Peace and freedom are two essential requirements of a
society. Just as various penal measures help in protecting a society from the
evils and excesses committed by an individual, resorting to armed offensives
sometimes becomes essential to curb the evils perpetrated by countries and
nations. As long as diplomatic relations and negotiations can be used to resolve
matters, no one would endorse the use of force for settling affairs. However, if
a nation threatens to disrupt the peace and freedom of the world and its
arrogance and haughtiness exceed all bounds, and it no longer remains possible
to bring it back on track thorough counsel and advice, it becomes the
inalienable right of humankind to forcibly stop its subversive activities until
peace and freedom of the world are restored. The Qur’ān asserts that if the use
of force had not been allowed in such cases, the disruption and disorder caused
by insurgent nations would have reached the extent that the places of worship
where the name of God is taken day and night would have become deserted and
forsaken, not to mention the disruption of the society itself.
It is for this purpose that jihād is undertaken in the
It must not be undertaken to gratify one’s whims nor to obtain wealth or riches.
It must also not be undertaken to conquer territories and rule them or to
acquire fame or to appease the emotions of communal support, partisanship and
animosity. Jihād cannot be undertaken for a person’s selfish motives nor to
satisfy his ego. This is the war of the Almighty that His servants undertake at
His behest according to the guidelines provided by Him for His cause. They
themselves act as mere agents and instruments of the will of God. They have no
objective of their own before them in this undertaking; rather they have to
fulfill the objectives of the Almighty. Consequently, they cannot deviate in the
least from this capacity:
Following is the sharī‘ah of jihād.
1. Directive of Jihād
The directive of using force is given to Muslims in their
collective capacity. All verses of the Qur’ān which mention this directive do
not address Muslims in their individual capacity. Like the verses which mention
punishments, these verses too address the Muslims as a community. Thus any step
which is to be taken for use of force must originate for their collective
system. No person or group among them has the right to take a step on its own in
this regard on behalf of the Muslims.
2. Objective of Jihād
According to the Qur’ān, jihād is carried out primarily to
root out persecution (to force and oppress a person to give up his religion).
All forms of oppression against the life and wealth as well as freedom of
opinion and expression of Muslims – should be considered under it in various
degrees. Consequently, it can be launched to curb oppression and injustice
whatever be their forms.
3. When does Jihād become Obligatory?
Jihād does not become obligatory on Muslims unless their
military might reaches a certain extent in relation to that of their enemies.
Thus it is essential that in order to fulfill this obligation of jihād not only
should Muslims develop their moral being, they should also increase their moral
might which in the times of the Prophet keeping in view the circumstances of
those times was regarded by the Qur’ān to be 1:2 between Muslims and their
4. Participation in Jihād
Only in that case will a person be sinning in not
participating in jihād when he does not respond to the appeal of a Muslim state
when it calls out to every Muslim to participate in it. In such situations, it
indeed becomes a sin as great as hypocrisy. In the absence of this situation,
taking part in jihād indeed is a means of earning great reward the desire of
which should be in the heart of every Muslim; however, it does not become an
obligation ignoring which can make him a sinner.
5. Running away the Battlefield
Deserting the battlefield of jihād is totally forbidden. No
believer should show such feebleness. It is tantamount to showing distrust in
Allah, giving priority to this world over the next and trying to make life and
death dependent upon one’s own strategy – all of which cannot exist with true
6. Moral Limits
War cannot be waged in the way of Allah by disregarding
ethical limits. Moral values have to be given priority over everything in all
circumstances, and, even in circumstances of war, the Almighty has not given any
person the permission to breach ethical principles. The most important directive
that has been spelled out in this regard is the fulfillment of promises.
Breaking a promise is a great sin in the eyes of the Almighty. Consequently,
even if a nation, with which Muslims are under obligation of a contract, is
guilty of oppressing the Muslims in matters of their religion, the Islamic state
does not have the right to help these Muslims if this amounts to a breach of
contract made with that nation. Similarly, people who want to remain neutral in
war should be left alone and not be troubled in any way.
A display of pomp and arrogance should be avoided when an
army sets out for a battle. Vanity and conceit are not befitting for the
believers. Whether in the battlefield or outside it, the humility of servitude
to the Almighty should always be their hallmark.
7. Divine Help
Muslims indeed wage such war by reposing their trust in the
Almighty; however, the Qur’ān has made it clear that what entitles people to
Divine Help is perseverance and resolution. No group of Muslims becomes entitled
to it unless it has this quality in it.
8. Prisoners of War
Muslims have to set free prisoners of war at all costs
whether with ransom or without; however, according to the Qur’ān, they can
neither kill them nor keep them as slaves come what may.
9. Spoils of War
The spoils of war are essentially reserved for the
collective requirements of the Muslims. The combatants of the Muslim army have
not been granted any fixed share in the spoils of war by the Almighty. In this
regard, a state has discretionary powers which it can exercise keeping in view
their circumstances and the society they live in.