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Posted on: 03-Sep-2009
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The Permission for Jihad

أُذِنَ لِلَّذِينَ يُقَاتَلُونَ بِأَنَّهُمْ ظُلِمُوا وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَى نَصْرِهِمْ لَقَدِيرٌ الَّذِينَ أُخْرِجُوا مِنْ دِيَارِهِمْ بِغَيْرِ حَقٍّ إِلَّا أَنْ يَقُولُوا رَبُّنَا اللَّهُ
Permission to take up arms is hereby given to those who are attacked because they have been oppressed – Allah indeed has power to help them – those who have been unjustly driven from their homes, only because they said: “Our Lord is Allah.” (22:39-40)
 
This is the first verse of theQur’an in which the Companions (rta) of the Prophet (sws) who had migrated from Makkah (the Muhājirūn) were given permission to fight back if they were attacked. TheQur’an says that these Companions (rta) were driven out of their homes because they believed that Allah was their Lord and as such were totally innocent. A little deliberation shows that this one sentence depicts the whole charge-sheet against the Quraysh. The reason for this is that no one is willing to leave his home unless he is oppressed for living there and thereby utterly compelled to migrate. The words بِأَنَّهُمْ ظُلِمُوا (because they have been oppressed) refer to this very aspect, and it is because of this ruthless and unfounded oppression that the Qur’an allowed the Muslims to resort to force against aggression.
This right to use force has been given to the Muslims in their collective capacity. Every person who appreciates the linguistic style of the Qur’an knows that verses which authorize Muslims to use force do not address them in their individual capacity. Like the verses which mention punishments, these verses too address the Muslims as a community. Thus any step which is to be taken for use of force must originate for their collective system. No person or group has the right to take a step on its own in this regard on behalf of the Muslims. The word أُذِنَ(permission is granted) in the above quoted verse of Sūrah H@ajj also points to the fact that the very first question in an armed offensive is that of justification and permission. The Almighty permitted the Muslims of those times to fight back the Quryash only when Muslims had political authority in spite of the tremendous oppression let lose upon them. Consequently, in these times also, this is an essential pre-requisite of war.[1] The Prophet (sws) is reported to have said:
 
وَإِنَّمَا الْإِمَامُ جُنَّةٌ يُقَاتَلُ مِنْ وَرَائِهِ وَيُتَّقَى بِهِ
A Muslim ruler is the shield [of his people]. An armed struggle can only be carried out under him and people should seek his shelter [in war]. (Bukhārī,No: 2797)
 
The jurists also hold this view:
 
النوع الثالث من الفروض الكفائية ما يشترط فيه الحاكم مثل : الجهاد   وإقامة الحدود. فان هذه من حق الحاكم وحده و ليس لاى فرد ان يقيم الحد على غيره.

The third category among collective obligations is that for which the existence of a ruler is necessary, for example, Jihad and execution of punishments. Therefore, only a ruler has this prerogative. This is because no one else has the right to punish another person.[2]

(Translated by Shehzad Saleem)



[1]. In recent times, some people have refuted the requisite of state authority by citing the armed offensives launched by Abū Basīr against the Quraysh after the truce of Hudaybiyyah. This can only be termed as ignorance of the Qur’an and established history. According to the Qur’an (8:72), the Prophet (sws) and the Muslims of the state of Madīnah were not responsible for the actions and deeds of people who had not migrated to Madīnah. Moreover, we even find the following harsh remarks of the Prophet (sws) about Abū Basīr when he returned to Madīnah after killing one of his two custodians:
 
وَيْلُ أُمِّهِ مِسْعَرَ حَرْبٍ لَوْ كَانَ لَهُ اَحَدٌ
His mother be cursed, if he finds some supporters, he is bound to ignite the flames of war. (Bukhārī, No: 2581)
[2]. Sayyid Sābiq, Fiqh al-Sunnah,2nd ed.,vol. 3 (Beirut: Dār al-Fikr,1980), 30.

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