Islamic Laws

Ribat (Taking up Positions on the Borders)

By: Ayatullah Shaheed Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim
Another category of jihad is to take up positions on the frontiers of the Muslim countries in order to safeguard them from probable invasions by the enemy and be ready to defend border territories, especially when these borders are common with the country of an enemy.
Taking up positions on the frontiers is obligatory only when the Muslim country anticipates an attack by a non-Muslim enemy; otherwise, it is not obligatory although it is encouraged by the code of Islamic law.1
In this regard, Muhammad ibn Muslim and Zurarah have reported Imam al-Baqir and Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) as saying: Ribat (guarding the borders) is three days at least and forty days as a maximum. If it exceeds this period, it is then jihad.2
The objectives of jihad according to Islam can be summarized in the following points:
1. Jihad is one of the most significant devotional acts through which Islam and the Muslim community are protected; tyranny, corruption, and transgression are dealt with; and the dignity and esteem of Muslims are maintained.
2. Jihad is one of the means of spreading the Islamic mission under certain circumstances and in an exceptional way. When all other means of invitation to the religion of Islam are exhausted, and nothing prevents the acceptance of Islam except psychological obstacles (that represent infidelity and deliberate rejection of the truth), only then is jihad carried out, in order to break these obstacles.
3. Jihad is based on the right of self-defense in the face of direct aggression against Islam and the Muslim community. Jihad is a protective means against such threats. Such jihad is called protective jihad. Whenever indications of such threats and dangers are experienced, it becomes necessary to be in a state of preparation to confront them.
4. Jihad is taking up arms against Muslim rulers that swerve away from the path of Islam and is carried out only when such rulers use power to prevent the Muslims from conveying the mission of Islam or impose upon them a non-Islamic system of rule, without giving them the freedom to express their opinions or to choose for themselves. Once again, such jihad must be preceded by exhausting all the other peaceful means, such as preaching, advising and the like.
5. Fighting is obligatory only when there is sufficient capability to do so or to achieve the purposes sought after, even if this achievement requires a long time. It is necessary to prepare the required power and wait for the most appropriate opportunity although it is impermissible to miss a suitable opportunity or surrender in the face of despotic power.
1. Fighting must be under the supervision of a just leader. In the present time, a just leader is represented by the well-versed and experienced jurisprudent who takes on the political and social leadership, who has full acquaintance with the political and social circumstances, and who is courageous and competent enough to identify the situations and take proper decisions according to religious law.
1. – Sayyid al-Khu’i, Minhaj al-Salihin, pp. 376.
2. – Al-Hurr al-`Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi`ah 11:19, H. 1.

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