بسم الله الرحمـن الرحيم
والصلاة والسلام على نبينا محمد
وعلى اهل بيته الطيبين الطاهرين المظلومين
Someone once objected to my characterization of the nature of this world as a war between the forces of Heaven and Hell on the basis that such a characterization smells of dualism. Specifically, the word “war” may give the impression that Allah Most High is not in absolute control. But those who make this futile objection should note the language used in the holy Quran itself, where Allah threatens those who refuse to give up the system of usury:
فَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلُوا فَأْذَنُوا بِحَرْبٍ مِّنَ اللَّـهِ وَرَسُولِهِ
So if you do not, then hear [a declaration] of War from Allah and His Apostle
The fact that the war is “rigged” in favor of one side doesn’t negate the fact that it is still a war. One can think of it as a game in which one of the players makes up the rules himself, which obviously give him the advantage, and his opponent has no choice but to play by those rules. Nevertheless, such a scenario is still characterized as being a “game”. Allah Most High has granted His adversary, Iblis, respite until Judgment Day. Consequently, Iblis is given the limited freedom to wage this spiritual struggle with Heaven. The battlefield of this war is of course this world, the planet earth, and the human soul is its prize. Iblis himself acknowledges that while he will make utmost effort to capture as many human souls as possible before Judgment Day through means of his deception and whispering of evil suggestions to them, he will be unable to deceive the souls of the Mukhlasin (Surah 15:34-43). Hence, any Believer who dedicates himself to the cause of Da’wat ila Allah in an attempt to save people from Hell is truly a foot soldier in this cosmic war. Likewise, the devils and their agents, who day and night strive to deceive people and drag them along with them to the Fire, are the opposing “army” in this spiritual war. It is not a war in the sense that the forces of Hell think they are able to conquer Heaven itself, as that is impossible given our belief in the absolute power and control of Allah. This is what distinguishes Islam from dualism and dualist religions like Zoroastrianism. Christianity has a strong influence of Zoroastrian dualism in its own theology, as evidenced by the proceeding quote from the so-called Apocalypse of John:
“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels” (Rev. 12:7). The Greek preposition ἐν (in) makes it clear that the author considers this war to have taken place inside Heaven itself, with two groups of angels, one led by the Archangel Michael and the other by the “dragon” (meaning Satan) and his angels. It is also stated that the dragon was able recruit a third of the host of Angels in Heaven: “And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth” (Rev. 12:4)
This theology, however, is contrary to Islam, which teaches that the war between Heaven and the Devil is waged here on Earth, its prize being the human soul. For the devil to penetrate Heaven itself, much less recruit a third of the Angels to his cause, is simply out of the question, and such a belief can only make sense in a dualist paradigm.
One of the unique features of this ultimate war, the war between Heaven and Hell, is that the greatest generals (from among their human pawns), on both sides are yet to appear. They are the Messiah and the Dajjal (counterfeit messiah) respectively. They emerge when this spiritual war enters its final phase and begins to manifest itself as the ultimate armed conflict. The true Jihads of the past, especially the wars of the Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) and the wars of Prophet Moses and the Israelite prophets and righteous kings after him, were all examples of when this otherwise spiritual war entered the realm of physical warfare. A true, armed Jihad in the Path of Allah is when the two sides are clearly delineated and they are the forces of Heaven fighting the forces of Hell, and there is no cloudiness. Otherwise, the vast majority of other wars and armed conflicts have nothing to do with the people of Truth. They are conflicts where all sides have been deceived and Believers must avoid any kind of participation. In the 1980s, when the Muslims of Afghanistan, joined by many Muslim volunteers from around the world, waged a Jihad against the communist atheists and their Soviet backers, there was no doubt as to which side was upon falsehood and which side was justified in picking up arms to defend their Religion. Likewise, the Jihad waged by Sayyid Ahmad of Rai Bareilly and his lieutenant, Shah Ismail of Delhi (both of whom were martyred in the Battle of Balakot), against the infidel Sikh oppressors in the 19th century. Presently, however, there doesn’t seem to be any justified Jihad, only fitan or civil wars among the Muslims themselves. One should not be deceived by the various Kharijite factions who claim to be waging Jihad against America and Europe, because the reality is that their terrorist methods and their underline objective of seizing political power for themselves fundamentally prevent their violence from being characterized as a Jihad in the Path of Allah.
Coming back to the idea of the War between Heaven and Hell, although I have stated that this War enters its final and most intense stage at the time of the appearance of the false Messiah, and shortly thereafter the true Messiah, the historic Battle of Badr was another great manifestation of this cosmic War, in which the Angels themselves descended upon the battlefield, and the Devil, who was also present, fled in terror. The Battle of Badr was for this reason an extremely momentous occasion. The devil truly thought that he might be able to have the Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) and his followers killed off. He had stirred up the pagans of Mecca to wage a physical war in an attempt to exterminate the Faith of Islam. But when he himself saw legions of Angels descending from Heaven, he lost all hope and retreated while his human pawns remained behind not knowing what terrible fate awaited them that day. The Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) beheld the Archangel Gabriel seated on a horse, in full battle gear, leading the forces of Heaven in this epic battle. For this reason Allah says about Badr:
وَلَقَدْ نَصَرَكُمُ اللَّـهُ بِبَدْرٍ وَأَنتُمْ أَذِلَّةٌ ۖ فَاتَّقُوا اللَّـهَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ
And already Allah helped you at Badr and you were few in number. So fear Allah that you may be grateful
Allah Most High sent down a glorious battalion of five thousand Angels at Badr (Surah 3:125).