Jihad in Islam is a concept with deep religious and historical significance. Jihad (Arabic: جهاد) is an Arabic word that means “striving” or “struggling”, in the path of Allah. It refers to maintaining the principles and values of Islam. Jihad surrounded both personal and communal dimensions. It encourages acts of charity, social responsibility, the pursuit of knowledge, and responsible use of wealth, promoting the values of justice, goodness, and compassion. Understanding the concept of Jihad within the broader context of Islamic teachings is crucial, as it is central to the moral and ethical framework of Islam. The Quran mentions the concept of Jihad in various verses a total of forty-one times. This verse highlights the permission for war. Here are some Quranic verses that mention or relate to the concept of jihad:
Fight in the cause of Allah (only) against those who wage war against you, but do not exceed the limits. Allah does not like transgressors.” (Surah Baqarah verse 190)
Fighting in the Way of Allah
Fighting has been made obligatory upon you (believers), though you dislike it. Perhaps you dislike something which is good for you and like something which is bad for you. Allah knows and you do not know. (Surah Baqarah verse 216)
And what is it with you? You do not fight in the cause of Allah and for oppressed men, women, and children who cry out, “Our Lord! Deliver us from this land of oppressors! Appoint for us a saviour; appoint for us a helper all by Your grace. (Surah An-Nisa verse 75)
Prepare against them what you ˹believers˺ can of ˹military˺ power and cavalry to deter Allah’s enemies and your enemies as well as other enemies unknown to you but known to Allah. (Surah Al-Anfal verse 60)
Whatever you spend in the cause of Allah will be paid to you in full and you will not be wronged. (Surah Al-Anfal verse 60)
What is Jihad in Islam?
Islamic Jihad is considered one of the highest religious teachings, assisting the fundamental principles of the faith. It also serves as a protector of Islamic nations and Muslims. Jihad is one of the most important basic teachings of Islam because jihad is a medium to achieve greatness, glory, and power. On that basis, jihad is compulsory and enforced until the Day of Judgment. Every nation that leaves the obligation of jihad would be insulted, and attacked by the enemies. Their dignity would be humble by Allah and they would be controlled by despised and immoral people. Jihad is a rule that must be followed by Muslims.
Types of Jihad in Islam
Islamic Jihad can be classified into various types. Here are the main types of jihad:
Jihad al-Nafs (Greater Jihad)
The “Greater Jihad” is the battle with the lower self, the battle to purify the heart, do good, stay away from evil, and improve oneself. Allah Almighty says in this regard:
As for those who struggle in Our cause, We will surely guide them along Our Way. And Allah is certainly with the good-doers. (Surah Ankabut verse 69)
Lesser Jihad (Jihad al-SaIf)
The lesser jihad, also known as the armed jihad or the external jihad, refers to physical warfare or struggle waged by Muslims against enemies of Islam. This can involve defending the Islamic community or fighting against those who actively oppress or attack Muslims. Muslims view the lesser jihad as their duty to protect themselves and their religion when they are under threat.
The Prophet (SAW) said:
“Whoever dies without having fought or thought of fighting, he dies on one of the branches of hypocrisy.” (Sunan an-Nasa’i 3095)
Jihad al-Lisan (Jihad of the Tongue)
Being truthful and waging a struggle through writing and speech. Jihad by the tongue (jihad al-qalam) and jihad of the pen is concerned with speaking the truth and spreading the word of Islam with one’s tongue.
Jihad al-Ilm (Jihad of Knowledge)
Considering the pursuit of knowledge, especially religious knowledge, as a form of jihad, is an active practice in Islam. Acquiring knowledge, understanding one’s faith, and conveying knowledge to others are all seen as valuable acts of struggle in the path of God.
Jihad al-Mal (Jihad of Wealth)
Jihad al-Mal, also known as the Jihad of Wealth, refers to the struggle or effort a person makes to use their wealth or resources for the betterment of society and the up lift of others. It is based on the Islamic principle of wealth and its proper use as a means of charity, generosity, and social responsibility. Allah Almighty says in this regard:
Who will lend to Allah a good loan which Allah will multiply many times over? It is Allah (alone) who decreases and increases (wealth). And to Him, you will (all) be returned. (Surah AL-Baqarah: 245)
Importance of Jihad in Islam
Islamic Jihad holds great importance and significance in Islam as it encompasses the concept of striving and struggling for the sake of Allah. It encourages Muslims to actively engage in charitable works, advocate for social reforms, and foster a concerned society. Lastly, defensive jihad allows Muslims to protect themselves and their community from aggression and maintain their right to practice their religion freely. Understanding the true essence of jihad in Islam requires examining its diverse aspects, grounded in the pursuit of justice, the promotion of goodness, and the development of both self and society.
First Jihad in Islam
The Battle of Badr, which took place in the year 624 CE, is widely acknowledged as the first Islamic Jihad. This significant event occurred when a small group of Muslims, under the leadership of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), engaged in a defensive battle against a much larger army of the Quraysh crews. Who sought to crush the early Muslim community in Medina.
Ghazwa in Islam
“Ghazwa” describes early Islamic wars during Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) time, encompassing both fighting and not involved in fighting situations. Notable “ghazwas” include the Ghazwa e Uhad in 625 CE, which marked a significant clash between Muslims and the Quraysh, ultimately resulting in a setback for the former due to a strategic error. The Ghazwa Khandaq, also known as the Ghazwa of the Trench, took place in 627 CE. During this pivotal military event, the Muslims, led by Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him), successfully defended Medina against an alliance of crews led by the Quraysh. Additionally, the Ghazwa Tabuk in 630 CE responded to reports of a potential Byzantine attack on the Muslim community. These “Ghazwas” are pivotal events in early Islamic history, illustrating the courage and flexibility of Muslim warriors.
In Islam, “jihad” has two main forms. The “Greater Jihad” involves the personal struggle to be a better person, resist desire, and do good deeds. The “Lesser Jihad” is external and can involve self-defense or protecting the Islamic community when under attack. Additionally, there are free of violence forms of jihad. These include the “Jihad of the Tongue,” involving speaking the truth and advice for justice, the “Jihad of Knowledge,” which entails seeking education and sharing knowledge, and the “Jihad of Wealth,” encouraging the use of resources to help others. Jihad is central in Islam and highlights personal growth, social responsibility, and, when necessary, the defense of faith and community.