بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
والصلاة والسلام على رسوله الكريم
وعلى آله واهل بيته اجمعين
The so-called “Jihadists” represent a tendency within the Muslim Umma that advocate “offensive” Jihad, believing that it is the religious duty of the Umma to conquer the globe by force of arms. On this blog I have expressed my own view that Jihad and Qital in particular, is essentially a defensive institution, to defend the frontiers of the Muslim world from aggressive, unbelieving foreign forces. In the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his Rightly-Guided Successors, the Muslims engaged in justified, defensive wars against not only the pagan Arab tribes, but also against the Byzantine Romans and Sasanian Persians.
In the case of the Romans, history bears witness that it was they who intiated hostilities against the Muslims during the Prophet’s own lifetime when they cruelly executed one of his emissaries. The Prophet – peace be upon him – had sent his noble companion, al-Harith b. Umayr al-AzdiRA as emissary to the Ghassanid chief, Shurahbil, of Busra in Syria. The Ghassanids were clients of the Romans. Al-HarithRA was martyred and this justified an armed retaliation on the part of the Muslims which culminated in the Battle of Mu’ta in September 629 CE (in the eighth year after Hijra), the first clash between the Muslims and Romans in history. Many great companions of the Prophet – peace be upon him – were martyred in this battle, inclduing Ja’far b. Abi TalibRA and Zayd b. HarithaRA. With regard to the Sasanians, the Muslims did not formally engage them in warfare until the caliphate of sayyidina Abi BakrRA. The noble companion, al-Muthanna b. HarithaRA took the initiative in attacking the Sasanians. However, the reader should bear in mind that it was the Sasanians who initiated hostilities against Islam going back to the lifetime of the Prophet – peace be upon him. When the Prophet – peace be upon him – dispatched his emissary to Iran to invite Chosroes II (Parvez) to Islam, the latter not only disrespectfully tore the Prophet’s letter, he also ordered his viceroy in Yemen to dispatch some men to Medina with the purpose of arresting the Prophet – peace be upon him – and deliver him into his hands. In summary, the wars which the Muslims faught against both the Eastern Roman empire and the Sasanian neo-Persian empire were totally justified, given that unprovoked hostilities were initiated by both of them against the Muslims.
Allah Most High says:
وَقَاتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ الَّذِينَ يُقَاتِلُونَكُمْ وَلَا تَعْتَدُوا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ لَا يُحِبُّ الْمُعْتَدِينَ۞
Fight in the Way of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress. Verily, Allah loves not the transgressors.
وَإِن جَنَحُوا لِلسَّلْمِ فَاجْنَحْ لَهَا وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّـهِ ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ۞
If they incline to peace, then incline to it (also) and rely upon Allah. Verily, it is He Who is the Hearing, the Knowing.
These and other passages from the holy Qur’an establish the fact that Islam only enjoins armed combat and warfare for defensive purposes.
From the Sunna, we come to know that the Prophet (peace be upon him) prohibited any aggression against unbelieving nations which had not initiated any hostilities against the Muslims. For example, he said:
دَعُوا الْحَبَشَةَ مَا وَدَعُوكُمْ وَاتْرُكُوا التُّرْكَ مَا تَرَكُوكُمْ
“Leave the Ethiopians alone so long as they leave you alone, and leave the Turks alone so long as they leave you alone.” (Sunan Abi Dawud #4302)
To this day, Ethiopia remains predominantly Christian, though surrounded by Muslim nations, while the Turks converted to Islam without having ever been conquered. The Hadith is a strong proof that Islam does not seek global conquest through force of arms, otherwise the Prophet – peace be upon him – would never have ordered the Muslims to refrain from attacking both the Ethiopians and Turks.