SERMON

(Friday sermon) The Word ‘Jihad’ Ignoramuses Misunderstood By Imam Murtada Gusau

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In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

All Praises are due to Allah, We praise Him, we seek His assistance and we seek His forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evil of ourselves and from our evil deeds. Whomever Allah guides there is none who can misguide him, and whomever Allah misguides there is none who can guide him. I testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah alone without any partners, and I testify that Muhammad (SAW) is Allah’s slave and Messenger.

“O you who have believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and do not die except in a state of Islam (as Muslims), with complete sub-mission to Allah.” (Ali Imran, 3:102)

“O Mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, who created you from a single person (Adam) and from him (Adam) He created his wife (Eve) and from them both He created many men and women and fear Allah through whom you demand your mutual rights, and do not cut off the relations of the wombs (kinship). Surely, Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you.” (an-Nisaa’, 4:1)

“O you who have believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him, and always speak the truth. He will direct you to do righteous good deeds and will forgive you your sins. And whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, he has indeed achieved a great achievement (saved from the Hell fire and enter Paradise).” (Ahzaab, 33:70-71)

As to what proceeds. Verily the best of speech is the Book of Allah and the best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (SAW). The worst of affairs are the newly-invented affairs in the religion and every newly invented affair in the religion is an innovation and every innovation is misguidance and all misguidance is in the Hell fire. As to what proceeds:

Servants of Allah!

The word Jihad means to struggle for the sake of Allah in a righteous cause. It takes many forms such as the inward struggle to achieve a pure heart, the struggle against sinful temptations; the struggle to help others in need, the struggle to educate our communities and the struggle to bring peace, unity and progress in our societies. When necessary, jihad can refer to an armed struggle in defense of the community. Jihad has never meant “holy war” (al-harb al-muqaddis) because war in Islam is never holy; it can only be just or unjust.

My respected people!

The purpose of armed jihad in Islam is to protect the rights of the innocent, to defend them from aggression, and to ensure people are given the opportunity to freely practice their religion. The Qur’an, the Sunnah, and the Majority of Islamic scholars from the beginning of Islam until today only permit armed jihad as a response to aggression and persecution. Jihad, properly understood, is a theory of justice in war and not an instrument of conquest and oppression. Jihad is also theory of just war similar to the legal framework upon which the modern Geneva conventions are based.

Brothers and Sisters!

Muslim scholars have written at length about the inward struggle against sinful desires, or the jihad against the soul. This jihad is called the greater jihad (jihad al-akbar), whereas armed struggle is called the lesser jihad (jihad al-asghar). The spiritual jihad is the greater jihad because it must be done by everyone at all times, whereas military jihad is the lesser jihad because it has specific conditions and is not an obligation upon every Muslim. The term “holy war” was never used by the Prophet, his companions, or the great Muslim scholars who succeeded them.

Jabir reported that:

“Some people returned to the Prophet from a military expedition. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “You have returned with a good return, from the lesser struggle (jihad) unto the greater struggle.” They said, “O Messenger of Allah, what is the greater jihad?” The Prophet said: “It is the servant’s struggle against his desires.” (Kitab Az-Zuhd Al-Bayhaqi 383, it is Da’eef)

The chain of narration for this hadith is weak, as it is more likely the saying of Ibrahim ibn Abu Alqamah and not the Prophet.

Ibn Rajab reported that:

“Ibrahim ibn Abu Alqamah would say to people when they returned from an expedition. “You have come from the lesser struggle (jihad) unto the greater struggle. They said, “What is the greater struggle?” Ibrahim said: It is the struggle of the heart.” (Jami’ Al-Ulum wal-Hikam 19)

Nonetheless, the meaning has been accepted by Muslim scholars and it is also strengthened by other authentic traditions.

Fadalah ibn ibn Ubaid reported that:

“The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “The one who strives (Mujahid) in the way of Allah the Exalted is he who strives against his soul.” (Musnad Ahmad 23445)

In another narration, the Prophet said:

“Have I not informed you? The believer is the one who is trusted with lives and wealth of people and the Muslim is the one from whose tongue and hand people are safe. The mujahid is one who wages jihad against himself in obedience to Allah, and the emigrant is one who emigrates from sin and evil.” (Musnad Ahmad 23438)

On the basis of such narrations, ibn Al-Qayyim said:

“The jihad against the soul takes precedence over jihad against outward enemies because it is the foundation for it.” (Zaad Al-Ma’ad)

Jihad can take the form of education and preaching to the community.

Allah the Most High said:

“Do not obey the unbelievers, but strive against them with (the Qur’an) a great striving.” (Surah Al-Furqan 25:52)

Abu Hurairah reported that:

“The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “Whoever enters our Mosque in order to teach goodness or to learn it himself, then he is like one who is striving in the cause of Allah.”(Musnad Ahmad 8396)

Jihad can take the form of speaking out against injustice.

Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri reported that:

“The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “Verily, among the greatest of struggles is a word of justice in front of a tyrant.” (Sunan At-Tirmidhi 2174)

Abu Umamah reported that:

“The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him said: “The most beloved struggle (jihad) to Allah is a word of truth in front of a tyrannical leader.” (Mu’jam Al-Kabir 8002)

Jihad can take the form of service to others in charity, especially parents, relatives and the needy.

Abdullah bin Amr reported that:

“A man came to the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and he said, “I pledge allegiance to you for emigration and striving in the way of Allah, seeking reward.” The Prophet said: Is one of your parents living? He said, “Yes, rather both of them.” The Prophet said: Do you seek reward from Allah? He said yes. The Prophet said: “Then return to your parents and treat them with good company.” (Sahih Muslim 2549)

In another narration, the Prophet said:

“Then strive in their service.” (Sahih Bukhari 2842)

Mu’awiyah ibn Jahima reported:

“Jahima came to the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and he said, “O Messenger of Allah, I intend to join the expedition and I seek your advice.” The Prophet said: “Do you have a mother?” He said yes. The Prophet said: Stay with her, for Paradise is beneath her feet.” (Sunan An-Nasa’i 3104)

In these ahaadith (plural of hadith), we learn that a man’s struggle to care for his parents in their old age takes precedence over armed struggle. Likewise, any act of charity that requires effort can be properly referred to as jihad.

Allah The most High said:

“Those who strive for us, we will surely guide them to our ways. Verily, Allah is with the doers of goods.” (Surah Al-Ankabut 29:69)

Abu Hurairah reported that:

“The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said: “One who strives to help a widow or the poor is like one who strives in the cause of Allah.” (Sahih Muslim 2982)

Servants of Allah!

Jihad can also take the form of performing acts of ritual worship for the purpose of purifying the heart from sinful temptations.

Allah the Almighty said:

“Strive for Allah with the striving due to Him. He has chosen you and has not placed any hardship upon you in the religion. It is the religion of your father, Abraham. Allah named you Muslims before and in this scripture that the Messenger may be a witness over you and you may be witnesses over the people. So establish prayer and give charity and hold fast to Allah.” (Surah Al-Hajj 22:78)

My beloved people!

In this verse, the command to strive in the way of Allah is followed by the command to pray and give in charity, without any reference to fighting. The Prophet would strive to perform such acts of worship during the last ten night of Ramadan.

Aisha reported that:

“The Prophet would exert himself (yajtahidu) in worship during the last ten nights more than at any other time.” (Sahih Muslim 1175)

The Prophet commanded the Muslims to strive in jihad with supplications and prayers.

Abu Hurairah reported that:

“The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:  Do you love to strive (tajtahidu) in supplication? Say: O Allah, help me to be grateful to you, to remember you, and to worship you in a good manner.” (Musnad Ahmad 7922)

Likewise, the Prophet referred to the Hajj pilgrimage as jihad.

Aisha reported that:

“She said, “O Messenger of Allah, we view striving in the cause of Allah as the most virtuous deed, so shall we not strive?” The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: No, rather the most virtuous struggle is an accepted pilgrimage.” (Sahih Bukhari 1448)

The Prophet did not make it a condition of faith for Muslims to join the armed struggle of a Muslim army.

Abu Hurairah reported that:

“The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said: Whoever believes in Allah and His Messenger, establishes prayer, and fasts the month of Ramadan will have a right upon Allah that he will be entered into Paradise whether he strives in the cause of Allah or remains in the land in which he was born.” (Sahih Bukhari 2637)

This is because military service is a collective obligation (fard al-kifayah) and not an individual obligation (fard al-ain), meaning that if the Muslim community is strong enough to defend itself from aggression, then it is not an obligation to join the armed struggle, unless if the legitimate leader of the Muslims makes it obligatory on you.

However, if the rights of others are being violated and a person has the ability to help them, then the morally upright deed is to defend the human rights of the oppressed.

Allah the Exalted be He said:

“What is the matter with you that you do not struggle/fight in the cause of Allah and for the oppressed among men, women, and children who say: Our Lord, take us out of this city of oppressive people and appoint for us from Yourself a helper and protector?” (Surah An-Nisa 4:75)

Therefore, while the spiritual struggle is primary in Islam, an armed struggle in defense of the oppressed is a tremendously virtuous deed for those soldiers and officers who put themselves in harm’s way to save others.

Jihad in Islam also refers to the spiritual struggle against sin, the struggle to educate and improve our communities, and an armed struggle in defense of the oppressed. Jihad does not refer to a holy war, because war in Islam is never holy; rather, war in Islam can only be just or unjust as said earlier.

Servants of Allah!

Jihad is a comprehensive term in Islam that refers to any effort given toward a good cause, whether it is an act of worship or charity or service. However, warfare in defense of Islam and the oppressed is called jihad because it takes a great deal of effort and sacrifice. Allah has Legislated warfare as a reaction towards those who initiate aggression against the Muslim Community, but He has forbidden transgression, terrorism, extremism and conversion to Islam by force. In Islam, it is only the leader of Muslims, Amirul Mu’mineen (Sultan or his representative) has the right to declare armed Jihad not individuals or organizations, groups or any sect. in fact it is prohibited for any Muslim not only to commit aggression but even to desire hostilities in his heart. In other words, the prohibition of aggression exists not only with an outward legal component but also with an inward spiritual component.

Today the most important battle a Muslim needs to fight is the battle within himself against sinful desires (Jihad An-nafs). This is a struggle, a Jihad in the way of Allah, in which all of us need to participate.

This Jihad to purify the soul involves struggling against greed for worldly pleasures, hypocrisy and insincerity, hatred and envy, arrogance and pride, vanity and narcissism, and all the other evil traits which Satan the cursed uses to lead us into evil and destruction. Muslims without a doubt needs to make the struggle against these evils their top priority.

Indeed, some of the earliest and most pious scholars among the righteous predecessors (Salaf as-Salih) considered the Jihad against the soul to be the greatest and most important jihad.

Ibn Al-Qayyim reported that:

It was said to Hasan Al-Basri, O Abu sa’id, which jihad is best?” Hasan, may Allah have mercy on him, said: “Your Jihad against your desires.” (Rawdat Al-Muhibbeen 1/478)

To conclude, armed Jihad in Islam is only a means of self-defense for the community. It must never be used for conquest, aggression, revenge, subjugation, material gain, political ideology, or any other bad and wrong purpose.

May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon our beloved Prophet and Master, Muhammad peace be upon him, his family and all his Companions.

 

This Khutbah (Friday Sermon) was prepared for delivery today, Friday, Dhul Qi’dah 16th 1437 AH (August 19, 2016), by Imam Murtadha Muhammad Gusau, the Chief Imam of Nagazi-Uvete Central Mosque and Alhaji Abdurrahman Okene’s Mosque, Lokoja Road Okene, Kogi State, Nigeria. He can be reached via: +234 803 828 9761+234 803 828 9761

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