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Understanding Jihad

Jihad is the apex of Islam and the positions of those who perform it are the loftiest positions in Paradise, and likewise they have a high status in the life of this world.

We all should take in the example of Muhammad, Allah's peace and blessings be upon him, for he was at the highest peak of it, for he mastered all types of it:
“He struggled (Jihad) with his heart and soul, by calling (to Islam) and proclaiming (the truth), with the sword and the spear. His hours were devoted to Jihad, which is why he was the best in all the worlds in remembering Allah and the greatest in Allah’s Estimation.”
Allah, Most High commanded him to perform Jihad from the time He sent him, for He said:
“So do not obey the disbelievers, and strive against them with the Qur'an a great striving." Qur'an, 25:52

Jihad is on four levels:

    1. Jihad of the self, and this is also on four levels:

”The Mujahid is one who performs Jihad of his self in obedience to Allah.” [1]
  • The First: That he struggles against it by learning guidance.
  • The Second: That he struggles against it by acting upon that guidance once he has learnt it.
  • The Third: That he struggles against it by calling people to the guidance, for if he does not, he will be one of those who hides what Allāh has revealed.
  • The Fourth: That he does so with patient perseverance in the face of the hardships which afflict one who is calling to Allāh and that he bears all of this for Allāh.
If all of these fours are fulfilled, he will be one of the Rabbaniyyūn[2], for the Salaf are in agreement that a scholar is not one of the Rabbaniyyūn until he knows the truth, acts upon it and teaches it.

2. Struggling against Shaytan; and this is at two levels:

“Indeed, Satan is an enemy to you; so take him as an enemy...” Qur'an, 35:6
  • The First: Struggling against him by repelling the doubts which may afflict him.
  • The Second: By repelling the desires which assail him

The first is with the weapon of certainty and the second is with the weapon of patience. Allah, Most High says;
وَجَعَلْنَا مِنْهُمْ أَئِمَّةً يَهْدُونَ بِأَمْرِنَا لَمَّا صَبَرُوا وَكَانُوا بِآيَاتِنَا يُوقِنُونَ

“And We made from among them leaders guiding by Our command when they were patient and [when] they were certain of Our signs.” Qur'an, 32:24

3. Struggling (i.e. Jihad) against the disbelievers and the hypocrites; and this is on four levels:

          i. With the heart
          ii. With the tongue (i.e. by preaching)
          iii. With one’s wealth
          iv. With the body (i.e. by fighting).

And Jihad against the disbelievers is more particularly by the hand, while Jihad against the hypocrites is more particularly by the tongue.

4. Jihad against the perpetrators of injustice, evil deeds and innovations; and that is at three levels:

  • The First: With one’s hand, if one is able to do so; if he is unable to do so, he proceeds to the second.
  • The Second: With one’s tongue (i.e. to speak against it). If he is unable to do that, he must proceed to the third.
  • The Third: With one’s heart (i.e. to hate the deed in one’s heart).

These are thirteen (13) levels of Jihad and

من مات ولم يغز، و لم يحد ثنفسه بالغز، مات على شعبة من النفاق

“Whoever died without fighting in Allāh’s Cause and without expressing any desire (or determination) for Jihad has died upon a type of hypocrisy.” [3]

And Jihad is not complete without Hijrah [4], nor are Hijrah and Jihad complete without faith and belief (imaan). And those who hope for Allāh’s Mercy are those who do these three ( i.e. Jihad, Hijrah and Imaan).

Allāh says,
“Indeed, those who have believed and those who have emigrated and fought in the cause of Allah - those expect the mercy of Allah . And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” Qur'an, 2:218

And just as Imaan is incumbent upon every individual, two Hijrahs are incumbent upon him at all times:

          i. Fleeing to Allah, the Almighty, the All Powerful with sincerity
          ii. Fleeing to His Messenger, Allah's peace and blessings be upon him, by conforming (to his Sunnah), and jihad of his own self and of his devil enjoined upon him, and no one can take the place of another in this.

As for Jihad against the disbelievers and the hypocrites, it might be sufficient for a part of the Muslim community to take part in it.


[1] Narrated by Ahmad, on the authority of Fadalah Ibn ‘Ubayd (RA), it was declared authentic by Ibn Hibban and Al-Hakim and Az-Zahabi confirmed this.
[2] Rabbaniyyūn: Learned men of Religion, who practice what they know and teach it to others.
[3] Narrated by Muslim, Abu Dawūd and An-Nasa’i, on the authority of Abu Hurairah (RA).
[4] Hijrah: MIgration for the sake of one’s Religion.

Provisions of the Hereafter (Mukhtasar Zad Al-Ma’ad)
By Imam Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah
Regarding His, peace be upon him, Guidance in Jihad and Battles, pp. 245-251

Source and image: Understanding Jihad, from Stories of the Sahaba

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