it. The state
of Madinah under the leadership of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was an Islamic polity
from day one but even there laws and rules were enforced slowly and gradually. A
law was enforced only when it been had been fully inculcated in the minds of the
people already and the situation was ripe for it.
When Allah almighty chose the gradual way for the Sahabah whose faith was the
highest and strongest of all in the world, we certainly would need the step by step
method a hundred times more than them.
In verses 44 to 47 of Al-ma’ida, those who do not decide their maters in accordance
with the Divine laws have been dubbed as heretic, cruel and sinner. The word “ ,” in
these verses means to avoid something with deliberate intention of disobedience. That
is, if a person or government says that Islam is a wrong path so I won’t act upon it,
that person or government certainly doesn’t remain in the sphere of Islam.
However, there could be situations when implementation of an Islamic injunction is
not possible out of compulsion. For example, when the society is not yet trained for it
or there is chaos in the society or there are severe security threats due to international
situation. A classic example for this is eited in Quran concerning the reign of Yousaf
in Egypt. He didn’t enforce the Israelite laws there for several years because the
situation in Egypt was not ripe for them. It has been mentioned by the Quran in Surah
The second important thing is that when a person follows some of the
commandments, i.e., he offers prayers, give alms or saves himself from dishonesty, he
actually is following Shariat. Allah will hold a person accountable for that part of
Shariah which falls within his jurisdiction. As far as the government and state laws
are concerned, a person is bound only to wage a peaceful struggle for reformation.
Today, very Muslim everywhere (save a few exceptions) can fully act upon his
religion and no government can obstruct him. Likewise, in all the Muslim states many
laws are in conformity with Islam. Though there is room for improvement but it
doesn’t imply that Islamic commandments are not being cared for.
The situation in Pakistan is that, to the extent of statute book, all laws (except the
interest-based bank transactions) are in consonance with traditional Islamic
jurisprudence. If the laws are not being rightly followed, it is because the plaintiff and
the defendant both lie in courts, the witnesses either decline to given witness or speak
lie, the police is corrupt, the lawyers use delaying tactics and the court officials seek
bribes. Obviously there are weaknesses in the whole society. This situation obviously
requires a continuous peaceful reform struggle on our part. No other solution is
The above discussion brings us to the conclusion that those who take up arms for
enforcement of Shariat are on the wrong side. No scholar, jurist and Hadees expert
ever used this method in the past fourteen hundred years. It certainly leads to
destruction and anarchy. Peaceful struggle for reformation is the best and real way.
5.1 Special status of the Holy Prophet on the basis of the great task that Allah
completed through him
A Prophet (PBUH) has a special status. Allah sends every prophet for a specific
purpose. Allah accomplishes the task Himself but uses the Prophet as a means to that
end. Allah wanted to form the Ummat-e-Muslimah (the Muslim community) through
the Prophet (PBUH). For that purpose, Allah intended the Prophet (PBUH) to give
dominance to Islam in Arabia, build an Islamic society by spreading the Islamic
injunctions there and make Masjid-e-Haram (the sacred mosque at Makkah) as
eternal centre for Muslims. As Allah’s intentions invariably materialise, this task too
was accomplished through the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
To help him achieve the objectives, a Prophet gets some laws different from those of
the common people. There is leniency for him in certain laws while some other ones
are harsher for him. Likewise, there is a separate law for the target area of his call. In
the beginning, the Prophet has a status of Basheer and Nazeer for his area and his
addressees. But then there is a special time when a Divine court is established for his
addressees in this world and his supporters as well as his opponents are rewarded or
punished. The companions of the Prophet (PBUH), through a special Divine decision,
are given reward and dominance over others while his opponents are condemned in
correspondence to their crimes. For example, Noah was a Prophet. When, despite his
preaching for hundreds of years, a bigger portion of his nation deliberately renounced
Islam and opted for enmity with him, Allah inundated his opponents in a forward and
and formally announced flood, saved his supporters and gave them all the bounties of
The purpose behind this worldly reward and punishment is that it becomes a lesson
and proof for the neighbouring and all other people so that should resort to their
Sustainer. Those who obeyed or disobeyed Looth, Salih, Shoaib, Hood, Mosses and
christ were also honoured or punished in this world.
The Quran has mentioned these tales on numerous occasions and told the people that
Mohammad too was a prophet. He would first invite people to the religion. Then a
time would come when the truth would dawn clear on his opponents. If they persisted
with their opposition even after that dawn of truth, his opponents would be punished
in this world equal to their crimes and his comrades would be given ascendency. This
whole process has been dubbed a great Sunnat-ul-lah, that is, a special course of Allah
and it has been said that this method has remained intact and has never changed.
It was particularly needed in respect of Prophet Mohammad so that his greatest
victory could become an eternal proof of his prophethood, the last Muslim community
come into being and Makkah and Madinah turn into centres of Islam forever. So, from
the very outset of Makkite period when ascendency for Islam was something
unimaginable, the Quran continuously and clearly predicted that Prophet Mohammad
would prevail. From scores of such verses, we are presenting here some representative
verses. These relate to Makkite period.
“(O Prophet!)We are telling you the stories of the apostles so as to make firm your
heart. Through these (accounts) have come the truth to you as well as an advice and
reminder for the Muslims. And as far those who are not going to believe, tell them,
“do anything the way you like; we shall also follow our path; and keep waiting (for
what is coming); we too are waiting,” (Al-Hood 11:120, 121)
“Those who denied the truth told their apostles: ‘You will have to return forthwith to
our community otherwise we shall expel you from our land.’ Thereupon the Sustainer
of the apostles revealed this to them, ‘Most certainly shall We destroy these evildoers
and shall make you dwell on the land after them. This is (my decision) for those (of
your companions) who have fear of my accountability and are afraid of my warning.”
(Al-Ibraheem 14, 13-14)
“(O Prophet!) Tell them everyone is waiting (for his outcome): so you should also
wait. Very soon you will come to know as to who followed the right path and who
found guidance.” (At-Taahaa 20:135)
“(O Prophet!) It is a small cliché from amongst the clichés which is destined to suffer
defeat (As-Saad 38:11)
Similarly, in the Madinite period as well, the Quran repeatedly predicted the conquest
of the Prophet (PBUH). Even in the commentary at the most critical moments like the
Battle of Uhud, the Quran persisted with this style.
“(O group of Sahaba) Neither lose your heart nor feel gloomy for only you will
prevail” (Ale-Imran 3:139)
“Allah has thus ordained: ‘I and my apostles shall most certainly prevail. Verily Allah
is powerful and almighty.”(Al-Mujadalah 58:21)
“The foes of Islam aim to extinguish Allah’s light with their puffs: But Allah has
willed to spread His light in perfection, however hateful this may be to all the
rejecters of Islam. He it is who has sent forth His Apostle with guidance and the
religion of truth so that He make it prevail over all religions, though it may be
disgusting to Polytheists.” (As-Saff 61:8,9)
5.2 The way of the Prophet (PBUH)’s dominance
The holy Quran tells us this story of the Prophet (PBUH)’s dominance. When truth
dawned upon the chieftains of the Makkah and they chose to oppose Islam for their
bias and personal interests, Allah, by a special favour, instilled the love of Islam in the
hearts of the Madinites. They invited the Prophet (PBUH) to come and establish his
government there in Madinah. Thus the Prophet (PBUH) very peacefully formed a
Muslim society and Islamic state at Madinah. Later too, the Prophet only fought
against those who attacked or conspired to attack Muslims. He, in the meantime,
always tried to have a peace interval to be able to invite those people to Islam who are
out of the influence of the chieftains of Quresh. That is why peace was always the
cornerstone of the policy of the holy Prophet (PBUH). For example, he signed the
Treaty of Hudaybia with the Quresh despite the displeasure of majority of his
companions over the pact which in their view had explicit anti-Muslim conditions and
had been signed under coercion. However, the Prophet (PBUH) went for it. The
biggest advantage of the treaty was that most of the tribes were free of the control of
the Quresh and just within two years people who embraced Islam outnumbered those
who had done so in the preceding 18 years.
Then a time came when Allah reminded the Muslims that notwithstanding the fact
that Ibraheem had constructed Masjid-e-Haram (The sacred mosque for the worship
of one and only God –Allah- but the Polytheists assembled hundreds of statues therein
and that as the truth has been made crystal clear to the Polytheists, the Masjid should
be specified now for the worship of Allah alone. To achieve this purpose, the Prophet
(PBUH) devised a strategy that helped accomplished the task almost without any
The holy Quran later declared that as per the old tradition by which earlier nations
were given the final ultimatum after the truth had dawned upon them, the Arab
people, after having been conveyed the message of Islam, are also warned for the last
time. As far those who thought that they were not yet conveyed the message of Islam
in a satisfactory manner, the Quran suggested to them that they should come to
Madinah, study Islam and Muslims after which they would be despatched to their
homes safely. Then they would be at liberty whether they wanted to accept Islam or
not. All these directions were revealed in Surah At-Taubah.
The Polytheists were given a timeframe of four months through this announcement.
Almost all of the Polytheists embraced Islam in these four months. Those who
abandoned Islam later were punished by Abu Bakkar, the first ruler after Holy
But it should be borne in mind that this entire issue was specific to the holy Prophet
(PBUH). Allah had promised that He would give ascendency to the Prophet (PBUH)
and his comrades. That happened exactly as had been predicted and promised. But
this promise was specific to the Prophet (PBUH). It is not meant for the common
Muslims. Because we see that later Muslims have won battles as well as suffered
decisive defeats according to their strategies and the ground situation.
5.3 Quranic account of the future developments
The holy Quran continually discussed the developments in the Prophet (PBUH)’s era
and expected future situation. For example, in a Makkite Surah Ar-Ra’ad, the Quran
described the future scenario in these words:
“(O Prophet!) Whether We let you see some (of the bad end) we have threatened them
rejecters or whether We cause you to die (before its fulfilment), your duty is no more
than to deliver the message and the reckoning is Ours. Do the polytheists not see that
We are coming forward in the land and gradually curtailing it (the polytheism) from
(all) its sides.For it is Allah who decides; no one can repel His judgment and he is
speedy in reckoning.” (Ar-Ra’ad 13:40,41)
Maulana Maudoodi explains the verse in the following way:
“Aren’t yous opponents noticing that Islam’s influence is expanding to every nook
and corner of the Arab land and they are being encompassed from al the four sides?
Isn’t that a sign of their bad-luck? Allah’s declaration, “We are coming forward in
the land” is an exceptionally delicate style of narration. The call for truth (Islam) is
from Allah and He is with those who spread it, so when there is an expansion of Islam
in any land, Allah refers to it saying He himself is coming forward in the land.”
(Tarjuma-e-Quran with short explanatory notes page 657)
This explanation shows that the word “ .” in this verse signifies the Arabian
Later in the Madinite period, the Quran from the very first day spoke in very clear
terms of the future events and the end-result. That is why the directions about war,
which revealed after verses 39 and 40 of Alhaj that had allowed war, clarified that
Allah would give victory to Muslims on every side. Later, Khana-e-Ka’bah and
Majid-e-Haram (the Holy mosque at Makkah) would be occupied by Muslims. The
Muslims were asked to avoid war as far as possible so that Majid-e-Haram is
conquered peacefully. However, they were allowed war in case the enemy initiated
hostilities. It is a matter of great importance that these directions had been revealed
even before the Battle of Badar when a victory for the Prophet (PBUH) was beyond
“(O Companions of the Apostle!) Fight in Allah’s cause with those who wage war
against you, but do no transgress therein for Allah does not like the transgressors.
And kill them (who are fighting with you) wherever you find them and drive them
away from wherever they have expelled you- for persecution is even worse than
killing. Do not fight them near Masjid-e-haram if they do not fight you there first; but
if they initiate war against you there, then you can also kill them. Such is the reward
for the rejecters. But if they avoid (war)-then (remember that) Allah is the most-
forgiving and the most merciful.” (Al-Baqarah 2:190,193)
You can see how explicitly the Quran has enumerated the directions about the victory
of Makkah whereas even the Battle of Badar had not occurred as yet and the Muslims
were in such a helpless situation that they were finding it extremely hard to save
Similarly, on the victory in the Battle of Badar, the Quran said that occurred precisely
under a Divine scheme.
“(O believers!) It was not you who killed the enemy, but it was Allah who murdered
them. And it was not you (O Prophet!) who cast dust onto them but it was Allah who
cast it so that He may succeed the believers in the best test of His own. Verily Allah is
all-hearing, all-knowing.” (Al-Anfal 8:17)
At the time of the defeat in the Battle of Uhud, the Quran clarified that it was inflicted
on the Muslims so that their weaknesses were removed however the ultimately they
would be victorious.
“(O group of Sahaba) Neither lose your heart nor feel gloomy for only you will
prevail if you are true believers. If this time (in the Battle of Uhud) you have suffered
blows, the other side (enemy) too had received similar blows (in the Battle of Badar).
For it is by the turns that We apportion to the people such days (of fortune and
misfortune). (You were made to suffer shocks) because Allah wanted to ascertain the
true believers and to determine some martyrs amongst you. Allah does not like
evildoers.” (Ale-Imran 3:139, 140)
Likewise, about the Battle of Ditch, it was said:
“Allah repulsed the rejecters. They went back without getting any advantage. Allah
alone sufficed to (protect) the believers in battle. Allah is the most powerful and
almighty.” (Al-Ahzab 33:25)
The Treaty of Hudaybia, which was apparently signed on the terms favouring the
enemy, was declared a victory because it ultimately was to lead to ascendancy of
Islam peacefully in the entire Arab land.
“Verily, (O Prophet!), We have bestowed upon you an open victory, so that Allah
might forgive you for all your faults of the past or future, and bestow upon you His
utmost blessings, and guide you on the straight path and help you with His mighty
succour.” (Al-Fatah 48:1-3)
It was already clear that had there been no armed resistance to Islam from the enemy,
the whole Arab Peninsula would have accepted the religion peacefully much earlier.
But as there was armed opposition on part of the enemy, people were forcefully
stopped from embracing Islam and entering Masjid-e-Haram, so fighting against the
armed challengers was allowed. The treaty resulted in a ceasefire and offered the
Muslims to preach the message of Islam peacefully. History bears testimony that
when the call of Islam started reaching the common people after that, all of them,
barring a few, embraced Islam. That is why it was declared an open victory.
It is the point that has been made in the following verse:
“The foes of Islam aim to extinguish Allah’s light with their breaths: But Allah wil
spread His light in all its fullness, however hateful this may be to all the rejecters. He
it is who has sent forth His Apostle with guidance and the religion of truth so that He
make it prevail over all religions, though it may be disgusting to Polytheists.” (As-
This prediction has been made in the following verses as well:
“They want to extinguish Allah’s light wit their breaths. But Allah has resolved that
He will spread his light in all its fullness and perfection, though it may be displeasing
to the rejecters. He it is who has sent forth His Apostle with guidance and the religion
of truth so that He make it prevail over all religions, though it may be disgusting to
This exactly has been mentioned in Surah Alfatah which had been revealed on the
occasion of the Treaty of Hudaybia.
“He it is who has sent forth His Apostle with guidance and the religion of truth so that
He make it prevail over all religions. And Allah is sufficient to bear witness to this
truth (Al-Fatah 48:28)
Therefore the Sahabah (companions of the Prophet (PBUH)) were directed to keep
fighting until the enemy continued its campaign to stop people forcefully from
accepting Islam. However, if they desist this, then they need not fight against them
because in that case the people will have an opportunity to consider and accept Islam
in a peaceful environment. This situation has been dubbed as Fitnah (persecution) by
the Quran. It was said:
“(O companions of the Apostle!) Fight with the enemy there is no more persecution
and all worship is devoted to Allah. And if they desist from fight, behold, Allah sees
all that they do. And if they abstain (fighting), know that Allah is your Lord Supreme
and He is the best Lord Supreme and the best helper.” (Al-Anfal 8:39,40)
Now a question arises as to why we have restricted the matter of victory in the above
verses to the Arabian Peninsula. There are several reasons for it.
First, it has been a sunnah (established course) of Allah with regard to all the Prophets
that He gives them dominance over their respective nations. It has been described on a
number of places in the Quran. Therefore, it must be case with the Holy Prophet
(PBUH) because Allah never changes His Sunnah.
The second reason is that the context of each of the above-mentioned verses clearly
shows that the process of victory and dominance was specific to the Prophet (PBUH).
That is why all the Asaar (traditions of sahabah) have informed that Allah blessed the
Prophet (PBUH) and his companions with complete victory and eliminated the Fitnah.
All the earlier commentators of Holy Quran have unanimously upheld the view that
these verses were specific to Mohammad (PBUH).
The third reason is that the prophecy in the above verses materialised only in respect
of the Prophet (PBUH). The entire Arab peninsula came under the flag of Islam
within his lifetime. The Polytheists vanished from there and that is the case even
today. Had this prediction of victory been for the entire world, it must/would have
been conquered in his life. And if it was to mean that it was the responsibility of the
Muslims coming after the Prophet (PBUH) to subjugate the world, the Quran would
have clearly stated it and would not have finished its narration on the name of the
Restricting this matter of victory to the land of Arabia has three practical results.
First, on the basis of the above difference, the Arabia a peninsula have been
differentiated in several commandments of Islam. For example, demolition of every
statue, temple and other places of worship of the Polytheists inside this area was
mandatory for Muslims whereas they were bound to respect and protect the worship-
places of all non-Muslims, including Polytheists, elsewhere. That’s why the statue of
Abul Howl in Egypt is till there though Egypt had been conquered in the reign of
Umar the great. (The statue of Buddah in Bamaian Afghanistan also remained there
for hundreds of year despite Muslim rule before an irrational move by the Taliban.
Therefore, according to a Sahih (sound) Hadees, the Prophet (PBUH) said:
“Never could two religions combine in the Arabian peninsula.” There would only be
the religion of Islam there. That is why the permanent dwelling of non-Muslims in the
jurisdiction of the Harmain Sharifain (the two holy mosques Masjid-e-Nabavi at
Madinah and Masjid-e-Haram at Makkah). However, they are free to live anywhere
else either alongwith or separate from Muslims.
The second consequence is that as the promise of victory is specific to the Prophet
(PBUH), later Muslims could suffer defeat in a war despite their nobility and
goodness but this should be deemed as a defeat for them and not for Islam. History
has amply proved that later Muslims suffered decisive defeats several times despite
the fact that they were comparatively far better in terms of beliefs and character than
their contenders. Their decency, however, could not save them from defeat. For
example, Syed Ahmad Shaheed and his comrades got defeated at the hands of Sikhs.
The third and most important result is that if we extend the application of the verses to
the whole world, it would imply that Muslim should not be content until they kill all
the Polytheists and infidels on face of the earth and wipe out all the governments of
Book-holders. If this meaning is adopted, then all the verses regarding the freedom of
will and action of human beings and about the law of reconciliation would become
redundant. It will also (Allah forbid) prove the allegation that there are contradictions
in holy Quran. Not only that, non-Muslims would get an excuse and opportunity to
malign Islam that it has different sets of standards for Muslims and non-Muslims, that
Muslims want freedom of preaching for themselves but at the same time consider it as
their duty to eliminate democratic governments of others. In that case, it should not be
strange for us if the entire non-Muslim world regard us as their enemy No.1 and think
that there could not be any peace in the world in the presence of Muslims. In that
case, we should never term as injustice and agitate against the occupation of a country
by another state because it is exactly we will do if we have any opportunity.
Therefore, if and when we restrict the application of these verses to the life of the
Prophet (PBUH), the above problems and anomalies disappear and all the
commandments of the Quran regarding inter-state and interfaith relations will settle
down at their proper position and it is proved that there is no inconsistency in Quranic
5.4 Last warning by the Prophet (PBUH)
There comes a time in the life of every Prophet (PBUH) when he warns his opponents
for the last time. This time is determined by Allah. It is the time when only those
remain outside the sphere of Islam who deliberately reject Islam for their prejudice,
obstinacy and egotistic approach. It is then that they are meted out their ultimate
penalty. It is evident from the stories of Noah, Looth, Hood, Salih and other prophets.
This happened exactly to the Prophet (PBUH). When the entire Arab peninsula was
perfectly conveyed the message of Islam, the last ultimatum was served on his
opponents is Surah At-Taubah. This is a surah of condemnation and punishment. That
is why it doesn’t have Bismillah in its beginning. In this last ultimatum, the
Polytheists of the Arab land were given a period of four months to decide whether
they wanted to accept Islam or leave Arabia. If they had any doubts and reservations
about Islam, they were to be given full opportunity to come to Madinah to know more
about Islam. After that, they would be sent back to their homes safely so that they
could coolly decide on the question. However, at the expiry of these four months, all
the Polytheists present in the Arab land were to be murdered.
“Disavowal by Allah and His Prophet is hereby announced to those of polytheists
with whom you (O believers!) have made agreements. ‘(O polytheists!) you can,
(freely) in the land (of Arab) for four months- but know that you can never elude Allah
and that, verily, Allah shall bring disgrace upon the rejecters. And a proclamation
from Allah and His Apostle is herewith made on this day of the great Hajj
(pilgrimage) to the people that: “Allah disowns all the polytheists and so does His
Apostle. Hence, if you repent, it shall be better for you but if you turn away, then
know that you can never escape from Allah. And (O Prophet!) give the announcement
of a grievous punishment to the rejecters. But excepted (from this) shall be those
polytheists whom you have made a covenant with and who thereafter have never
failed to fulfil their obligations towards you and neither have aided anyone against
you: observe, then your covenant with them until the end of the term agreed with
them. Verily Allah likes those who avoid violation of treaties. And so, when the sacred
months are over kill the polytheists wherever you find them, take them captive, and
besiege them and lie in wait for them at every possible place. However if they are
penitent, offer prayers and render Zakat, let them go their own way: verily, Allah is
the most forgiving and the most merciful. And if any one of the polytheists seeks your
protection, grant it to him so that he might hear the word of Allah; after that convey
him to a place where he can feel secure. This is because they are the people who do
no know.” (At-Taubah 9:1-6)
The Book-holders, i.e, Jews and Christians, were to be treated differently. That is,
they could live in the Arab land but would not have any share in the government and
would have to pay Jizyah (society tax) instead of Zakat (A tax on Muslims).
“Fight against those from the Book-holders who do not either believe in Allah or the
Last Day, and do not consider forbidden all that Allah and His Apostle have
forbidden, and do not follow the religion of truth (Islam), until they pay Jizya after
having been humbled (in war).” (At-Taubah 9:29)
As luck would have it, all the all the Polytheists embraced Islam within that interval.
Neither any one had to be killed nor exiled. However, the people, who later accepted
the false prophethood of Musailma Kazzab (Musailma, the Liar) and thus converted
from Islam, were punished by Abu Bakkar, the first ruler after Holy Prophet.
In the above verses, the last Divine punishment has been described which is
announced and meted out by a Prophet to his nation when they are conveyed the
message of Allah in perfection but they still reject it. This time is determined by Allah
Himself. It is the greatest prerogative of a Prophet and is the greatest proof of his
Prophethood. This specific distinction for the holy Prophet (PBUH) should not be
confused with normal laws of war in Islam. This is, in fact, the greatest evidence of
the Prophethood of Muhammad.