Recently we had a lecture series on Islam. The speaker for these talks was brother Riaz Ansary from Middle East (originally from US). During our discussion on “Fitna” verse, I explained that this particular verse is only restricted to the Kuffaars of that time Arab. I also referred him some of your answers on the topic of Jihad. After having read those articles he made some comments on one of your answers.1
His response is copied below:
Assalamoalaikum, Brother Zulfiqar.
Sorry to be late in responding. I had a bit of trouble getting access to the site in question, but I did finally get into it and read all the articles you sent me with great interest. I found most of it reasonable, with the exception of the first article, in which the writer responded to a question about offensive jihad. He stated that that was only lawful for the Sahaabah, because they were embodiments of justice, while the Muslims after them fell far short of that ideal. This position is in opposition to the ijmaa’ of the salaf. I delayed responding because I wanted to run that particular issue past a scholar. I asked Shaykh Shihaabullaah, a salafee scholar, from India about it, and he also pointed out the error of that position.
You may wish to explain your say.
May Allah help all of us to understand the true teachings of Islam.
In my cited response, I had presented the basis of my opinion from the Qur’an. I wrote:
The Qur’an tells us that just as the Prophet (pbuh), in his individual capacity – like all other messengers of God – was the ultimate witness of God’s truth on his addressees, in the same manner, the collectivity of the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) shall be a witness of the truth on the rest of mankind. This position of being an ultimate witness of God’s truth on mankind and thereby removing all excuse of rejection of God’s message was bestowed upon the collectivity of the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) by God Himself (Al-Baqarah 2: 143, Al-Hajj 22: 78). Thus, just like the rejecters of God’s messengers, who are punished by death (in case of their adherence to polytheism) or by political subservience of the believers (depending on the political condition of the believers), those who avoided accepting Islam and persisted in their rejection, even after the manifestation (Shahadah) of God’s truth by the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) lost their right of political independence and autonomy.
It was this special (and exceptional) position of the companions of the Prophet (pbuh), not shared by their succeeding generations, which gave them the authority of the Jihad that you have mentioned in your question. After the companions of the Prophet (pbuh), no other generation has the right to shed blood in the name of Da`wah or the spread of Islam.
If you would look closely at the above response, you shall see that I have based my opinion on the two cited verses (Al-Baqarah 2: 143, Al-Hajj 22: 78) of the Qur’an.
I am surprised why Mr. Ansary and Shaykh Shihabullah have refrained from commenting on the basis of my opinion. Nevertheless, as the scholars have not commented on the basis of my opinion in the Qur’an, I really do not intend to add anything in response to Mr. Ansary’s comments.
My dear brother, we must not forget that Qitaal (or Jihad) invariably results in the loss of lives and property. Taking a human life or even giving life is not a trivial matter. If any of our decision entails even the possibility of taking a human life (as would obviously be the case in declaring war), especially in the name of Islam, we must at least have a clear permission of our Lord to take life for the particular purpose for which we are declaring that war. Without such clear permission, it is quite possible that our decision may not be correct and, if that is indeed the case, we are held responsible for all the loss of life and property that occurs consequent to our decision. We must keep in mind that, according to the Qur’an, taking even one life for a cause not authorized by God shall follow the same consequence as that of killing the whole of mankind. The Qur’an has clearly declared:
Whoever killed even a single soul – not being a punishment of murder neither that of spreading unrest in the land – is as if he killed the whole of mankind. (Al-Maaidah 5: 32)
I am sure that you would agree with me that in view of the grave consequences of taking a human life, as have been mentioned in the cited verse, we should be overly careful in finding out whether or not we have been allowed by an express directive of the Almighty to take life for the particular cause for which we are planning or even contemplating to declare a war.
In view of this fact, I believe that it is the responsibility of all those who are of the opinion that a Muslim state can declare a war for any given purpose should establish that whatever lives are lost and taken in the process, can either be categorized as:
The punishment of murder; or
The punishment of spreading unrest in the land.
Or they have been given the express permission of God, as was the case with the wars fought by the Prophet (pbuh) and, later on, by his companions (ra).
25th May 2000