Al-Qaradawi’s tome on Jihad - 2

Book: Fiqh Al-Jihad

Author: Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi

Publisher: Wahba Bookshop, Cairo

Year: 2009. Pages: 1439


Dr. Rajab Abu Maleeh


After the introduction and preliminary definitions, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi discusses the reality of jihad, as well as its concept and rulings. The core issue in the first chapter is the ruling of jihad and whether it is an obligation at all times and in all situations, or whether it is an obligation only in the case of self-defense, not as in the case of preemptive jihad. Many Muslim scholars are convinced that jihad is an obligation in both self-defense and preemption, and that the imam (community leader) of the Muslims has to perform jihad at least once a year. The Sheikh took on the huge task of convincing people of an opinion that greatly differed from what the youth learn in their early years and the elderly have been adopting. The Sheikh examined every aspect of Islamic jurisprudence to provide what he considers the proper opinion, then he corroborates his stance with evidence.

Difference Between Jihad and Fighting: People are confused about the difference between jihad and fighting. Every time the word jihad is mentioned it is misunderstood and thought to mean fighting or engaging in battle. In fact, jihad has a broader and more comprehensive meaning than simply fighting, which is only one type of jihad. The comprehensive meaning of jihad extends to spending one’s wealth, to jihad by the word, internal jihad, and so on.

Expanding the meaning of jihad and not confining it to “fighting” provides every Muslim, male or female, capable or incapable, with the opportunity to play an important role in the realm of jihad.

The Sheikh says, “So, we see that the term jihad has a broader meaning than fighting, even though it has been established in the convention of Islamic jurisprudence that it means fighting.”

Although the term comprises one’s personal struggle, jihad against oneself and against Satan, one’s jihad by calling for virtue and prohibiting evil, speaking the truth to a despotic ruler, and so on, Jihad also involves fighting for Allah’s sake.

Scholars have designated it as “Legitimate fighting against the disbelievers or aggressors.” Some scholars defined it as “Calling people to the right religion and fighting against those who do not accept it.” Others defined it as “Exertion of all effort and capability in fighting for Allah’s sake, whether physically, by spending from one’s wealth, by opinion, by speech, or by adding to the magnitude of the Muslims’militant power, and so on.”

 This last definition is probably the most acceptable as it includes most of the types of jihad referred to in the Noble Qur’an and Sunnah. Moreover, the definition does not confine jihad to fighting the disbelievers, but it also comprises all those who reject a well-established ritual of Islam such as ritual Prayer, zakah, prohibition of riba, adultery, and drinking alcohol.


Defensive Jihad and Preemptive Jihad: If the distinction between these two types of jihad is not clearly understood, Muslims will be led to error. The Sheikh defines defensive jihad as resisting the enemy that enters a Muslim land, and occupies it, regardless of how small this area is; or the enemy that launches an assault against Muslim lives, property, or sanctities even without entering or actually occupying their land.

Jihad is necessary against those who persecute Muslims because of their faith, or those who plot to dissuade Muslims away from their faith or deprive them of their right to choose their own religion, or force them to renounce it through harm and torture.

On the other hand, preemptive jihad is directed against the enemy whom Muslims pursue and target in order to expand and secure the land of Islam.

In this case, we surprise the enemy before the enemy surprises us. We may do that to enable the enemy to listen to the new call of Islam as these barriers must be removed to enable Muslims to convey Allah’s call to all people, or to liberate nations from the tyrants who dominate and harm them.


Jihad Ruling: Obligatory or Voluntary?: There is an overriding saying, that jihad is an obligation whenever possible. The ruling of jihad continued as it had been at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) till the conquest of most countries was completed, and Islam had spread in most parts of the world. At that time, its ruling changed.

Physical jihad is an individual duty, but there are two opinions regarding jihad by spending one’s wealth. It is correct to say that it is an obligation, since jihad by spending one’s wealth has the same ruling as physical jihad in the Noble Qur’an.

In light of these citations, the Sheikh concludes that defensive jihad is an obligation according to the unanimous agreement of both early and contemporary jurists. There is scholarly disagreement over preemptive jihad, and he considers it is only a must when there is necessity.

The Sheikh says,

“We see that what many believed concerning preemptive jihad and conquering the enemy once a year as a commonly accepted collective duty imposed on the Ummah is not true. The consensus in this respect is over two indisputable issues:

First, What Ibn Rushd mentioned: “When the enemy invades a Muslim country, all Muslims there must struggle against that enemy and all other Muslims must support them till the enemy is defeated.”

Second, Mobilization of armies and preparing to defend their sovereignty by preparing sufficient military power to deter the enemy. They should also have well-trained human power, on land, air and sea, as required. This is according to the conditions of that era as commanded by Almighty Allah: “Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies, of Allah and your enemies” (Al-Anfal 8:60).

Then the Sheikh reviews the historical reality and links the matter to the fiqh of politics, and says, “The truth is that conquering the disbelievers’ countries or deep incursion into their lands once a year, as suggested by some scholars who consider it a collective duty imposed on the entire Ummah represented by its caliphs or emirs, who are responsible for dealing with all that relates to such imposed invasion (conquest), is subject to changing circumstances.”  Therefore, we can appreciate that the duty of invading the enemy every year depends, in reality, on the fiqh of politics. This is a wide branch of fiqh characterized by flexibility, liability to development, and plurality of views, as it is primarily based on the fiqh of intentions and interests; and the fiqh of prognoses, balances, and priorities.

 Within these areas of fiqh there is ample opportunity for constructive and selective jurisprudential deliberations as well as diversity of types and plurality of views and visions, with no team superseding the other as long as the constants are respected, and the basics of Shari’ah are observed in addition to the established regulations.

The Sheikh suggests that Muslims do not fight those who extend peace to them nor inflict any harm on them, and his stance is absolutely flawless. It is supported by the correct juristic vision and by the common purposes of Muslim law, which calls for the preservation of human life, whether of Muslims or non-Muslims.

However, the questions that arise here are, “Has this been the case throughout human history? Has the world ever lived with no wars that devour everything? Did the Persians and the Romans, in olden times, or the Communists, the Jews, the Christians, and Secularists, in modern times, spare the Muslims their sacrilege, violations of sanctities, and military and cultural invasions in addition to looting their wealth and lands?

We do hope that one day mankind would enjoy peaceful coexistence. We hope that the powerful would not abuse the weak, nor would the rich subdue the poor. For this to be true, the theory of repelling stated in the Noble Qur’an will remain valid:  “By Allah’s will they routed them, and David slew Goliath, and Allah gave him power and wisdom and taught him whatever (else) He willed. And were it not for Allah’s repelling some men with others, the earth would certainly be in a state of disorder, but Allah is full of bounty to all the worlds” (Al-Baqarah 2:251).

Almighty Allah says, “Those who have been expelled from their homes without a just cause except that they say, “Our Lord is Allah.” And had there not been Allah’s repelling some people by others, certainly there would have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques in which Allah’s name is much remembered” (Al-Hajj 22:40).


How Should a Collective Duty Be Done?: The requirements for the implementation of a collective duty are a powerful Muslim army the enemy fears, which should be equipped with the most sophisticated arms and weapons. Its soldiers must be highly trained, its forces should be deployed on all land and sea ports so that no single place is jeopardized without providing it with full protection and invulnerability. This is likely to repel the enemy and dissuade them from attacking the Muslims. This proposition is approved today by all countries of the world. Sovereignty of any state entails it having armed forces capable of defending its borders and independence against any attack on it or on its sanctities, or any attempt to seize a small tract of its land.


When Is Jihad an Individual Duty?: Here the Sheikh says that jihad should be an individual duty in the following specific circumstances:

1. When the enemy attacks a Muslim country.

2. When the Imam commands a certain individual or group to participate in jihad.

3. When the army needs the expertise of a specific person.

4. When they are actually present on the battlefield.

The Sheikh then concludes by discussing two important issues: the first is, how the individual duty is realized in jihad, and the second is about women’s jihad.

Regarding the first issue, he says, “Here we are faced with an extremely important question: What should be done if the people of a country are incapable of stopping the invading enemy or they are weak before the invading enemy and their neighbors refuse or are were unable to support them and the individual duty became their neighbors’ and then the closest Muslims until it includes all Muslims around the world.”

The Sheikh asserts the impossibility of its application and shows how it is generally futile, he says, All that I can safely say here is that the people of the invaded country who are taken by surprise must exert all their power to resist the invaders. Each of them should muster all his capabilities and skills as organized or arranged by the authority in charge of jihad, whether it is an existing state authority or one which has been elected by the majority of influential people in the absence of the state. Men should do what befits them and so should women and children, as well as the literate and the illiterate. Each person should be in their rightful place.

On the other hand, if the invaded country along with its neighbors fails to resist the enemy for any reason, or if they are weakened, rebelled, or disobeyed and the duty becomes the responsibility of the entire Ummah, I find that the Ummah’s duty here is not for all Muslims to physically move to the battlefield, as this would be impossible and not beneficial. The duty in this case is that all Muslims should provide support and help to save their fellow Muslims and make their victory a reality. Each person should contribute according to his or her ability, and should provide them with the arms, equipment, supplies, money, and manpower they need. They should satisfy their needs as promptly as possible especially for the things they badly need.


Woman’s Jihad:

On this issue, the Sheikh reviews women’s jihad as it was at the time of Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) and of his honored Companions, and confirms that the role of women in the service of Islam is not inferior to that of men, since she is equally responsible. However, the Sheikh says that there are many tough tasks that are incommensurate with a woman’s nature and with the characteristics Almighty Allah has singled out for her and which would help her to play her role and achieve her mission in life.

Consequently, the Sheikh distinguishes between two types of jihad; namely, defensive jihad and preemptive jihad. He sees that jihad is imposed on women as it is imposed on men as far as defensive jihad is concerned. However, preemptive jihad is not imposed on women. She could generally help men in jihad according to her nature and capabilities.

Author and researcher Dr. Rajab Abu Maleeh got his MA in Fiqh and its Principles from the Faculty of Dar Al-’Ulum, Cairo University, and obtained his PhD in Shari’ah from the same Faculty. He may be reached at