Jihad and Defence in Islam
The question of Jihad occupies a special place in the Muslim law. In fact, a progressive and compact system cannot be complete without such provisions.
Owing to its misinterpretation by ill-informed persons, the inclusion of the question of Jihad in Islamic teachings has given rise to much hostile propaganda and has provided a pretext to its opponents to say that Islam is a religion of sword and force. Even well-known writers have been misled. Macdonald in his encyclopedia, asserts that the propagation of Islam by sword and force is one of the religious duties of every Muslim. As the nature and aim of Jihad become clear, not only the hollowness of such criticism becomes obvious, but also the depth, purity and dynamism of the teachings of Islam and their capacity to serve human society in varying circumstances becomes evident. To prove this truth, we draw the attention of the readers to the follow-points.
Pacifist Spirit of Islam is not opposed to Fighting Imposed Wars
Jihad literally means effort and striving. In Islamic sources also, this word has been used in the sense of every kind of intellectual, physical. Financial and moral effort for the promotion of divine and human objectives.
But technically it means an armed struggle for the protection and progress of the Islamic system .
Now let us see what are the occasions on which such struggles become unavoidable.
Fight against the mischievous elements, that consider the spread of a system of justice and truth a threat to their interests and take a stand to exterminate it, is unavoidable. So long as such element exist in the world, supporters of truth and justice have no alternative but to defend their objectives and their own existence.
In fact, war, in this case, is forced upon the believers in Allah and in social justice against their will, Islam can not avoid such situations.
Nevertheless, the pacifist spirit of Islam and its abstinence from using force in dealing with those who do not resort to aggression, antagonism and injustice, are evident from many passages of the Holy Quran.
“Allah does not prohibit you, in respect of those who have not fought you on account of the faith and who have not turned you out of your homes from showing them goodness and being just towards them. Surely Allah loves the just. He only orders you as against those who have fought you on account of the faith and who have turned you out of your homes and who have assisted others in your being turned out that you should be friendly towards them. And whoever be friend them, they are people who are unjust.”
At another place, the Holy Quran expressly says that if the enemy lays down arms and shows peaceful intention, the Muslims have no right to be hostile to them.
“If they leave you alone and desist from fighting against you and make overtures for peace to you, in that case Allah has left you no cause for aggression against them."
In another verse, the Holy Prophet is told :
“If enemies incline to peace, you should also incline to it.” Perhaps no other religion has expressed its peaceful disposition in such clear terms. But Islam's pacifism must not be interpreted to mean that the Muslims are allowed not to take action against those who force large sections of the world people to live under colonial conditions or a state of idolatry, or to watch aggression against their country as idle spectators..
Jihad in the Way of Allah and its Aims
In Islamic sources, the word, ‘Jihad’ has mostly been used in association with the phrase, in the way of Allah. This means that Jihad cannot be waged for base desires, territorial expansion, imperialistic aims, for obtaining spoils of war and the like. The aim of Jihad must always be divine with no personal, material or selfish interest being involved. On the whole, the aims of Islamic Jihad can be summarized in the following few points, while dealing with them we will also try to refute the objections of the opponents.
Defending the Existence of the True System
The most important aim of Islamic jihad is the defense of the divine system of truth and justice and the preservation of its outstanding features. During the time of the Prophet, most of the battles were fought for this very purpose. The Holy Quran expressly says: “Permission to fight is given to those against whom war has been declared, because they have been wronged and surely Allah is competent of helping them; those who have been expelled from their homes without just cause, but because they say that our Lord is Allah. And were not Allah to repel some men by means of the others surely, the monasteries, the synagogues, the temples of the Magians and the masjids in which Allah's name is frequently mentioned, would have been ruined.”
Thus whenever the national sovereignty of the Muslims and their independence and integrity are endangered, it is their duty to stand up to the enemies and defend themselves to the last. It is interesting that in this verse the defense of all places of worship has been given equal importance, which is another sign of the peaceable spirit of Islam.
Anyhow, it should be noted that Islam shows neither tolerance towards idol-worship, nor does it recognize idolatry as a religion, nor the temples of idol- worshippers as place of worship. It regards idolatry as a sort of superstition, falsehood, intellectual decadence and a disease which must be remedied. That is why Islam has allowed the destruction of the temples of idol - worshippers.
Fight with the Opposing Elements
A heavenly system, as a new ideology, has a right to enjoy freedom of propagation and be able to spread in a normal manner through preaching. If certain elements such as idolators, finding their unlawful interests in danger, in order to prevent the spread of the new system, oppose it and try to keep the people in ignorance and no peaceful solution of the problem is found possible. Islam allows a fight against such elements. Some of the early battles of Islam were of this nature, to which there is a reference in the Quranic verse quoted above. Freedom of preaching and logical spread of the true system is another aim of Islamic jihad.
Combating Injustice and Corruption
Owing to the uncompromising hostility of Islam to injustice and corruption, if no peaceful way is left, Jihad is allowed to put an end to in justice and tyranny and to rescue the weak and the helpless from the clutches of the tyrants such as were the usurers of Mecca.
Certain early battles of Islam were of this nature also. The Holy Quran says: “Why should you not fight in the way of Allah for the sake of those helpless men, women, and children, who being weak have been oppressed and are crying out, “Our Lord, deliver us from this habitation whose inhabitants are unjust oppressors and raise a protector for us by Your grace and a helper from Yourself.”
Preparedness for Jihad
So long as might and force rule over international relations and a possibility of the Muslim society being subjected to aggression exists, Islam enjoins up on the Muslims to maintain a state of complete preparedness to be able to defend themselves. The Holy Quran has given clear instructions in this respect and in a short sentence has expressed all that was required, “And to encounter them (the enemies) provide whatever force you can afford.”
Though expenditure on armaments is considered least desirable and most unproductive, Islam has considered it not only essential in the case of need, but also has named it financial Jihad. Anyhow, it is not possible to eradicate aggression and war in the world simply by strengthening military organization and acquiring armaments. Though to do so is also essential and has a security aspect, yet it sometimes enhances the possibility of the out-break of war. Therefore; Islam proposes that the basic way of securing permanent peace should be to strengthen faith and morality, " O Believers, enter all of you into peace.”
This means that the only way to enjoy peace and security is that all enter into the domain of faith, virtue and acknowledgement of Allah. It is in this domain alone that every one regards the others as his brethren respects them and believes that all are slaves of Allah and all are loved by Him.
It is in this domain that everybody should look at others' interests as his own. Everybody should like for others what he likes for himself and dislike for others what he dislikes for himself. It is here that toleration and sacrifice in the way of Allah and for the sake of Allah are considered to be the most distinguished and prominent human qualities.
Observance of Human Rules While Dealing With the Enemy
While many people think that the very word enemy is enough justification for all kinds of excessive violence and inhuman acts, Islam with its detailed fair and firm teachings leaves no doubt that even conflict with the enemy must not go beyond the framework of the rules of human morality, for every kind of violation of these rules amounts to exceeding the limits prescribed by Allah.
The following precise instructions which the Prophet used to give to the soldiers ,and mujahids before they proceeded to the battle field, fully show Islam's peaceful disposition and the Prophet's deep insight.
“March in the name of Allah and seek His help. Fight for His sake and in accordance with His commands.”
“Don’t practice deceit or fraud. Don't embezzle the spoils of war. Don't mutilate the body of an enemy after he is killed. Don't harm the woman, the children and the aged. Don't interfere with the monks and hermits who live in monasteries and caves. Don't unnecessarily cut down trees. Don't burn the date-palm groves of the enemy and don’t submerge them in water. Don't destroy fruit- bearing trees and don't put the enemy crops to fire. Don’t kill the useful animals except for your food. Don't poison the enemy water. Don't resort to trickery and don't launch a surprise night assault.”
Islam forbids every resort to inhuman means of fighting such as night assault, microbial warfare, incineration of cattle, crops and gardens and killing and injuring unarmed personnel. In the Islamic rules of warfare, instruction has been repeatedly given that the Muslims must not shoot the first arrow and they must not launch the first attack. This means that they should not attack unless they are attacked. Their war should be defensive and not offensive.
We find that the Commander of the Faithful, Imam Ali (A) used to give instructions that every effort should be made that fighting did not start before noon and if possible it was delayed till late afternoon so that the sunset, the time when fighting normally stops, might not be long in coming, and there be less bloodshed.
The directions given by the leaders of Islam (Imams) with regard to the treatment to be meted out to the prisoners of war is yet another proof of the necessity of the observance of rules of human morality even while dealing with the enemy. The prisoners of war are to be treated with kindness and are to be provided with the same food and drink as are partaken of by the Muslims.
It is true that correct training and existence of the living spirit of faith and human morality in any society forestalls many excesses and vices. Nevertheless, the establishment and consolidation of social justice is not possible without a strong judiciary .In every society there exist some such miscreants and unruly persons that the light of faith and morality alone cannot remove the darkness of their spirit. They are not subdued without the existence of a strong and fair judiciary
That is why Islam, in order to enforce its program of social justice, has riot limited itself to moral counsels and spiritual training only but has visualized the formation of a strong judiciary to back its teachings.
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Judicial System of Islam
Among the qualities of a judge, two points are most important:
1. He should have complete knowledge of all the details of law.
2, He should possess the qualities of justice, virtue and honesty.
As or the equality of all before the court, Islam directs the Qazi (judge or magistrate) to treat both the parties of a law suit equally. The Qazi must observe complete equality even in acts of ordinary courtesy such as speaking to the parties, looking at them or making them sit or stand.
There must be no discrimination between the litigants on account of their social status.
The leaders of Islam (Imam) have described the office of a Qazi as of great importance and responsibility but at the same time, very risky. Even the slightest lapse on his part is enough to degrade him from his high position.
The Prophet of Islam has said that the tongue of a Qazi is between two flames. This means that if he shows any bias towards one or the other party, he will be burnt.
In Islam accepting a bribe and perverting judgement in favor of a briber are deadly sins. The Holy Prophet has said: “He who gives bribe, he who takes it and he who goes between them, all will go to hell.”
The judicial system of Islam is very exact and detailed and occupies a special position among judicial systems of the world today.
In the books of Islamic jurisprudence, there exists a special chapter on judicature, which deals with all the principles and details of administration of justice. and describes the qualifications of a Qazi, qualifications of witnesses, the way to file a suit, the arguments which the parties can advance in their favour and the like.
The instructions issued by Imam Ali (A) and contained in his famous letter addressed to Malik Ashtar , Governor of Egypt, throw light on some of the above points and show the importance which Islam attaches to the high office of the Qazi. This subject has been fully elucidated in chapter VII of this book.
Punishment to be meted out to offenders must be just as well as deterrent. At the same time, there should be a scope for reducing the punishment in the case of repentants and those induced to commit crime in ignorance or through inexperience. Punishments prescribed in Islam satisfy all the three aspects. For example, in the case of. willful murder, the prescribed punishment is a death sentence. The Holy Quran says: “O men of the understanding, there is security of life for you in the law of retribution.” But at the same time, the Holy Quran allows the heirs of the murdered person to forgive the murderer and accept blood money (diyat).
Similarly in the case of certain crimes against chastity, if the offender before being sentenced by the court genuinely repents and is prepared to pay damages, he can be forgiven. According to Islamic teachings, the best way to eradicate crimes is to concentrate efforts on moral training so that the people may always be conscious of recompense and retribution on the Day of Resurrection.
But, if in spite of such efforts, a crime is committed, then it should severely dealt with. Islam is against those who succumb to false emotions, and hesitate to accept the justification of death sentence in the case of willful murderers and other punishment in the case of other transgressors, such people practically give preference to the interests of criminal over the interest of the society.
Experience shows that any leniency towards hard baked criminals helps in spreading corruption, and is certainly detrimental to the security of the society
Some people may criticize certain parts of Islamic criminal law and regard them as unduly harsh, but fact is not so. Severe action is taken only in the case of very serious crimes and only in cases where moral and social security of the nation is endangered. Such instances are found in other legal systems also. At the most, some societies may not regard such questions as combating unchastity as vital, whereas, Islam, with its subtle insight, attaches to them utmost importance.
Other systems may consider some other questions vital.
Though some of the Islamic punishments some times look very harsh, the proof of the connected crimes is so difficult and depends upon such conditions that more than one or two convictions are hardly possible in a year .
Thus though, the deterrent nature of these punishments, produces good moral effect and strikes terror among potential transgressors, yet practically very few are affected by them.
It must be fully realized that Islamic laws and other Islamic teachings which aim at protecting human rights and relations and preventing corruption and aggression, form one homogenous unit and can be fully effective only if they are all enforced simultaneously.
First of all an atmosphere should be created where Islamic teachings concerning moral training and social welfare are implemented. In such an atmosphere, the incidence of crimes and offences will be greatly diminished and consequently there will be fewer occasions when it will be necessary to inflict any punishment. As is well-known, most of the crimes are the result of incorrect upbringing and various material and social privations. With the elimination of such factors, incidence of crimes will certainly be reduced.
The result will be that the number of those whom punishment is meted out, will gradually go down, and with that the disgust which some people feel at the idea of harsh punishment being inflicted on an apparently large number of persons will also disappear. But, of course, this does not mean that if in any particular atmosphere, a part of Islamic program in the fields of moral training or eradication of poverty is not being implemented, the rest should be totally ignored. All we mean is to emphasize that all items of Islamic program are closely interlinked, and if they are enforced simultaneously, they will produce the best result.