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Jihad Renegotiated


By Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi

President — The International Union for Muslim Scholars

Jihad has created, and is still creating, a problem between Muslims and non-Muslims. Islam is a religion that calls for monotheism. Besides, Islam does not resort to compulsion in calling people to it; rather it resorts to convincing them. This becomes evident from the Glorious Qur’an and from the means the Prophet’s Companions followed in calling people to Islam. The Caliphs who came after the Companions applied the same method. Nevertheless, during the Islamic history, Jihad, in some occasions, was misunderstood and so wrongly applied.

Jihad does not only mean to fight against the enemy. According to the Qur’an, Jihad is to be implemented in many life aspects and on many levels. However, from among what Jihad urges to, fighting is the only action Muslims apply. Therefore, fighting has been correlated with Jihad, an issue that disturbed and alarmed non-Muslims, to the extent that they themselves made use of this misconception in the war they waged to distort the image of Islam. Moreover, they accused Islam of being a religion that incites people to kill. But the Qur’an and the Prophetic Tradition prove how unfair such false accusations are.

While discussing the term “Jihad” in our present time, many problems emerge, most important of them is the kind of relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims. In addition, the wrong understanding of Jihad by some Muslims caused them to wrongly apply it, the matter which further helps distort Islam. Hence, Islam which is subjected to several attacks is claimed to be the religion that represses people’s freedom and spreads corruption in earth. What led to this current problem is the wrong understanding of the Qur’anic verses. A good example related to this is the (mis-)use of verse about the sword which is taken away from the context is cited as evidence against Islam (also, without considering the reasons of revelation or the incident the verse was commenting on). Thus the meaning of that Qur’anic verse is generalized though it is revealed for certain cases (2:191).

Some of those who attack Islam took the Prophet’s expeditions as evidence to prove that Islam urges terrorizing civilians. Besides, they claimed that Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) resorted to violence with whoever opposed him, specially the Persians and Romans. But those who falsely accuse Islam disregard the fact that the Romans and the Persians came to the Arab peninsula aiming at occupying it and fighting Islam. So the battles the Prophet waged against them were merely to fight back the occupiers and to propagate the teachings of Islam, not to force people to embrace it.

His Eminence, Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, was one of the most prominent Muslim scholars and jurists who studied and renegotiated Jihad, its reality and implications and gave profound understanding of it, which makes him an authority concerning the matter at hand. The following are some of the points he triggered in addressing Islamic Jihad. Here are some excerpts (rather chapters) from his forthcoming book in Arabic Mafaheem Jihadia (Concepts of Jihad). We translated them for the benefit of our readers.



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