Verses of Jihad and Their Qur’anic Essence: How Indian Islamic Scholars Explain 24 Verses of Jihad in the Qur’an (Part 2)

By Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, Editor,

• Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who
do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made
unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who
were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly
while they are humbled. (9:29)

The radical Islamist ideologues often quote this verse (9:29) in an
attempt to argue that Islam is a religion of intolerance, supremacism,
political power and totalitarianism. But if they had taken the verse in its
historical context contemplating on the shan-e- nuzul (reason for
revelation), they would have cleared their doubts and misconceptions by
themselves. Maulana Yaseen Akhtar Masbahi put this verse into its right
and proper context in order to explain the rationale behind it. He writes
in his book in Urdu “Aayat e Jihad Ka Qur’ani Mafhum”:
“In verse 29 of Surah Taubah, the order is given to fight those who were
hell-bent on mischief-making, hate-mongering and inciting conflicts and
strife, besides disbelieving in God or the Day of Judgement, considering
unlawful the things declared unlawful by God and His Prophet (pbuh) and
rejecting the truth. At the end of this verse, it is also stated that a tax
must be collected from them, Jews and Christians, who are the people of
the book. Even when the Islamic governance was established properly in
Makkah and Madina, those people of the book continued with their
hatred, jealousy, spite, malice, enmity and conspiracies. Therefore, the
order was given that they give up their previous habits of mischief-making
and live with peace and harmony. They were assured that they will not
be mistreated, harmed or wronged. It was left to their description, as
their prerogative and personal choice, whether they accept Islam or not.
But they were, however, ordered to pay a tax and the Muslim state was
made fully responsible to safeguard their lives, properties, assets, dignity
and honour. However, even if those non-Muslims capable of paying the
tax were late in paying it or did not pay the tax at all, they were not
harmed in any way, whereas the Muslims who had the capability but did
not pay the Zakat (mandatory taxation of a Muslim’s income) or 'Ushar

(an Islamic tax charged from Muslims only) they were promptly dealt with
very strictly and severely.”
Since Maulana Misbahi has touched upon the issue of jizyah in this
thread, he tries to counter the wrong understanding of its meaning
elucidating the true wisdom behind it. He clarifies that the Islamic tax of
Jizyah was paid only by the financially capable non-Muslim citizens living
in the Islamic state in the Prophet’s time. They paid it in place of paying
the zakat (obligatory alms) and instead of paying for the defensive
military expeditions (jihad). However, he opines that the Jizyah or tax
was considered an honour to the non-Muslims and a way of lifting their
psychological embarrassment, not a humiliation as many believe. With
this view, Maulana Misbahi produces two historical evidences from the
authentic sources of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) in order to substantiate
his point:
(1) “The great student of Imam-e- A'zam Abu Hanifa, Qazi Imam Abu
Yusuf writes: "A Companion of the Prophet (pbuh) Hakim bin Hisharn saw
that the governor of Hims (a Muslim state) had lined up some people who
had not paid the tax in the scorching heat. Upon seeing this, he said to
the governor, 'What are you doing? I heard the Messenger of Allah say
about those who cause grief to others in this world, that Allah will grieve
them on the Day of Judgement" (Kitab al-Kharaj, Page 115, Sunan Baihiqi
Vol 9 Page 205)
(2) “Hazrat Ali (r.a), the fourth Islamic Caliph, issued the following
instructions in a letter sent to one of his officers responsible for
collecting the tax: "When you reach them (non-Muslims), do not sell the
clothes they need in winter and summer. Do not seize the animals they
need and do not lash any of them. Do not make them stand when
questioning them and do not sell any of the assets they need in order to
collect the tax. We have been ordered to collect the tax from the assets
they have in excess of what they need for their livelihood. If you go
against this order, Allah will seize you before he seizes me. And if I hear
that you have acted against this order, then I will fire you." The officer
replied, "If that is the case, then I will return as empty handed as I am
now." Hazrat Ali (r.a) said, "Even if you have to return empty handed, do
as I have ordered." (Kitab al-Kharaj Page 116, Sunan Baihiqi Vol 9, Page
Having produced the above jurisprudential precedents in the early Islamic
state, Maulana Misbahi draws a contrast between the requirements of

early Islamic history and the present state of affairs in this regard. He
“It should be remembered that after the Islamic rule was established in
Madina, a specific administration was held accountable for collecting
Zakat from Muslims and the jizyah tax from non-Muslims. During the reign
of the four rightly guided Caliphs namely Hazrat Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman
and Ali (r.a) there was a proper arrangement to collect that money.
Zakat and tax collectors were appointed in different regions whose duty
was to collect Zakat and 'Ushr from those who were obliged to pay it.
They would then arrange for this revenue to be sent to the bait-ul- maal
(Islamic treasury) to be distributed among those who deserved it. The tax
from non-Muslims was also collected annually in a similar manner. After
the era of the four rightly guided Caliphs, this method of collecting Zakat
and tax was not continued with the same efficiency or accuracy even
though the boundaries of Islamic rule expanded and became more
widespread. There has been no similar system of collecting revenues in
any Muslim state for a number of centuries now. There are dozens of
Muslim states in the world at this moment, yet there is no administrative
system of collecting Zakat from Muslims, neither of collecting the tax
from non-Muslims.”

• “O Prophet, strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites and
be harsh upon them. And their refuge is Hell, and wretched is the
destination”. (Surah Tahrim verse: 9)
Maulana Misbahi explains this verse and comments that “Surah Tahrim
was also revealed after the migration from Makkah to Madina when
Muslims were struggling to survive and protect their lives. The order to
fight against the pagans in the verse 9 of this Qur’anic chapter is similar
to the order in the previous verse. It was necessary to be strict against
them and to ensure their plans did not succeed. Their internal and
external plans had become increasingly dangerous for Muslims and it was
essential for Muslims to defend themselves against their designs.”

• “O Prophet, urge the believers to battle. If there are among you
twenty [who are] steadfast, they will overcome two hundred. And
if there are among you one hundred [who are] steadfast, they will
overcome a thousand of those who have disbelieved because they
are a people who do not understand.” (Surah Anfal Verse 65).

Maulana Misbahi first gives the context of the above Qur’anic verse of
Surah Anfal, and then expands his views. He writes:
“Surah Anfal was revealed in Madina after the people of Makkah had
made life difficult for the Muslims and the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
emigrated from Makkah to Madina. The pagans and enemies of Islam in
Makkah would not let the Muslims live in peace in Madina either. They
conspired, plotted and tried to force the Muslims out of Madina also.
They even came in great numbers with a fully equipped army in order to
attack the Muslims in Madina. When the unprepared Muslims came face to
face with them, they were only 313 in total. This battle was named
“Badr” which was the first battle in Islam. The above verse was revealed
just before this battle in which the Prophet (pbuh) is ordered by Allah the
Almighty to prepare his small army to face the enemy by means of
motivation, instilling in them passion, courage and bravery. Thus, when
they faced the enemies with the strength of faith and spirituality, every
single person among them proved to be equivalent to two of the
Maulana further dwells in this regard in his intellectual effort to justify
the Qura’nic exhortation of jihad in a particular context:
“If the enemies are preparing an army for battle; if they are restless for
war; if they are preparing their horses and armour; if they have
unsheathed their swords and are cleaning their rifles, machine guns and
cannons; if they are gathered in thousands with hateful eyes; what else
can you do at that time other than instill in your men and youths passion,
courage and bravery? If that is not done at that time the end result will
be humiliation, despair, disgrace and annihilation. Which country,
community, clan or religion is prepared to allow itself to be destroyed by
an enemy without putting up any kind of fight or struggle?”

• “Accursed wherever they are found, [being] seized and massacred
completely. [This is] the established way of Allah with those who
passed on before; and you will not find in the way of Allah any
change.” (Surah Ahzab: Verses 61 and 62)

Maulana expounds the theory of these two verses systematically and in
detail. He is of the opinion that if one glances through the verse before

these two verses, it will make things a lot clearer and easier to
understand. However, Maulana avers, “it is the aim of both extremists
and Islamophoboes to spread confusion and suspicion in order to create
anxiety and agitation amongst the common masses. The verse before
these two verses clearly states: "If the hypocrites and those in whose
hearts there is a disease and those who circulate lies in Madina desist
not, We shall surely give you authority over them; then they will not
remain with you in Madina but a little." (Surah Ahzab, Verse: 60)
Now Maulana Misbahi explains the rationale behind the above two verses:
“Those people who lived in Madina but were attempting to create strife
and dissension amongst Muslims — spreading lies, peddling hatred and
false rumours against Muslims, doing propaganda that Muslims will be
defeated, they have no strength, they are weak and helpless etc. If all
this is going on whilst the enemies are marching towards you then the
only solution to deal with such hypocrites is to confront them. This can be
the only punishment on those hypocrites who do not mend their ways
even after so much of peaceful instruction and clear admonition. This has
been the code of war in all previous generations and continues to be the
same today in all communities and will also be the norm in the future.”
Maulana continues: “The treachery and deception of the munafiqeen
(hypocrites) had put the Muslims’ life in danger and jeopardy. At the
battle of Uhud the leader of the munafiqeen Abdullah bin Ubai went
along with the Muslims towards the battlefield and then abandoned the
Muslims at a very turbulent and critical time, running away with 300 of
his followers. At the battle of the Trench, when an army of 10,000 had
gathered to destroy the Muslims, the same munafiqeen (hypocrites) were
trying to discourage and frighten Muslims.” Maulana then produces the
related verse over here:
"And when the hypocrites and those in whose hearts there was a disease
said, 'Allah and His Prophet promised us nothing but a delusion.' And when
a party of them said, '0 people of Madina, there is no place for your stay,
therefore walk back to your houses,' and a party of them asked
permission of the Prophet, saying our houses are unsafe, and they were
not unsafe. They wished not but to flee away." (Sarah Ahzab Verses 12-
Interestingly enough, Maulana Misbahi has incorporated a quite pertinent
issue in his book. Dwelling on the institutions of jizyah and bait-ul- maal,
which was the treasury in the early Islamic state, Maulana also explains

the context-related rulings of maal-e- ghanimat (the spoils of war) with
reference to the verse 20 of Surah Al-Fath and verse 69 of Sarah Anfal,
which talk about the spoils of war. Maulana expounds that “the wealth
and possessions left by the warring enemies in a battle is called "maal-e-
ghanimat' and taking and spending it was permissible. However, to
partake in a battle merely to obtain worldly wealth and benefits is
strictly forbidden and does not earn any rewards.”
Now Maulana tells us the reason as to why it was permissible for the
Muslims in the early Islamic era to take the spoils of war. He explains:
“If there was a need to wage a war in order to safeguard the Islamic
state or its citizens, the responsibility fell upon the Muslims. It was the
obligation and duty of Muslims to fund the expenditure and cost of the
battles. Non-Muslims were not obligated to bear the cost of any battle or
war. At this point, it is necessary to explain that obtaining the spoils of
war was not the aim or intention of Muslims. Besides funding all the
expenses of battle, they also had to pay Zakat on their wealth and
possessions. The tax collected from non-Muslims was minimal compared
to what the Muslims would pay in terms of Zakat and expenses for
battles. Muslims also had to pay Zakat on the animals they owned,
whereas the non-Muslims did not have to pay anything for animals
regardless of how many they had. Regardless of how much business
assets, gold, silver, jewellery or money they had, the non-Muslim citizens
of Madinah were not obliged to give any of that to the Islamic
government. Only a nominal amount, which was agreed upon by the non-
Muslims, was collected from them on an annual basis.”
Maulana goes on: “Zakat is compulsory upon all Muslims who have more
than the qualifying amount.’Ushr is also obligatory on crops grown in the
ground. The Islamic government would collect both these from Muslims.
Even though there is no system for collecting this any longer, they still
need to be paid on an individual basis by Muslims. Fitrah is another
obligation that is incumbent upon Muslims. It is also desirable for them to
periodically give voluntary charity and alms (Sadqah). Regardless of what
they have in terms of assets, Zakat must be paid even today on all assets
in excess of the necessities of life. This is their religious duty and
responsibility. If a Muslim has more than the qualifying threshold but does
not pay Zakat and 'Ushar to those who are deserving of it, then he is not
fulfilling his Islamic duty and responsibility and is inviting extreme pain
and punishment on himself in the hereafter.”

Given the above explanations rendered by an erudite Islamic scholar,
Maulana Yaseen Akhtar Misbahi, it is patently clear that the verses of
Jihad were revealed for particular unavoidable reasons in specific
contexts and under turbulent political circumstances. They actually
served a certain practical purpose limited to particular time and context.
And if these circumstances and purpose no longer exist, then the ruling of
jihad too ceases to exist. This is the basic principle enshrined in all the
canonical Islamic texts related to jihad. Going by this, Muslims should
focus on higher universal values of the holy Qur’an such as righteousness,
piety, fairness, justice, peace, security and compassion, instead of
getting obsessed with specific measures and procedures such as jihad,
qital, jizya, taxes, establishment of the Islamic state or formation of the
army under the leadership of an Islamic Caliph regardless of time, place
and context.

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