OceanSide church of Christ
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Victor M. Eskew
We have seen that jihad can mean several things in the religion of Islam. It can involve the Muslim’s personal struggle to be what Allah wants him to be. It can also involve warfare against the Unbelievers. Jihad is authorized in three different ways: the Qur’an, the Hadith, and the actions of the prophet Muhammad. Let’s look at each of these in our study of jihad.
First, the Qur’an definitely teaches that jihad can be practiced by the followers of Allah. In Surah 2:190-191, we find these words: “Fight in the cause of God, those who fight you, but do not transgress; for God loveth not transgressors. And slay them wherever you catch them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out: for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the sacred Mosque unless they first fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who suppress the faith.” When the Muslim is called upon to fight, he is authorized to use gruesome violence against his enemy. The Qur’an says: “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is : execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from the opposite side, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the hereafter” (Surah 5:33). It is difficult for Christians to imagine a religion that fights with such physical violence against their enemies. When we understand that they are taught that their reward in heaven is greater when they must strive for the cause of Allah, then we can at least understand what motivates them. Surah 9:20 speaks of their reward. “Those who believe, and suffer exile and strive with might and main, in God’s cause, with their goods and their persons, have the highest rank in the sight of God: they are the people who will achieve (salvation).”
Second, the Hadith also authorize jihad. In her book, Because They Hate, Gabriel reveals that “the most respected collection of Hadith, that of Muhammad bin Ismail ben al-Mughirah al Bukhari (died A.D. 870) contains 199 references to jihad, and every one of them use the term to mean warfare against infidels” (p. 149). Bernard Lewis, Cleveland E. Dodge Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University writes: “[I]n the Qur’an and still more in the Traditions, [the term jihad]…has been understood as meaning ‘to wage war.’ The great collections of hadith all contain a section devoted to jihad, in which the military meaning predominates. [Footnote omitted]” (as quoted by Gabriel on page 148). What follows is also of grave importance. “The same is true of the classical manuals of shari’a law…The overwhelming majority of classical theologians, jurists, and traditionalists…understood the obligation of jihad in a military sense…According to Muslim teaching, jihad is one of the basic commandments of the faith, an obligation imposed upon all Muslims by God, through revelation…It must continue until the whole world has either accepted the Islamic faith or submitted to the power of the Islamic state” (Ibid.).
Third, the actions of Muhammad also promote the violent form of jihad. Mukhlas, a perpetrator of the 2002 Bali jihadist bombings is on record as saying: “You who still have a shred of faith in your hearts, have you forgotten that to kill infidels and the enemies of Islam is a deed that has reward above no others…Aren’t you aware that the model for us all, the Prophet Muhammad and the four rightful caliphs, undertook to murder infidels as one of their primary activities, and the Prophet waged jihad operations 77 times in the first ten years as head of the Muslim community in Medina?” (The Austrailian as quoted by Robert Spencer in The Truth about Muhammad, p. 50). We must remember that Muslims hold Muhammad to be “the perfect man.” He is the model of perfection for all Muslims. If they follow him, they know they are doing right. Muhammad is known to have waged violent warfare against his enemies. Muslims who truly follow him should do the same.
Some will point to the warfare the Jews waged in the Old Testament to justify the warfare engaged in by Muslims. At that time, Israel was a physical kingdom. Now, however, the kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom. Jesus clearly proclaims that it is not of this world (John 18:36). Because it is a spiritual kingdom, Christians do not engage in carnal warfare to promote Christianity. Some will also point to the Crusades of the past to justify the activities of war promoted by the Muslims. To this we would answer, any Christian who engages in physical violence in the name of Jesus Christ is committing sin. God never authorized the Christian religion to engage in a struggle that involves the shedding of blood and death of its enemies. This is where Islam is bold contradiction to Christianity. Their authoritative writings authorized it. Their prophet embodied violent jihad while living. Faithful Muslims understand that fighting is part of the way of life for a Muslim.