Islamic Laws

Significance and Merit of Jihad

By: Ayatullah Shaheed Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim
Jihad entails great merit for man and striving nations and involves great significance in achieving the sacred goals that Almighty Allah has put before man in his advancement towards perfection—a march that cannot be consummated except by undergoing various sorts of “distress” and “affliction”. Exegetes have interpreted distress to be fighting.
In many verses like the following, the Holy Qur’an has revealed this fact: Do you think that you would enter heaven while yet the state of those who have passed away before you has not come upon you. Distress and affliction befell them and they were shaken violently so that the Messenger and those who believed with him said, “When will the help of Allah come?” Now, surely, the help of Allah is nigh. (2:214)
He will forgive you your faults and cause you to enter into gardens, beneath which rivers flow, and goodly dwellings in gardens of perpetuity. That is the mighty achievement. Yet, another blessing that you love: help from Allah and a victory near at hand. Give good news to the believers. (61:12-13)
Reckon not those who are killed in Allah’s way as dead. Nay, they are alive and are provided sustenance from their Lord—rejoicing in what Allah has given them out of His grace. They rejoice for the sake of those who, being left behind them, have not yet joined them that they shall have no fear nor shall they grieve. They rejoice on account of favor from Allah and His grace and Allah does not waste the reward of the believers. (3:169-171)
Allah shall grant to the strivers, above those who hold back, a mighty reward—high degrees from Him and protection and mercy. Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (4:95-96)
Their Lord gives them good news of mercy from Himself, His good pleasure, and gardens wherein lasting blessings shall be theirs, abiding therein for ever. The reward with Allah is great indeed. (9:21-22)
It did not beseem the people of Madinah and those among the dwellers of the desert to remain behind the Messenger of Allah, nor should they desire anything for themselves in preference to him. This is because there afflicts them not thirst or fatigue or hunger in Allah’s way, nor do they tread a path which enrages the unbelievers, nor do they attain from the enemy what they attain, but a good work is written down to them on account of it. Surely, Allah does not waste the reward of the doers of good. (9:120)
Besides these verses and many others, traditions that are reported from the Holy Prophet (S) and the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) demonstrate emphatically the significance and great role of jihad in preserving Islam, human dignity and poise, and the strength of the Muslim community in addition to achieving the goals of the individual and collective progression of man towards perfection.
In al-Kafi, Shaykh al-Kulayni has reported through a valid chain of authority that Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: All goodness lies in swords and under their shadows. Nothing amends people except swords. Swords are verily the keys of Paradise and Hellfire.1
The following sermon of Imam ‘Ali (‘a) is reported in both Shaykh al-Kulayni’s al-Kafi and al-Sharif al-Radhi’s compilation of Nahj al-Balaghah: Now then, surely jihad (i.e. striving for Almighty Allah’s sake) is one of the doors of Paradise, which Allah has opened for His special friends. It is the dress of piety and the protective armor of Allah and His trustworthy shield. Whoever abandons it, Allah covers him with the dress of disgrace and the clothes of distress. He is kicked with contempt and scorn, and his heart is veiled with screens (of neglect). Truth is taken away from him because of missing jihad. He has to suffer ignominy and justice is denied to him.2
Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) is reported to have quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: Paradise has a gate that is called “the Gate of Strivers.” The strivers will walk to this gate, which is open wide before them, holding their swords (i.e. weapons) while crowds will be halted in the field of interrogation, and the angels will be welcoming them. So, he who abandons jihad will be dressed by Allah in the garb of humility, poverty in livelihood, and destruction in religion. Almighty Allah has endued my people with dignity through the hooves of their horses and the handles of their spears.3
Shaykh al-Saduq in al-Khisal and Shaykh al-Tusi in Tahdhib al-Ahkam have reported on the authority of Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) on the authority of his fathers that the Holy Prophet (S) said: Over everyone that is possessed of devoutness there is one even more devout, except over those martyred for the sake of Allah. When one is martyred for the sake of Allah, there will be no devoutness greater than his. Likewise, over everyone undutiful there is one even more undutiful except for those who kill one of their parents. When one kills one of his parents, there will be no impiety greater than his.4
In his other book entitled ‘Iqab al-A’mal, Shaykh al-Saduq, with regard to the rewards of the strivers for the sake of Allah, reported the Holy Prophet (S) to have said: For every step that a striver takes, forsaking his home in the way of Allah, seven hundred thousand rewards will be recorded. Seven hundred thousand of his evildoings will be effaced, seven hundred thousand ranks will he be raised, and he will be, under the assurance of Allah, regarded as martyr no matter what sort of death he dies. If he returns back home, he will be forgiven and his supplication responded to.5
According to another tradition, Mansur ibn Hazim has reported that he asked Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) to identify the best of all deeds. The Imam (‘a) answered: (They are) performing the prayers in their times, acting piously towards parents, and striving in the way of Allah.6
In al-Khisal, Shaykh al-Saduq has reported through a valid chain of authority that Imam Zayn al-’Abidin (‘a) said: No drops are dearer to Almighty Allah than two drops: a drop of blood that is shed in the way of Allah and a teardrop that is shed in the darkness of night intended for nothing save Almighty Allah.7
Shaykh al-Tusi, in al-Amali, has reported Imam ‘Ali (‘a) as saying: Death is a greedy pursuer. As for the pursued, neither one who stays at home will be able to weaken it, nor will one who flees be able to escape it. Therefore, go forward into battle and do not shrink away since there is no escape from death. Even if you are not killed in battle, you will die. By Allah, in Whose hand is the life of ‘Ali (I swear), a thousand sword blows on the head are easier than death in bed.8
Shaykh al-Saduq, in al-Amali, reported Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) to have quoted the Holy Prophet (S) as saying: The most honorable death is to be killed as a martyr.9
In each of the abovementioned traditions, we have attempted to display different merits of jihad and mujahids (i.e. performers of jihad).
Categories of Jihad
%Jihad is classified into two categories: struggle against the enemy and struggle against the self (i.e. self-strife or self-purification).
The Holy Prophet (S), in an authentically reported tradition, has expressed self-purification as ‘the major jihad’ and struggle against the enemy as ‘the minor jihad’.
Shaykh al-Kulayni, in al-Kafi, and Shaykh al-Saduq, in al-Majalis and Ma’ani al-Akhbar, have reported the following: On seeing the returning armies from the battlefront, the Holy Prophet (S) said, “Blessed are those who have performed the minor jihad, and have yet to perform the major one.” When asked what the major jihad was, the Holy Prophet (S) replied, “It is the jihad of the self (struggle against one’s self).”10
The topic of self-strife has already been discussed in a previous book of this series.11
In the most reliable reference books of hadith, chapters comprising many sections have been dedicated to discussing this topic.12
The most important point in this regard is that one should not assume that self-strife can substitute for struggle against the enemy or that one who practices self-strife is not responsible for jihad against enemies because self-strife, in its capacity as a category of jihad, is considered to be more important than struggle against the enemy. To understand the relationship between these two categories of jihad, we should say that self-strife is more comprehensive and broader than struggle against the enemy, but the latter is still a branch of the earlier. In view of this, the major jihad cannot be attained unless its qualifications are met.
1. – Al-Hurr al-`Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi`ah 11:5, H. 1.
The authenticity of this tradition is corroborated by other traditions that are mentioned in the same chapter of this reference book.
2. – Nahj al-Balaghah, Sermon No. 27.
3. – Al-Hurr al-`Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi`ah 11:5, H. 2.
4. – Al-Hurr al-`Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi`ah 11:10, H. 21.
5. – Al-Hurr al-`Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi`ah 11:12, H. 27.
6. – Al-Hurr al-`Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi`ah 11:12, H. 28.
7. – `Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 100:10, H. 16.
8. – Shaykh al-Mufid, Kitab al-Irshad, pp. 238.
9. – `Allamah al-Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar 74:8, H. 4.
10. – Al-Hurr al-`Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi`ah 11:122 & 124, H. 1 & 9.
11. – Self-strife or self-purification has been discussed in the principles and rules of Islam, (the moral principles). Moreover, some details of this topic have been discussed in the book of social relations of the virtuous community (control over emotions and excellent example and distinctive behavior).
12. – See, for instance, al-Hurr al-`Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi`ah 11:122-392.

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