Abdullah bin Omar narrated that the
messenger of Allah, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, said:
"I have been ordered to fight
against people until they testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad
is the messenger of Allah and until they perform the prayers and pay the zakat,
and if they do so they will have gained protection from me for their lives and property,
unless [they do acts that are punishable] in accordance with Islam, and their reckoning
will be with Allah the Almighty."
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
The majority of Scholars say that
the "people" here refers to the Arab polytheists. The same interpretation can also
be found in the Qur'an in Surah An-Nasr.
Another opinion say that the Prophet,
sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, was referring to all people, excluding Ahlul
Kitab, i.e. the people of the Book. It was said that this hadith was abrogated
by the later rulings concerning jizziya (compensation).
A third opinion interprets the
hadith as saying that people have to accept the domination or supremacy of Islam
- that Islam is the dominant religion. This objective is to be achieved by whatever
means, whether it is through fighting or through peaceful agreements.
Islam is the only true religion.
It is the truth; it is the path of Allah. One of the divine Laws since the earth
was created: evil has always been fighting against truth. The truth has to be protected
and it needs power to protect it. This is the main philosophy of jihad in
Islam: Jihad is to establish and maintain justice and truth.
Jihad is not confined to only
fighting. It has many other unpracticed or weakly practiced forms: da'wah,
disseminating knowledge and educating others, maximizing the good and minimizing
the evil, reconciling clashes and conflicts between Muslims, striving for the betterment
of community are all forms of jihad.
How do we deal with the concept of
jihad in our contemporary life? There are oppressed Muslim communities where
fighting is a choice. However, generally speaking, we can answer the question based
on dealing with two kinds of challenges: internal and external ones.
Internal Challenges encountering Muslims
Today unfortunately, the Muslim
ummah is not united. It is divided and split into different groups and sects
whether religious or political. Conflicts are every where between Muslims. In this
situation jihad means to re-establish the unity of the Muslim communities
and of the ummah at large. It means also to remove or minimize clashes and
Another issue is the lack of understanding
of Islam by the Muslims themselves. The majority of Muslims today do not understand
the true meaning of Islam, even the basic concepts. Here, jihad takes the
form of disseminating the true message of Islam to the Muslims and educating them
so that they fully understand their deen.
Since the majority of the Muslims
do not truly understand Islam, they do not practice their religion correctly or
completely.This means the shahadah of the ummah (i.e. being witnesses
of the truth) is not activated today. We should be establishing ourselves as a role
model to other nations but we are not doing so. We should be practicing the great
values, concepts and principles of Islam and following its rulings and guidelines.
If we do so, this will portray the real image of Islam and make us the perfect model
for other societies, communities and nations. Only then will the non-Muslims feel
attracted to Islam and may accept the dominance of Islam in their society because
they see that the dominance of Islam means justice, good values, well-being of human
This is a great jihad which
we should undertake though it needs great effort and may take a very long time,
i.e. decades, to establish. We should embark on this jihad step by step,
with different efforts happening concurrently: efforts to educate the Muslims their
great religion; efforts to make them practice it and be good role models to others;
efforts to make Muslims a great nation, and to make them united.
Looking at the Muslim ummah
or community today, the basic concept which will lead to unity is missing - the
concept of Al-Wala'. Al-Wala' contains 4 sub-concepts: love, care, help and protection.
These basic concepts are missing from the Muslim ummah and therefore we need
to revive these concepts in order to unite the ummah.
This is the situation of the Muslims
today. How can we talk about the supremacy and the dominance of Islam if the Muslims
are in such a weak situation where there are so many discrepancies, contradictions,
obstacles, shortcomings, etc. These are areas where great efforts and a great jihad
But to do jihad in a forceful
way, i.e. by fighting, does not work and may create even more problems. There are
some groups of Muslims today who confine jihad to fighting as the main and
only way to establish the previous mentioned goals and this is destroying the image
of Islam and is not doing any favour to the Muslims. Those people interpret this
hadith to mean fighting but this may not be applicable to the situation of
the Muslims today where fighting may cause more and greater harm.
External challenges encountering Muslims
The Muslim community is encountering
two kinds of challenges - the internal challenges (some of which were previously
mentioned) and the external challenges which are being imposed on them by the opponents
of Islam. Those opponents are coming up with different ways of 'fighting' and trying
to rule the Muslim world. These external challenges include all aspects of globalisation,
modernity, change of lifestyle, technology misuse, changing values, etc. The battle
field of these challenges are the minds and attitudes of Muslims specially the young
generation, where the focus is on influencing the attitudes of the Muslims through
influencing their way of thinking and altering their perceptions.
The opponents of Islam are promoting
evil and negative concepts through new ways and means. One of them is changing our
perception about things, where wrong-doings and evil deeds are being perceived as
acceptable or even preferable. The latest findings of researches and studies, like
cognitive psychology, are used to influence the world, including the Muslims, to
change their attitudes, values and even beliefs.
If we accept the situation as it
is and not do anything about it, the negative consequences will be greater in the
future. Today everything, including the future, is being preplanned and designed
but the Muslims are not aware of this. We are not aware that we are the subjects
of the schemes of others - that we are being used or victimised as target groups
where the Muslim minds are being manipulated and brainwashed. Therefore we need
to counter these external challenges. This is also a great jihad because
these opponents of Islam are using such means and ways to threaten our values, beliefs
and identities as Muslims. We need to be aware of the situation and think about
what is being designed to influence us and we should use the same means to counter
these negative influences.
The influencing method used by the
opponents is similar to the insinuation of the Shaitan. This insinuation, as stated
in the Qur'an, is done by the Shaitan to colour our perception. As Allah says, Shaitan
will either promote evil by colouring our perception so that bad things are being
perceived as good, or by influencing us and preventing us from doing good deeds.
For example, if we want to give sadakah, Shaitan will insinuate to us that
doing such a good deed will burden our finances and influence us into thinking about
what better use we could have for the money if we did not give it away.
It is also mentioned in the Qur'an
that Shaitan creates conflicts and disputes among the Muslims, also through colouring
their perception. A word or term may have different meanings and different interpretations
which in turn will lead to different understandings. For example, if a person uses
a double-meaning word, Shaitan comes in and insinuates by causing the other party
to misinterpret the meaning and this leads to conflicts and disputes. That's why
quarrels occur between husbands and wives, brothers, friends, community members,
This same method of colouring or
manipulating our perception is being used today by evil doers to promote evil through
many different means such as the media and technology. Whether it is through pictures
or spoken or written words, these methods are used to change and alter our perception,
influencing our attitudes and values and the way we view the world.
This is one of the real areas of
jihad today for Muslim educators and intellectuals.
Technology can be used in both a
negative and/or positive way. We must master it and be in control of it, using it
for our benefit and not to merely be passive users. When we use technology, e.g.
the Internet, we must use it in a way where we are the ones who control it, and
not as a manipulation tool of others. We should use it in our da'wah, as
a form of counter manipulation. We use it to alter the perception of our Muslim
community back to its original, positive form, whether it is our values, beliefs
We can also use the Qur'anic style
of da'wah, using metaphors and analogies. This methodology is something which
we are very weak at. Metaphorical Thinking and Analytical Thinking are powerful
skills which we need to learn. These are actually Qur'anic styles. Even though these
styles of thinking appear as products of the West, i.e. the products of Cognitive
Psychology which was established about 50 years ago, they were actually established
1,500 years ago by Islam. But the Muslims themselves are not using these tools.
Thus, we need to learn these methods and start using them. We need to use imageries
and similes in our dialogue when we give da'wah as this makes it easier for
people to understand the message.
Part of our jihad and obligations
is to update and equip ourselves with the right tools. Willingness and enthusiasm
is not enough. We need to be able to learn and utilise the right tools to counter
what is being imposed on us by the evil doers.
We need to understand ourselves,
to understand Islam, to educate others about Islam, to understand the contemporary
challenges, to equip ourselves with the right tools so that we can face and counter
the contemporary challenges in the right way. When we talk about the concept of
jihad we shouldn't just talk about the common understanding of jihad
- we shouldn't get emotional about it, forgetting about ourselves or the world we're
living in or the situation of our ummah or about the challenges we are facing.
Thus it is not easy to truly understand the different aspects of the concept of
jihad or how to implement these aspects in our world today.
When we discuss about the concept
of jihad we have to resolve the conflicts that exist within ourselves - the
conflicts between reality and the ideal situation. One of the biggest efforts we
have to undertake is to determine how we can bridge the distance between these conflicts.
We need to bridge the gap between the ideal situation and the real world.
To resolve these conflicts within
us, we need psychological and social adjustments. We live in a society which is
somehow corrupted but we still maintain our values and try to do something to improve
the situation. Otherwise without these adjustments we may end up with either confrontation
and aggressiveness or living a modern life and rejecting our values and beliefs.
Both extremes are not acceptable.
What we need is assertiveness, a social and psychological adjustment. We need to
determine how we can live in this modern world as a good Muslim, maintaining our
identity and moral values. These are great challenges which we face today. We have
to be practical in dealing with these challenges. When we talk about Islam we usually
talk in the theoretical sense, e.g. what is taqwa (piety), ikhlas
(sincerity), etc. We need to be able to implement these concepts in our everyday
life activities and practices especially as we face all these different challenges.
Thus we need to address Islamic concepts with reality, within the context of the
actual situation of the society today.