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No Jihād Without the State
Dr. Shehzad Saleem


Response: I think your insistence in the columns of this journal on the condition of having a state or a government makes the declaration of Jihād impossible in the present world, and this will benefit only the enemies of Islam  who will go on suppressing the Muslim population under their control. It appears to be more of a technicality than an essential requirement. I do not know the conditions and background that prompted this interpretation but the present conditions certainly do not justify it, whatever may be the position in the past. In fact, this condition makes Jihād virtually impossible. Suppose that the Mujāhidīn of Kashmir do manage to occupy some part of the territory currently under Indian subjugation and declare it as their base. Indian planes will be bombing it within minutes and will destroy everything that belongs to the Mujāhidīn. That simply means that the Mujāhidīn will never be able to meet the condition of possessing a territory. Neither the Pakistan government nor the one in Azad Kashmir has declared Jihād nor are they likely to do so. Shall we then call the movement in the occupied Kashmir as ‘insurgency’, ‘insurrection’, ‘rebellion’ or something similar? That will perfectly suit India because it is also using the very same descriptions! And since we shall not be calling it Jihād, the Muslims outside the occupied Kashmir will not give any support or aid to the Mujāhidīn inside. That will be allowing the Indians to do whatever they want against the Mujāhidīn and the people of Kashmir. That is precisely what India wants! And with no support from the outside, not even moral, how long can the people of Kashmir fight against suppression and subjugation? The obvious conclusion is that we shall let all Muslims under subjugation to remain in that condition for ever because they will never meet the conditions of possessing a territory and government. Will that be an acceptable situation? With due respect to all those scholars of the past who imposed these conditions, we must look at the present day world realistically and do our own thinking and adopt a suitable approach. The objective of Jihād is far more important than such technicalities.

Comment: First I must clarify, that it is not the scholars of the Ummah who have imposed the condition that only a state can initiate Jihād. It is the Sharīah of the Almighty which has. Both the Qur’ān and the established practice of the Prophets of Allah explicitly impose this condition. A study of the Qur’ān reveals that all Makkan Sūrahs do not contain any directive of Jihād for the simple reason that in Makkah the Muslims did not have their own state. One must remember that Islam does not advocate any jungle law: it is a religion in which both human life and the way it is taken hold great sanctity. It does not give us any right to take life unless certain conditions are fulfilled. So, it was not until an Islamic state was subsequently established in Madīnah that the Qur’ān gave the Muslims the permission to lift arms against the onslaught mounted by the Quraysh:

To those against whom war is made, permission is given [to fight] because they have been oppressed and verily Allah is Most Powerful to help them. [They] are those who have been expelled from their homes without any basis, only because they said: Our Lord is Allah. (22:39-40)

Consequently, the Prophet (sws) never retaliated in Makkah to the inhuman treatment which was given to him as well as to some of his companions. Remember the torment suffered by the Prophet (sws) particularly at Tā’if. Bilāl (rta) was put through the gravest of tortures. The limbs of Ammār Ibn Yāsir (rta) were torn apart by strong camels. In spite of this reign of terror let lose by the Quraysh, the Prophet (sws) and his companions never retaliated with force. After all they could have easily done so. On the contrary, on the terrible agony suffered by Ammār Ibn Yāsir (rta), the Prophet (sws) is reported to have remarked: ‘I give you glad tidings of paradise, O family of Yasīr’. The Prophet (sws) preferred to suffer and be persecuted than to counter attack his enemies, since Muslims at that stage had not fulfilled this all important pre-requisite of Jihād.

Similarly, the earlier Prophets were not allowed by the Almighty to wage war unless they had established their political authority in an independent piece of land. For instance, the Prophet Moses (sws), as is evident from the Qur’ān, was directed to wage war only after he had fulfilled this condition. Since the Prophet Jesus (sws) and his companions were not able to gain political authority in a piece of land, they never launched an armed struggle.

The reason for this condition is that without political authority, Jihād amounts to spreading disorder in the land. How can a leadership which is not able to punish criminals be allowed to wage an armed struggle? The Almighty never approves of dismantling even an evil system unless there is a chance that those who are planning to destroy it will be able to implant a fair one in its place. The states of lawlessness and anarchy are unnatural and so alien to human nature that an unjust system holds priority over them. Consequently, a bunch of people whose power and authority are dubious and untested, over whom there is no ruler possessing political authority, whose sincerity and obedience has not been tried, whose members may have the ability to dismantle a system but have not presented any evidence of setting order in a disordered system is not allowed by the Almighty to lift arms. Such a trust can only be reposed in a group which has actually assumed the shape of a political state.

This condition is so explicit and categorical that all the scholars of this Ummah unanimously uphold it1.

The blood shed which is going on in Kashmir is because this very condition has not been followed. If armed struggle the only way to solve the Kashmir problem, why can’t other Muslim states be asked to come forward and liberate the people of Kashmir through military intervention. After all, they fulfil this condition. Also, why cannot the Mujāhidin adopt other peaceful means to achieve independence? Are they are not even in a position to chalk out a program to democratically topple the existing regime?

I can tell you that if they do not retaliate and bear the oppression of the enemy, it will not be long before their sacrifice will bear fruit. They have the dazzling example of the Prophet (sws) and his companions before them. Isn’t the blood of these towering torch bearers of Islam more sacred than that of the freedom fighters of Kashmir. In persecution did they rejoice, in oppression did they grow in resolve and in subjugation did they triumph.

Sir, we cannot change the Sharī‘ah -- can we?

I would request you to look at the matter without emotions which sometimes hamper us in getting to the truth: Life is no doubt sacred; however, the Sharī‘ah is even more. May Allah guide us all to the right path.



1. To quote ‘Fiqh-al-Sunnah’:

Among Kafāyah obligations, the third category is that for which the existence of a ruler is necessary e.g., jihād and administration of punishments. (Sayyid Sābiq, Vol 3, Pg 30)

In the words of Imām Farāhī:

In one’s own country, without migrating to an independent piece of land, Jihād is not allowed. The tale of Abraham (sws) and other verses pertaining to migration testify to this. The Prophet's life (sws) also supports this view. The reason for this is that if Jiha$d is not waged by a person who holds political authority, it amounts to anarchy and disorder. (Majmū‘ah Tafāsīr-i-Farāhī’, Pg 56)

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