Material from the Encyclopedia of Islam on jihad.

Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter

4.2 Material from the Encyclopedia of Islam18 on jihad.
Jihad etymologically signifies an effort directed towards a determined objective. (Cf. idjtihad : the work of the scholar-jurists in seeking the solution of legal problems; mudjahada or, again, jihad: an effort directed upon oneself for the attainment of moral and religious perfection. Certain writers, particularly among those of Shi’ite persuasion, qualify this jihad as “spiritual jihad” and as “the greater jihad”, in opposition to the jihad which is our present concern and which is called physical jihad” or “the lesser jihad”. It is, however, very much more usual for the term jihad to denote this latter form of “effort”).
In law, according to general doctrine and in historical tradition, the jihad consists of military action with the object of the expansion of Islam and, if need be, of its defense.
The notion stems from the fundamental principle of the universality of Islam: this religion, along with the temporal power which it implies, ought to embrace to whole universe, if necessary by force. The principle, however, must be partially combined with another which tolerates the existence, within the Islamic community itself, of the adherents of “the religions with holy books”, i.e., Christians, Jews and Madjus [q.v.]. As far as these latter are concerned the jihad ceases as soon as they agree to submit to the political authority of Islam and to pay the poll tax ( jizya [q.v.]) and the land tax (kharadj [q.v.] As long as the question could still, in fact, be posed, a controversy existed—generally resolved by a negative answer—on the question as to whether the Christians and Jews of the Arabian peninsula were entitled to such treatment as of right. To the non-scriptuaries, in particular the idolaters, this half measure has no application according to the opinion of the majority: their conversion to Islam is obligatory under pain of being put to death or reduced into slavery.
In principle, the jihad is the one form of war which is permissible in Islam, for, in theory, Islam must constitute a single community organized under a single authority and any armed conflict between Muslims is prohibited.

You can register and start writing posts immediately.

Following, however, the disintegration of Muslim unity and the appearance, beginning in the middle of the 2nd/8th century, of an ever increasing number of independent States, the question arose as to how the wars which sprang up between them were to be classified. They were never included within the strict notion of jihad —even in the case of wars between states of different religious persuasion—at least according to the general Sunni doctrine; and it is only by an abuse of language that this term is sometimes applied to them, while those authors who seek for a precise terminology label them only as kital or mukatala (conflict, war). There is even hesitation in referring to the struggle against the renegade groups in Islam as jihad. The viewpoint of Shi’ite doctrine is not the same, for, according to the Shi’a, a refusal to subscribe to their teaching is equivalent to unbelief (kufr). The same holds good, a fortiori, for the Kharidjite doctrine [see further TAKFIR].
The jihad is a duty. This precept is laid down in all the sources. It is true that there are to be found in the Kuran divergent, and even contradictory, texts. These are classified by the doctrine, apart from certain variations of detail, into four successive categories: those which enjoin pardon for offences and encourage the invitation to Islam by peaceful persuasion; those which enjoin fighting to ward off aggression; those which enjoin the initiative in attack, provided it is not within the four sacred months; and those which enjoin the initiative in attack absolutely, at all times and in all places. In sum, these differences correspond to the stages in the development of Muhammad ‘s thought and to the modifications of policy resulting from particular circumstances; the Meccan period during which Muhammad, in general, confines himself to moral and religious teaching, and the Medina period when, having become the leader of a politico-religious community, he is able to undertake, spontaneously, the struggle against those who do not wish to join this community or submit to his authority. The doctrine holds that the later texts abrogate the former contradictory texts (the theory of naskh [q.v.]), to such effect that only those of the last category remain indubitably valid; and, accordingly, the rule on the subject may be formulated in these absolute terms: “the fight (jihad) is obligatory even when they (the unbelievers) have not themselves started it”.

In two isolated opinions, however, attempts were made to temper the rule in some respects. According to one of these views, attributed to ‘Ata (d. 114/732-3), the ancient prohibition against fighting during the sacred months remains valid; while according to the other, attributed to Sufyan al-Thawri (born 97/715), the jihad is obligatory only in defense; it is simply recommended (li ‘l-nadb) in attack. According to a view held by modern orientalist scholarship, Muhammad’s conception of the jihad as attack applied only in relation to the peoples of Arabia; its general application was the result of the idjma’ (general consensus of opinion) of the immediately succeeding generations. At root, of course, this involves the problem as to whether Muhammad had conceived of Islam as universal or not.

**Characteristics of the duty of jihad.
The jihad is not an end in itself but a means which, in itself, is an evil (fasad), but which becomes legitimate and necessary by reason of the objective towards which it is directed: to rid the world of a greater evil; it is “good” from the fact that its purpose is “good” (hasan li-husn ghayrih).
**A religious duty.
The jihad has the effect of extending the sway of the faith; it is prescribed by God and his Prophet; the Muslim dedicates himself to the jihad in the same way that, in Christianity, the monk dedicates himself to the service of God; in the same vein it is said in different Hadiths that “the jihad is the monasticism of Islam”; the jihad is “an act of pure devotion”; it is “one of the gates to Paradise”; rich heavenly rewards are guaranteed for those who devote themselves to it; those who fall in the jihad are the martyrs of the faith, etc. A substantial part of the doctrine reckons the jihad among the very “pillars” (arkan) of the religion, along with prayer and fasting etc. It is a duty which falls upon every Muslim who is male, free and able-bodied. It is generally considered that non-Muslims may be called upon to assist the Muslims in the jihad
**Its perpetual character.
The duty of the jihad exists as long as the universal domination of Islam has not been attained. “Until the day of the resurrection”, and “until the end of the world” say the maxims. Peace with non-Muslim nations is, therefore, a provisional state of affairs only; the chance of circumstances alone can justify it temporarily. Furthermore there can be no question of genuine peace treaties with these nations; only truces, whose duration ought not, in principle, to exceed ten years, are authorized. But even such truces are precarious, inasmuch as they can, before they expire, be repudiated unilaterally should it appear more profitable for Islam to resume the conflict. It is, however, recognized that such repudiation should be brought to the notice of the infidel party, and that he should be afforded sufficient opportunity to be able to disseminate the news of it throughout the whole of his territory [see SULH].
Its defensive as well as offensive character.
The jihad has principally an offensive character; but it is equally a jihad when it is a case of defending Islam against aggression. This indeed, is the essential purpose of the ribat [q.v.] undertaken by isolated groups or individuals settled on the frontiers of Islam. The ribat is a particularly meritorious act.
Finally, there is at the present time a thesis, of a wholly apologetic character, according to which Islam relies for its expansion exclusively upon persuasion and other peaceful means, and the jihad is only authorized in cases of “self defense” and of “support owed to a defenseless ally or brother”. Disregarding entirely the previous doctrine and historical tradition, as well as the texts of the kuran and the sunna on the basis of which it was formulated, but claiming, even so, to remain within the bounds of strict orthodoxy, this thesis takes into account only those early texts which state the contrary (v. supra).
4.3 Material from the Encyclopaedia of the Quran19

[The article starts on page 35 of volume 3, J-Q. I am picking up on page 40. I’ve take the liberty to inject a few paragraph breaks].

… There are also Quranic references to treaties with infidels and to peace (Q2:208; 4:90; 8:61; cf. Q 3:28; 47:35; see CONTRACTS AND ALLIANCES). All these are in conflict with the clear order to fight the idolaters (mushrikun), until they are converted to Islam and is known as “the sword verse” (ayat al-sayf, SEE POLYTHEISM AND ATHEISM). Q 9:29 orders Muslims to fight the People of the Book (q.v.) until they consent to pay tribute (jizya, SEE POLL TAX), thereby recognizing the superiority of Islam. It is known as “the jizya verse” (ayat al-jizya, occasionally also as “the sword verse”). The Quran does not lay down rules for cases of Muslim defeat, although there is a long passage discussing such an occurrence (Q 3:139-75, SEE ALSO 4:104; SEE VICTORY).
A broad consensus among medieval exegetes and jurists exists on the issue of waging war. The simplest and earliest solution of the problem of contradictions in the Quran was to consider Q 9:5 and 9:29 as abrogating all the other statements. Scholars seem sometimes to have deliberately expanded the list of the abrogated verses, including in it material that is irrelevant to the issue of waging war (e.g. Q2:83, see Ibn al-Barzi, Nasikh, 23; Ibn al-Jawzi, Musaffa, 14; id., Nawasikh, 156-8; Baydawi, Anwar, i, 70; Tabari, Tafsir, i, 311; other examples: Q 3:111; 4:63; 16:126, 23:96; 25:63; 28:55; 38:88; 39:3). The number of verses abrogated by Q 9:5 and 9:29 is sometimes said to exceed 120 (Ibn al-Barzi, Nasikh, 22-3 and passim; also Powers, Exegetical genre, 138). Several verses are considered as both abrogating and abrogated, in turn, by others. The Muslim tradition, followed by modern scholars (SEE POST-ENLIGHTENMENT ACADEMIC STUDY OF THE QURAN), associated various verses with developments in the career of the Prophet. It is related that, in the beginning, God instructed the prophet to avoid the infidels and to forgive them. The Prophet was actually forbidden to wage war while in Mecca (q.v.). After the emigration to Medina (hijra) the Muslims were first permitted to fight in retaliation for the injustice (see JUSTICE AND INJUSTICE) done them by the Meccans (Q 22:39-40). Then came the order to fight the infidels generally, yet certain restrictions were prescribed. Eventually all restrictions were removed and all treaties with infidels were repudiated by Q9:1-14, and the ultimate divine orders were expressed in Q 9:5 and 9:29. (There are many versions of this scheme, see ‘Abdallah b. Wahb, Jami’, fol. 15b; Abu ‘Ubayd, Nasikh, 190-7; Baydawi, Anwar, i, 634; Khazin, Lubab, i, 168; Shafi’i, Tafsir, 166-73; Jassas, Ahkam, i, 256-63; cf. Ibn al-Jawzi, Nawasikh, 230.)
This evolutionary explanation relies on the technique of abrogation to account for the contradictory statements in the Quran. Although details are disputed, this explanation is not a post-quranic development constructed retrospectively (see Firestone, Jihad, exp. chaps. 3-4). In addition to its obvious rationality, this evolution is attested in the Quran itself (Q 4:77). Many exegetes, however, avoided the technique of abrogation for theological and methodological reasons, but achieved the same result by other means (e.g. Ibn al-Jawzi, Nawasikh). Thus, in spite of differences of opinions regarding the interpretation of the verses and the relations between them, the broad consensus on the main issue remained: whether by abrogation, specification or other techniques, the order to fight unconditionally (Q 9:5, 9:29) prevailed. Some commentators, however, argued that the verses allowing peace (Q 4:90, 8:61) were neither abrogated nor specified, but remained in force. By the assignation technique, peace is allowed when it is in the best interest of the Muslims (e.g. in times of Muslim weakness, see e.g. Jassas, Ahkam, ii, 220; iii, 69-70). In fact this was the position adopted by the four major schools of law (see Peters, Jihad, 32-7).
In a few verses, the cause or purpose of Muslim warfare is mentioned as self-defense, and retaliation for aggression, for the expulsion from Mecca and for the violation of treaties (Q 2:217; 4:84, 91; 5:33; 9:12-3; 22:39-40, 60:9, cf. 4:89). In one case, defense of weak brethren is adduced (Q 4:75; see BROTHER AND BROTHERHOOD). On the basis of the “sword verse” (Q 9:5) and the “jizya verse” (Q 9:29) it is clear that the purpose of fighting the idolaters is to convert them to Islam, whereas the purpose of fighting the People of the Book is to dominate them.
Many commentators interpret Q 2:193 and 8:39 (“fight them until there is no more fitna”) as an instruction to convert all the polytheists to Islam by force if need be (e.g. Khazin, Lubab, ii, 183; Jassas, Ahkam, i, 260). It appears, however, that fitna (see DISSENSION; PARTIES AND FACTIONS) originally did not mean polytheism, but referred to attempts by infidels to entice Muslims away from Islam. Such attempts are mentioned in many Quranic verses (e.g. Q 3:149; 14:30; 17:73-4; for Q 2:193 see e.g. Tabari, Tafsir, ii, 254 see APOSTASY). Thus the purpose of war in Q 2:193 and 8:39 would be not conversion of infidels, but the preservation of the Muslim community. Conversion as the purpose of Muslim warfare is also implied by some interpretations of Q 2:192 and 48:16. In later literature the formulation of the purpose of war is “that God’s word reign supreme” (li-takuna kalimatu llahi hiya l-ulya), but in the Quran this phrase is not associated with warfare (Q 9:40; cf. 9:33 = 61:9; 48:28).
4.4 Material from the Shorter Encyclopedia of Islam20, page 89
[Note: The text transliterates "jihad” as "djihad”].