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The British Government and Jihad

This book was published on 22nd May 1900. In it Hadhrat Ahmad (as) has explained the true nature of Jihad and its philosophy. Referring to the Holy Qur’an and Hadith, Hadhrat Ahmed (as) proves the fact that the battles that the Muslims had to fight in the early days of Islam were actually forced on them; that was a temporary phase and it had to be resorted to with a view to establishing religious freedom. Islam, he asserts, is a religion which stands for peace and freedom of religion more than any other religion.

Hadhrat Ahmad (as) has dilated on the question of Jihad in many of his books and it was mostly due to the fact that the object of his advent was to make Islam dominate all other religions through arguments. The main criticism against Islam by the European philosophers and orientalists was that Islam was spread at the point of the sword. This idea had to be rectified and, therefore, Hadhrat Ahmad (as) discussed Jihad in various writings of his.

He had also to deal with this subject because:

1. He claimed to be the Promised Messiah and the generality of the Muslims believed that the Messiah and Mahdi would take up a sword to convert the non-Muslims to Islam. He had to refute this idea.

2. A few years before his own claim, the Mahdi of Sudan had fought against the British forces; he was defeated. The British government could not afford another experiment of that kind.

3. Some Ulema were busy reporting Hadhrat Ahmed (as) to the government that he was working against the constituted authority. Their lies had to be exposed.

4. The Christian missionaries who could not stand his attacks on Christianity felt that it was a good plot to undo his work by proving him to be antigovernment.

5. Only a few years before, he claimed to be the Messiah and Mahdi, there had been a rising in India-that of 1857. The government was made to believe that this was all the work of the Muslims who wanted to regain their lost glory.

All these things in view it can be easily understood why Hadhrat Ahmed (as) felt the need for explaining the issue of Jihad in many of his books.

Hadhrat Ahmad (as) said that it was Islamically wrong to fight against a government which did not interfere in religious affairs and which took upon itself the responsibility of maintaining law and order and granting security and safety to the people. Addressing those who said that he was flattering the British government, he says: ‘O ye the ignorant people! I do not flatter this government. The truth is that it is unlawful according to the Holy Qur’an to fight against a government which does not interfere in profession and practice of faith, nor it uses sword to stop us from making progress in our religious affairs, for the government also does not fight a religious battle.’

He explains the meaning and significance of the word Jihad and tells his readers that it really demands a struggle. He gives a detailed account of what the misguided Maulvis think of Jihad and how they mislead the people to acts of violence. He further remarks that on the one hand the ignorant Maulvis have wrong notions about Jihad and, on the other hand, the Christian missionaries have also told false stories to the people, they have published a lot of literature to misrepresent Islam and thus they have caused discontent and unrest. He tells his readers that all this could be tolerated before this time, but now that he has appeared and has explained all the things very convincingly, there should be no excuse for the people to act the same way as they did before. He admonishes the members of his Jamaat to shun the unclean habits of violence and they should know that they have to avoid disorder and disturbances and they have to show sympathy for their fellow beings. They should clear up their hearts, for by doing so they will begin to resemble the angels. Unclean is the religion which has no sympathy for human beings. Attacking the non-Muslims, and calling it Jihad is not the Islamic Jihad in the least, he says.

Hadhrat Ahmed (as) suggests to the government that a law should be passed placing a ban on writing about other religions. This could be done for an experimental period of some years.

In the supplement of this book Hadhrat Ahmad (as) explains his claim of being Jesus Christ (as) in his second advent and also Mohammad Mahdi. He points out that he does not mean to say that he is actually Jesus Christ (as) or the Holy Prophet Muhammad (as), peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. ‘Those who have not read my books can be led to believe (by misleading people) that I believe in trans-migration but that is far from the truth.’

He further explains the responsibilities that have been placed on his shoulders by the position that he assumes being the image of those two great prophets referred to before. He calls upon the government to invite the followers of various religions to show heavenly signs or make a prophecy that should be fulfilled. That, he says, will settle the issue of his claim being true or otherwise.