Qur'an, Hadith and Scholars:Offensive Jihad

From WikiIslam, the online resource on Islam
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Under construction icon-yellow.svg

This article or section is being renovated.

Lead = 4 / 4
Structure = 2 / 4
Content = 2 / 4
Language = 2 / 4
References = 2 / 4
4 / 4
2 / 4
2 / 4
2 / 4
2 / 4

The Islamic Tradition Itself
Qur'an, Hadith and Sunnah
Textual History of the Qur'an
Satanic VersesPrevious Scriptures
Abu Hurayrah
BootySpecial Entitlements
WivesWhite ComplexionDeath
Good Manners and Helping Others
Good Manners (Adab)Caring for Orphans‎
Caring for the PoorCaring for Widows
Caring for ParentsForgiving Others
HospitalityZakat and Sadaqah
Al-'AzlBeautyFGMHijabHonor Killing
MahrRapeViolenceWife Beating
Peaceful CoexistenceDefensive Jihad
Offensive JihadMiscellaneous Verses
MujahidsForced Conversion
Fear and Terror in WarScholars on Jihad
ApostatesAtheistsChristians & Jews
Banu QurayzaCosmologyCreation
DhimmaForbidden ThingsHomosexuality
MischiefMusicChild MarriagePictures
PredestinationPunishmentsRace and Tribe
Toilet EtiquetteUrineSexualityOccult
Peculiar Traditions

Offensive jihad, known in Arabic as جهاد الطلب "jihad at-talab" ("the jihad of request", referring to the invitation to Islam which must be sent to the opposing infidels before hostilities may commence), is understood in the classical sources as an offensive struggle against Dar Al-Harb (the House of War or the realm of the infidels), is a duty incumbent upon Muslims and the Ummah, and as such is to be carried out in a variety of ways. Outright war and fighting is permitted, and as the prophet himself said (in agreement with many great generals and military leaders throughout history such as Sun Tzu and von Clausewitz) "war is deceit" and as such breaking treaties, oaths, and promises is permittable as a part of Jihad on the path of Allah, and likewise all other forms of misdirection as a part of jihad. Muslim scholars generally agree that the the duty of Jihad is eternal until "the religion is to Allah" yet significant differences exist between scholars about whether Jihad may be validly conducted when the presence of a caliph and commander of the faithful is lacking. This difference constitutes a major point of contention between salafi-jihadis and conservative but quietist salafi factions, with the jihadis believing that a caliph is not a necessary pre-requisite for jihad. Modernist Islamic scholars argue that the traditional interpretations are mistaken, overextend the doctrine of abrogation and were a result of the need to legitimise the emerging empire and Caliphates. They argue that the Quran does not itself sanction expansionist warfare nor reveals an evolution in the extent of its permission to fight, contrary to traditional interpretation. Although differences exist in the modern understanding of when and where jihad may be conducted, the classical sources are generally in agreement that "jihad fi sabil allah" "Jihad-warfare on the path of god" against the unbelievers is a duty incumbent upon all able-bodied Muslim men when Muslim lands are threatened, or a duty that must be fulfilled by a group from among them for expansionary purposes.

Jihad in the Qur'an and Sunnah


Known by some scholars as the "sword verse" in Surah at-Tawbah of the Qur'an, verse 9:29 has been interpreted by many Islamic scholars throughout history as a never-ending call for jihad against the Dar-al-Harb, abrogating a large number of earlier verses. This was not a universal view, however, and is also contested by Islamic modernist scholars today, who argue that the Quran does not sanction expansionist warfare but rather emphasises defensive fighting against aggression and religious persecution, with the expansionist-abrogationist view being linked to the early imperial-political situation (see discussion in the main article).

Verse 9:29

Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

Here is Quran 9:29 in context, this verse is commonly known as the verse of the sword and relates to Jews and Christians.

Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah. That is their saying with their mouths. They imitate the saying of those who disbelieved of old. Allah (Himself) fighteth against them. How perverse are they!

They have taken as lords beside Allah their rabbis and their monks and the Messiah son of Mary, when they were bidden to worship only One Allah. There is no Allah save Him. Be He Glorified from all that they ascribe as partner (unto Him)!

Fain would they put out the light of Allah with their mouths, but Allah disdaineth (aught) save that He shall perfect His light, however much the disbelievers are averse.

He it is Who hath sent His messenger with the guidance and the Religion of Truth, that He may cause it to prevail over all religion, however much the idolaters may be averse.

O ye who believe! Lo! many of the (Jewish) rabbis and the (Christian) monks devour the wealth of mankind wantonly and debar (men) from the way of Allah. They who hoard up gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah, unto them give tidings (O Muhammad) of a painful doom,

On the day when it will (all) be heated in the fire of hell, and their foreheads and their flanks and their backs will be branded therewith (and it will be said unto them): Here is that which ye hoarded for yourselves. Now taste of what ye used to hoard.

The classical commentator Ibn Kathir, who was of the aggressive abrogationist view, gave the following explanation of this verse.

(Fight against those who believe not in Allah, nor in the Last Day, nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth among the People of the Scripture,) This honorable Ayah was revealed with the order to fight the People of the Book, after the pagans were defeated, the people entered Allah's religion in large numbers, and the Arabian Peninsula was secured under the Muslims' control. Allah commanded His Messenger to fight the People of the Scriptures, Jews and Christians, on the ninth year of Hijrah, and he prepared his army to fight the Romans and called the people to Jihad announcing his intent and destination. The Messenger sent his intent to various Arab areas around Al-Madinah to gather forces, and he collected an army of thirty thousand. Some people from Al-Madinah and some hypocrites, in and around it, lagged behind, for that year was a year of drought and intense heat. The Messenger of Allah marched, heading towards Ash-Sham to fight the Romans until he reached Tabuk, where he set camp for about twenty days next to its water resources. He then prayed to Allah for a decision and went back to Al-Madinah because it was a hard year and the people were weak, as we will mention, Allah willing.

Quran 9:111

The following verse defines fighting in the cause of Allah as killing and being killed.

Indeed, Allāh has purchased from the believers their lives and their properties [in exchange] for that they will have Paradise. They fight in the cause of Allāh, so they kill and are killed. [It is] a true promise [binding] upon Him in the Torah and the Gospel and the Qur’ān. And who is truer to his covenant than Allāh? So rejoice in your transaction which you have contracted. And it is that which is the great attainment.

Quran 9:5

Quran 9:5 is another verse known as the verse of the sword (like 9:29 discussed above) and considered by many classical scholars to abrogate earlier defensive verses.

And when the inviolable months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakāh, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allāh is Forgiving and Merciful.

In context, the passage relates to treaty breakers among the mushrikeen.

Freedom from obligation (is proclaimed) from Allah and His messenger toward those of the idolaters with whom ye made a treaty.

Travel freely in the land four months, and know that ye cannot escape Allah and that Allah will confound the disbelievers (in His Guidance).

And an announcement from Allah and His Messenger, to the people (assembled) on the day of the Great Pilgrimage,- that Allah and His Messenger dissolve (treaty) obligations with the Pagans. If then, ye repent, it were best for you; but if ye turn away, know ye that ye cannot frustrate Allah. And proclaim a grievous penalty to those who reject Faith.

Excepting those of the idolaters with whom ye (Muslims) have a treaty, and who have since abated nothing of your right nor have supported anyone against you. (As for these), fulfil their treaty to them till their term. Lo! Allah loveth those who keep their duty (unto Him).

Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.

And if anyone of the idolaters seeketh thy protection (O Muhammad), then protect him so that he may hear the Word of Allah, and afterward convey him to his place of safety. That is because they are a folk who know not.

How can there be a treaty with Allah and with His messenger for the idolaters save those with whom ye made a treaty at the Inviolable Place of Worship? So long as they are true to you, be true to them. Lo! Allah loveth those who keep their duty.

How (can there be any treaty for the others) when, if they have the upper hand of you, they regard not pact nor honour in respect of you? They satisfy you with their mouths the while their hearts refuse. And most of them are wrongdoers.

Quran 9:123

Another verse in the same surah is the following:

O you who have believed, fight against those adjacent to you of the disbelievers and let them find in you harshness. And know that Allah is with the righteous.

Verse 8:39

Quran 8:39 can also be interpreted as calling for offensive jihad.

And fight against them until there is no fitnah and [until] the religion [i.e., worship], all of it, is for Allāh. And if they cease - then indeed, Allāh is Seeing of what they do.

Ibn Kathir explains this verse as follows:

Allah then commanded fighting the disbelievers when He said:

(...until there is no more Fitnah) meaning, Shirk. This is the opinion of Ibn `Abbas, Abu Al-`Aliyah, Mujahid, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, Ar-Rabi`, Muqatil bin Hayyan, As-Suddi and Zayd bin Aslam.

Allah's statement:

(...and the religion (all and every kind of worship) is for Allah (Alone).) means, `So that the religion of Allah becomes dominant above all other religions.' It is reported in the Two Sahihs that Abu Musa Al-Ash`ari said: "The Prophet was asked, `O Allah's Messenger! A man fights out of bravery, and another fights to show off, which of them fights in the cause of Allah' The Prophet said:

(He who fights so that Allah's Word is superior, then he fights in Allah's cause.) In addition, it is reported in the Two Sahihs:

(I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight the people until they proclaim, `None has the right to be worshipped but Allah'. Whoever said it, then he will save his life and property from me, except for cases of the law, and their account will be with Allah.)

Verse 2:193

Then there is Quran 2:193.

Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] worship is [acknowledged to be] for Allah. But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors.

Another prominent classical commentary, tafsir al-Jalalayn, states the following regarding this verse:

Fight them till there is no sedition, no idolatry, and the religion, all worship, is for God, alone and none are worshipped apart from Him; then if they desist, from idolatry, do not aggress against them. This is indicated by the following words, there shall be no enmity, no aggression through slaying or otherwise, save against evildoers. Those that desist, however, are not evildoers and should not be shown any enmity.


Narrated Anas bin Malik:

Allah's Apostle said, "I have been ordered to fight the people till they say: 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah.' And if they say so, pray like our prayers, face our Qibla and slaughter as we slaughter, then their blood and property will be sacred to us and we will not interfere with them except legally and their reckoning will be with Allah." Narrated Maimun ibn Siyah that he asked Anas bin Malik,

"O Abu Hamza! What makes the life and property of a person sacred?" He replied, "Whoever says, 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah', faces our Qibla during the prayers, prays like us and eats our slaughtered animal, then he is a Muslim, and has got the same rights and obligations as other Muslims have."
On the day of Al-Ahzab (i.e. clans) the Prophet said, (After this battle) we will go to attack them (i.e. the infidels) and they will not come to attack us."

It has been reported from Sulaiman b. Buraida through his father that when the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) appointed anyone as leader of an army or detachment he would especially exhort him to fear Allah and to be good to the Muslims who were with him. He would say:

Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war, do not embezzle the spoils; do not break your pledge; and do not mutilate (the dead) bodies; do not kill the children. When you meet your enemies who are polytheists, invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withhold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them. Then invite them to migrate from their lands to the land of the Muhajireen and inform them that, if they do so, they shall have all the privileges and obligations of the Muhajireen. If they refuse to migrate, tell them that they will have the status of Bedouin Muslims and will be subjected to the Commands of Allah like other Muslims, but they will not get any share from the spoils of war or Fai' except when they actually fight with the Muslims (against the disbelievers). If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah's help and fight them. When you lay siege to a fort and the besieged appeal to you for protection in the name of Allah and His Prophet, do not accord to them the guarantee of Allah and His Prophet, but accord to them your own guarantee and the guarantee of your companions for it is a lesser sin that the security given by you or your companions be disregarded than that the security granted in the name of Allah and His Prophet be violated. When you besiege a fort and the besieged want you to let them out in accordance with Allah's Command, do not let them come out in accordance with His Command, but do so at your (own) command, for you do not know whether or not you will be able to carry out Allah's behest with regard to them.
Abu Hurairah reported the Prophet (ﷺ) as saying “He who dies without having fought or having felt fighting (against the infidels) to be his duty will die guilty of a kind of hypocrisy.”

It has been narrated on the authority of Jabir b. 'Abdullah who said:

I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say: A group of people from my Umma will continue to fight In defence of truth and remain triumphant until the Day of judgment.

Not Aggressing in Jihad


Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loveth not transgressors.


This is among the peaceful/defensive verses that have been abrogated by verses from chapter nine according to classical scholars of the abrogationist view such as the commentators of Tafsir al-Jalalayn, as discussed above.

this stipulation was abrogated by the verse of barā’a, ‘immunity’ [Q. 9:1], or by His saying [below]:

Peace Treaties


And if they incline to peace, then incline to it [also] and rely upon Allah. Indeed, it is He who is the Hearing, the Knowing.
Indeed, those who have believed and emigrated and fought with their wealth and lives in the cause of Allah and those who gave shelter and aided - they are allies of one another. But those who believed and did not emigrate - for you there is no guardianship of them until they emigrate. And if they seek help of you for the religion, then you must help, except against a people between yourselves and whom is a treaty. And Allah is Seeing of what you do.
If thou fearest treachery from any group, throw back (their covenant) to them, (so as to be) on equal terms: for Allah loveth not the treacherous.


As an ideological leader of the Afghan Jihad against the Soviets, 'Abdallah Yusuf 'Azzam (d. 1989) argued the importance of not relinquishing the right to Muslim lands as part of a peace treaty:

The scholars of Fiqh are divided as to whether or not it is permitted to make peace treaties with the Kuffar. Among them are some who permit it based on the pact of Hudaybia. Others permit it if the Muslims are extremely weak. Others still, say that we are no longer permitted to make peace treaties with the Kuffar because they say that all pacts with the Kuffar are cancelled by the Verse of the Sword. We say, it is permitted to make peace treaties, if in the treaty there is good for the Muslims, but under the condition that there is no clause within the treaty that nullifies or corrupts it.

Such as:

1) It is not permitted to include a condition in the treaty that relinquishes even a hand span of Muslim land to the Kuffar. Because, the land of Islam belongs to no one, therefore none can make negotiations over it. Such a condition nullifies the treaty because the land belongs to Allah and to Islam. It is not permitted for anyone to misuse anything in a domain not his own. Or to barter the Son of Adam that does not belong to him. With reference to the Russians, it is not permitted to negotiate with them until they retreat from every hand span of Afghani territory .With the Jews in Palestine, likewise.
Abdallah Yusuf 'Azzam (1979) Defence of the Muslim Land, Chapter 4

In contrast, the 1979 Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty represented official Egyptian recognition of Israel and was endorsed by al-Azhar. Precedent for treaties in which Muslims accept unfavourable terms for the sake of a longer term benefit is often cited in the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah between Muhammad's Medinan state and the Quraysh in 628 CE, which affirmed a ten-year peace and granted Muhammad and the believers a pilgrimage to Mecca the following year, in 629 CE.

The Shafi'i jurist al-Nawawi stated in his commentary on Sahih Muslim:

In this [Treaty of Hudaibiyya] there is evidence for the permissibility of making treaties with non-Muslims if there is an interest or benefit (maslaha) in doing so. There is a consensus on this (majma‘‘alayhi) when there is a need (haja) [...] In our opinion, this should not exceed ten years, but there is a sound view (qawl) that it is allowed without a time restriction. And Malik said there is no limit at all and it is allowed for a short time or protracted period according to the opinion of the ruler.
al-Nawawi, al minhaj bin sharh sahih muslim, vol. 6, part 12, p. 355

One of the most influential modern jurists, Yusuf al-Qaradawi (d. 2022) stated in his book, fiqh al-Jihad, that the United Nations is a treaty that renders the world an abode of peace, and peace as the basic norm is established. The exception was Israel, which he argued is still part of Dar al-Harb (the abode of war), disagreeing with leading al-Azhar scholars Muhammad Abu Zahrah (d. 1979) and Jad al-Haqq ‘Ali Jad al-Haqq (d. 1996) who justified the 1979 Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty. Similarly, the Saudi Salafist Sheikh ‘Abd al- ‘Aziz bin Baz (d. 1999) disagreed to some extent with al-Qaradawi regarding Israel, citing Quran 8:61 and Quran 8:72 quoted above to argue that the Quran approves of treaties when faced with oppression.[1]

Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 1328) said regarding peace with disbelievers:

The Prophet’s biography shows that he did not fight whoever made peace with him among the unbelievers; and the books of biography, prophetic traditions, exegesis, jurisprudence, and history are full of such acts and this is widely narrated in his biography. Thus, the Prophet did not initiate fighting with anyone, and had Allah commanded him to fight every disbeliever, then he would have initiated fighting with them.
Ibn Taymiyya, ‘qa’ida fı qital al-kuffar’, from majmu’at rasail, (Cairo: Sunni Mohammadi, 1949), p. 125

Live in Peace with the Disbelievers for a Time

Lo! this (Qur'an) is a conclusive word,
It is no pleasantry.
Lo! they plot a plot (against thee, O Muhammad)
And I plot a plot (against them).
So give a respite to the disbelievers. Deal thou gently with them for a while.
Qur'an 86:13-17

Fighting When Outnumbered

O Prophet! Exhort the believers to fight. If there be of you twenty steadfast they shall overcome two hundred, and if there be of you a hundred (steadfast) they shall overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve, because they (the disbelievers) are a folk without intelligence.

Now hath Allah lightened your burden, for He knoweth that there is weakness in you. So if there be of you a steadfast hundred they shall overcome two hundred, and if there be of you a thousand (steadfast) they shall overcome two thousand by permission of Allah. Allah is with the steadfast.

It is not for any prophet to have captives until he hath made slaughter in the land. Ye desire the lure of this world and Allah desireth (for you) the Hereafter, and Allah is Mighty, Wise.

Deceit in War from the Life of Muhammad

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle called,: "War is deceit".
Narrated Jabir: The Prophet said, "Who is ready to kill Ka'b bin Ashraf (i.e. a Jew)." Muhammad bin Maslama replied, "Do you like me to kill him?" The Prophet replied in the affirmative. Muhammad bin Maslama said, "Then allow me to say what I like." The Prophet replied, "I do (i.e. allow you)."
Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah: Allah's Apostle said, "Who is willing to kill Ka'b bin Al-Ashraf who has hurt Allah and His Apostle?" Thereupon Muhammad bin Maslama got up saying, "O Allah's Apostle! Would you like that I kill him?" The Prophet said, "Yes," Muhammad bin Maslama said, "Then allow me to say a (false) thing (i.e. to deceive Kab). "The Prophet said, "You may say it." Then Muhammad bin Maslama went to Kab and said, "That man (i.e. Muhammad demands Sadaqa (i.e. Zakat) from us, and he has troubled us, and I have come to borrow something from you." On that, Kab said, "By Allah, you will get tired of him!"...
Then he composed amatory verses of an insulting nature about the Muslim women. The apostle said--according to what 'Abdullah b. al-Mughith b. Abu Burda told me--'Who will rid me of Ibnu'I-Ashraf?' Muhammad b. Maslama, brother of the B. 'Abdu'l-Ashhal, said, 'I will deal with him for you, O apostle of God, I will kill him.' He said, 'Do so if you can: So Muhammad b. Maslama returned and waited for three days without food or drink, apart from what was absolutely necessary. When the apostle was told of this he summoned him and asked him why he had given up eating and drinking. He replied that he had given him an undertaking and he did not know whether he could fulfil it. The apostle said, 'All that is incumbent upon you is that you should try: He said, 'O apostle of God, we shall have to tell lies.' He answered, 'Say what you like, for you are free in the matter.'
Ibn Ishaq (d. 768); Ibn Hisham (d. 833), A. Guillaume, ed, The Life of Muhammad [Sirat Rasul Allah], Oxford UP, p. 365, ISBN 0-19-636033-1, 1955, https://archive.org/details/GuillaumeATheLifeOfMuhammad/page/n1/mode/2up 
ابن إسحاق; ابن هشام, سيرة ابن هشام ت السقا, vol. 2, al-Maktabah al-Shamilah, pp. 54-55, https://app.turath.io/book/23833 
See Also Al-Tabari, Vol. 7, p. 94
The Affair of Al-Hajjaj b. 'Ilat al-Sulami:
When Khaybar had been conquered al-Hajjaj b. 'Ilat al-Sulami of the clan al-Bahz said to the apostle, 'I have money with my wife Umm Shayba d. Abu Talha--when they had lived together he had a son called Mu'rid by her--and money scattered among the Meccan merchants, so give me permission to go and get it.' Having got his permission he said, 'I must tell lies, O apostle.' He said, 'Tell them.'
Ibn Ishaq (d. 768); Ibn Hisham (d. 833), A. Guillaume, ed, The Life of Muhammad [Sirat Rasul Allah], Oxford UP, p. 519, ISBN 0-19-636033-1, 1955, https://archive.org/details/GuillaumeATheLifeOfMuhammad/page/n1/mode/2up 
ابن إسحاق; ابن هشام, سيرة ابن هشام ت السقا, vol. 2, al-Maktabah al-Shamilah, p. 345, https://app.turath.io/book/23833 

Women and Children

Muhammad disapproved of the killing of women and children during expeditions (also Sahih Muslim 19:4319).

During some of the Ghazawat of the Prophet (ﷺ) a woman was found killed. Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) disapproved the killing of women and children.

Although when asked, he excused the probable exposure of women and children to danger during an attack.

Narrated As-Sab bin Jaththama: The Prophet passed by me at a place called Al-Abwa or Waddan, and was asked whether it was permissible to attack the pagan warriors at night with the probability of exposing their women and children to danger. The Prophet replied, "They (i.e. women and children) are from them (i.e. pagans)." I also heard the Prophet saying, "The institution of Hima is invalid except for Allah and His Apostle."

A more specific hadith quotes the same narrator stating that this involved women and children who were trampled over with horses during the attack:

Narrated Ibn 'Abbas:

"I was informed by As-Sa'b bin Jaththamah who said: " I said: "O Messenger of Allah our horses trampled over women and children of the idolaters." He said: "They are from their fathers.'"

[Abu 'Eisa said:] This Hadith is Hasan Sahih.


Imam Al-Suyuti (c. 1445-1505 AD) was a famous Egyptian writer, religious scholar, juristic expert and teacher.

Fight those who don't believe in God nor in the Last Day [Unless they believe in the Prophet God bless him and grant him peace] nor hold what is forbidden that which God and His emissary have forbidden [e.g., wine] nor embrace the true faith [which is firm, and abrogates other faiths, i.e., the Islamic religion] from among [for distinguishing] those who were given the Book [i.e., the Jews and Christians] unless they give the head-tax [i.e., the annual taxes imposed on them] (/'an yadin/) humbly submissive, and obedient to Islam's rule.[2]
Suyuti, Durr al-Manthur(Beirut Edition), vol. 3, p. 228

Al Azhar University Scholar, Dr. M. Sa’id Ramadan Al-Buti:

"The theory that our religion is a peaceful and loving religion is a wrong theory...The Holy war as it is known in Islam is basically an offensive war, and it is the duty of all Muslims of every age, when the needed military power is available, because our prophet Muhammad said that he is ordered by Allah to fight all people until they say ‘No God but Allah,’ and he is his messenger...It is meaningless to talk about the holy war as only defensive, otherwise, what did the prophet mean when he said, "from now on even if they don’t invade you, you must invade them.""
Dr. M. Sa’id Ramadan Al-Buti - "Jurisprudence of Muhammad’s Biography", Pg. 135

Leader of the Afghan Jihad, Abdullah Yusuf Azzam

"Jihad Against the Kuffar is of two Types: Offensive Jihad (where the enemy is attacked in his own territory) ... [and] Defensive Jihad. This is expelling the Kuffar from our land, and it is Fard Ayn [personal religious obligation on Muslim individuals], a compulsory duty upon all ... ...Where the Kuffar [infidels] are not gathering to fight the Muslims, the fighting becomes Fard Kifaya [religious obligation on Muslim society] with the minimum requirement of appointing believers to guard borders, and the sending of an army at least once a year to terrorise the enemies of Allah. It is a duty of the Imam (Caliph) to assemble and send out an army unit into the land of war once or twice every year. Moreover, it is the responsibility of the Muslim population to assist him, and if he does not send an army he is in sin.- And the Ulama have mentioned that this type of jihad is for maintaining the payment of Jizya. The scholars of the principles of religion have also said: " Jihad is Daw'ah [Islamic preaching] with a force, and is obligatory to perform with all available capabilities, until there remains only Muslims or people who submit to Islam."[3]

Ibn Taymiyyah (1263 - 1328) was one of the most famous Islamic scholars and theologians to ever live. As a member of the school founded by Ibn Hanbal, he sought the return of Islam to its sources, the Qur'an and the Sunnah.

The penalties that the Sharia has introduced for those who disobey God and his Messengers of two kinds: the punishment of those who are under the sway [of an imam], both individuals and collectivities, as has been mentioned before [in the chapter on criminal law], and, secondly, the punishment of recalcitrant groups, such as those that can only be brought under the sway of the Imam by a decisive fight. That then is the jihad against the unbelievers (kuffar), the enemies of God and His Messenger. For whoever has heard the summons of the Messenger of God, Peace be upon him, and has not responded to it must be fought, "until there is no Fitna and the religion of God's entirely" (K. 2:193, 8:39).[4]
Ibn Taymiyyah, ‘Governance According to Allaah’s Law in Reforming the Ruler and his Flock’
"Since lawful warfare is essentially Jihad and since its aim is that religion is entirely for Allah and the word of Allah is uppermost, therefore, according to all Muslims, those who stand in the way of this aim must be fought.[5]
Ibn Taymiyyah, ‘Governance According to Allaah’s Law in Reforming the Ruler and his Flock’

Ahmad Sirhindi (d. 1624) was an Islamic scholar and a prominent Sufi. He is regarded as having rejuvenated Islam, due to which he is commonly called "Mujadid Alf Thani", meaning "reviver of the second millennium".

Shariat can be fostered through the sword.

Kufr and Islam are opposed to each other. The progress of one is possible only at the expense of the other and co-existences between these two contradictory faiths in unthinkable.

The honor of Islam lies in insulting kufr and kafirs. One who respects kafirs, dishonors the Muslims. To respect them does not merely mean honouring them and assigning them a seat of honor in any assembly, but it also implies keeping company with them or showing considerations to them. They should be kept at an arm's length like dogs. ... If some worldly business cannot be performed without them, in that case only a minimum of contact should be established with them but without taking them into confidence. The highest Islamic sentiment asserts that it is better to forego that worldly business and that no relationship should be established with the kafirs.

The real purpose in levying jizya on them is to humiliate them to such an extent that, on account of fear of jizya, they may not be able to dress well and to live in grandeur. They should constantly remain terrified and trembling. It is intended to hold them under contempt and to uphold the honor and might of Islam.
. . .

Whenever a Jew is killed, it is for the benefit of Islam.[6]
Jihad is a communal obligation (def: c3.2). When enough people perform it to successfully accomplish it, it is no longer obligatory upon others (0: the evidence for which is the Prophet's saying (Allah bless him and give him peace), "He who provides the equipment for a soldier in jihad has himself performed jihad," and Allah Most High having said: "Those of the believers who are unhurt but sit behind are not equal to those who fight in Allah's path with their property and lives. Allah has preferred those who fight with their property and lives a whole degree above those who sit behind. And to each. Allah has promised great good" (Koran 4:95). If none of those concerned perform jihad, and it does not happen at all, then everyone who is aware that it is obligatory is guilty of sin, if there was a possibility of having performed it. In the time of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) jihad was a communal obligation after his emigration (hijra) to Medina. As for subsequent times, there are two possible states in respect to non-Muslims. The first is when they are in their own countries, in which case jihad (def: 09.8) is a communal obligation, and this is what our author is speaking of when he says, "Jihad is a communal obligation," meaning upon the Muslims each year.
Reliance of the Traveler o9.1

For further information, see: Scholars on Jihad


Some of the expeditions which Muhammad and his men reportedly undertook involved sieges against enemy strongholds (such as the siege of Taif, in which catapults were reportedly used), or night raids, either of which put at risk the lives of women and children and not just male combatants as in a pitched battle. According to the hadith, Muhammad allowed the unintentional killing of women and children during nocturnal attacks (night raids) after some were trampled by horses.

It is reported on the authority of Sa'b b. Jaththama that the Prophet of Allah (may peace be upon him), when asked about the women and children of the polytheists being killed during the night raid, said: “They are from them”.

The Saudi scholar, Sheikh Al Shuaybi (d. 2001) said that Muhammad therefore (as is evident) acknowledged that non-combatants could be killed and allowed at least semi-indiscriminate killings.[7] Another notorious cleric with similar views, Omar Bakri Mohammed also referred to this hadith to justify why killing women and children is Islamic.[8]

On the other hand, in another hadith (see the section above on women and children), Muhammad disapproved of deliberately targeting women and children (Sahih Bukhari 4:52:257), and by consensus in Islamic law this is forbidden. Nevertheless, some scholars have come to the conclusion that this was not because they were non-combatants, but because it is better to take them for slavery or exchange them for Muslim prisoners. Muhammad took the Jewish woman and children of Banu Qurayza for slavery according to tradition.

Some [jurists] are of the opinion that all of them may be killed, on the mere ground that they are unbelievers, but they make an exception for women and children since they constitute "property for Muslims".[5]
Ibn Taymiyyah, ‘Governance According to Allaah’s Law in Reforming the Ruler and his Flock’

In some modern contexts even more exteme views can be found among Salafi-Jihadists (though criticised by many other Muslim scholars). The following Q&A with a Lebanese Islamic scholar and Muslim Brotherhood associate is taken from the Arabic section of Islam Online.

"Is it permissible to kill civilians in Israel through martyrdom operations which are carried out by Palestinians in defense of their land?"

The Jews living inside the occupied territory and those who carry Israeli citizenship are all participants in the aggression against us, and it is our right to combat all of them." Adding on "…the Prophet (PBUH) was killed by a Jewish woman from the Bani Qurayzah (a Jewish tribe from Medina). Since she was killed by a Muslim man, it became a rule that it was permissible to kill all the killers among the Jewish women in our country of Palestine, without hesitation."
Jews have killed civilians in the martyrdom operations in Palestine
Sheikh Faisal Mawlawi, Islam Online, January 23, 2002

Islamic law regarding non-combatants

The different schools of jurisprudence agreed that it was forbidden to kill various classes of non-combatants such as women and children, though Shafi'i alone among the major legal school founders was of the opinion that certain other categories of persons could be killed.

The state of agreement and disagreement was summarised in Bidayat al-Mujtahid (which has been translated under the English title The Distinguished Jurist's Primer) by Ibn Rushd (d. 1198 CE; known in Europe as Averroes):

The harm aimed at life is by killing, and there is no disagreement among the Muslim jurists that it is permitted in war to slay the male polythests, who have attained puberty and are waging war. There is, however, disagreement about execution after captivity, as we have already discussed. Similarly, there is no dispute among them that it is not permitted to slay minors or women, as long as they are not waging war. If a woman fights the shedding of her blood becomes permissible. This was established as "the Propet (God's peace and blessings be upon him) prohibited the killing of women and children, and said when he saw a slain woman, 'She was not one who would have engaged in fighting'".

They disagreed about the case of hermits cut off from the world, the blind, the chronically ill, the old who cannot fight, the idiot, and the peasants and serfs. Malik said neither the blind nor idiots nor hermits are to be slain, and enough of their wealth is to be left to them by which they may suvive. Similarly, the old and decrepit are not to be slain, in his view, and this was also the view of Abu Hanifa and his disciples. Al-Thawri and al-Awza'i said that only the old are to be spared. Al-Awza'i added that the peasants are not to be slain either. According to al-Shafi'i's most authentic opinion, all of these categories (of people) are to be put to death. The basis for their disagreement stems from the conflict of the specificity in some traditons with general implication of (some verses of) the Qur'an, and also the generality of the authentic saying of the Prophet (God's peace and blessings be upon him), "I have been commanded to fight mankind until they say, 'There is no God but Allah.'" The words of the Exalted, "Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them", imply the slaynig of every nonbeliever whether or not he is a monk, and so does the saying of the Prophet (God's peace and blessings be upon him), "I have been commanded to fight mankind until they say, 'There is no God but Allah'".
The traditions laid down about the sparing of all these categories include the traditions related by Dawud Ibn al-Husayn from 'Ikrimah from Ibn 'Abbas "that the Prophet (God's peace and blessings be upon him) used to say while sending out his armies, 'Do not kill hermits'". There is also athe tradition related from Anas Ibn Malik from the Prophet (God's peace and blessings be upon him), "Do not slay the old and decrepit nor young children no women, and do not purloin [the booty]". It is recorded by Abu Dawud. There is also among these the traditon related by Malik from Abu Bakr that he said, "You will come acrosss a people who will claim that they have devoted themselves to Allah, so leave them and that to which they have devoted themselves", and it includes the words, "Never kill women, children, and the old weakened with age".
It appears that the chief source of disagreement in this issue springs from the apparent conflict between the words of the Exalted, "Fight in the way of Allah aginst those who fight you, but begin not hostilities. Lo, Allah loveth not aggressors", and His words, "Then when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them". Those who held that the latter verse was abrogated the (meaning of the) words "Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you", as fighting is prescribed primarily against those who fight, said that the latter verse stands unrestricted upon its generality. On the other hand, those who maintained that the former verse is the governing verse, and that it includes all categories not involved in fighting, exempted if from the generality of the latter (in other words restricted the latter to those who do or can provide hostility, thus excluding children, old and decrepit etc).

The reason leading to their disagreement, on the whole, arises from their dispute about the effective underlying cause of slaying. Thus, those who maintained that the effective underlying cause for this is disbelief (Kufr), did not exempt anyone out of the polytheists, while those who maintained that the underying cause in it is the ability to fight, there being a prohibition about the killing of women though they be non-believers, exempted those who do not have the ability to wage war, or those who have not affiliated themselves with it, like the peasants and the serfs.
The Distinguished Jurist's Primer by Ibn Rashd (transl. Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee) pp. 458-460

Al-Hidayah, a famous manual of Hanfafi fiqh (jurisprudence) states the following:

A woman, minor, enfeebled old man, an invalid, and a blind man are not to be killed. The reason is that permitted killing is of those persons who are capabable of hostility, and this is not realised in the case of these persons. It is for this reason that they are not killed a paralysed person, one whose right hand has been amputated, and one whose hand and leg of the opposite sides are cut. Al-Shafi'i (God bless him) goes against our opinion in the case of the enfeebled old man, the invalid, and the blind. The reason is that permitted killing in his view is based upon unbelief, but the evidence against him is what we have elaborated.

The views of the Shafi'i school were detailed in the famous compendium of Shafi'i fiqh (jurisprudence), The Reliance of the Traveller:

o9.10 It is not permissible (A: in jihad) to kill women or children unless they are fighting against the Muslims. Nor is it permissible to kill animals, unless they are being ridden into battle against the Muslims, or if killing them will help defeat the enemy. It is permissible to kill old men (O: old man (shaykh meaning someone more than forty years of age) and monks.
Reliance of the Traveller o9.10 translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller

Al-Ghazali (1058-1111) was a Persian jurist who contributed significantly to the development of Sufism and is one of the most celebrated scholars in the history of Islamic thought. He followed the Shafi'i madhab (legal school) for most of his life.

...[O]ne must go on jihad (i.e. razzias or raids) at least once a year ... one may use a catapult against them when they are in a fortress, even if among them are women and children. One may set fire to them and/or drown them. ... If a person of the ahl al-kitab [i.e. People of the Book] is enslaved, his marriage is revoked. ... One may cut down their trees. ... One must destroy their useless books. Jihadists may take as booty whatever they decide ... they may steal as much food as they need...

Al-Ghazali, Kitab al-Wagiz fi fiqh madhab al-imam al-Safi'i

Qur'an - Fitnah is Worse Than Killing

Verse 2:217

They ask you about the sacred month - about fighting therein. Say, "Fighting therein is great [sin], but averting [people] from the way of Allah and disbelief in Him and [preventing access to] al-Masjid al-Haram and the expulsion of its people therefrom are greater [evil] in the sight of Allah. And fitnah is greater than killing." And they will continue to fight you until they turn you back from your religion if they are able. And whoever of you reverts from his religion [to disbelief] and dies while he is a disbeliever - for those, their deeds have become worthless in this world and the Hereafter, and those are the companions of the Fire, they will abide therein eternally.

Explanation of verse 2:217

The meaning of fitnah in the Quran is not always clear, though usually indicates a trial, tumult or oppression. In the case of this verse Ibn Kathir indicates that it was sent down to excuse the Muslims for killing a non-combatant one day before the end of the sacred month, and that fitnah here involves an element of oppression.

(...and Al-Fitnah is worse than killing.) means, trying to force the Muslims to revert from their religion and re-embrace Kufr after they had believed, is worse with Allah than killing.'
The Nakhlah Military Maneuvers
Tafsir of Ibn Kathir for Quran 2:217

Verse 2:191 has the same phrase "fitnah is worse than killing" as a response to oppression.

And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah is worse than killing. And do not fight them at al-Masjid al- Haram until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers.

Ibn Kathir presents a more aggressive view that fitnah here simply meant shirk.

Since Jihad involves killing and shedding the blood of men, Allah indicated that these men (the non muslims who are killed) are committing disbelief in Allah, associating with Him (in the worship) and hindering from His path, and this is a much greater evil and more disastrous than killing. Abu Malik commented about what Allah said:

(And Al-Fitnah is worse than killing.) Meaning what you (disbelievers) are committing is much worse than killing. Abu Al-`Aliyah, Mujahid, Sa`id bin Jubayr, `Ikrimah, Al-Hasan, Qatadah, Ad-Dahhak and Ar-Rabi` bin Anas said that what Allah said:

(And Al-Fitnah is worse than killing.) "Shirk (polytheism) is worse than killing.
Shirk is worse than Killing
Tafsir Ibn Kathir for Verse 2:191

This verse was revealed when a non-Muslim non-combatant was killed in the events of the Nakhla Raid. It was revealed to justify the killing of the non combatant, because non-Muslims do Fitnah... this is a graver crime in the eyes of Allah...than killing the non-combatant disbelievers [10] Osama bin Laden also used this in his interviews to justify killing non-combatants.[11]

Jihad is Perpetual

Narrated Anas ibn Malik: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Three things are the roots of faith: to refrain from (killing) a person who utters, "There is no god but Allah" and not to declare him unbeliever whatever sin he commits, and not to excommunicate him from Islam for his any action; and jihad will be performed continuously since the day Allah sent me as a prophet until the day the last member of my community will fight with the Dajjal (Antichrist). The tyranny of any tyrant and the justice of any just (ruler) will not invalidate it. One must have faith in Divine decree.

See Also


  1. Rashad Ali and Hannah Stuart, A Guide to Refuting Jihadism: Critiquing radical Islamist claims to theological authenticity p. 36-37
  2. Suyuti, Durr al-Manthur ... (Beirut, n.d.), vol. 3, p. 228, where Suyuti quotes various traditions.
  3. Defence of the Muslim Lands: The First Obligation After Iman - Abdullah Azzam
  4. Excerpted from Rudolph Peters, Jihad in Classical and Modern Islam (Princeton, NJ: Markus Wiener, 1996), pp. 44-54.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Shaykh ul-Islaam Taqi ud-Deen Ahmad ibn Taymiyyah - 'The Religious and Moral Doctrine of Jihaad' - p.28, © Copyright 2001 Maktabah Al Ansaar Publications, ISBN: 0-9539847-5-3
  6. Excerpted from Saiyid Athar Abbas Rizvi, Muslim Revivalist Movements in Northern India in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Agra, Lucknow: Agra University, Balkrishna Book Co., 1965), pp.247-50; and Yohanan Friedmann, Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi: An Outline of His Thought and a Study of His Image in the Eyes of Posterity (Montreal, Quebec: McGill University, Institute of Islamic Studies, 1971), pp. 73-74.
  7. Jihad in classical and Modern Islam, Rudolph Peters, Pg.179
  8. Islam - A mufti explains, why Muhammad killed Women and Children
  9. Excerpted form Kitab al-Wagiz fi fiqh madhab al-imam al-Safi'i (Beirut, 1979), pp. 186, 190-91, 199-200, 202-203. English translation by Dr. Michael Schub.
  10. Abdullah ibn Jaish - Life of Mohamed (Sirah), Non combatants
  11. Sheikh Osama bin Laden’s speech to the people of Pakistan - Translated From Urdu By Ahmed Al-Marid, September 26, 2007