Diary: Ulama’s [Clerics] Concept of Jihad

The Light & Islamic Review (US), March/April 1993 Issue (Vol. 70, No. 2, p. 19)

Since Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and his followers have so effectively corrected the commonly prevalent view of jihad as a religious war of aggression, an impression has gained ground among educated Muslims that the general Ulama [clerics] had never misrepresented jihad in this way at all, and were all the time teaching its true meaning in accordance with the Holy Quran and Sunnah. But one has only to study that great, exhaustive book, A Critical Exposition of the Popular Jihad, written by Maulvi Chiragh Ali a century ago to correct the wrong notions about jihad, to see what the Ulama and Jurists taught in this respect. He writes:

“Almost all the common Muslim and European writers think that a religious war of aggression is one of the tenets of Islam, and prescribed by the Koran [Quran] for the purpose of proselytising or exacting tribute” (p. 114).

He then goes on to deal with the concept of Jihad in the books compiled by the Jurists. He says:

“The Muslim common law is wrong on this point where it allows unbelievers to be attacked without provocation” (p. 116).

He then quotes the views found in several classical books of law (and refutes them as being against the Quran and Sunnah). Some of these quotations are as follows:

“The destruction of the sword is incurred by the infidels, although they be not the first aggressors” (Hidaya).

“Fighting against the infidels who do not become converts to Islam and do not pay the tax is incumbent, though they do not attack first” (Kifaya).

To correct such notions, to expunge them from the hearts and minds after they had been handed down for generations, and to show that the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet Muhammad teach exactly the opposite, all this is indeed part of the work of the true Islamic renaissance and revival.