Striving in the cause of Allah which is designated Jihad is a doctrine the philosophy of which needs to be clearly understood. Failure of its appreciation has caused many people in the middle centuries of Islam and in this our own age to entertain serious misconceptions concerning it which has rendered the teachings of Islam open to the criticism of its opponents, whereas Islam is a holy religion which is a mirror of the law of nature and manifests the glory of God.
The root of the Arabic word Jihad means striving and has been metaphorically applied to fighting in the cause of religion. Why did Islam have to resort to fighting and what is the purpose of Jihad? With the very birth of Islam it was confronted with great difficulties and all peoples conceived enmity against it. It has always been the case that on the advent of a Prophet or a Messenger his opponents, perceiving that his followers are a company of earnest, righteous and courageous people who are likely to march forward quickly, begin to entertain rancour and jealousy against them; more particularly is that the case with the divines and leaders of other religions…. They begin to devise projects to harm the new faith. Very often they feel in their hearts that by persecuting a righteous one of God they have become subject to God’s wrath and their wrongful conduct also betrays that their hearts feel guilty, yet the fierce fire of jealousy drives them into the pits of enmity. These were the causes which not only prevented the leaders of the polytheists and the Jews and the Christians from accepting the truth, but incited them to bitter enmity and they began to consider means of wiping out Islam from the face of the earth. As in the beginning the number of Muslims was small, their opponents, out of the natural arrogance which inspires the minds of people who consider themselves superior to the followers of the new faith in respect of wealth, numbers, esteem and rank, treated the Muslims with bitter hostility as they did not desire that Islam, the heavenly plant, should take root upon the earth. They put forth their utmost effort to destroy the righteous and left out no means of causing them hurt. They were afraid lest the new religion should become firmly established and its progress might ruin their own religion and culture. Out of this fear, which terrified their hearts, they had recourse to every type of coercion and cruelty in the attempt to destroy Islam. They killed Muslims savagely and during a long period which extended over thirteen years, they persisted in this form of persecution. The swords of these wild beasts cut to pieces most cruelly the faithful servants of God who were the pride of mankind; and orphan children and weak and humble women were slaughtered in the streets of Mecca. Through out this period it was the Divine command that evil should not be opposed and the righteous ones carried out the command in every case. The streets became red with their blood but they raised no cry. They were slaughtered like sacrificial lambs but they breathed no sigh. The Holy Messenger of God, upon whom be the endless peace of heaven and earth, was repeatedly made the target of stones that drew his blood; yet that mountain of truth and steadfastness bore all these torments with a cheerful and loving heart. This attitude of humility and steadfastness encouraged their enemies to intensify their persecution and they made this holy community their quarry. Then God who does not permit that cruelty and mercilessness should exceed all bounds turned with compassion towards His persecuted servants and His wrath was kindled against the wicked, and He informed His servants through the Holy Quran that He was a witness to everything that had been inflicted upon them and that He now gave them permission to oppose their opponents and that He was Mighty and would not leave the wrongdoers unpunished. This was the commandment which was designated Jihad. It was set forth in the following words: Permission to fight is granted to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged and Allah indeed has the power to help them. They are those who have been driven out of their homes unjustly (22:40-4I) (British Government and Jihad, pp. 1–4).
If the Christian missionaries would listen to me I would counsel them to refrain from raising objections which can be directed against their own scriptures also. For instance, one of their principal criticisms of the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, is directed against the battles that he had to wage under Divine command against those disbelievers who persecuted him and his companions for thirteen years at Mecca and inflicted every kind of torment upon them, and then devised a project of killing the Holy Prophet himself, so that he and his companions were compelled to leave Mecca. But his persecutors did not desist even then. They pursued him and treated him with every type of impertinence and continued to proclaim him false. They subjected the weak ones from among the Muslims who had been left in Mecca to extreme torment. Thus in the estimation of God Almighty, on account of their tyrannical behaviour, they became deserving of chastisement according to the eternal law of God. This chastisement was earned also by those who had helped the Meccans in their misconduct and by those who had on their own carried the torment of the Muslims and the ridicule of their faith to the extreme and used all their power to block the propagation of Islam. Thus those who drew their swords against Islam were destroyed by the sword on account of their wickedness. Then is it fair to object to this kind of fighting, forgetting the battles of Moses and other Prophets of Israel in which thousands upon thousands of suckling babies were slaughtered? Such objections result from a spirit of mischief and deceit and disorderliness. The Christians sometimes make the response that the battles fought by the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, were characterized by too much tenderness towards the enemy in that those of them who accepted Islam escaped all punishment, suckling babies, women, old people, monks and travelers were all spared, nor were churches and synagogues demolished; while the Israeli prophets held all such practices lawful, so much so that more than 300,000 babies were slaughtered at one time. It is a strange conception that the battles fought by Islam should be open to criticism because of the clemency extended to the enemy and because they fell short of the severity that characterized the battles of Moses and other Israeli Prophets. Had the battles fought by Islam imposed the same degree of severity upon the enemy as was done in the battles mentioned in the Bible, apparently the Christian missionaries would have accepted these battles also as having been carried out under the command of God Almighty. Now every sensible person can decide whether this attitude is an honest one. On the one hand the Christians proclaim that God is mercy, and even His punishment has an aspect of mercy. Then if the battles of Moses despite their severity are believed to have been directed by God Almighty, how is it that the battles that possessed the fragrance of Divine mercy are not accepted as having been imposed by God Almighty? Why should those who deem the slaughter of suckling babies before the very eyes of their mothers and the merciless slaughter of the mothers within sight of their children as having been carried out under Divine command, not accept as falling in the same category battles which a persecuted people were permitted to fight in order to repel the aggression of their persecutors? (Arya Dharam (Qadian, Ziaul Islam Press); Now printed in Ruhani Khazain (London, 1984), Vol. 10, pp. 8I-83, footnote).
If chastisement by the sword is in conflict with Divine attributes then this objection would apply primarily and very strongly to Moses who slaughtered whole peoples and caused rivers of blood to flow and left no room for anyone’s repentance. The battles undertaken according to the teachings of the Holy Quran kept the door of repentance open which is in accord with the law of nature and with Divine mercy. We observe that when God Almighty sends His punishment upon the world in the shape of plague or cholera, He, at the same time, bestows upon the physicians knowledge of such herbs and remedies as prove effective in putting out the fire of such epidemics. Therefore, it is the method of warfare adopted by Moses which is open to the objection that it did not permit a way of escape for the enemy according to the law of nature. Even when such a way was permitted, it was partial and not complete. It is clear that it has been the Divine way from the beginning that the wrongdoing enemies of the Prophets have been destroyed by the sword. Then why is a similar commandment in the case of the Holy Prophet considered as open to objection? Was the God of the time of Moses different from the God of the time of Islam? Or is it that in the time of Moses God loved battle, but now He considers it an evil?
Taking Up Arms Against A Just Non-Muslim Government Is Not Permitted
It should also be remembered that Islam permits the taking up of the sword only in opposition to people who themselves take it up first, and it permits the slaughter only of those who embark upon slaughter first. It does not lay down that the Muslims while they are the subjects of a non-Muslim sovereign who deals with them with justice and equity should take up arms against him as rebels. According to the Holy Quran this is the way of the wicked and not of the righteous. But the Torah has not made this distinction clear at any place. This shows that the Holy Quran in all its commandments, whether of majesty or of beauty, adheres to the straight line of equity, justice, mercy and beneficence and is unique in this respect also among all the scriptures (Anjam Aatham, p. 37).
It is a great error on the part of our opponents that they imagine that revealed guidance must under no circumstances inculcate resistance to the enemy and should demonstrate its love and mercy only by way of meekness and gentleness. Such people imagine that they display great reverence for God, the Lord of Honour and Glory, by attributing to Him only the qualities of gentleness and tenderness. But those who are given to reflection and pondering can easily perceive that such people are involved in gross and obvious error. A contemplation of the Divine law of nature clearly shows that it certainly is pure mercy. But that mercy does not manifest itself by way of gentleness and tenderness in all circumstances. Like an expert physician, it sometimes administers a sweet draught to us and at other times it prescribes a bitter medicine for us.
No true Muslim has ever believed that Islam should be spread by the sword. Islam has always been propagated through its inherent qualities. Those who, calling themselves Muslims, seek to spread Islam by means of the sword are not aware of its inherent qualities and their conduct resembles the conduct of wild beasts ( Tiryaqul Qulub Now printed in Ruhani Khazain (London, 1984), Vol. 15, p. 3 5, footnote) .
The Use Of Force Is Forbidden By The Holy Quran
The Holy Quran clearly forbids the use of force for the spread of the faith and directs its propagation through its inherent qualities and the good example of the Muslims. Do not be misled by the notion that in the beginning the Muslims were commanded to take up the sword. That sword was not taken up for the spread of the faith, but in self- defense against the enemies of Islam and for the purpose of establishing peace and security. It was no part of the purpose of taking it up to have recourse to coercion in the matter of faith (Sitarah Qaisariyyah, p. 16).
I do not know from where our opponents have gathered that Islam was spread by the sword. God has set forth clearly in the Holy Quran: There shall be no compulsion in religion (2 :257) Then who has prescribed the use of force for the spread of the faith, and what force was available for the purpose? Do those people who are converted by force set such an example of sincerity and faith that without any kind of wages or compensation two or three hundred of them issue forth to oppose a force of thousands; or when their number reaches a thousand they vanquish hundreds of thousands? Is it the characteristic of the forcibly converted ones that in the defense of the faith they should offer themselves to be slaughtered like sheep and should testify to the truth of Islam with the seal of their blood? Is it expected of them that they should be such lovers of Divine Unity that they should endure every hardship in their travels in the African desert and spread the message of Islam in those regions; or that they should similarly arrive in China, not as warriors but as dervishes and should so convey the message of Islam that millions of people of that country should become Muslims; or that they should arrive in India clad in the roughest stuff and should win a great part of Aryavart to the allegiance of Islam; or should carry the credo: There is no one worthy of worship except Allah, to the confines of Europe? Now say honestly whether these can be the achievements of those who are converted forcibly to Islam, so that they disbelieved in their hearts and professed Islam only by their tongues? Indeed not. These are the achievements of those whose hearts are filled with the light of faith wherein God alone dwells (Tiryaqul Qulub Now printed in Ruhani Khazain (London, 1984), Vol. 15, pp. 5I-53).
The Promised Messiah has come into the world so that he should repel the notion of taking up the sword in the name of the faith, and that through his reasoning and arguments he should establish that Islam is a faith which does not at all need the help of the sword for the purpose of its propagation, but that the inherent qualities of its teaching and its verities, insights, reasons, proofs and the living support and signs of God Almighty and its inherent attractions are the factors that have throughout contributed to its progress and its propagation. Let all those who proclaim that Islam had been spread by the sword take note that their claim is false. Islam is not in need of any coercion for its propagation. Should anyone doubt this, let him come to me and stay with me for a while and observe for himself that Islam proves through reasoning and divine signs that it is a living faith. God Almighty now desires and has so determined that all such objections as have been raised against Islam by evil-minded people should be effectively repelled. Those who allege that Islam was spread by the sword will now be put to shame (Malfoozat, Vol. III, p. 176).
The Promised Messiah Will Not Fight The Disbelievers With The Sword
The commonly held doctrine professed by some of the divines that the Promised Messiah will descend from heaven and will fight the disbelievers and will not accept the poll tax and will offer only the choice of death or Islam, is utterly false and is brimful of all types of error and mischief, and is utterly opposed to the Holy Quran and is only an invention of the impostors (Nurul Haq (in two parts) (Lahore, Mustafai Press, 1311 A.H.); Now printed in Ruhani Khazain (London, 1984), Vol. 8., Part I, p. 67).
There is no compulsion in Islam. There are only three types of wars in Islam:
(1) Those undertaken in self defense.
(2) Those undertaken as chastisement for aggression.
(3) Those undertaken for the establishment of freedom of conscience, that is to say for breaking up the strength of those who inflicted death upon such as accepted Islam.
As Islam does not permit the use of force or coercion for the purpose of its propagation, it is altogether vain and absurd to wait for a bloody Mahdi or a bloody Messiah; for it is not possible that anyone should appear who should convert people to Islam by the sword contrary to the clear teaching of the Quran (Jesus in India, p. 10).
It is worthy of reflection that if a person does not accept the true faith because he is not yet aware of its holy teaching and its inherent good qualities, then should he be immediately put to the sword? Indeed such a person deserves to be treated mercifully and should be informed gently and courteously of the truth and excellence and spiritual beneficence of the faith and not that his denial should be repelled by the sword or the gun. Therefore, the commonly held doctrine of Jihad put forward by certain Muslim sects — and their teaching that the time is approaching when a fighting Mahdi will appear whose name will be Imam Muhammad, and that Jesus will descend from heaven to join him and help him and that the two together will slaughter all the peoples who refuse to accept Islam — is totally opposed to morality. Is this not a doctrine which stultifies all the pure faculties of man and generates emotions like those of wild beasts? People who hold such doctrines have to behave hypocritically towards everyone else (Jesus in India, pp. 6-7).
The Promised Messiah Was To Put An End To War
The doctrine of Jihad as understood and propagated by the Muslim divines of this age who are called maulvis is utterly incorrect. It can lead to nothing except that by their forceful preaching they would convert common people into wild beasts and would deprive them of all the good qualities of human beings; and so it has happened. I know for certain that the burden of the sins of those people who commit murders through ignorance on account of such preachings, and who are unaware of the reason why Islam had to fight battles in its early stages, lies on the necks of these maulvis who go on propagating secretly these dangerous doctrines which result in such grievous loss of life. When these maulvis call on government officials they bow down before them at such an angle as if they are ready to go into prostration; but when they are among their own ilk they persist in declaring that this country is the House of War and that the employment of the sword for the purpose of the propagation of the faith is a prescribed obligation. There are few of them who do not adhere to this doctrine. The large majority of them are so committed to this false doctrine which is utterly contrary to the Holy Quran and the teaching of the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, that they condemn anyone who differs with them on this score as Dajjal and proclaim that he may be killed with impunity. I have been the subject of such condemnation since a long time…. They should remember that this doctrine of Jihad as conceived by them is not at all correct. Its first result is the sacrifice of human sympathy. Their notion that as Jihad was permitted in the early stages of Islam there is no reason why it should not be lawful now is utterly misguided. We have two answers to it. The first is that the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, never raised his sword except against those who first raised it themselves and most mercilessly killed innocent pious men, women and children. They were killed in such cruel manner the recital of which even today brings tears to our eyes. Secondly, even assuming that in the beginning of Islam such Jihad was obligatory, as is mistakenly conceived by these maulvis, yet in this age it no longer holds good as much as it is written that when the Promised Messiah appears Jihad by the sword and all fighting for religion will come to an end as he will not take up the sword or any other earthly weapon and his only weapon will be his supplications, and his high resolve will be his sword. He will lay the foundation of peace and will gather the goat and the lion together. His age will be the age of peace and kindliness and human sympathy. Why do these people not reflect upon the fact that thirteen hundred years ago the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, had said concerning the Promised Messiah: He will put an end to war.
O Ye Muslim divines and maulvis, listen to me. I tell you truly this is not the time of fighting for the faith. Do not disobey the Holy Prophet, peace be on him. The Promised Messiah, who was to come, has appeared and has directed:
Henceforth desist from religious wars with the sword which caused bloodshed. To persist in bloodshed and not to desist from such sermons is not the way of Islam. He who accepts me will not only desist from such sermons but will hold this way as most vicious and likely to invite divine wrath.
Now that the Promised Messiah has come, it is the duty of every Muslim that he should refrain from having recourse to fighting for the propagation of the faith. Had I not come there might have been some excuse for this misunderstanding. But now that I have arrived and you have witnessed the day of promise, those who take up the sword on behalf of the faith have no excuse left which they can put forth before God Almighty. He who possesses eyes and can read the Holy Quran and the ahadees can realize that this kind of Jihad which the ignorant ones insist upon in this age is not authorized by Islam. It is an error which has spread among the Muslims in consequence of the upsurge of unlawful passions or the vain hope of winning paradise through such misguided action.
Ignorant maulvis, may God guide them, have grievously misled the common people and have told them that such action which is sheer wrong and cruelty and is opposed to all moral values is the key to paradise. Can it be a good action to shoot down an utter stranger who is walking through the street on some errand and who has done us no harm? If this kind of thing is virtuous, wild animals possess more virtue than such men. Glory be to God, how righteous were those and how truly were they inspired by the spirit of the Prophets who, when they were commanded in Mecca not to resist evil though they might be cut to pieces, behaved like humble and weak suckling babies as if their hands and their arms possessed no power at all.
How grievous and shameful it is that an utter stranger who has done us no harm and who is occupied with some lawful errand should be shot down without any cause and his wife made a widow and his children made orphans and his dwelling turned into a house of mourning? Which hadees and which verse of the Holy Quran authorizes such an outrage? Can any maulvi furnish an answer to this question? Ignorant people who have only heard the word Jihad make it an excuse for the fulfillment of their selfish desires (British Government and Jihad, pp . 5-12) .
I have brought you a commandment which is that Jihad with the sword has been ended but the Jihad of the purification of your spirits must continue to be waged. I say this not on my own but in order to proclaim the design of God. Reflect on the hadees of Bukhari wherein it is stated that the Promised Messiah would put an end to fighting for the faith. Accordingly I command those who have joined my ranks that they should discard all such notions. They should purify their hearts and foster their mercy and should have sympathy for the afflicted. They should spread peace on the earth, for this would cause their faith to spread. They should not wonder how this would come about. As God Almighty has utilized the elements and all earthly means for the purpose of bringing about new inventions to serve human needs like mechanical locomotion, etc., in the same way He will put His angels to work for the fulfillment of spiritual needs through heavenly signs, without the intervention of human agencies and there will appear many flashes of light whereby the eyes of multitudes will be opened (British Government and Jihad, pp. 14– 15).