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Laws Appertaining to Jihad

By: Ayatullah Shaheed Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim
The Holy Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt (‘a) are reported to have classified jihad, in terms of its laws, into several classes.
Through a valid chain of authority, Shaykh al-Tusi reported Fudhayl ibn ‘Ayyadh and Hafs ibn Ghiyath to have narrated the following: As he was asked whether jihad is obligatory or recommended, Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) answered: Jihad is of four kinds—two are obligatory, one recommended but performed only along with the obligatory, and one that is only recommended. One of the two obligatory jihads is self-strife; that is, struggle against committing acts of disobedience to Allah. It is surely the greatest form of jihad. The other obligatory jihad is fighting disbelievers. The jihad that is recommended but performed only with the obligatory is fighting the enemy. It is obligatory upon all the individuals of the (Muslim) nation. If they abandon fighting against the enemies, chastisement will befall them. In fact, the torments they are now suffering is part of this chastisement.
Meanwhile, fighting against the enemies is recommended under orders from the Imam, who is permitted to fight the enemy with his people. The jihad that is only recommended is every excellent practice of man and his efforts in instituting, achieving, and enlivening that practice. Activities and efforts that are exercised for achieving such traditions are the best deeds, because they represent restoration of excellent traditions. The Messenger of Allah (S) said, “He who introduces an excellent traditional practice will gain the reward of doing that practice in addition to the rewards of everyone who practices it up to the Day of Resurrection without any decrease in the reward.1
The second form of jihad that is obligatory represents the defensive jihad that is obligatory upon all Muslims, men and women, under all circumstances, with or without the existence of a just ruler. The third form of jihad represents the preparatory jihad that is obligatory upon men under certain conditions, the most important being the command and power in the hand of a just leader and promulgation for Islam preceding the fight.
In this connection, Shaykh al-Tusi has reported Talhah ibn Zayd as saying: I asked Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) about the ruling concerning a Muslim who lives peacefully with non-Muslim people, but when other non-Muslim people invade them, he wages a war against the invaders.
The Imam (‘a) answered: It is obligatory upon such a Muslim individual to avoid engaging himself in such a war because he is required to fight in line with the laws of Almighty Allah and His Messenger (S). He is therefore disallowed to fight against non-Muslims under the power of unjust rulers.2
Confirming the validity of this tradition, Shaykh al-Kulayni, in al-Kafi, has reported that Abu-’Amr al-Zuhri, once, asked Imam al-Sadiq (‘a), “Is inviting to the religion of Allah and fighting in His way permissible to certain individuals in the situation that no one else is permitted to undertake these missions or are they allowable to every one who believes in Almighty Allah as the One and Only God and in Muhammad (S) as His Messenger?”
The Imam (‘a) answered: To undertake these missions is not allowed except for certain people and none should do this job except one from their circle.
“Who are these people?” al-Zuhri asked.
The Imam (‘a) answered: They are those who meet the qualifications that Almighty Allah has specified for fighting and struggling against the enemies. Only those are permitted to invite others to the religion of Allah. Thus, those who cannot meet these qualifications of fighting against the enemies are not permitted to practice jihad and promulgate the religion of Allah until they find themselves capable of meeting the qualifications that Almighty Allah has specified for jihad.3
About the condition of inviting to Islam before waging war against the enemies, Shaykh al-Kulayni has reported, in al-Kafi, that Imam al-Sadiq (‘a) quoted Imam ‘Ali (‘a) as saying: Before the Messenger of Allah (S) sent me to Yemen, he said to me: Do not fight anyone before inviting him to Islam. By Allah, if He guides a single man (to the true faith) at your hands, this will be better for you than possessing whatever is under the sunlight. The loyalty of that man will be yours, O ‘Ali.4
Many verses of the Holy Qur'an indicate that it is obligatory to invite everybody to the way of Allah by means of wisdom and excellent preaching (16:125), while others instruct emphatically on steadfastness in conveying the divine mission. Likewise, the tradition of the Holy Prophet (S) reveals that Muslims did not fight against any of their enemies before all other peaceful means had been used. Thus, when Muslims maintained all conclusive arguments against their enemies and nothing prevented these enemies from accepting Islam except psychological obstacles, Muslims would start fighting them to break such obstacles that represented infidelity and deliberate rejection of the truth.
We thus can understand the condition of obtaining the just ruler’s authorization for waging war against the enemies because identifying the proper conditions as precisely as is required entails thorough experience, cognizance, and acquaintance with social conditions, in addition to a high level of piety and perfect justice.
Many laws pertaining to jihad have been enacted in the religious code of Islamic law. These laws discuss aspects such as the following:
The means of killing, such as by poison or burning
Killing techniques
Those for whom jihad is obligatory including men who are not feeble and women under certain circumstances.
Spoils of war, and the ways of distributing them and paying their one-fifth tax
Ways of dealing with the prisoners of war and the conditions under which these prisoners are taken as slaves, given unconditional freedom, released upon payment of ransom (when they are routed), or killed (before they are routed).
Circumstances and conditions of granting the enemy immunity
Differentiation between polytheists, the People of the Book, and invaders.
Fleeing the battlefield
More details are available in books on Muslim jurisprudence and practical laws of Islam.
In addition to these laws, jihad has special manners to be followed including etiquettes of attacking the enemy, etiquettes of private fights (between two people), and the methods of dealing with prisoners of war.
In this respect, Malik ibn A’yun has reported the following: Imam ‘Ali (‘a), rousing the people to fight in Siffin, said: Verily, Allah, the Almighty and Majestic, has shown you a trade by which He will grant you an escape from dreadful punishment and bring you great good. It is faith in Allah and striving on His path. He has made their reward for it forgiveness of sins and blessed dwellings in gardens of Eden. He, the Almighty and Majestic, said, “Surely, Allah loves those who fight on His path in ranks like a tightly-packed building.” Arrange your ranks, thus, like a tightly-packed building. Bring forward the man clad in armor and keep back the unarmored. Bite hard on the teeth, for this makes swords stronger on the head. Twist the edges of spears, for this makes the stabs of spearheads more piercing.
Lower your glances, for this increases confidence and raises the spirit. Deaden your voices, for this dismisses feelings of failure and detains despair. As for your standard, do not allow it to incline (towards the ground) and do not desert it. Only put it in the hands of the brave among you. Those who defend honor and are steadfast in their revelation of truth are the defenders who are right in their opinions. Do not mutilate any killed person. When you advance for the spoils of the (other) party, do not tear any veil, do not break into any house to seize their property, take only things that you find in their camps. Do not incite a woman by any harmful means even if they verbally attack your chastity and revile your commanders and the righteous amongst you because women are of deficient power, souls, and minds.
We were ordered to eschew them while they were polytheists. Whenever a man has harmed a woman, he as well as his descendants have been imputed to dishonor because of it. Be it known to you all, only the sagacious defenders among you will honor and protect your standards. They should thus surround them from behind, front, and all sides. They should never fail to keep them raised. They should not hold them behind them, so that they are easily surrendered, nor leave them behind, lest they remain unprotected.
May Allah have mercy on any man of you who comforts his brother with his own life and does not flee, leaving his opponent with his brother so that his own opponent and his brother's opponent gather against his brother. For, by that, he will acquire blame and inferiority will come upon him. How should he avoid it if he fights the two when he refrains from supporting his brother and gives him up to the opponent, fleeing and looking at him?
Whoever does so will be loathed by Allah. Therefore, do not expose yourselves to the loathing of Allah, for you will eventually pass by Him. Allah, the Almighty and Majestic, has said, “Say: Flight will never benefit you. If you flee from death or being killed, then you will only enjoy it a little.” I swear by Allah that if you flee from the swords of this world, you will not be safe from the sword of the next world. Therefore, seek help in steadfastness and honesty, for victory comes only after showing steadfastness. So, strive hard in the way of Allah such a striving as is due to Him. There is no power save with Allah.5
1. - Al-Hurr al-`Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi`ah 11:16, H. 1.
2. - Al-Hurr al-`Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi`ah 11:16, H. 3.
3. - Al-Hurr al-`Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi`ah 11:23, H. 23.
4. - Al-Hurr al-`Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi`ah 11:30, H. 1.
5. - Al-Hurr al-`Amili, Wasa’il al-Shi`ah 11:71, H. 3.

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