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Jihad: A Misunderstood Concept from Islam - Islamic Propagation

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Article Index
Jihad: A Misunderstood Concept from Islam
Jihad in History and Law
Jihad and Islamic Propagation
Forced Conversion?
Conditions for Combative Jihad
Islamic Terms of Ratifying Peace
Jihad Between Muslims
Dhikr: the Remembrance of God
Rebellion Against Rulers
Terms: What Jihad is, and is not
Footnotes
All Pages

Jihad and Islamic Propagation

God says in the Qur’an, “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.” [16:125]

Calling people to Islam and making them acquainted with it in all its aspects through dialogue and kind persuasion is the first type of Jihad in Islam, in contrast to the imagined belief that Jihad is only of the combative form. This is referred to in the Qur’an where Allah I says, “so obey not the disbelievers, but strive against them (by preaching) with the utmost endeavor with it (the Qur’an)” [25:52]. Here the word “strive”

<jaahidu>, 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.

Imam Nawawi in his book al-Minhaj, when defining Jihad and its different categories, said, “one of the collective duties of the community as a whole (fard kifaya) 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”.4

The explanation of Jihad in Imam al-Dardir’s book Aqarab al-Masalik 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 Jihad and implement the combative form, saying, “the first [Islamic] duty is to call people to enter the fold of Islam, even if they had been preached to by the Prophet (saws) beforehand.”5 Similarly, Imam Bahouti commences the chapter on Jihad in his book Kashf al-Kinaa by showing the injunctions of collective religious duties (kifaya) that the Muslim Nation must achieve before embarking on combative Jihad, 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 Jihad and its rules; and any attempt to build without this ‘stone’ would damage the meaning and reality of Jihad.6

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 Jihad. 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 Jihadic concept. These foundations fulfill the Qur’anic injunction, “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.” [3:104] Until this is accomplished the conditions of Jihad remain unfulfilled.