Jihad: The unwritten sixth pillar (overview)
When we consider the number of verses in the Quran which deal with the subject of Jihad or struggle in the cause of God, it becomes obvious that Jihad is one of the major themes of the Quran.
The 114 suras (chapters or parts) of the Quran are not listed in the chronological order in which Mohammad recited them, but seem to be listed in the order of length – from the longest to the shortest. Rather than list verses in the order they are placed in the Quran, I have listed them in the chronological order in which they came (according to the listing by Nöldeke). This will help to bring out the obvious progression of thought regarding Jihad.
The Ka‘aba, a rectangular building in the city of Mecca, contained many idols and was the center of worship for the pagan Arabs at the time of Muhammad. Arabs from all over Arabia came to Mecca for an annual pilgrimage to worship those idols.
Mohammad began preaching Islam in 610 A.D. when he was still living in Mecca. His fellow Quraish tribesmen became increasingly angry because of his condemnation of their idolatry. Ninety of the 114 suras originated during the 13 years he continued living in Mecca. These suras contained no instructions about fighting, in spite of the severe persecution, beatings, expulsion from their homes and death threats to which his small band of followers were subjected.
The last 24 suras are from the time after 622 when Mohammad and his followers migrated to Medina to escape from the persecution in Mecca. There Mohammad was made the political leader of the city and his followers increased significantly. The teaching about Jihad or fighting “in the way of Allah” began to develop in these Medinan suras.
STAGE ONE: (IN MECCA) – NO RETALIATION:[While still in Mecca, Mohammad and his followers did not retaliate or fight. The suras originating during that time contained teaching typified by the following verses:] Sura 73:10,11 (be patient and bear with those who deny the truth)
Sura 52:45,47,48 (leave them alone and wait in patience for the Lord to punish them)
Sura 109:1,2,6 (Tell unbelievers, “You have your religion and I have mine.”)
STAGE TWO: (FIRST INSTRUCTION IN MEDINA) – DEFENSIVE FIGHTING PERMITTED:[Several months after arrival in Medina the Muslims began looting the Meccan caravans passing through the area. (It is very hard to understand how someone claiming to be a prophet could adopt the carnal, pagan Arab practice of robbing the caravans of other tribes, call it “striving in the way of God” and then say that one fifth of the loot belongs to God!) That practice eventually resulted in their being attacked by the Quraish from Mecca in several battles, beginning with the battle of Badr in 624. At that time permission was given to defend themselves by fighting and killing. The only enemies in the picture were the “unbelievers” of the Quraish tribe in Mecca, who were idol worshipers.] Sura 22:39-41 (permission is given to go to war to defend themselves)
Sura 22:58 (rewards for those who die in jihad)
STAGE THREE: (REVISED INSTRUCTION IN MEDINA) – DEFENSIVE FIGHTING COMMANDED:[A few months after granting permission to fight in self-defense, the command was given making war (in self defense) a religious obligation. At first, the only enemies in the picture were the “unbelievers” of the Quraish tribe in Mecca, who were idol worshipers. They were the ones who had in a sense declared war on the Muslims. Starting with the battle of Uhud the hypocrites (Arabs who claimed to be Muslims, but really did not believe) began to show themselves as enemies, and later the Jews were considered enemies. In the beginning of this stage the Jews were not considered enemies because Muhammad was still expecting them to accept him as a prophet like Moses.]
Sura 2:109 (forgive and overlook unbelieving Jews and let God take care of them)
Sura 2:190-194 (Fight defensively against an attack from fellow Arab Meccan opponents until persecution is stopped and Islam is established)
Sura 2:256,257 (Don’t force those defeated to become Muslims, but if they reject Islam they will suffer in hell.)
Sura 61:4,11-13 (God loves those who fight in His cause without wavering. He will give speedy victory, forgiveness of sins and admission to paradise to those who fight with all they have.)
Sura 33:50 (you may take women whom you capture to be your concubines in addition to your wives)
Sura 5:54 (Don’t befriend Jews or Christians because they are unjust and unreliable)
Jihad‘s motivation and rewards from the Hadith:
Al-Miqdam b. Madikarib reported God‘s messenger as saying, “The martyr receives six good things from God: he is forgiven at the first shedding of his blood, he is shown his abode in paradise, he is preserved from the punishment in the grave, he is kept safe from the greatest terror, he has placed on his head the crown of honor a ruby which is better than the world and what it contains, he is married to seventy-two wives of the maidens with large dark eyes, and is made intercessor for seventy of his relatives. ” Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah transmitted it.
Abu-Abs reported God‘s messenger as saying, “No man whose feet become dusty in God‘s path will be touched by hell.” Bukhari transmitted it.
O ye who believe! Shall I show you a commerce that will save you from a painful doom?
You should believe in Allah and His messenger, and should strive for the cause of Allah with your wealth and your lives. That is better for you, if ye did but know.
He will forgive you your sins and bring you into Gardens underneath which rivers flow, and pleasant dwellings in Gardens of Eden. That is the supreme triumph.
And (He will give you) another blessing which ye love: help from Allah and present victory. Give good tidings (O Muhammad) to believers. (61:10-13; cf. 9:19-22; 9:111; 2:154; 2:243-245; 47:4-6; 3:195)
… Allah hath granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than those who sit (at home). (4:95)