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Jihad

JIHAD.

Jihad, in Islam, is an idea of action. The Arabic word literally means "striving." When followed by the modifying phrase fisabil Allah, "in the path of God," or when this phrase is absent but assumed to be in force, jihad has the specific sense of fighting for the sake of God and religion. Other Arabic words are closely related in meaning and usage, including ribat, which also refers to a kind of building associated with ascetic and mystical gatherings.

Jihad refers first to a body of legal doctrine. The manuals of Islamic law all contain a section called "Book of Jihad" or something similar. Here is something like what Western jurisprudence calls ius in bello, law governing the conduct of wardeclaration and cessation of hostilities, treatment of non-belligerents, division of spoils, and so on. One also finds something like ius ad bellum, the right to enter a state of war. At the same time, however, jihad is more than a set of juridical principles. Historians must take it into account when they consider political mobilization and contested authority within many Islamic societies. Above all, jihad has never ceased changing, right down to our own day.

Jihad has both an external and an internal aspect. The external jihad is physical combat against real enemies. The internal or "greater" jihad is a struggle against the self in which one suppresses one's base desires and then, perhaps, rises to contemplation of higher truth. Most modern Western writing on the jihad considers the spiritualized combat of the internal jihad as secondary and derivative, despite all the importance it eventually acquired in Muslim thought and society. However, much of Muslim opinion in our day favors the opposite view.

The Koran

Considered to be literally the word of God as conveyed to the world through the Prophet Muhammad (570?632 c.e.), the Koran is the single most important source for the doctrine and practice of jihad. However, when one puts together the relevant passages of the Koran, one finds apparent contradictions or, at any rate, differences in emphasis. The many themes relating to fighting and jihad in the Koran include calls for self-restraint and patience in propagating the faith (16:125128); permission to engage in defensive war (22:3941); permission to wage in offensive war within certain traditional limits, including those of the ancient Arabian "holy months," during which fighting was suspended (2:194, 217); calling on the believers to "slay the idolaters wherever you find them," unless they "repent and perform the prayer and pay the alms," as in the famous "sword verse" (Koran 9:5; translation per Arberry 1:207); the requirement to subdue the "people of the Book," that is, Jews and Christians (Koran 9:29); evidence of internal tension and reluctance to fight (Koran 2:216; "Fighting has been prescribed for you, though you dislike it").

These themes are commonly related to a chronological narrative about the life of Muhammad and the earliest Islamic community. For many Islamic jurists, the principles that prevail are the ones associated with the later parts of this narrative. For example, at some point in the narrative God permits warfare, but only in limited circumstances. Afterward, when conditions have changed, God provides a new ruling that allows the conduct of warfare with fewer restrictions. In juridical terms, the later ruling abrogates or supersedes the earlier one. From the point of view of literary narrative, however, such chronological schemes encounter difficulties in the details of the Koranic text.

Narratives

One finds sustained, connected narratives about the earliest Islam in Arabic books on Muhammad's life (called sira, "the way") and on the early community and its wars (called maghazi, "raids") as well as in works of Koranic exegesis and in the hadith, which one may define as reports of authoritative sayings and deeds attributed to the Prophet or to those around him. In the form in which they exist, these works date from the ninth century c.e. or later. Here one finds that the last part of Muhammad's life, after the Emigration (Hijra ) from Mecca to Medina in 622, was devoted largely, though not entirely, to the conduct of war.

In year 2 of the Hijra (624), at a place called Badr, a raiding expedition turned into a full confrontation with Muhammad's kin and adversaries, the Quraysh of Mecca. Divine intervention came in the form of angels fighting on the Muslim sidethis is how the maghazi narratives interpret several passages in the Koran regarding Badr, the first full battle of Islam and a great victory. Once Muhammad achieved final victory in his war against Mecca, he sent expeditions against Byzantine frontier defenses in the north, and he may have been planning an extensive campaign against Palestine and Syria. However, he died (in 632) before this campaign could get under way. The works of sira and maghazi place these narratives squarely in the foreground, providing a kind of salvation history (Heilsgeschichte ). The hadith, by contrast, directs all eyes toward the Prophet, who, with epigrammatic precision, dictates the Example (Sunna ) through his actions and words. Here one finds the doctrine of the jihad enunciated clearly, together with eloquent exhortations to perform jihad.

Early Conquests

In the decades following Muhammad's death, the Arab Muslims conquered Arabia, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, Egypt, and Iran; Central Asia, North Africa, Spain, and other regions came soon afterward. Among the explanations for these successful conquests, an important point of difference involves the jihad. Were these conquests "Islamic" or "Arab"? According to the "Islamic" view, the Muslims fought because God commanded them to do so. They were motivated by neither fear nor greed but by a desire to propagate the faith. "Arab" explanations, on the other hand, which prevailed among Western specialists until fairly recently, looked at conditions in ancient Arabia. By the seventh century, it was thought, desiccation and desertification had reduced many of Arabia's centers of civilization to ruins; meanwhile the peninsula suffered from overpopulation. Inevitably the Arabs felt pressure to migrate, raid, or conquer. More recently others have emphasized the political aspects of the conquests. It is increasingly clear, however, that religion and jihad did take a major role.

Martyrdom

Non-Muslim observers attributed the zeal of the Muslim fighters to the promise of heaven that the new religion made to those who died in battle. In the Koran those who die in combat in the path of God are "alive with God," enjoying the delights of paradise, which include marriage to dark-eyed maidens. The hadith and Islamic law declare that these dead warriors are martyrs. As in Christianity, the word martyr originally meant "witness" (Greek martys, Arabic shahid ). However, there are differences. The Jewish and Christian martyr was passive and refused to employ violence. In Islam the martyr is one who takes up arms. Islamic law also recognized non-combatant types of martyrs. For Shii Islam, martyrdom is associated with the revered descendants of the Prophet through his daughter Fatima and his cousin and son-in-law 'Ali, many of whom died at the hands of oppressive (Muslim) rulers. For the Sunni majority, however, armed struggle has most often been at the heart of the concept of martyrdom.

Treatment of Non-Muslims

Arabic sources for the early conquests report agreements between conquerors and conquered, including the famous "Pact of 'Umar." The "people of the Book" (who were eventually considered to include Zoroastrians in addition to Jews and Christians) are granted protection of their persons and property and are allowed to practice their religion with certain constraints. They must pay jizya, which at first meant a collective tribute but which soon referred to a poll tax levied on individuals and households, derived from Koran 9:29 ("Fight those who believe not in God and the Last Day and [who] do not forbid what God and His Messenger have forbiddensuch men as practice not the religion of truth, being of those who have been given the Bookuntil they pay the tribute [ jizya ] out of hand and have been humbled") (translated by Arberry, 1:207).

Here are the foundations of the dhimma, the "protection" of non-Muslims who live under the rule of Islam. People living under this protection could not be enslaved and were free to pursue whatever professions they liked. However, non-Muslims living outside the lands of Islam could be and often were captured and enslaved. Forced conversion was not allowed, following a clear Koranic principle (2:256) and in fact happened only in exceptional instances. Islamic jurists represented the world as divided between an Abode of Islam (Dar al-Islam ) and an Abode of War (Dar al-Harb ). Since the only legitimate sovereign is God and the only legitimate form of rule is Islam, the rulers of the Abode of War are mere tyrants, and the normal state of affairs between the two abodes is war. The Muslim statein classical theory its leader, the imammay conclude a truce with those rulers for a maximum of ten years but not a permanent peace. Some jurists added an intermediate Abode of Truce, but this did not alter the territorial character of the doctrine of jihad. This doctrine does not aim at the immediate conversion of populations or individuals but rather at the extension of God's rule over all the world, until "the religion is God's entirely" (Koran 8:39).

The Obligation of Jihad

Warfare and territorial expansion were a priority for the rulers of the early Islamic state. Soon, however, jurists raised the question of individual participation. Is jihad an obligation that each must perform to the best of his or her ability, like pilgrimage and daily prayer? There was broad consensus that volunteering for the armies was a meritorious act. From a practical, military point of view, however, these undisciplined volunteers could create more problems than they solved. In Islamic law the problem was resolved in the doctrine of "obligation according to sufficiency," associated with the great jurist al-Shafi'i (767820). This doctrine declares that the obligation of jihad may be considered fulfilled so long as a sufficient number of volunteers perform it. However, if a military emergency occurs and the enemy threatens the lands of Islam, then the obligation falls upon each individual.

Many people sought to participate in the jihad through residence in frontier regions and in fortified strongholds (often called ribats), whether for a limited period or for a lifetime. These included jurists, ascetics, mystics, and others in search of religious merit and knowledge, in addition to people seeking simply to fight the enemy. It is here, along Islam's many frontiers, that the jihad acquired its social expression. In many cases it is not known whether people were engaged in devotional practices, the transmission of learning, or combat or guard duty against the enemy. For many of them, jihad consisted precisely in the combination of all these. "Internal" and "external" jihad were thus always present. In this way the jihad was a basic elementsocial and political as well as rhetoricalin the rise and success of a long series of Islamic dynasties and states, including that of the Almoravids in Morocco and Spain in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the Ottomans from the fourteenth century until the twentieth, and many more.

Resistance and Reform

When the European colonial powers arrived in several Islamic countries in the nineteenth century, resistance against them involved the jihad and usually failed. When successful resistance eventually emerged, it was through secular, nationalist ideologies. Meanwhile Muslim thinkers in several countries took a new look at the jihad, seeking to make it compatible with what they saw as progress and modernity. A new body of juridical work defined the jihad as defensive warfare, while an "Islamic law of nations" presented the eighth-century al-Shaybani (750803 or 805), an Islamic jurist who wrote a book of the law of war, on a par with the seventeenth-century Grotius. In this way the relations of Islamic and non-Islamic states became placed firmly on a basis of peace.

Islamism and Fundamentalism

This recognition of the modern state infuriated certain other thinkers who declared their own societies to be Islamic in name only; in reality, they said, these societies lived in jahiliyya, coarse ignorance, the condition of ancient Arabia before the coming of Islam. They summoned all Muslims to the jihad, calling this an individual (not a collective) obligation because of the gravity of the situation. Unlike the modernist reformers, they had no qualms about "offensive" jihad, which one of their books, by Muhammad 'Abd al-Salam Farag, called "the neglected duty." However, they concentrated their fury against the modern Middle Eastern state rather than non-Muslim powers. After the assassination of President Anwar Sadat in October 1981, radicals were driven abroad or deep underground in Egypt and other countries.

The 1990s brought a new, international turn. Osama bin Laden's fatwas of 1996 and 1998 call upon Muslims to set aside the war against the corrupt regimes in their own countries to fight the common enemy. Like other radical Islamists of modern decades, bin Laden identified the enemy as a "CrusaderZionist" alliance, but he singled out the leader of the alliance, the United States, for special attention. This new, global jihad has vague, grandiose political projects that it postpones until some remote future time. Its real concern is to attract attention and arouse passions through spectacular acts of terrorism. The practitioners of this new jihad often begin with little knowledge of their own religion and its texts and are drawn by a desire for violence, destruction, and revenge. This desire coincides with one of the most shocking aspects of the new jihad, its promotion of suicide and the indiscriminate killing of noncombatants, including women and children, actions that the classical doctrine generally condemns and that have appeared in Islamic history only in marginal episodes.

As fundamentalists, these practitioners of the new jihad have little interest in what has happened since the midseventh century; when they look to the past, it is mostly to the Prophet's Medina and the earliest Islam. For these and other reasons, while it is certainly useful for us to know about the classical doctrine and about the long, complex history of the jihad within Islamic societies, one must not think that such knowledge will on its own lead to an understanding of the circumstances and conditions of the new, global jihad. These must be sought first of all in the world of the twenty-first century.

See also Anti-Semitism: Islamic Anti-Semitism ; Ethnicity and Race: Islamic Views ; Fundamentalism ; Islam ; Law, Islamic ; Sacred Texts: Koran .

bibliography

Arberry, A. J. The Koran Interpreted. New York: Macmillan, 1955.

Bonner, Michael. Les origines du jihad. Paris: Editions du Téraèdre, forthcoming. English-language version also forthcoming.

Donner, Fred McGraw. The Early Islamic Conquests. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1981.

Firestone, Reuven. Jihād: The Origin of Holy War in Islam. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Kepel, Gilles. Muslim Extremism in Egypt: The Prophet and Pharaoh. Translated by Jon Rothschild. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1986.

Kohlberg, Etan. "Medieval Muslim Views on Martyrdom." Mededeelingen der Koninklijke Akademie van Wetenschappen 60, no. 7 (1997): 279307.

Morabia, Alfred. Le Ğihâd dans l'Islam médiéval: Le "combat sacré" des origines au XII e siècle. Paris: Albin Michel, 1993.

Peters, Rudolph. Islam and Colonialism: The Doctrine of Jihad in Modern History. The Hague and New York: Mouton, 1979.

Roy, Olivier. L'Islam mondialisé. Paris: Editions du Seuil, 2002. To appear in English as Global Islam. New York: Columbia University Press, forthcoming.

Michael Bonner

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Jihad

Jihad

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Jihad is an Arabic term meaning, as a noun, struggle or, as a verb, to exert effort toward a goal. The primary associations of the term are religious, specifically with reference to Islam. The Quran exhorts believers to struggle in the path of God or to make Gods cause succeed (8:39). Such struggle involves all of ones power and resources, as one seeks to command right and forbid wrong. Under certain circumstances, jihad is identified with qital, meaning fighting or killing; indeed, in Islamic juridical discourse, this association is prevalent, so that in some contexts, jihad can be translated as armed struggle. In some contemporary writing by Muslims, the broader meaning of the term as moral struggle is stressed, and military associations are downplayed. Overall, it is best to keep in mind that the term occurs in connection with a view by which human responsibility is a matter of striving to bring all of life into a pattern of relationships consistent with Gods will. In some circumstances, the means appropriate to this struggle are military; in others, not.

Stories by which Muslims interpret the Quranic verses on fighting illustrate this way of construing the meanings of jihad. According to traditional dating, Muhammads call to prophecy occurred in the year 610 CE, and by 612 he began to preach or to call others to Islam. A small band of companions gathered around him. They met with hostility, even persecution from the people of Mecca, the Prophets home city. In this context, some of the companions urged the use of force, by way of retaliation for wrongs done to the believers, and to deter further persecution. Muhammad resisted, indicating that Gods orders only allowed him to preach.

By the year 622 (the year 1, in the Islamic calendar), things had changed. In that year, Muhammad received Gods order to immigrate to Medina, a city to the north. He also received permission to fight, specifically in terms of Gods provision for the protection of believers (Quran 22:3940). Once in Medina, Muhammad functioned as head of state and military commander, all the while continuing to preach. Verses of the Quran that Muslims number among the Medinan texts indicate a growing sense that military action is not only permitted, but necessary, and finally obligatory in the campaign to establish a zone of security for the Islamic community. In his Farewell Sermon (630), Muhammad declared that Arabia is now solidly for Islam, meaning that the various tribes were now under Islamic governance.

In the years following Muhammads death, jihad came to be associated with the efforts of Muslims to extend the benefits of Islamic governance to people and territories beyond Arabia. A series of conquests opened most of the Middle East, and much of North Africa and Asia, to the influence of Islam. In this connection, the religious specialists called ulama developed a set of judgments pertaining to jihad that function as an Islamic just war tradition. Thus, jihad, in the sense of legitimate war, must be commanded by the officials of an Islamic state. It should be fought for the cause of God, meaning the expansion, establishment, or defense of Islamic territory. And it should be fought with right intention, in the sense of avoiding undue aggression. Fighters should avoid directly targeting noncombatants and, according to some authorities, they should further avoid the use of weapons or tactics that might bring about unacceptable levels of indirect damage to civilian life. The rules governing jihad were developed and recognized by specialists associated with the majority (Sunni) and minority (Shia) versions of Islam, though the latter insisted that jihad could only be authorized by a divinely authorized Imam or leader, the implication being that most wars fought in the name of Islam did not really qualify.

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, jihad came to be associated with Muslim resistance to European and North American imperialism. Some argued for military resistance, others for education designed to make Muslim economies competitive. Important examples of military jihad include uprisings led by Uthman Dan Fodio (17541817) in Nigeria and Muhammad Ahmad al-Mahdi (18841885) in Sudan. As for the educational approach, the development of Aligarh Muslim University in India by Sayyid Ahmad Khan (18171898) and the campaign for educational reform in Egypt led by Muhammad ìAbduh (18491905) are particularly worthy of mention.

More recently, jihad has come to be associated with the program of certain groups (called jihadis ) who hold that armed force is a necessary means for Muslims to resist the encroachment of a Zionist-Crusader alliance by which a variety of false or idolatrous practices are being foisted upon humanity. These practices, which include democratic politics, free market capitalism, and the equality of men and women, are held to violate divine law. Various declarations issued by the leaders of Al-Qaeda and like-minded groups suggest that the spread of these practices constitutes a kind of emergency condition for Muslims, and that in such a condition, fighting becomes an obligation for every Muslim. In contrast with the historic judgments pertaining to armed struggle, this contemporary jihad involves fighting without authorization by established heads of state. According to many jihadis, the new jihad may also be conducted without regard to distinctions between civilian and military targets. Such points are controversial, with the large majority of Muslims condemning such tactics as violations of Islamic tradition, even while expressing sympathy for some of the causes jihadis cite as motivation, viz., the rights of Palestinians, resistance to undue influence by the United States and others in the internal affairs of historically Muslim countries, and the desire for effective and legitimate government in Muslim lands.

SEE ALSO Fundamentalism, Islamic; Islam, Shia and Sunni

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Abou El Fadl, Khaled. 2001. Rebellion and Violence in Islamic Law. Cambridge, U.K., and New York: Cambridge University Press.

Benjamin, Daniel, and Steven Simon. 2003. The Age of Sacred Terror. New York: Random House.

Cook, Michael. 2000. Commanding Right and Forbidding Wrong in Islamic Thought. Cambridge, U.K., and New York: Cambridge University Press.

Enayat, Hamid. 1982. Modern Islamic Political Thought. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Hourani, Albert. 1983. Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age, 17981939. 2nd ed. Cambridge, U.K., and New York: Cambridge University Press.

Johnson, James T., and John Kelsay, eds. 1990. Cross, Crescent, and Sword: The Justification and Limitation of War in Western and Islamic Tradition. New York: Greenwood.

Kelsay, John. 1993. Islam and War: A Study in Comparative Ethics. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press.

Kelsay, John, and James T. Johnson, eds. 1991. Just War and Jihad: Historical and Theoretical Perspectives on War and Peace in Western and Islamic Traditions. New York: Greenwood.

Peters, Rudolph. 1996. Jihad in Classical and Modern Islam. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

John Kelsay

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Jihad

JIHAD

A term that derives from the Arabic word jahada, meaning "to strive."

The Arabic nouns juhd, mujahid, jihad, and ijtihad mean endeavor, training, exertion, effort, diligence, and fighting. "Traditionally jihad was understood to be justified for three reasons: to repel invasion or its threat, to punish those who had violated treaties, and to guarantee freedom for the propagation of Islam" (Abedi). According to Iranian ayatollah Morteza Mutahhari, Jihad as a defensive act is explained in the Hajj sura 22:3841, where it is said that God gives permission (for warfare) to those who have been attacked. In an Islamic legal context, the term jihad is most often used to refer to a martial campaign in the cause of religion and is therefore frequently translated as "holy war." Many now would argue that there is no such thing as a holy war, and that Islam does not sanction war but rather defense of Islamic values (this is certainly the case in the longest conventional war between two Muslim nations, Iran and Iraq, 19801988). Iran called the war a sacred defense rather than a jihad.

According to classical Muslim legal theory, the only kind of lawful military conflict is jihad, and a jihad can only be used to fulfill at least one of two main objectives. The first is the effective spread of Muslim ideals and values into a region of society unmoved by the call to Islam. The second is defense of the Muslim community from external threats. In addition to discussing the conditions necessary to establish these objectives, Muslim teachings on jihad also deal with important related issues such as the immunity of noncombatants, ethical restrictions on the applications of destructive force, and the circumstances warranting armistice. In fact, the doctrine of jihad is probably best understood as being similar to the "just war" theory in Western Christian contexts. Over the course of the twentieth century, jihad discourse was polarized by modernists like Muhammad Shaltut (died 1963) who argue that, in the modern era, offensive jihad should only take the form of a peaceful propagation of Islam, and revolutionary Islamist groups such as Islamic Jihad, HAMAS, and Hizbullah, which maintain that Muslims around the world are obliged to use any available means to fight against the forces of Western imperialism.

Bibliography


Abedi, Mehdi, and Legenhausen, Gary, eds. Jihād and Shahādat: Struggle and Martyrdom in Islam. Houston, TX: Institute for Research and Islamic Studies, 1986.

Mutahhari, Morteza. Jihad: The Holy War in Islam and the Legitimacy in the Qurʾan, translated by Mohammad Salman Tawhidi. Tehran, Iran: Islamic Propagation Organization, 1998.

scott alexander
updated by roxanne varzi

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Jihād

Jihād (Arab., jahada, ‘he made an effort’). More fully, jihād fī sabīl Allāh, ‘striving in the cause of God’. Jihād is usually translated as ‘holy war’, but this is misleading. Jihād is divided into two categories, the greater and the lesser: the greater jihād is the warfare in oneself against any evil or temptation. The lesser jihād is the defence of Islam, or of a Muslim country or community, against aggression. It may be a jihād of the pen or of the tongue. If it involves conflict, it is strictly regulated, and can only be defensive.

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jihad

jihad (jehad) Religious obligation imposed upon Muslims through the Koran to spread Islam and protect its followers by waging war on non-believers. There are four ways in which Muslims may fulfil their jihad duty: by the heart, by the tongue, by the hand, and by the sword.

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jihad

jihad a holy war undertaken by Muslims against unbelievers. The name comes from Arabic jihād, literally ‘effort’, expressing, in Muslim thought, struggle on behalf of God and Islam.

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jihad

jihad: see Islam.

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jihad

jihadad, add, Allahabad, bad, Baghdad, bedad, begad, cad, Chad, clad, dad, egad, fad, forbade, gad, glad, grad, had, jihad, lad, mad, pad, plaid, rad, Riyadh, sad, scad, shad, Strad, tad, trad •chiliad • oread •dryad, dyad, naiad, triad •Sinbad • Ahmadabad • Jalalabad •Faisalabad • Islamabad • Hyderabad •grandad • Soledad • Trinidad •doodad • Galahad • Akkad • ecad •cycad, nicad •ironclad • nomad • maenad •monad, trichomonad •gonad • scratch pad • sketch pad •keypad • helipad • launch pad •notepad • footpad • touch pad • farad •tetrad • Stalingrad • Leningrad •Conrad • Titograd • undergrad •Volgograd • Petrograd • hexad •Mossad • Upanishad • pentad •heptad • octad

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