Featured

Jehad

Jehad (Ms. Amatul-Shafi Nasser) In this modern day and age, when the world has become considerably smaller because of the technological advancement of the various forms of media, a word has arisen clouded with doubt, distortion and mysticism from the East. This word is Jehad, or as is better known in the West “Holy War”. The actual root of the Arabic word Jehad is Jahd, which signifies endurance or rigorous conditions. Thus, in essence Jehad means to strive to the utmost for the achievement of a purpose and to leave nothing undone in pursuance of it. I will now take this concept of Jehad and look at it from two angles. First, what the Holy Quran says about Jehad, and secondly how Muslims of the Ahmadiyya sect interpret what is said in the Holy Quran. The Islamic conception of Jehad is first introduced in Chapter 22 verse 39 of the Quran. This verse throws a flood of light on what the Islamic conception of Jehad actually purports to be. Jehad, as the verse shows is fighting in defence of Truth. But whereas Islam allows no aggressive war, it regards the waging of it to defend one’s honour, country or faith as an act of the highest virtue. According to Islam, Man is God’s noblest handiwork. He is the cause of his creation, its aim and end. Therefore, it is only natural that the religion which has raised man to such a high pedestal should also have attached very great importance and sanctity to honour life. Of all things, man’s life, according to the Quran is most sacred and inviolable. It is a sacrilege to take it accept under very rare circumstances which the Quran has specifically mentioned in Chapters 5:33, 7:34. The 40th verse, Chapter 22 of the Quran is the first verse according to consensus of scholarly opinion which gave Muslims the permission to take up arms in self defence: “Permission to take up arms is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged.” This verse lays down principles according to which Muslims can wage a defensive war, and sets forth along with the following verses the reasons JEHAD . 47 which led a handful of Muslims, without arms and other material means, to fight in self defence after they had suffered at Mecca ceaseless persecution for years, and had been pursued with relentless hatred to Medina, and were harassed there. So the first reason given in this verse is that they have been wronged. Chapter 22, Verse 41 gives the second reason. The verse states: “Those who have been driven out from their homes unjustly, only because they said ‘Our Lord is Allah’.” This second reason is that Muslims were driven out from their hearths and homes without a just and legitimate cause, their only offence being that they believed in One God. For years the Muslims were persecuted at Mecca, then they were driven out from it and were not left in peace even in the exile at Medina. Islam at that time was threatened with complete extermination by a combined attack by the Arabian tribes around Medina. Medina itself was honeycombed with sedition and teachery, and the Jews, compact and united were utterly opposed to the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). It is under these highly unfavourable circumstances that Muslims had to take up arms to save themselves, their faith and the Holy Prophet (peace be on him) from extermination. If ever a people had a legitimate cause to fight, it was the Holy Prophet (peace be on him) and his companions, and yet the critics of Islam have accused him of waging aggressive wars to impose his faith on an unwilling people. After giving reasons why the Muslims were obliged to take up arms, the verse mentions the object and purpose of the wars of Islam: “And if Allah had not repelled some people by means of others, cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft rembered, would surely have been destroyed.” Thus, the object was never to deprive other people of their homes and possessions, or to deprive them of national freedom and compel them to submit to foreign yoke, or to explore new markets and get new colonies as the Western Powers do. It was to fight in self defence and to serve Islam from extermination and to establish freedom of conscience and liberty of thought. It was also to defend places of worship belonging to other religions •— the churches, and synagogues, the temples and cloisters. Thus, the first and foremost object of the wars of Islam was and will always be, to establish freedom of belief and worship and to fight in defence of country, honour and freedom against an unprovoked attack. Is there any person who can say that there is a better cause to fight for than this? 48 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS Islamic Jehad is basically of three types. First, there is the Jeh’ad against oneself which in Islamic idiom is called the greatest Jehad (Jehad Akbar). Secondly, the Jehad that is waged against Satan and satanic teachings and designs and is called the great Jehad (Jehad Kabeer). Thirdly, there is the Jehad that is waged against the enemy of freedom of conscience; this is called the lesser Jehad (Jehad Asghar). Let us now consider the attitude of the Promised Messiah, the founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, and the Muslims of the Ahmadiyya sect towards Jehad by fighting. During the Promised Messiah’s time, British rule had been established over the sub-continent of India, also comprising what today is Pakistan. Before the British, this part of the country was subject to the rule of the Sikhs who had abolished religious freedom, especially for the Muslims, for whom it became difficult even to freely carry out Divine Worship. But after British rule replaced Sikh rule in this part of the country, an announcement was made in Allahabad on the 1st November 1858 on behalf of Queen Victoria. The announcement stated that “No-one of our subjects shall be persecuted or granted any favour on account of his religious beliefs or practices. . . . In the eyes of the law, all people shall be equally entitled to impartial freedom.” In such circumstances, where unlike the Sikhs, the British Government did not consider the Muslims as deserving to be killed and were granted complete religious freedom of profession and practice, the Promised Messiah in his booklet “Tohfah Qaesiriyya” explained the doctrine of Jehad as follows: “… I have been made to understand by God Almighty that these practices that are currently regarded as Jehad are entirely opposed to the teachings of the Holy Quran. . . . In short, at the time of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), the basis of Islamic Jehad was that God’s wrath had been raised against the tyrants. But living under the rule of a benign government, as is the government of our Queen and Empress, it is not Jehad to entertain rebellious designs against it, but it is a barbaric idea which is born of ignorance. To entertain ill-will against a government under whom life is lived in freedom and there is complete security and religious obligations can be discharged to the full, is a criminal step and not Jehad. . . .” This makes it absolutely clear that in the view of the Promised Messiah there was no ground for undertaking Jehad by the sword against the Government in India at that time. It is worthy of not that the Promised Messiah was not alone in holding the view that Jehad by the sword was not permitted against the British Government in India. All the eminent divines of his time made declarations to the same effect and in accordance with this refrained from any activity which JEHAD 49 might be construed as Jehad by the sword, and thus confirmed their declarations by their conduct. But it is important to remember that the Promised Messiah did.hot forbid Jehad absolutely. He urged his community to carry Jehad all the time. He said: “The Jehad of this age is to strive in upholding the word of Islam, to refute the objections of the opponents, to propogate the excellences of the Islamic faith and to proclaim the truth of the Holy Prophet (peace be on him) throughout the world. This is Jehad till God Almighty brings about other conditions in the world.” (Letter addressed to Mir Nasir Nawab Sahib) These last words are of very great importance in that they clearly indicated that he did not reject the concept of Jehad by the sword, but believed that the obligation of such Jehad had been postponed in this age on account of the absence of the conditions that call for it. He did not abrogate Jehad by the sword, nor could he do as he was bound by the Holy Quran. He merely declared its postponement. I will conclude by saying that those who equate the term Jehad with fanaticism and terror and who seek to justify their horrific and barbaric acts of violence in the name of religion, are in great error and have not understood the true teachings of Islam and the Holy Quran. Finally, under the banner of Jehad we should always remember the verses of the Holy Quran that sets this noble and ancient term in its rightful perspective, namely that above all, Jehad is to strive in the cause of God with the ultimate object of winning the pleasure of God. (Chapter 29 Verses 7 and 70). The REVIEW of RELIGIONS The Review of Religions is the oldest magazine of its kind published in the English language in the Indo-Pakistan Sub-Continent. Its first issue was published in 1902 and it has been continuously published since. It bears the distinction that it was initiated under the direction of Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, the Promised Messiah himself. During more than eighty-one years the message of Islam has been conveyed through this magazine to hundreds of readers and many fortunate persons have recognised the truth of Islam and accepted it through studying it. The articles published in it deal not only with the doctrines and teachings of Islam but also set forth a comparative appreciation of the teachings of other faiths. One of its outstanding features is the refutations of the criticism of Islamic teachings by orientalists and non-muslim scholars. It also presents solutions in the light of Islamic teachings of the problems with which the Islamic world is from time to time confronted. A study of this magazine is indispensable for the appreciation of the doctrines of the Ahmadiyya Movement and the teachings of its holy Founder. Printed by The Eastern Press Ltd, London and Reading Published by The Review of Religions, The London Mosque, 16 Gressenhali Road, London, SW18 5QL