Jihad, one of the most significant divine precepts and devotional acts

By: Ayatullah Shaheed Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim
Jihad (struggle for the sake of Almighty Allah) is one of the most significant divine precepts and devotional acts discussed in the Holy Qur’an on many occasions including the following: Strive hard in the way of Allah as is due to Him. He has chosen you (to convey the message of Monotheism) and has not laid upon you any hardship in religion. (This is) the faith of your father Abraham (‘a). He named you Muslims before and in this (the Qur’an), that the Messenger may be a witness over you, and you be witnesses to the people; therefore, keep up prayer, pay the poor-rate, and hold fast by Allah. He is your Guardian. How excellent a Guardian and how excellent a Helper is He! (22:78)
O you, who believe. Shall I lead you to a commerce which can deliver you from a painful chastisement? You should believe in Allah and His Messenger and struggle hard in Allah’s way with your property and your lives. That is better for you, did you but know. (61:10-11)
The word ‘jihad’ has a vast meaning in Islam and in the Holy Qur’an, because it is derived from the Arabic root j-h-d, which means capacity and scope. In view of this, jihad means to exert all possible efforts to defend and struggle for Almighty Allah and to spread and defend Islam.
Consequently, any effort, suffering, endeavor, or sacrifice made for the sake of Almighty Allah, is jihad, be it mental or material. It can be in the form of reporting a tradition, authoring a book, seeking religious knowledge, learning any other advantageous field of science, setting aright matters of difference among disputing parties, enjoining the right, or forbidding the wrong in addition to self-sacrifice and fighting for the sake of Almighty Allah.
In Muslim jurisprudential terminology, the word jihad usually means fighting for the sake of Almighty Allah with weapons and readiness to embrace injury, death and martyrdom.
Almighty Allah has imposed jihad in this sense on every Muslim (male) individual under certain conditions. Therein it becomes obligatory upon such individuals to expose themselves to death in defense of themselves, Islam, and persecuted people.
In this regard, the Holy Qur’an states: Fighting is enjoined upon you, and it is an object of dislike to you. It may be that you dislike a thing while it is good for you and it may be that you love a thing while it is evil for you. (2:216)
Permission to fight is given to those upon whom war is made because they are oppressed and, most surely, Allah is well able to assist them; those who have been expelled from their homes without a just cause except that they say, “Our Lord is Allah.” Had there not been Allah’s repelling some people by others, certainly there would have been pulled down cloisters, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which Allah’s name is much remembered. Surely, Allah will help him who helps His cause. Most surely, Allah is Strong, Mighty. (22:39-40)
What reason do you have that you should not fight in the way of Allah and the weak among men, women, and children, for those who say, “Our Lord, cause us to go forth from the town whose people are oppressors. Give us from You a guardian and give us from You a helper.” (4:75)
These holy verses entail that the reason for passing the law of fighting was originally for the sake of self-defense, especially after the polytheists, atheists, and enemies of Islam used all means of repression, persecution, oppression, transgression, pursuit, banishment from hometowns, economic and social siege, torture, and assassinations against Muslims in order to force them to give up their faith.
In addition to the last two verses, the following verse sheds light on this fact: Fight in the way of Allah with those who fight with you, and do not exceed the limits. Surely, Allah does not love those who exceed the limits. Kill them wherever you find them, and drive them out from whence they drove you out. Persecution is severer than slaughter. Do not fight with them in the Sacred Mosque until they fight with you in it, but if they do fight you, then slay them. Such is the recompense of the unbelievers. But if they desist, then surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. Fight with them until there is no persecution and religion should be only for Allah, but if they desist, then there should be no hostility except against the oppressors. The sacred month for the sacred month and all sacred things are under the law of retaliation. Whoever then acts aggressively against you, inflict injury on him according to the injury he has inflicted on you. Be careful of your duty to Allah and know that Allah is with those who guard against evil. (2:190-194)
From these holy verses, we can understand that such fighting is based on self-defense and warding off aggression. Therefore, such fighting is stopped when aggression is warded off.

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