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Author: Hadhrat Mirza Bashiruddin M. Ahmed (ra), 2nd Head of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.
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Home Critical Analysis/Archives Mahzarnama - The Memorandum
Mahzarnama - The Memorandum

The Truth About the Alleged Denial of Jehad


The opponents of the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama‘at also level this allegation against him that he (God forbid) abrogated the Islamic duty of Jehad. This is a baseless allegation. Jehad is an important duty and its obligatory nature and its importance is quite clear on the basis of the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet's Ahadith. Jehad is a comprehensive word which packs a vast range of meaning within it. Scholars of Islam and authorities on religious matters have expounded various kinds of Jehad, e.g., Jehad against one's self (Jehad bin Nafs), Jehad through financial sacrifice (Jehad bil Maal), Jehad with the help of one's knowledge (Jehad bil 'Ilm), the Greatest Jehad (Jehad-e-Akbar), the Great Jehad (Jehad-e-Kabeer), and the Smallest Jehad (Jehad-e-Asghar) etc. etc.

As regards the Smallest Jehad, i.e., the Jehad with Sword, the scholars of Islam and authorities on religious matters who lived prior to the time of the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama‘at, declared that the admissibility of this particular kind of Jehad—which is termed as Qitaal in the Holy Quran's nomenclature—is contingent upon, and conditional with, the existence of a set of specific circumstances and particular conditions. Unfortunately, with the passage of time an erroneous interpretation of Jehad has found its way into the Muslim ummah, according to which Jehad consists of spreading the religion of Islam with sword.

Various excerpts from the perceptive writings of the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama‘at, on the subject of the Islamic concept of Jehad, are presented as under:

“Why did Islam have to resort to fighting and what is the purpose of Jehad? With the very birth of Islam it was confronted with great difficulties and all peoples conceived enmity against it. It has always been the case that on the advent of a Prophet or a Messenger his opponents, perceiving that his followers are a company of earnest, righteous and courageous people who are likely to march forward quickly, begin to entertain rancour and jealousy against them; more particularly is the case with the divines and leaders of other religions.... They begin to devise projects to harm the new faith. Very often they feel in their hearts that by persecuting a righteous one of God they have become subject to God's wrath and their wrongful conduct also betrays that their hearts feel guilty, yet the fierce fire of jealousy drives them into the pits of enmity. These were the causes which not only prevented the leaders of the polytheists and the Jews and the Christians from accepting the truth, but incited them to bitter enmity and they began to consider means of wiping out Islam from the face of the earth. As in the beginning the number of Muslims was small, their opponents, out of the natural arrogance which inspires the minds of people who consider themselves superior to the followers of the new faith in respect of wealth, numbers, esteem and rank, treated the Muslims with bitter hostility as they did not desire that Islam, the heavenly plant, should take root upon the earth. They put forth their utmost effort to destroy the righteous and left out no means of causing them to be hurt. They were afraid lest the new religion should become established and its progress might ruin their own religion and culture. Out of this fear, which terrified their hearts, they had to recourse to every type of coercion and cruelty in order to destroy Islam. They killed Muslims savagely and during a long period which extended over thirteen years, they persisted with this persecution. The swords of these wild beasts cut to pieces most cruelly the faithful servants of God who were the pride of mankind; and orphans and weak and humble women were slaughtered in the streets of Mecca. Even then the Divine command was clear that evil should not be opposed and the righteous ones carried out the command in every case. The streets turned red with their blood but they raised no cry. They were slaughtered like sacrificial lambs but they uttered no complaint. The Holy Messenger of God, upon whom be the endless peace of heaven and earth, was repeatedly made the target of stones that drew his blood; yet that mountain of truth and steadfastness bore all these torments with a cheerful and loving heart. This attitude of humility and steadfastness encouraged their enemies to intensify their persecution and they made this holy community their quarry. Then God who does not permit that cruelty and mercilessness should exceed all bounds turned with compassion towards His persecuted servants and His wrath was kindled against the wicked, and He informed His servants through the Holy Quran that He was a witness to everything that had been inflicted upon them and that He now gave them permission to oppose their opponents and that He was Mighty and would not leave the wrongdoers unpunished. This was the commandment which was designated Jehad. It was set forth in the fo llowing words:

Permission to fight is granted to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged and Allah indeed has the power to help them. They are those who have been driven out of their homes unjustly (22:40-41).
[British Government and Jehad, Roohaani Khazaa’in vol. 17, pp. 3-6]

“Islam permits taking up of the sword only in opposition to people who themselves take it up first, and it permits the slaughter only of those who embark upon slaughter first. It does not lay down that the Muslims while they are subjects of a non-Muslim sovereign who deals with them with justice and equity should take up arms against him as rebels. According to the Holy Quran this is the way of the wicked and not of the righteous. But the Torah has not made this distinction clear at any place. This shows that the Holy Quran in all its commandments, whether of majesty or of beauty, adheres to the straight line of equity, justice, mercy and beneficence and is unique in this respect also among all the scriptures” [Anjaam-e-Aatham, Roohaani Khazaa’in vol. 11, p. 37]

“In my contemporary life, there is absolutely no reason for or need of physical warfare. Rather, in the latter days, the episodes of spiritual warfare were destined to be displayed, and a spiritual combat was to be in order. Since at the present time a great paraphernalia and weapons have been invented to propagate the latent heresies and creed of the infidels, therefore it is only befitting that they must be combatted by using weapons of the same kind. Because peace reigns at the present time and we enjoy all kinds of comfort and peace: every person has full freedom to propagate his own religion, proselytise, and practise its injunctions. Then how could Islam, which is the true exponent of peace—in fact, the true propagator of peace, amity and tranquillity is only Islam—how could it have sanctioned the former mode of conduct at the present time of peace and liberty? So, in the present age, it is indeed the latter mode of behaviour, viz. spiritual striving (mujahida) which is called for.” [Malfoozaat, vol. 1, New Edition, p. 37]

“In the early days of Islam, the defensive wars and physical fighting was also needed for the additional reason that the preacher of Islam was not responded to with arguments and proofs. Instead, he was met with sword, so he perforce had to retaliate with sword. But, these days, we are not confronted with sword; rather objections are raised against Islam by the use of pen and through arguments. It is for this reason that God has so willed that in this day and age, the task of saif (sword) must be accomplished with pen, and the opponents must be repelled by written polemics. Therefore, now it does not behove anyone to try to retaliate against pen with the sword: “If you do not observe the priorities of rank, you act in disbelief.” [Malfoozaat, New Edition, vol. 1, p. 37]

“Know this for sure, that the need of the hour is indeed the pen, and not the sword. Our opponents have raised misgivings against Islam, and have tried to assail the true religion of Allah, the Exalted, by the use of various sciences and artifacts. This has persuaded me to don the armour of pen and enter the arena of science and advancement of knowledge, and provide miraculous evidence of the spiritual bravery and intrinsic power of Islam. How could a person like me have been a suitable contestant in this field?. But it is the pure grace of Allah, the Exalted, and His unbounded beneficence, that He would like to see the grandeur of His religion to become manifest at hands of a humble mortal like myself. Once I had the opportunity to count the enemy’s objections and attacks against Islam and, in my view and estimation, those numbered three thousand; and I think the count must have increased much beyond this number by now. Let no one labour under the misapprehension that Islam is founded on such a flimsy premise that three thousand objections can be levelled against it. No, that is definitely not so. These objections are objections only in the sight of the feeble-minded and the uninformed. But I tell you truly and honestly, that while I enumerated these objections I also found, upon deep reflection, that embedded under these objections are indeed priceless verities which were not visible to the objectors on account of their lack of spiritual vision. And such is the wisdom of God, the Exalted, that the points at which the visionless objectors have stumbled, a treasure of verities and profound truths lies hidden right underneath those points.” [Malfoozaat, vol. 1, New Edition p. 38]

“It is worthy of remembrance that the Holy Quran does not allow fighting just for nothing. Rather, it directs one to fight against only those who prevent the servants of God from affirming their faith in Him, and preclude them from practising the injunctions of God and to worship Him. And He directs one to fight against those who fight against the Muslims without just cause, and who drive out the faithful from their homes and their homelands, and who coercively induct the creatures of God into their own religion, and intend to annihilate the religion of Islam, and prevent other people from joining Islam. These are the people who incur the wrath of God, and it is incumbent upon the faithful believers to fight against them, unless they desist from their misdeeds.” [Noor-ul-Haq, part 2, Roohaani Khazaa’in vol. 8, p. 62]

“In this age, Jehad has taken on a spiritual complexion. The Jehad of this age is simply to try peacefully contribute to the propagation of Islam, rebut the objections of the opponents and disseminate the excellences of Islam in the world. This is what Jehad consists of, until God may cause a different set of circumstances to prevail in the world.” [Newspaper Al-Badr, Qadian, 14 August, 1902, p. 239, Column 3]

“God, the Exalted, has sent me to lay bare these hidden treasures before the world, and to clean up the mud of filthy objections which has been heaped on these sparkling jewels. The righteous indignation of God is strongly aroused at this time to cleanse and glorify the dignity and honour of the Holy Quran from the blemishes of objections put on it by every vile enemy.

So, in a situation such as this when the opponents want to, and actually do, attack us with the pen, how foolish would it be if we were to get down to bludgeoning them with the mood. Let me tell you explicitly that if, under these circumstances, anyone were to misuse the name of Islam to retaliate with militancy, then such a person will only bring disgrace to the fair name of Islam. Because Islam never intended to allow that swords be drawn for no reason and without just cause. The objectives of modern warfare, after its professional development, have changed from being religious to being materialistic. How unjust it would be to draw sword against the objector instead of replying to his objections. The methods of combat have changed along with the change in the spirit of the time. So, first of all, you need to use your head and your heart and purify your souls. Seek help and victory from God, the Exalted: beseeching Him with truth and righteousness, for this is the immutable law and an established principle of God. And if the Muslims have hopes of courting victory by mere vainglorious boasting, then it would be impossible. Allah, the Exalted, does not value empty boasts, He values genuine and righteously inspired fear of God (taqwa), as He says:

[Malfoozaat, vol. 1, New Edition, pp. 38-39]

“The Holy Quran clearly forbids the use of force for the spread of the faith and directs its propagation through its inherent qualities and good example. Do not be misled by the notion that in the beginning the Muslims were commanded to take up the sword because the sword was not taken up for the spread of the faith, but in self-defence against the enemies of Islam and for the purpose of establishing peace and security. It was never meant for coercion in matters of faith.”

[Sitarah Qaisariyyah, Roohaani Khazaa’in vol. 15, pp. 120-121]

“I do not know from where our opponents have gathered that Islam was spread by the sword. God has set forth clearly in the Holy Quran:

meaning, there shall be no compulsion in the religion of Islam. (2.257)

Then who prescribed the use of force for the spread of the faith and when was it done and with what?”

[Paigham-e-Sulh, Roohaani Khazaa’in vol. 23, p. 468]

“The Promised Messiah has come to this world to dispel the concept of drawing sword in the name of religion, and to firmly establish with his proofs and arguments that Islam is a religion which certainly does not need the help of sword for its propagation. Instead, it is the excellences inherent in its teachings, its verities and profound truths, its proofs and arguments, the fresh instances of God's support and Divine signs, and its intrinsic magnetism are the factors which have always caused its advancement and propagation. So let it be known to all those who raise the objection that Islam was spread with the help of sword, that they are completely false in levelling this allegation. The efficacy of Islam's teachings is not dependent upon any coercion. If anyone doubts it, let him spend some time in my company and see for himself how Islam furnishes proof of its life through arguments and signs. Now God, the Exalted, wishes and He has intended to remove all the objections from the glorious body of Islam, which have been levelled against it by evil persons. The objectors who allege that Islam was spread by dint of sword will now be put to great shame.” [Malfoozaat, vol. 3, p. 176]

“There is no compulsion in Islam. There are only three types of wars in Islam:

Those undertaken in self defence.
Those undertaken for retribution—blood for blood.
Those undertaken for the establishment of freedom of conscience, that is to say for breaking up the strength of those who inflicted death upon such as accepted Islam.

As Islam does not permit the use of force or coercion for the purpose of its propagation, it is altogether vain and absurd to wait for a bloody Mahdi or a bloody Messiah; for it is not possible that anyone should appear who should convert people to Islam by the sword contrary to the clear teaching of the Quran.”

[Masih Hindustaan Mein, Roohaani Khazaa’in vol. 15. p. 12]

“It is worthy of reflection that if a person does not accept the true faith because he is not yet aware of its truth, holy teaching and inherent good qualities, then should he be immediately put to the sword? Indeed such a person deserves to be treated mercifully and should be informed gently and courteously of the truth and excellences and spiritual beneficence of the faith, and not that his denial should be repelled by the sword or the gun. Therefore, the commonly held doctrine of Jehad put forward by certain Muslim sects—and their teaching that the time is approaching when a fighting Mahdi will appear whose name will be Imam Muhammad, and that Jesus will descend from heaven to join him and help him and that the two together will slaughter all the people who refuse to accept Islam—is most un-ethical. Is this not a doctrine which stultifies all the pure faculties of man and generates emotions like those of wild beasts? People who hold such doctrines have to behave hypocritically towards everyone else.”

[Masih Hindustaan Mein, Roohaani Khazaa’in vol. 15, p. 8]

“Our Holy Prophetsa suffered great persecution at the hands of the nonbelievers at Mecca and thereafter. The thirteen years which he spent at Mecca were years of great affliction and suffering of many kinds—to think of them brings tears to one's eyes. But he did not raise the sword against his enemies, nor did he reply to their abuses.... It is, therefore, wrong and unjust to suppose that the Holy Prophetsa, or his companions ever fought for spreading the Faith, or that they ever coerced anyone to join the fold of Islam.”

[Masih Hindustaan Mein, Roohaani Khazaa’in vol. 15, p. 10]

Surely Allah is with those who restrain themselves and those who are benevolent. (16:129) [Translator]
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