Part II: Distorted Sharia Laws

Jihȃd and “Jihȃdism”

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Jihȃd and “Jihȃdism”

God often commanded the Israelites to go to war with other nations (Josh. 4:13; 1 Sam. 15:3). He ordered the Israelites to “avenge the children of Israel of Midianites [take vengeance upon them]” (Num. 31:2). Deuteronomy 20:16–17 declares, “But of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee.” Also, 1 Samuel 15:18 says, “Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed.”

Religion has certainly played a part in much of the warfare in human history. In Islam, we see the concept of jihȃd, which is widely understood as describing warfare in order to expand Islam and is often translated as “holy war.” This understanding of jihȃd, however, is different from that we read in the Qur’ȃn.

There is no word in the Qur’ȃn that can be translated as “holy war.” Most probably, the German orientalist Friedrich Schwally was the first who coined the term heiliger Krieg (“holy war”)in his monograph published in 1901, a word that was subsequently adapted by other Western writers. While a number of studies and articles have been published in the non-Muslim world about the “holy war” waged by Islam, only a fraction of them can be considered scholarly. Many of these studies and articles must be deemed journalistic and polemical, despite their outward appearance of objectivity or the fact that they have been published in well-known journals and magazines.
Prejudice toward Islam is as old as Islam itself. The Catholic Church considered Arabia a “breeding ground of heresies” (haeresium ferax) even before the Islamic conquests began in the seventh century CE. From the conquest of Spain in the early eighth century CE to the siege of Vienna by the Ottoman Turks in 1683 CE, Islam remained an existential military and cultural threat to Christianity. Islam’s achievements in many scientific and intellectual fields during its golden period in the Middle Ages caused a reaction in the West, whether out of envy, fear or other reasons, a reaction that characterized Islam as cruel, evil and uncivilized.

Jihȃd—the Holy War in Islam?

Many contemporary Muslims also falsely believe that jihȃd is a holy war enjoined by Allah to fight against nonbelievers. One reason for this widespread misconception may be that Muslims often learn about Islamic practices and concepts from secondary, often unreliable sources. In addition, until very recently, the vast majority of religious scholars had not taken pains to consult any dictionary of Arabic or to refer to the Qur’ân to examine the meaning of the term jihȃd. This lack of Qur’ânic knowledge furthered the incorrect notion that jihȃd in the sense of “holy war” is enjoined in the Qur’ȃn for the establishment or the extension of Islamic rule.

The Qur’ȃnic Legislations on War

We cannot erase or abrogate the verses in the Qur’ȃn related to warfare to prove that the Qur’ȃn condemns all warfare. However, we can clarify these verses and remove misunderstandings. Those who misunderstand the Qur’ȃnic term jihȃd as armed struggle need to remember that when the Qur’ȃn refers to fighting the enemy, it uses variations of the Word qitȃl (4:74; 4:84) rather than jihȃd. The permission to fight in verses 22:39-41 under certain very strict circumstances has no connection with jihȃd or with conversion by force. At no place does the Qur’ȃn permit the use of force for the purpose of preaching or of expanding Muslim territories. Several verses point to the best course of action in the case of conflict and external threats.

1. Avoid confrontation: The Qur’ȃn recommends in the first place to avoid confrontation and conflict:

فَاصْدَعْ بِمَا تُؤْمَرُ وَأَعْرِضْ عَنِ الْمُشْرِكِينَ إِنَّا كَفَيْنَاكَ الْمُسْتَهْزِئِينَ الَّذِينَ يَجْعَلُونَ مَعَ اللَّهِ إِلَـٰهًا آخَرَ ۚ فَسَوْفَ يَعْلَمُونَ وَلَقَدْ نَعْلَمُ أَنَّكَ يَضِيقُ صَدْرُكَ بِمَا يَقُولُونَ فَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّكَ وَكُن مِّنَ السَّاجِدِينَ

“Therefore declare openly what you are commanded (to deliver) and turn away from the polytheists. We do suffice you (to punish) those who treat (you) scornfully. Who set up another god beside Allâh; but they shall soon come to know (the consequences). And We know, indeed, that your mind is distressed because of (polytheistic things) that they say. So (the remedy of this distress is that you) glorify your Lord with all His true praise and be of those who prostrate themselves (before Him). And go on worshipping your Lord until there comes to you that which is certain (and you breathe your last).” (15:94–99)

ادْعُ إِلَىٰ سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَالْمَوْعِظَةِ الْحَسَنَةِ ۖ وَجَادِلْهُم بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ ۚ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِمَن ضَلَّ عَن سَبِيلِهِ ۖ وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُهْتَدِينَ

“(Prophet!) Call the people to the way of your Lord with wisdom and goodly and kind exhortation, and argue with them in the most pleasant and best manner. Surely, your Lord knows very well who has gone astray from His path, and He knows very well the guided ones to the right path.” (16:125)

وَإِنْ عَاقَبْتُمْ فَعَاقِبُوا بِمِثْلِ مَا عُوقِبْتُم بِهِ ۖ وَلَئِن صَبَرْتُمْ لَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لِّلصَّابِرِينَ وَاصْبِرْ وَمَا صَبْرُكَ إِلَّا بِاللَّهِ ۚ وَلَا تَحْزَنْ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا تَكُ فِي ضَيْقٍ مِّمَّا يَمْكُرُونَ

“(Believers!) If you have to punish (the oppressors) then punish them to the extent you have been persecuted. But if you endure patiently, remember it is far better for the patiently persevering. And be patiently-persevering. Verily, you can exercise patient endurance only with (the help of) Allâh. Do not grieve at their state, nor feel distressed on account of their intrigues (out of enmity for you).” (16:126–127)

The Message is that verbal argument rather than physical violence against Muhammad’s (pbuh) detractors is called for.

فَاصْبِرْ عَلَىٰ مَا يَقُولُونَ وَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّكَ قَبْلَ طُلُوعِ الشَّمْسِ وَقَبْلَ غُرُوبِهَا ۖ وَمِنْ آنَاءِ اللَّيْلِ فَسَبِّحْ وَأَطْرَافَ النَّهَارِ لَعَلَّكَ تَرْضَىٰ\\

“Hence put up patiently with what they say and glorify your Lord with (His) praise before the rising of the sun and before its setting. And glorify (Him) during the hours of the night and at the ends of the day (in Prayers), that you may attain (real) happiness (and true bliss).” (20:130)
Another method of avoiding conflict in a “graceful manner” is to leave the company of those who are provocative:

وَاصْبِرْ عَلَىٰ مَا يَقُولُونَ وَاهْجُرْهُمْ هَجْرًا جَمِيلًا

“And patiently persevere in the face of all that these (enemies) say and withdraw from them in a graceful manner.” (73:10)

2. Enmity of the people should not be the cause of fighting: Acting equitably in all circumstances, even toward the enemy, is stressed.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا قَوَّامِينَ لِلَّهِ شُهَدَاءَ بِالْقِسْطِ ۖ وَلَا يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَآنُ قَوْمٍ عَلَىٰ أَلَّا تَعْدِلُوا ۚ اعْدِلُوا هُوَ أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَىٰ ۖ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ

“O you who believe! Be steadfast, upholders of the right for the cause of Allâh, bearers of true witness in equity, and do not let the enmity of a people move you at all to act otherwise than equitably. Be equitable (always); that is nearer to being secure against evil, and take Allâh as a shield. Surely, Allâh is Well-Aware of what you do.” (5:8)

3. Peace treaties are to be signed and observed:

إِلَّا الَّذِينَ عَاهَدتُّم مِّنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَنقُصُوكُمْ شَيْئًا وَلَمْ يُظَاهِرُوا عَلَيْكُمْ أَحَدًا فَأَتِمُّوا إِلَيْهِمْ عَهْدَهُمْ إِلَىٰ مُدَّتِهِمْ

“Excepting those of the polytheists with whom you have entered into a treaty (and) who subsequently did not fail you in any manner, nor did they back up anyone against you. So abide by the treaty you had entered with them to the end of the term you have fixed with them. Allâh surely loves those who keep their duty.” (9:4)

4. Fighting may become necessary if peace treaties are broken:

إِنَّ شَرَّ الدَّوَابِّ عِندَ اللَّهِ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا فَهُمْ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ عَاهَدتَّ مِنْهُمْ ثُمَّ يَنقُضُونَ عَهْدَهُمْ فِي كُلِّ مَرَّةٍ وَهُمْ لَا يَتَّقُونَ فَإِمَّا تَثْقَفَنَّهُمْ فِي الْحَرْبِ فَشَرِّدْ بِهِم مَّنْ خَلْفَهُمْ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَذَّكَّرُونَ

“Surely, the worst of beasts in the sight of Allâh are those who denied to believe (in the truth in the first instance) so they would not believe; (Particularly) those with whom you entered into a pact, but every time they break their pact and they do not guard (against breach of trusts). Therefore if you find these (breakers of trust) in battle array, then (by inflicting an exemplary punishment upon them) disperse those behind them so that they may be admonished.” (8:55–57)

5. Reconciliation and peace between fighting Muslims is an obligation:

وَإِن طَائِفَتَانِ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ اقْتَتَلُوا فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا ۖ فَإِن بَغَتْ إِحْدَاهُمَا عَلَى الْأُخْرَىٰ فَقَاتِلُوا الَّتِي تَبْغِي حَتَّىٰ تَفِيءَ إِلَىٰ أَمْرِ اللَّهِ ۚ فَإِن فَاءَتْ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا بِالْعَدْلِ وَأَقْسِطُوا ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ إِخْوَةٌ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَ أَخَوَيْكُمْ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ

“(O you who believe!) If two parties of the believers fall out and fight each other, make peace between them. And should one of them commit aggression against the other, then fight (you all) against the party that transgresses till it complies with the command of Allâh (and returns to peace and reconciliation). Then if it returns make peace between them with equity and act justly, for Allâh loves those who do justice. Believers are but a single brotherhood, so make peace and effect reconciliation between the two (contending) brethren and take Allâh as (your) shield so that you may be shown mercy.” (49:9–10)

6. Only defensive fighting is permitted:

The next stage is the stage of defensive fighting: Verses 22:39–40 read as follows:

أُذِنَ لِلَّذِينَ يُقَاتَلُونَ بِأَنَّهُمْ ظُلِمُوا ۚ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ نَصْرِهِمْ لَقَدِيرٌ الَّذِينَ أُخْرِجُوا مِن دِيَارِهِم بِغَيْرِ حَقٍّ إِلَّا أَن يَقُولُوا رَبُّنَا اللَّهُ

“Permission (to fight in self-defense) is (now) given to those (Muslims) against whom war is waged (for no reason), because they have been done injustice to, and Allâh has indeed might and power to help them; Those who have been driven out of their homes without any just cause. . . .” (22:39–40)

وَقَاتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ الَّذِينَ يُقَاتِلُونَكُمْ وَلَا تَعْتَدُوا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُعْتَدِينَ وَاقْتُلُوهُمْ حَيْثُ ثَقِفْتُمُوهُمْ وَأَخْرِجُوهُم مِّنْ حَيْثُ أَخْرَجُوكُمْ ۚ وَالْفِتْنَةُ أَشَدُّ مِنَ الْقَتْلِ ۚ وَلَا تُقَاتِلُوهُمْ عِندَ الْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ حَتَّىٰ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِيهِ ۖ فَإِن قَاتَلُوكُمْ فَاقْتُلُوهُمْ ۗ كَذَ‌ٰلِكَ جَزَاءُ الْكَافِرِينَ فَإِنِ انتَهَوْا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

“And fight in the cause of Allâh those who fight and persecute you, but commit no aggression. Surely, Allâh does not love the aggressors. And slay them (the aggressors, against whom fighting is made incumbent) when and where you get the better of them, in disciplinary way, and turn them out whence they have turned you out. (Killing is bad but) lawlessness is even worse than carnage. But do not fight them in the precincts of Masjid al-Harâm (the Holy Mosque at Makkah) unless they fight you therein. Should they attack you (there) then slay them. This indeed is the recompense of such disbelievers. But if they desist (from aggression) then, behold, Allâh is indeed Great Protector, Ever Merciful.” (2:190–192)

The prohibition against fighting in the precincts of Masjid al-Harâm (the Holy Mosque at Makkah) clearly shows that the reference here is to a particular battle between the Muslims and the non-Muslims and not a general command. “And fight them until persecution is no more and religion is (freely professed) for Allâh” (2:193) shows that the purpose of fighting is to end the persecution of a group of people—in this case, the Muslims. Those persecuted are the victims and not the aggressors. “But if they desist (from hostilities) then (remember) there is no punishment except against the unjust (who still persist in persecution)” (2:193) shows that fighting is to cease if the persecutors desist from fighting. It must not be continued until all of them are killed or captured. Verse 16:126 gives the same Message: “(Believers!) If you have to punish (the oppressors) then punish them to the extent you have been persecuted. But if you endure patiently, remember it is far better for the patiently persevering.” Verse 2:194 says: “(The violation of) a sacred month may be retaliated in the sacred month and for (the violation of) all sacred things the law of retaliation is prescribed. Then he who transgresses against you, punish him for his transgression to the extent he has transgressed against you, and take Allâh as a shield, and know that Allâh is with those who guard against evil.”

It is worth noting that in verse 2:190 the Words used are wa lȃ ta‘dû (وَلَا تَعْتَدُوا), meaning “do not transgress, do not go beyond limits and commit aggression.” The Words also refer to the prohibition against fighting non-combatants—those who are not prepared to fight, such as women, children, and the old. Modern-day “jihȃdists” falsely interpret this verse in order to justify the killing of non-combatants. Al-fitna, الْفِتْنَةُ, in verse 2:191 means “lawlessness in any form,” which the Qur’ȃn says is even worse than killing in regular battle. Creation of lawlessness and chaos in a country is often the first step taken by self-proclaimed jihȃdists.

وَإِنْ عَاقَبْتُمْ فَعَاقِبُوا بِمِثْلِ مَا عُوقِبْتُم بِهِ ۖ وَلَئِن صَبَرْتُمْ لَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لِّلصَّابِرِينَ

“(Believers!) If you have to punish (the oppressors) then punish them to the extent you have been persecuted. But if you endure patiently, remember it is far better for the patiently persevering.” (16:126)

Verse 2:216 reads: “Fighting has been ordained for you, though it is hard for you. But it may be that a thing is hard upon you though it is (really) good for you, and it may be that you love a thing while it is bad for you. Allâh knows (all things) while you do not know.” This is a general statement when defensive war becomes necessary. The Qur’ȃn does not use the word jihȃd for fighting; it uses qitȃl, قتال. Moreover, fighting in any form (qitȃl or jihȃd) is not one of the well-known five pillars of Islam.

7. Nonbelievers cannot be taken as prisoners or hostages for ransom outside of regular battle:

وَإِنْ أَحَدٌ مِّنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ اسْتَجَارَكَ فَأَجِرْهُ حَتَّىٰ يَسْمَعَ كَلَامَ اللَّهِ ثُمَّ أَبْلِغْهُ مَأْمَنَهُ ۚ ذَ‌ٰلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ قَوْمٌ لَّا يَعْلَمُونَ

“And if any of the [fighting] polytheists seeks your protection, grant him protection so that he may hear the word of Allâh, then conduct him to a place where he feels himself safe and secure. That (treatment) is (to be meted out to them) because they are a people who have no knowledge (of Islam).” (9:6)

8. Prisoners of war can be taken only in the course of regular battle:

مَا كَانَ لِنَبِيٍّ أَن يَكُونَ لَهُ أَسْرَىٰ حَتَّىٰ يُثْخِنَ فِي الْأَرْضِ

“It does not behove a Prophet to keep captives unless he has triumphed after a regular bloody fighting in the land.” (8:67)

9. Prisoners of war should be released, even if no ransom is paid:

فَإِذَا لَقِيتُمُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا فَضَرْبَ الرِّقَابِ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا أَثْخَنتُمُوهُمْ فَشُدُّوا الْوَثَاقَ فَإِمَّا مَنًّا بَعْدُ وَإِمَّا فِدَاءً حَتَّىٰ تَضَعَ الْحَرْبُ أَوْزَارَهَا ۚ ذَ‌ٰلِكَ

“So (believers! Now that you know the will of your Lord), when you meet in (regular) battle those who disbelieve strike off their heads [take away their power to fight by imprisoning them]. After you have bound them fast in fetters (as prisoners of war), then, afterwards, (release them, a must), either by way of grace or by (accepting) ransom. (That is the law,) until war lays down its weapons (and it is over). Such is (the ordinance of Allâh).” (47:4)

Jihâdists take the phrase “when you meet in (regular) battle those who disbelieve strike off their heads” literally. It has no other meaning than “take away their power to fight by imprisoning them”. This makes sense if you read the wording that follows: “After you have bound them in fetters (as prisoners of war)…” ‘Striking off heads’ should mean imprisoning. This rendering may appear wrong at first glance, until the reader encounters the next sentence of the verse about binding the disbelievers in fetters. Of course, after the disbelievers are literally decapitated, it would be absurd and unnecessary to bind them in fetters–because they would be dead. So, the bracketed explanation of “strike off their heads” should be applied.

10. If the enemy offers peace, the offer should be accepted:

وَإِن جَنَحُوا لِلسَّلْمِ فَاجْنَحْ لَهَا

“And if they incline towards peace, you should also incline towards it and put your trust in Allâh. Surely, it is He Who is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.” (8:61)

11. Friendship with peaceful non-believers is allowed:

لَّا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يُقَاتِلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَلَمْ يُخْرِجُوكُم مِّن دِيَارِكُمْ أَن تَبَرُّوهُمْ وَتُقْسِطُوا إِلَيْهِمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ

“Allâh does not forbid you to be kind and good and to deal justly with those who have not fought you because of your faith and have not turned you out of your homes. In fact Allâh loves those who are equitable.” (60:8)

إِنَّمَا يَنْهَاكُمُ اللَّهُ عَنِ الَّذِينَ قَاتَلُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ وَأَخْرَجُوكُم مِّن دِيَارِكُمْ وَظَاهَرُوا عَلَىٰ إِخْرَاجِكُمْ أَن تَوَلَّوْهُمْ ۚ وَمَن يَتَوَلَّهُمْ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ

“Allâh only forbids you to make friends with those who have fought you because of your faith and who have turned you out of your homes, and have abetted your expulsion. Indeed, those who make friends with them are really the unjust”. (60:9)

The Concept of Jihȃd in the Qur’ȃn

Jihâd is a Qur’ȃnic concept; therefore, the Qur’ȃn can speak for itself to clarify its meaning.
The word jihâd, means “exerting of one’s utmost powers, efforts, endeavours, or ability when contending with an object of disapprobation (Lane). According to Imȃm Rȃghib, jihȃd is of three kinds: defending against a visible enemy, defending against the devil, who incites to evil, and defending against one’s own self. The duty of jihâd is far from being synonymous with that of war to spread Islam. Neither in the Holy Qur’ân nor in the Ahadith (traditions of the Prophet [pbuh]) has this term ever been synonymous with “holy war.”

The Qur’ȃn uses forms of the verb jahada, جهد, in its generic meaning of “to exert the best efforts against something”:

وَجَاهِدُوا فِي اللَّهِ حَقَّ جِهَادِهِ ۚ هُوَ اجْتَبَاكُمْ وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ ۚ مِّلَّةَ أَبِيكُمْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ ۚ هُوَ سَمَّاكُمُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ مِن قَبْلُ وَفِي هَـٰذَا لِيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ شَهِيدًا عَلَيْكُمْ وَتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاءَ عَلَى النَّاسِ ۚ فَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِاللَّهِ هُوَ مَوْلَاكُمْ ۖ فَنِعْمَ الْمَوْلَىٰ وَنِعْمَ النَّصِيرُ

“And strive your hardest [جَاهِدُو] to win the pleasure of Allâh, as hard a striving as is possible [جِهَادِهِ] and as it behoves you. He has chosen you and has imposed no hardship upon you in the matter of your faith, (so follow) the creed of your father Abraham. He named you Muslims (both) before this and (again) in this (Book the Qur’ân), so that the Messenger may be a guardian over you and that you may be guardians over people. Therefore, observe Prayer, keep on presenting the Zakât and hold fast to Allâh. He is your Patron, what a gracious Patron, and what a gracious Helper.” (22:78)

The Words in the foregoing verse, “[He] has imposed no hardship upon you in the matter of your faith,” indicate that jihâd is not war, which is a great hardship indeed. Jihâd is simply to “(follow) the creed of your father Abraham” in order “to win the pleasure of Allâh” through Prayer, charity, and faith, as the verse indicates. The Qur’ȃn says in Chapter (Sûra) 25, al-Furqȃn (another name of the Holy Qur’ȃn) about the biggest and the greatest jihȃd:

فَلَا تُطِعِ الْكَافِرِينَ وَجَاهِدْهُم بِهِ جِهَادًا كَبِيرًا

“So do not follow the disbelievers, and strive hard against them with the help of this (Qur’ân), a mighty striving [جِهَادًا كَبِيرًا, a great jihȃd].” (25:52)

Therefore, rather than using the sword or other means of violence, the believer is instructed to turn to the Qur’ȃn. And it says:

انفِرُوا خِفَافًا وَثِقَالًا وَجَاهِدُوا بِأَمْوَالِكُمْ وَأَنفُسِكُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ

“Go forth (all whether) light (- being ill-equipped) and strive hard with your possessions and your persons in the cause of Allâh.” (9:41)

The Command ‘strive hard with your possession and person’ is a jihȃd against our souls, against our nafs-i-ammȃrah, نفس أمٌارة, our commanding self, which is continuously inciting us not to do good to others. It is a struggle within our ‘person’ to spend on the poor and needy from what we possess in the cause of Allah – that is out of free will to attract the attention of your Creator and not out of compulsion under any state law.

إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَرْتَابُوا وَجَاهَدُوا بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنفُسِهِمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ ۚ أُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الصَّادِقُونَ

“The believers are only those who (truly) believe in Allâh and His Messenger, and then doubt not, and who strive hard with their possessions and their lives in the cause of Allâh. It is they who are the true to their words (and Muslims of a high standard).” (49:15)

Doing jihȃd with your possessions and properties and with your self covers every effort that you exert on the way of righteousness and piety. As a prominent example of such an effort, the Prophet of Islam (pbuh) called the greater Pilgrimage (Hajj) to Makkah a jihâd (Bukhârî 25:4).
God has not given us permission to use any kind of force to prohibit people from going to their places of worship—churches, synagogues, or temples—where the name of Allah is being glorified (2:114), nor has He decreed that people never be forced to convert to Islam, as the following verse stresses:

وَقُلِ الْحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّكُمْ ۖ فَمَن شَاءَ فَلْيُؤْمِن وَمَن شَاءَ فَلْيَكْفُرْ

“And say, ‘It [the Qur’ȃn] is the truth from your Lord, therefore let him who wishes (it) believe (in it) and let him who wishes (otherwise) disbelieve (in it).” (18:29)

The concept of jihȃd becomes clear from yet another verse:

وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ حُسْنًا ۖ وَإِن جَاهَدَاكَ لِتُشْرِكَ بِي مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ فَلَا تُطِعْهُمَا ۚ إِلَيَّ مَرْجِعُكُمْ فَأُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ

“We have enjoined on a human being to be kind to his parents, but should they stress upon you [وَإِن جَاهَدَاكَ] to associate with Me things which you know to be nothing at all you shall not obey them. You shall all have to return to Me (after all). I shall tell you all that you have been doing (in your life).” (29:8)

In this verse, the word jahadȃka (جَاهَدَاكَ) is translated as “stress upon you.” Here, جَاهَدَاكَ clearly does not mean that one should fight with his or her parents with a sword or other weapon. Verses 31:14–15 provides the same Message.

The Qur’ȃn uses the Word jihȃd in about thirty verses, each with a specific meaning. It is simply wrong to suggest that the verb jahadu in all these verses is equivalent to the verb qatalu (“to fight”).

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