Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Jihad and Dhimmitude (Part 1)

Contemporary scholarship and analysis has engaged in systematic whitewashing of the doctrine and history of the Islamic institution of jihad and its corollary institution, dhimmitude. Attempts have been made in some circles to explain away the concept of jihad as merely internal striving, or – if it has some military component – purely defensive in nature. It has also become common for academics to negate the violent history of Islamic expansionism, as well as the suffering of the non-Muslims who fell victim to it.

This three-part series exclusive to Eye On Islam will provide the corrective to such apologetics, by outlining the rationale for jihad as formulated by Muslim scholars and jurists based on the most sacred Islamic religious texts, as well as highlighting the global consequences of over thirteen centuries of jihad during ancient and modern times.


Despite the apologetics of El Fadl and others, there is just one historically relevant meaning of the word “jihad”. It is correct that the word itself does not mean “holy war”, but “struggle” or “striving”. However, the use of this word in the Islamic holy book, the Qur'an, is telling. The Arabic root word of jihad, jahada, appears in the Qur'an forty times, and thirty-six of these occurrences use derivations of the verb form jahida, which refers to physical fighting. Similarly, the canonical hadith collection known as Sahih Bukhari, which is considered by Muslims to be the most authoritative of all the collections of traditions attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, contains approximately two hundred references to jihad, and only a tiny handful could even conceivably be read as referring to any kind of spiritual endeavour. There is no doubt that the dominant understanding of jihad among Muslim jurisprudents since the inception of Islam has been that of literal holy war against unbelievers.

The basic pattern of this war is captured in the order given by caliph Umar, who ruled the Muslim community between 634 and 644, to his lieutenant during the invasion of Iraq in 636. According to the Muslim historian Tabari (d.923), Umar ordered: “Summon the people to God; those who respond to your call, accept it from them (this is to say, accept their conversion as genuine and refrain from fighting them), but those who refuse must pay the poll tax out of humiliation and lowliness. If they refuse this, it is the sword without leniency.”

This conception was based upon Umar's interpretation of a number of passages from the Qur'an and the hadith.

Here are some passages from the Qur'an regarding jihad against unbelievers:

2:191-193 – “And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. And fight not with them at the Inviolable Place of Worship until they first attack you there, but if they attack you (there) then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers...And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah.”

4:95 – “Not equal are those believers who sit (at home) and receive no hurt, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons. Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit (at home). Unto all (in Faith) Hath Allah promised good: But those who strive and fight Hath He distinguished above those who sit (at home) by a special reward.”

8:38-39 – “Tell those who disbelieve that if they cease (from persecution of believers) that which is past will be forgiven them; but if they return (thereto) then the example of the men of old hath already gone (before them, for a warning). And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is all for Allah.”

9:5 – “Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.”

9:29 – “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book [Jews and Christians], until they pay the Jizya [non-Muslim poll tax] with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”

9:111 – “Allah hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods; for theirs (in return) is the garden (of Paradise): they fight in His cause, and slay and are slain: a promise binding on Him in truth...”

Perhaps the most important of all these verses of violence is 9:29, which links jihad against unbelievers specifically to their payment of a special tax, called the jizya, to the Muslim state.

The writings of the greatest Muslim scholars and commentators, both classical and modern, demonstrate the orthodox, mainstream understanding of this passage throughout history.

From the commentary of the prominent Qur'anic commentator Ibn Kathir (d.1373):

“This honorable Ayah [verse] was revealed with the order to fight the People of the Book; after the pagans were defeated, the people entered Allah's religion in large numbers, and the Arabian Peninsula was secured under the Muslims' control. Allah commanded His Messenger to fight the People of the Scriptures, Jews and Christians...
“Allah said, 'until they pay the Jizya', if they do not choose to embrace Islam, 'with willing submission', in defeat and subservience, 'and feel themselves subdued', disgraced, humiliated and belittled. Therefore, Muslims are not allowed to honor the people of Dhimmah [protected religious minorities living under Muslim rule] or elevate them above Muslims, for they are miserable, disgraced and humiliated.”

This orthodox view is affirmed in the modern era by Sayyid Abul A'la Maududi (d.1979), one of the most influential Muslim thinkers of the twentieth century:
“The purpose for which the Muslims are required to fight is not as one might think to compel the unbelievers into embracing Islam. Rather their purpose is to put an end to the sovereignty and supremacy of the unbelievers so that the latter are unable to rule over men. The authority to rule should only be vested in those who follow the true faith; unbelievers who do not follow this true faith should live in a state of subordination...Jizya symbolises the submission of the unbelievers to the suzerainty of Islam. To pay the jizya of their own hands 'humbled' refers to payment in a state of submission. 'Humbled' also reinforces the idea that the believers, rather than the unbelievers, should be the rulers in performance of their duty as God’s vicegerents...
“The simple fact is that according to Islam, non-Muslims have been granted the freedom to stay outside the Islamic fold and to cling to their false, man-made ways if they so wish. They have, however, absolutely no right to seize the reigns of power in any part of God’s earth nor to direct the collective affairs of human beings according to their own misconceived doctrines. For if they are given such an opportunity, corruption and mischief will ensue. In such a situation the believers would be under an obligation to do their utmost to dislodge them from political power and to make them live in subservience to the Islamic way of life.
“One of the advantages of jizya is that it reminds the dhimmis [non-Muslim subjects of an Islamic state] every year that because they do not embrace Islam...they have to pay a price – jizya – for clinging to their errors.”

There are also commands to wage jihad against non-Muslims in the hadith. Some representative examples are presented below, from the two most authoritative collections, Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim:

Sahih Bukhari

v.1, b.2, no.25 – “Allah's Apostle said: 'I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah's Apostle, and offer the prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity, so if they perform that, then they save their lives and property from me except for Islamic laws and then their reckoning (accounts) will be done by Allah.”

v.1, b.2, no.26 – “Allah's Apostle was asked, 'What is the best deed?' He replied, 'To believe in Allah and His Apostle (Muhammad).' The questioner then asked, 'What is the next (in goodness)?' He replied, 'To participate in Jihad (religious fighting) in Allah's Cause.'”

Sahih Muslim

b.19, no.4294 – “When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them...If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah's help and fight them.”

b.20, no.4645 – “It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Sa'id Khudri that the Messenger of Allah said (to him): Abu Sa'id, whoever cheerfully accepts Allah as his Lord, Islam as his religion and Muhammad as his Apostle is necessarily entitled to enter Paradise. He (Abu Sa'id) wondered at it and said: Messenger of Allah, repeat it for me. He (the Messenger of Allah) did that and said: There is another act which elevates the position of a man in Paradise to a grade one hundred (higher), and the elevation between one grade and the other is equal to the height of the heaven from the earth. He (Abu Sa'id) said: What is that act? He replied: Jihad in the way of Allah! Jihad in the way of Allah!”

Jihad persisted century after century because it was institutionalised by Muslim jurists in the two hundred years following Muhammad's death. The consensus of all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence (Maliki, Hanbali, Hanafi and Shafi'i) is demonstrated below.

Maliki jurist Ibn Abi Zayd al-Qayrawani (d.996):

“Jihad is an obligation which can be taken on by some of the people on behalf of others. And it is preferable, according to us [the Maliki school], that the enemy are not fought until they have been invited to the religion of Allah except if they attack first. They can either accept Islam or pay the jizya; if not they are to be fought.”

Hanbali jurist Ibn Taymiyya (d.1328):

“Since jihad is divinely instituted, and its goal is that religion reverts entirely to Allah and to make Allah's word triumph, whoever opposes the realisation of this goal will be fought, according to the unanimous opinion of Muslims. Jews and Christians, as well as Zoroastrians (Magians), must be fought until they embrace Islam or pay the jizya without recriminations. Jurisconsults do not agree on the question of knowing if the jizya should be imposed on other categories of infidels; on the other hand, all consider that it should not be required of Arabs [hence they should convert to Islam or be killed or expelled].”

From the Hedaya of (primarily) the Hanafi school:

“It is not lawful to make war upon any people who have never before been called to the faith, without previously requiring them to embrace it, because the Prophet so instructed his commanders, directing them to call the infidels to the faith, and also because the people will hence perceive that they are attacked for the sake of religion, and not for the sake of taking their property, or making slaves of their children, and on this consideration it is possible that they may be induced to agree to the call, in order to save themselves from the troubles of war...If the infidels, upon receiving the call, neither consent to it nor agree to pay capitation tax, it is then incumbent on the Muslims to call upon God for assistance, and to make war upon them, because God is the assistant of those who serve Him, and the destroyer of His enemies, the infidels, and it is necessary to implore His aid upon every occasion; the Prophet, moreover, commands us so to do.”

Shafi'i jurist Abu'l Hasan al-Mawardi (d.1058):

“The mushrikun [infidels] of Dar al-Harb (the House of War) are of two types: First, those whom the call of Islam has reached, but they have refused it and have taken up arms. The amir of the army has the option of fighting accordance with what he judges to be in the best interest of the Muslims and most harmful to the mushrikun...Second, those whom the invitation to Islam has not reached, although such persons are few nowadays since Allah has made manifest the call of His is forbidden to...begin an attack before explaining the invitation to Islam to them, informing them of the miracles of the Prophet and making plain the proofs so as to encourage acceptance on their part; if they still refuse to accept after this, war is waged against them and they are treated as those whom the call has reached.”

Ibn Khaldun (d.1406), a renowned Muslim philosopher and sociologist who was also a legal theorist, summed up the consensus of Sunni Muslims regarding jihad: “In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universality of the [Muslim] mission and the obligation to convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force...The other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty for them, save only for purposes of defense...Islam is under obligation to gain power from other nations.”

Indeed, even Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (d.1111), the greatest of the order of Sufi mystics – who is lionised as the greatest ever Muslim after Muhammad himself – stressed the necessity for jihad against unbelievers:

“One must go on jihad (i.e. warlike razzias or raids) at least once a may use catapults against them [non-Muslims] when they are in a fortress, even if among them are women and children. One may set fire to them and/or drown them...If a person of the ahl al-kitab [People of the Book] is enslaved, his marriage is automatically revoked...One may cut down their trees...One must destroy their useless books. Jihadists may take as booty whatever they decide...they may steal as much food as they need...”

The Shi'a also agree with the basic premise of jihad war, as demonstrated by this quote from a Persian manual of Islamic law written by the Shi'ite theologian Muhammad al-Amili (d.1621): “Islamic Holy war (jihad) against followers of other religions, such as Jews, is required unless they convert to Islam or pay the poll tax.”

In the centuries following Muhammad's death, the Muslims swept out of Arabia and launched an astonishingly swift and brutal invasion of the surrounding peoples. Within only six years they had captured the holiest city of Christendom, Jerusalem. In the following centuries, they expanded their empire as far West as Spain and as far East as India, as well as over half of the formerly Christian kingdoms. Every country they invaded, they Islamised. The society of the invaders became based on the rules of the sharia (Islamic law), and the conquered peoples were offered Muhammad's triple choice of conversion, subjugation or death. Many were converted to Islam (often by force), while others were sold into slavery. Both Muslim and non-Muslim sources testify to the brutality of the jihad conquests and the suffering of the non-Muslims who fell victim to them.

This jihad carried on almost unabated for a thousand years, until the Muslims were beaten back from the gates of Vienna on September 11th, 1683. After this crushing defeat, Islam fell into a state of decline in which it was not capable of waging jihads of the scope that had helped it to expand its hold on two thirds of the Christian world and the whole of Persia and the Indian subcontinent. Although jihad continued, it never reached the ferocity of the first waves, and it was de-emphasised in Muslim societies in theory and practice while Islam passed through its period of weakness.

Stay tuned for Part 2...

1 comment:

  1. What Is Dhyansanjivani ?
    Dhyansanjivani Is The World famous No 1 Spiritual Astrology Web Site
    We Have All Types Of Spiritual Products Like Yantras Rudraksha Siyar Singhi Hatha Jodi Billi Ki Naal Kanchi Nariyal Stone Moti Parad Products Raksha Kavach
    We Also Perform All Types Of Vedic And Tantric Method Puja / Sadhana / Yagna"s
    Also We Show You Your Online Puja Nobody Can Show Puja Live But We Show Live Online Puja
    We Also Perform Puja At Your Request on Temple Or Any Where For More Information ABout This Site Visit Here Its Really Very Useful Web Site
    by rishi singh