The Jihad of Education
Thus we see that the building blocks of today’s democracy present in the Prophet’s message from its very outset when the Jihād of Education took on the aspects of struggle in the Messenger’s first years of preaching, as the chiefs of the Makkan tribes sought to suppress the freedom of expression, speech and debate that were sought by the Prophet in teaching the new faith. Allah states in the Qur’ān:
ادْعُ إِلِى سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَالْمَوْعِظَةِ الْحَسَنَةِ وَجَادِلْهُم بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِمَن ضَلَّ عَن سَبِيلِهِ وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُهْتَدِينَ
Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.
Calling people to Islam and making them acquainted with it in all its aspects through dialogue and kind persuasion is the first type of Jihād in Islam, in contrast to the imagined belief that Jihād is only of the combative form. This is referred to in the Qur’ān where Allah says:
فَلَا تُطِعِ الْكَافِرِينَ وَجَاهِدْهُم بِهِ جِهَادًا كَبِيرًا
So obey not the disbelievers, but strive against them (by preaching) with the utmost endeavor with it (the Qur’ān)
Here the word “strive,” jāhidū, is used to mean struggle by means of the tongue—preaching and exhortation—and to persevere despite the obstinate resistance of some unbelievers to the beliefs and ideals of Islam.
Ibn 'Abbās, and others said that Allah’s words “strive with the utmost endeavor” denote the duty of preaching and exhortation as the greatest of all kinds of Jihād. Ibn 'Abbās said that “with it” refers to the Holy Qur’ān. Thus Jihād here considered as most essential by Ibn 'Abbās, cousin and associate of the Prophet and foremost exegete of the Qur’ān, is the call to the Word of Allah; the Jihād of Education.
Imām Mālik bin Anas
Imām Mālik bin Anas stated in al-Mudawwanat al-kubrā:
The first of what Allah has sent His Messenger is to call people to Islam without fighting. He didn’t give him permission to fight nor to take money from people. The Prophet stayed like that for thirteen years in Makkah, bearing all kinds of persecutions, until he left for Madīnah.
Ibn Qayyim al-Jawzīyyah
Ibn Qayyim al-Jawzīyyah says in Zād al-ma'ād:
Allah commanded the Jihād of Education when He revealed:
وَلَوْ شِئْنَا لَبَعَثْنَا فِي كُلِّ قَرْيَةٍ نَذِيرًا فَلَا تُطِعِ الْكَافِرِينَ وَجَاهِدْهُم بِهِ جِهَادًا كَبِيرًا
If We willed, We could raise up a warner in every village. Therefore listen not to the Unbelievers, but strive against them with the utmost strenuousness, with the (Qur’ān).
This is a Makkan Chapter, therefore He command therein the Jihād of the non-Muslims by argumentation, elocution and conveying the Qur’ān.
Imām Nawawī in his book al-Minhāj, when defining Jihād and its different categories, said:
…one of the collective duties of the community as a whole (fard kifāyah) is to lodge a valid protest, to solve problems of religion, to have knowledge of Divine Law, to command what is right and forbid wrong conduct.
The explanation of Jihād in Imām al-Dardir's book Aqrab al-Masālik is that it is propagating the knowledge of the Divine Law commending right and forbidding wrong. He emphasized that it is not permitted to skip this category of Jihād and implement the combative form, saying, “the first [Islamic] duty is to call people to enter Islam, even if they had been preached to by the Prophet beforehand.”
Similarly, Imām Bahūtī commences the chapter on Jihād in his book Kashf al-qinā’a by showing the injunctions of collective religious duties (kifāyah) that the Muslim Nation must achieve before embarking on combative Jihād, including preaching and education about the religion of Islam, dismissing all the uncertainties about this religion and making available all the skills and qualifications which people might need in their religious, secular, physical and financial interests because these constitute the regulations of both this life and the life to come. Hence, da'wah—performing the activities of propagating Islam and its related fields of knowledge—is the cornerstone of the 'building' of Jihād and its rules; and any attempt to build without this 'stone' would damage the meaning and reality of Jihād.
Dr. Sa'īd Ramāļān al-Būţī
Al-Būţī says in his book al-Jihād fīl-islām
The most significant category of Jihād was the one established simultaneously with the dawn of the Islamic da'wah (calling for Islam) at Makkah. This was the basis for the other resulting kinds accorded with the situations and circumstances.
Removing all misconceptions and stereotypes in clarifying the image of Islam held by non-Muslims, building a trusting relationship and working with them in ways that accord with their way of thinking, are all primary forms of Educational Jihād. Similarly, establishing a strong community and nation which can fulfill all physical needs of its people, thereby creating for them conditions in which the message will be heard, rather than being lost in the strife and struggle of everyday life, are requirements and form a basic building block of the Jihādic concept. These foundations fulfill the Qur’ānic injunction:
وَلْتَكُن مِّنكُمْ أُمَّةٌ يَدْعُونَ إِلَى الْخَيْرِ وَيَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَأُوْلَـئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ
Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: and these it is that shall be successful.
Until this is accomplished the conditions of combative Jihād remain unfulfilled.
Sayyid Sābiq, in his renowned work Fiqh as-Sunnah says:
Allah sent His Messenger to all of mankind and ordered him to call to guidance and the religion of truth. While he dwelled in Makkah, he called to Allah by using wisdom and the best exhortation. It was inevitable for him to face opposition from his people who saw the new message as a danger to their way of life. It was through the guidance of Allah that he faced the opposition with patience, tolerance and forbearance. Allah says:
وَاصْبِرْ لِحُكْمِ رَبِّكَ فَإِنَّكَ بِأَعْيُنِنَا
So wait patiently (O Muhammad) for thy Lord's decree, for surely thou art in Our sight
فَاصْفَحْ عَنْهُمْ وَقُلْ سَلَامٌ فَسَوْفَ يَعْلَمُونَ
Then bear with them (O Muhammad) and say: Peace. But they will come to know
فَاصْفَحِ الصَّفْحَ الْجَمِيلَ
So forgive, O Muhammad, with a gracious forgiveness
Here we see that Allah does not permit the fighting of evil with evil, or to wage war on those who fight opposed the message of Islam nor to kill those who cause discord to the Muslims. And He said:
ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ فَإِذَا الَّذِي بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَمِيمٌ
Nor can goodness and Evil be equal. Repel (Evil) with what is better: Then will he between whom and thee was hatred become as it were thy friend and intimate!
As the persecution continued, it became harder and harder to bear, reaching its peak when the Quraysh conspired against the life of the Noble Messenger . At this time, it became imperative that he migrate from Makkah to Madīnah, both for his personal safety, for the very survival of the new faith, and in an effort to avoid war. Thus thirteen years after the commencement of Qur’ān’s revelation, the Prophet ordered his companions to emigrate to Madīnah.
Here we see that the Prophet did not engage in repulsing the aggressive attacks against the Muslims by his tribesmen, but sought to avoid conflict and avoid their persecution by means of migration.