Jihad in Islam


In the Name of Allah, the Merciful and the Most Beneficent

(This Address was delivered on Iqbal Day, April 13, 1939, at the Town Hall, Lahore)


The word ‘Jihād’ is commonly translated into English as ‘the Holy War’ and for a long while now the word has been interpreted so that it has become synonymous with a ‘mania of religion’. The word ‘Jihād’ conjures up the vision of a marching band of religious fanatics with savage beards and fiery eyes brandishing drawn swords and attacking the infidels wherever they meet them and pressing them under the edge of the sword for the recital of Kalima. The Artists have drawn this picture with masterly strokes and have inscribed these words under it in bold letters:

‘The History of this Nation is a tale of Bloodshed’.

The irony is that the painters are no other than those benefactors of ours who themselves have been engaged in an extremely unholy war for centuries on end. They themselves present the picture of robbers who armed to the teeth with all kinds of deadly weapons, have set upon the world pillaging it for the capture of new markets of trade, resources of raw material, open lands for colonisation and mines yielding valuable metals, so that they may procure fuel for their everburning fire of avarice. They fight not for the cause of God but for the satisfaction of their lust and hunger. For them, it is a sufficient excuse for invading a nation because the territory of that nation contains mines, or their lands yield bumper crops, or oil has been struck there or they can be exploited as profitable markets for their manufactured goods or that their surplus population can be settled on the lands belonging to the intended victims. In the absence of all the other excuses, they consider it a grave crime on the part of a nation if she happens to live en route to a country already captured by them or the one they plan to capture. Whatever we did is now part of history, past and gone, but their deeds are a present matter witnessed by the world day and night. Asia, Africa, Europe and America—which portion of this planet has been spared from bloodbath resulting from their unholy war? Their skill is, however, commendable that they have painted our picture so gory and dark that their own picture was overshadowed and was completely hidden from the view. Our own simplicity is amazing too. When we saw this picture of ours painted by the foreigners, we were so taken aback that we never thought of looking behind the canvas and seeing the visage of the painter. Instead we started offering apologies in this manner—Sir, what do we know of war and slaughter. We are pacifist preachers like the mendicants and religious divines. To refute certain religious beliefs and convert the people to some other faith instead, that is the be-all and end-all of our enthusiasm. What concern have we with sabres! Yes, indeed, we plead guilty to one crime, though, that whenever someone else attacked us, we attacked him in self-defence. Now, of course, we have renounced that also. The crusade which is waged by swords has been abrogated for the satisfaction of your honour. Now ‘Jihad’ only refers to waging war with the tongue and pen. To fire cannons and shoot with guns is the privilege of your honour’s government and wagging tongues and scratching with pens is our pleasure.

Causes of Misunderstanding about the Holy WarIn any case, this is a part of political tactics. But from a purely scholastic standpoint when we analyse the causes due to which the red nature of the ‘Holy War
for the Cause of God’ has become difficult to understand not only for non- Muslims but Muslims themselves, we discover two major and basic misconceptions. The first misunderstanding is that they consider Islam to be a religion in the conventional sense of the term ‘religion’. The second misconception is that they take Muslims to be a ‘Nation’ in the technical sense of this term. These two misunderstandings have not only mixed up the concept of Jihād’ but have changed the picture of Islam as a whole and have wholly misrepresented the position of the Muslim people.

In common terminology ‘religion’ means nothing more than a hotch potch of some beliefs, prayers and rituals. If this is what ‘religion’ means, then, it should, indeed, be a private affair. You should be free to entertain any belief and worship any deity whom your conscience is ready to accept. If you are over-zealous and ardent devotees of this type of religion, go and preach it to the whole world and engage yourselves in declamations with the protagonists of other religions. There is no reason why you should take up a sword? Do you wish to convert people to your faith by killing them? We are forced to admit the point that if you regard Islam as a religion in the conventional meaning of the term and if, indeed, Islam be a conventional type of religion, the necessity for ‘Jihad’ cannot be justified.

Similarly, the term ‘Nation’ connotes no more than a homogeneous group of men who have joined themselves in a distinct entity on the basis of fundamental and shared traits. A group of people who attain to nationhood according to this definition of the term, rises or can rise to arms under two circumstances: either when some other group of people with the intention of depriving them of their lawful rights attack them or when they themselves wishing to usurp other people’s rights launch an attack on them. There is an unassailable moral justification for taking up arms in the first case (although some saintly personages have declared even armed self-defence a sin). But launching an armed attack on other people with the purpose of snatching away their lawful rights can be justified by no one except a few dictators. Even statesmen of vast Empires like those of Britain and France dare not to justify this course of action.

What Jihad Really isSo if Islam be a ‘Religion’ and the Muslims are a ‘Nation’. ‘Jihad’ (on account of which it has been accorded the dignity of ‘The Best of all Prayers’ in Islam) becomes useless term. But the truth is that Islam is not the name of a ‘Religion’, nor is ‘Muslim’ the title of a ‘Nation’. In reality Islam is a revolutionary ideology and programme which seeks to alter the social order of the whole world and rebuild it in conformity with its own tenets and ideals. ‘Muslim’ is the title of that International Revolutionary Party organized by Islam to carry into effect its revolutionary programme. And ‘Jihād’ refers to that revolutionary struggle and utmost exertion which the Islamic Party brings into play to achieve this objective.

Like all revolutionary ideologies, Islam shuns the use of current vocabulary and adopts a terminology of its own, so that its own revolutionary ideals may be distinguished from common ideals. The word ‘Jihad’ belongs to this particular terminology of Islam. Islam purposely rejected the word ‘harb’ and other Arabic words bearing the same meaning of ‘war’ and used the word ‘Jihad’ which is synonymous with ‘struggle’, though more forceful and wider in connotation. The nearest correct meaning of the word ‘Jihād’ in English can be expressed as under:

‘To exert one’s utmost endeavour in promoting a cause’.

The question is why was the use of this new word preferred to the exclusion of all older synonyms? The answer to this question is none else than that the word ‘war’ was and is still being used for struggles between Nations and States which are waged for the achievement of individual or national self-interest. The motive forces behind these conflicts are such individual or collective purposes as are completely devoid of any ideological bias or support for certain principles. Since Islamic War does not belong to this category, Islam shuns the use of the word ‘war’ altogether. Islam has no vested interest in promoting the cause of this or that Nation. The hegemony of this or that State on the face of this earth is irrelevant to Islam. The sole interest of Islam is the welfare of mankind. Islam has its own particular ideological standpoint and practical programme to carry out reforms for the welfare of mankind. Islam wishes to destroy all states and governments anywhere on the face of the earth which are opposed to the ideology and programme of Islam regardless of the country or the Nation which rules it. The purpose of Islam is to set up a state on the basis of its own ideology and programme, regardless of which nation assumes the role of the standard-bearer of Islam or the rule of which nation is undermined in the process of the establishment of an ideological Islamic State. Islam requires the earth—not just a portion, but the whole planet—not because the sovereignty over the earth should be wrested from one nation or several nations and vested in one particular nation, but because the entire mankind should benefit from the ideology and welfare programme or what would be truer to say from ‘Islam’ which is the programme of well-being for all humanity. Towards this end, Islam wishes to press into service all forces which can bring about a revolution and a composite term for the use of all these forces is ‘Jihad’. To change the outlook of the people and initiate a mental revolution among them through speech or writing is a form of ‘Jihad’. To alter the old tyrannical social system and establish a new just order of life by the power of sword is also ‘Jihad’ and to expend goods and exert physically for this cause is ‘Jihad’ too.

‘For the Cause of God’—the Essential ConditionBut the ‘Jihad’ of Islam is not merely a ‘struggle’; it is a ‘struggle for the Cause of God’. ‘For the Cause of God is an essential condition for ‘Jihad’ in Islam. This expression is also part of the special terminology of Islam to which I have alluded above. Its literal meaning is ‘In the way of God’. It is this translation which misled the people into believing that ‘Jihad in the way of God’ enjoined forcible conversion of other people to the faith of Islam, for the limited intellects of the people could take the expression ‘in the way of God’ to mean nothing else than that. But in the terminology of Islam this expression bears wider meaning. All such work as is undertaken for the collective well-being of mankind and in which the functionary has no vested interest in the present world, his sole interest being to win the favour of God, is regarded in Islam as an ‘act in the way of God’. To take an instance, if you give away something in charity in anticipation of receiving some material or moral dividend in this world, it would not be regarded as an ‘act in the way of God’. But if it is your desire to win the pleasure of God by affording assistance to a poor man, this charitable act would be deemed to have been done ‘in the way of God’. Hence the term ‘in the way of God’ is reserved for such deeds only as are undertaken with perfect sincerity, without any thought of gaining a selfish end, and executed on the understanding that to afford benefit to other human beings is a means of winning the pleasure of God and the sole purpose of human life is to win the favour of the Creator of the universe.

The condition ‘in the cause of God’ has been attached to ‘Jihād’ for the same reason. It strictly implies that when a person or a group arises to carry out a revolution in the system of life and to establish a new system in conformity with the ideology of Islam, he or they should keep no selfish motives in mind while offering sacrifices and executing acts of devotion for the Cause. The aim should not be to knock out an Emperor and occupy the vacant throne i.e., to become a Caesar replacing another Caesar. The objectives of the struggle should be completely free from the taint of selfish motives like gaining wealth or goods, fame and applause, personal glory or elevation. All sacrifices and exertions should be directed to achieve the one and the only end i.e., the establishment of a just and equitable social order among human beings; and the only reward in view should be to gain the favour of God. The Holy Qur’an says:

‘Those who believe fight in the way of God and the unbelievers fight in the way of Tāghūt (Devil)’. (4: 76)

The word Tāghūt is derived from ‘Tughian’ (the deluge) which bears the meaning ‘to cross the limit’. When the river crosses its boundaries we say ‘the deluge has come’. Similarly, when man transgresses all lawful bounds and exerts himself to assume the position of the Lord over human beings or to expropriate more goods than are rightfully his due, this is called as ‘fighting in the way of Tāghūt’. In contrast to this ‘fighting in the way of God’ refers to the struggle for the establishment of God’s just order in the world. The fighter’s aim is to abide by the law of God himself and enforce it among other human beings. In connection with this point, the Holy Qur an says:

‘We shall confer dignity in the Eternal world upon those who do not seek to establish their might in the world and do not wish to create strife. Success in the world Hereafter awaits those who are God-fearing’. (28: 83)

It is reported in the Traditions that an individual enquired from the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him), “What does ‘war in the cause of Allah’ imply? A man fights to obtain goods. Another engages in battle to secure a reputation for valour. A third man fights to wreak vengeance upon the other or is impelled to fight for national honour. Who, among these men, is a fighter ‘in the way of God” The Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) answered: “None. Only he fights in the way of the Lord who holds no other purpose than the glorification of God”.

Another tradition relates: “If a man engaged in battle entertains in his heart a desire to obtain out of the war only a rope to tie his camel with, his reward shall be forfeited”.

God accepts only such needs as are executed for the purpose of obtaining His Goodwill and the doers seek to serve no personal or collective objectives. Hence from the standpoint of Islam, the condition ‘in the way of God’ is of utmost importance in relation to ‘Jihad’. Mere striving is done by all living creatures in the world. Every one is doing his utmost to secure his purpose. But the most important, nay, the fundamental ideal among the revolutionary doctrines of that Revolutionary Party called ‘Muslims’ is to expend all the powers of body and soul, your life and goods in the fight against the evil forces of the world, not that having annihilated them you should step into their shoes, but in order that evil and contumacy should be wiped out and God’s Law should be enforced in the world. After having briefly elucidated the meaning of Jihad and the significance of the clause ‘in the way of God’, I wish to explain in brief terms the Revolutionary Creed which Islam upholds so that it may be easily understood why Jihād is needed and what is the objective of Jihad?



The Revolutionary Creed of Islam, in a nutshell, is:

‘O people! Offer worship to that God alone Who created you’. (2: 21)

The call of Islam is not addressed to the workers, landholders, peasants or industrialists; it is directed to the whole of human race. Islam addresses man in his capacity as human being. If you entertain the conceit that you are a demi-god, dispel it because none of you has the right to demand worship and unconditional submission from fellow human beings. All of you should affirm devotion to one God and in the devotion to the divine, you should all stand on a level of equality.

“Come to a word equal between us and you that we worship none but Allah, and that we associate no partner with Him, and that some of us take not others for Lords beside Allah. But if they turn away, then say, ‘Bear witness that we have submitted to God”. (3: 64)

This was the call for a universal and complete revolution. It loudly proclaimed ‘Sovereignty belongs to no one except Allah.’ No one has the right to become a self-appointed ruler of men and issue orders and prohibitions on his own volition and authority. To acknowledge the personal authority of a human being as the source of commands and prohibitions is tantamount to admitting him as the sharer in the Powers and Authority of God. And this is the root of all evils in the universe. God has instilled the correct spirit in man and has shown him the right way of life. The reason why human beings deviate from this straight path is that they forget God and consequently forget their own real worth. This state of affairs inevitably encourages some persons, dynasties or classes to claim Divine rights for themselves and taking undue advantage of their might they reduce general humanity to the status of their creatures. On the other hand also, this forgetfulness of God and of self leads a portion of mankind to affirm the Divinity of the Mighty of the World. They acquiesce in the right of the powerful men to issue commands and their own obligation to carry out those commands with servile devotion. This is the root-cause of tyranny, conflict and unlawful exploitation in the world and this is the target upon which Islam directs its first assault. Islam issues a clarion call:

“And obey not the dictate of those who transgress the bounds, who mischief in the earth and promote not order”. (26: 151-152)

“And obey not him whose heart We have made heedless of Our Remembrance, who follows his low desires, and his case exceeds all (legitimate) bounds”. (18: 28)

“Certainly Allah’s curse is on the wrong-doers who obstruct (mankind) from the path of Allah and seek to make it crooked.” (11: 18, 19)

Islam puts it to the people:

“Are many lords differing among themselves better or Allah, the One, the Almighty.” (12: 39)

If you do not offer devotion to the One God, you shall never be free from the bondage of these small and false gods; in one form or another they shall obtain power over you and will inevitably create strife:

“Verily, the monarchs, when they enter a land, despoil it, and render the highest of its people into the lowest”. (27: 34)

“And when he captures power he creates strife on earth. He spoils the fields and annihilates generations. And God disapproves of strife”. (2: 35)

This is not the occasion to go into all the details. I wish to explain to you in brief terms and I want you to note the point that Islam’s call for the affirmation of faith in one God and offering devotion to Him alone was not an invitation to follow a creed in the same conventional sense as the call of other religious creeds. In reality, it was an invitation to join a movement of social revolution. Its main brunt fell directly on those classes who, as divines in the religious sphere, kings, nobles and ruling classes in the political domain and as usurers, landholders and monopolists in the economic field of life, had reduced common humanity to the status of their slaves. At some places they had openly declared themselves to be lords besides Allah. They demanded obedience and devotion from the people as their hereditary rights or privileges based on class distinctions and brazenly declared:

“Who besides me is the deity of yours”. (28: 38) 

and and and

“I am your highest Lord”; (79: 34)

“I give life and cause death”; (2: 258)

“Who is greater in strength than us”. (15: 41)

In other places, they had created false gods in the form of idols and temples in order to exploit the ignorance of the common people and taking over behind these idols and temples they hoodwinked mankind to acquiesce in their own divine rights.

Hence the call of Islam against heresy, polytheism and idolatry, and invitation to offer worship and devotion to one God only—all this came into direct conflict with the interests of the Government and of the classes which either supported its authority or drew support from it. It was because of this that whenever a prophet (peace be on him) proclaimed:

O people, obey Allah; none is your deity except God; (11: 84)

the Government of the day hastened to bar his way with all its might and main and the degenerate exploiting classes opposed him tooth and nail, for the call of the Prophet was never a metaphysical proposition; it was a charter of social revolution. Hence the ruling and exploiting classes smelt the menace of a political upheaval in the very first pronouncement of a prophet (peace be on him).

The Characteristic Feature of the Revolutionary Creed of Islam:

There is no doubt that all the Prophets of God (peace be on them) without exception were Revolutionary Leaders, and the illustrious Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the greatest Revolutionary Leader. But the point at which a clear line of demarcation can be drawn between these God-worshipping Revolutionary Leaders and the general run of worldly revolutionaries is that these worldly revolutionaries, however, honest their intentions may be, can never attain to a correct level of justice and moderation. The revolutionaries of the world either rise from oppressed classes themselves or stand for upholding the rights of the oppressed. They, therefore, look at all matters from the standpoint of these classes alone The natural result is that their viewpoint is never impartial and purely humane. On the contrary their outlook is heavily biased in favour of one class and bears hatred and resentment for the other class. They prescribe a remedy for tyranny which is itself tyrannical and is revengeful in effect. It is not possible for them to shake off feelings of vendetta, jealousy and ill-will and plan an equitable and balanced social order which ensures the wellbeing of all persons. In striking contrast to this, whatever the severity of persecution to which the Prophets (peace be on them) were subjected, whatever the agonies they and their companions had to suffer at the hands of the oppressors, the Prophets (peace be on them) did not allow their personal feelings to influence the course of their revolutionary movements. They acted under direct Guidance of their Lord. Since the Lord is above all human passions and He has no special connexion with any human group or class, nor does He entertain any grudge or feelings of animosity against any other class of human beings, so under His direct guidance the Prophets (peace be on them) viewed all matters with impartial justice in order to discover ways for securing collective well-being. They strove to devise a system in which each individual might feel content to remain within the limits of his rights, in which every man might fully enjoy his lawful rights and secure a perfect balance in the relationship between man and man and man and society. For this reason, the Revolutionary Movements launched by the Prophets (peace be on them) never assumed the character of class war They did not effect social reconstruction so as to secure the dominance of one class over the other but establish a just pattern of society which afforded equal opportunities to all human beings for self improvement and for obtaining material and spiritual excellence.

The Need and Objective of JihadIt is an uphill task to describe in this brief treatise the details of the social order envisaged by Islam. I hope an occasion to do so will shortly present itself. Here, confining myself within the limits of the subject, the only point which I wish to elucidate is this: Islam is not merely a religious creed or compound name for a few forms of worship, but a comprehensive system which envisages to annihilate all tyrannical and evil systems in the world and enforces its own programme of reform which it deems best for the well-being of mankind. Islam addresses its call for effecting this programme of destruction and reconstruction, revolution and reform not just to one nation or a group of people, but to all humanity. Islam itself calls upon all the classes which oppress and exploit the people unlawfully, its call is addressed even to the kings and the noblemen to affirm faith in Islam and bind themselves to remain within the lawful limits enjoined upon them by their Lord. Islam impresses upon them that if they accept this just and righteous system, they will gain peace and salvation. This system harbours no animosity against any human being. Our animosity is directed against tyranny, strife, immorality and against the attempt of an individual to transgress his natural limits and expropriate what is not apportioned to him by the natural law of God. Those who affirm faith in this ideology become members of the party of Islam and enjoy equal status and equal rights without distinction of class, race, nation or the country to which they belong. In this manner, an International Revolutionary Party is born to which Qur’an gives the title of ‘Hizb Allah’ and which alternatively is known as Islamic Party or the Ummah of Islam’. As soon as this party is formed, it launches the struggle to obtain the purpose for which it exists. The rationale for its existence is that it should endeavour to destroy the hegemony of an un-Islamic system and establish in its place the rule of that social and cultural order which regulates life with balanced and humane laws, referred to by the Qur’an with the comprehensive term ‘the word of God’. If this party does not strive to effect a change in the government and establish the Islamic system of government, the very basis on which this party exists is knocked out, for this party comes into existence to secure no other purpose than the above and there is no use for this party save that it should struggle for the cause of God. The Holy Qur’an enunciates only one purpose of the genesis of this party and that is:

“You are the best people, raised for mankind, exhorting good and warding off evil and believing in Allah.” (3: 110)

These men who propagate religion are not mere preachers or missionaries, but the functionaries of God, (so that they may be witnesses for the people), and it is their duty to wipe out oppression, mischief, strife, immorality, high handedness and unlawful exploitation from the world by force of arms. It is their objective to shatter the myth of the divinity of demi-gods and false deities and reinstate good in place of evil.

  1. “And fight them until there is no persecution and religion is professed for Allah.” (2: 193).)
  2. “If you do not do (that you are enjoined) there will be mischief in the earth and tremendous disorder”. ( 8: 73)
  1. “He is Who sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth, he may make it dominant over all religions, even if the polytheists resent it”. ( 9: 33)

Hence this party is left with no other choice except to capture State Authority, for an evil system takes root and flourishes under the patronage of an evil government and a pious cultural order can never be established until the authority of Government is wrested from the wicked and transferred into the hands of the reformers. Apart from reforming the world, it becomes impossible for the party itself to act upon its own ideals under an alien state system. No party which believes in the validity and righteousness of its own ideology can live according to its precepts under the rule of a system different from its own. A man who believes in communism cannot order his life on the principles of communism while in England or America, for the capitalistic state system will bear down on him with all its power and it will he quite impossible for him to escape the retribution of the ruling authority. Likewise, it is impossible for a Muslim to succeed in his intention of observing the Islamic pattern of life under the authority of a non-Islamic system of government. All rules which he considers wrong; all taxes that he deems unlawful; all matters which he believes to be evil; the civilization and way of life which, in his view, are wicked; the education system which seems to him as fatal—all these will be so inexorably imposed on him, his home and his children that evasion will become impossible. Hence a person or a group of persons are compelled by the innate demand of their faith to strive for the extirpation of the rule of an opposing ideology and setting up a government which follows the programme and policies of their own faith, for under the authority of a government professing inimical doctrines, that person or group of persons cannot act upon their own belief. If these people evade their duty of actively striving for this end, it clearly implies that they are hypocrites and liars in their faith.

“May Allah forgive you (O Muhammad) Why didst you permitted them (to remain behind) till had become manifest to you those who were truthful and who were liars. Those who believe in Allah and the Last Day, will not seek permission (for exemption) from striving with their riches and their lives. And Allah knows the righteous Only those will seek permission from you (to be exempted) who do not believe in Allah and the Last Day and whose hearts are full of doubts and in their doubts they waver.” (9: 43-45)

In these words, the Qur’an has given a clear and definite decree that the acid test of the true devotion of a party to its convictions is whether or not it expends all its resources of wealth and life in the struggle for installing its faith as the ruling power in the State. If you suffer the authority of an inimical doctrine in the State, it is a proof positive that your faith is false and the natural result of this is, and can only be this, that your nominal devotion to the doctrine of Islam will also finally wear off. To begin with, you will endure the rule of an inimical system with disdain. Gradually, however, you will learn to live with it until your contempt will change into a liking for this rule. Finally, it will come to such a pass that you will serve as a pillar of support for the establishment and maintenance of the State rule of an opposing ideology. You will then expend your wealth and life in the struggle for the installation and upholding the un-Islamic doctrines in place of the ideology of Islam. Your own resources will be utilised in resisting the establishment of Islamic ideology as ruling power in the State. At this stage, no other difference except hypocritical professions of devotion to Islam, an abominable falsehood and a deceitful title will distinguish you from the infidels. The Holy Prophet (peace of Allah be upon him) has clearly explained this fact in the Traditions:

“I swear by God Who has Power over my life, you shall have to enforce good and crub [curb] evil and arrest the hand of the evil-doer and turn it by force to do right or the inevitable consequences of the natural law of God will be manifested in this fashion that the intentions of the hearts of the evil-doers will influence your hearts and like them you shall also be damned”


It must be evident to you from this discussion that the objective of the Islamic ‘ Jihād’ is to eliminate the rule of an un-Islamic system and establish in its stead an Islamic system of state rule. Islam does not intend to confine this revolution to a single state or a few countries; the aim of Islam is to bring about a universal revolution. Although in the initial stages it is incumbent upon members of the party of Islam to carry out a revolution in the State system of the countries to which they belong, but their ultimate objective is no other than to effect a world revolution. No revolutionary ideology which champions the principles of the welfare of humanity as a whole instead of upholding national interests, can restrict its aims and objectives to the limits of a country or a nation. The goal of such an all-embracing doctrine is naturally bound to be world revolution. Truth cannot be confined within geographical borders. Truth demands that whatever is right on this side of the river or the mountain is also right on the other side of the river or mountain; no portion of mankind should be deprived of the Truth; wherever mankind is being subjected to repression, discrimination and exploitation, it is the duty of the righteous to go to their succour. The same conception has been enunciated by the Holy Qur’an in the following words:

“What has happened to you? Why don’t you fight in the way of God in support of men, women and children, whom finding helpless, they have repressed; and who pray, “O God! liberate us from this habitation which is ruled by tyrants”. (4: 75)

Moreover, notwithstanding the national or country-wise divisions of mankind, human relations and connexions have a universal significance so that no state can put her ideology into full operation until the same ideology comes into force in the neighbouring states. Hence it is imperative for the Muslim Party for reasons of both general welfare of humanity and self-defence that it should not rest content with establishing the Islamic System of Government in one territory alone, but to extend the sway of Islamic System all around as far as its resources can carry it. The Muslim Party will inevitably extend invitation to the citizens of other countries to embrace the faith which holds promise of true salvation and genuine welfare for them. Even otherwise also if the Muslim Party commands adequate resources it will eliminate un-Islamic Governments and establish the power of Islamic Government in their stead. It is the same policy which was executed by the Holy Prophet (peace of Allah be upon him) and his successor illustrious caliphs (may Allah be pleased with them). Arabia, where the Muslim Party was founded, was the first country which was subjugated and brought under the rule of Islam. Later the Holy Prophet (peace of Allah be upon him) sent invitations to other surrounding states to accept the faith and ideology of Islam. When the ruling classes of those countries declined to accept this invitation to adopt the true faith, the Prophet (peace of Allah be upon him) resolved to take military action against them. The war of Tubuk was the first in the series of military actions. When Hadrat Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) assumed leadership of the Muslim Party after the Prophet (peace of Allah be upon him) have had left for his heavenly homes he launched an invasion of Rome and Iran, which were under the dominance of un-Islamic Governments. Later, Hadrat ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) carried the war to a victorious end. The citizens of Egypt, Syria, Rome and Iran initially took these military actions as evidence of the imperialist policy of the Arab nation. They believed that, like other nations, this nation had also set out on a course of enslaving other nations under the yoke of imperialism. It was owing to this misconception that they advanced under the banners of Caesar and Khosros to give battle to the Muslims. But when they discovered the revolutionary ideology of the Muslim Party; when it dawned on them that Muslim armies were not the champions of aggressive nationalism that they had no nationalistic objectives; that they had come with the sole object of instituting a just system; that their real purpose was to annihilate the tyrannical classes which had assumed divine powers and were trampling down their subjects under the patronage of despotic Caesars, kings, the moral sympathies of those downtrodden people turned towards the party of Islam. They began to forsake their allegiance to the flags of their own monarchs and when they were conscripted by force and driven to fight against the Muslims, they had no heart in the fight. This is the main cause of those astounding victories won by the Muslims in the early period. It is on this account also that after the establishment of Islamic governments in their countries when they saw the social system of Islam in action, they willingly joined this international party and became the upholders of its ideology and set out to other countries to spread its message.

The Terms “Offensive” and “Defensive” are IrrelevantIf you carefully consider the explanation given above you will readily understand that the two terms ‘offensive’ and ‘defensive’ by which the nature of welfare is differentiated are not at all applicable to Islamic ‘Jihad’. These terms are relevant only in the context of wars between nations and countries, for technically the terms ‘attack’ and ‘defence’ can only be used with reference to a country or a nation. But when an international party rises with a universal faith and ideology and invites all peoples as human beings to embrace this faith and ideology and admits into its fold as equal members men of all nationalities and strives only to dismantle the rule of an opposing ideology and set up in its place a system of government based on its own ideology, then in this case the use of the technical terms like ‘offence’ and ‘defence’ is not germane. Even if we stop thinking about these technical terms, the division of Islamic ‘Jihad’ into offensive and defensive is not admissible. Islamic Jihad is both offensive and defensive at one and the same time. It is offensive because the Muslim Party assaults the rule of an opposing ideology and it is defensive because the Muslim Party is constrained to capture state power in order to arrest the principles of Islam in space-time forces. As a party, it has no home to defend; it upholds certain principles which it must protect. Similarly this party does not attack the home of the opposing party, but launches an assault on the principles of the opponent. The objective of this attack, moreover, is not to coerce the opponent to relinquish his principles but to abolish the government which sustains these principles.


(Non-Believers) under the Protection of an Islamic Government: This also answers the question relating to the status of the votaries of other faiths and ideologies when an Islamic government has been set up in their countries. Islamic ‘Jihad’ does not seek to interfere with the faith, ideology, rituals of worship or social customs of the people. It allows them perfect freedom of religious belief and permits them to act according to their creed. However, Islamic ‘Jihad’ does not recognize their right to administer state affairs according to a system which, in the view of Islam, is evil. Furthermore, Islamic ‘Jihad’ also refuses to admit their right to continue with such practices under an Islamic government which fatally affect the public interest from the viewpoint of Islam. For instance, as soon as the Ummah of Islam captures state power it will ban all forms of business prosecuted on the basis of usury or interest; it will not permit the practice of gambling; it will curb all forms of business and financial dealings which are forbidden by Islamic law; it will close down all dens of prostitution and other vices and for all; it will make it obligatory for non-Muslim women to observe the minimum standards of modesty in dress as required by Islamic law and will forbid them to go about displaying their beauty like the days of ignorance; the Muslim Party will clamp censorship on the Cinema. The Islamic government with a view to securing general welfare of the public and for reasons of self-defence will not permit such cultural activities as may be permissible in non-Muslim creeds, but which, from the viewpoint of Islam are corrosive of moral fibres and fatal. In this connection, if a man feels inclined to level charges of intolerance at Islam, he should consider that no creed in the world has shown more tolerance to the votaries of other faiths as has been practised by Islam. In other places, protagonists of another faith are so repressed that finding existence unbearable they are constrained to emigrate from their homes. But Islam provides full opportunity for self-advancement to the people of other faiths under conditions of peace and tranquillity and displays such magnanimity towards them that the world has yet to show a parallel example.


At this point, I must reiterate that Islam regards only that war as ‘Jihad’ which is fought in the service of Allah—a war to fulfil the Will of God. When an Islamic government is founded at the conclusion of this war, the Muslims are categorically barred from assuming the despotic powers which the old despots wielded upon the people. A Muslim does not fight and as a Muslim he must not fight to establish a personal rule and to turn the people of God into his own creatures and to build a Paradise on earth for himself by expropriating the hard- earned wealth of the people. This is not a war to fulfil the Will of God, but a war to fulfil the will of devil; and Islam has no use for such a government.

The ‘Jihad’ of Islam is a dry labour, devoid of pleasure. It is nothing but a sacrifice of life, wealth and carnal desires. When this ‘Jihad’ is crowned with victory and an Islamic government is instituted, the responsibilities of an honest and truly Muslim head of State are so onerous that sleep during the night and ease during the day time both are denied to him. But as a reward for these titanic labours he is not entitled to indulge in pleasures which power and authority may call for and for the sake of which bids are usually made in the world for securing governments. A Muslim ruler is not a superior being, distinct from or any more privileged than the common man; he cannot sit on the throne of Exaltedness or Highness; he cannot command any one to prostrate before him; he cannot execute the slightest move without the sanction of Islamic law; he has no power to shield any of his relatives, friends or himself against the lawful claim of the most ordinary man in the community; he cannot take even the most insignificant thing or even an inch of land from any one else without justification and he is forbidden by law to draw half a penny more from the public exchequer as his salary than is necessary for a Muslim of average means to subsist. This God-conscious head of state cannot occupy a magnificent palace, nor can he live with pomp and glory nor can he procure means of pleasure and merriment. At all hours, he is seized with the fear that one day he will be severely called to account for every deed he commits in this world and if it is found that he received a single penny as illicit gains, or snatched away the smallest patch of land from any one by force, or displayed the slightest measure of pride or haughtiness, or practised tyranny or injustice in a single instance or succumbed even for one moment before carnal pleasures, he would be condemned to endure the most dreadful torture. The world has not seen a greater fool than the man who truly loves to gain the world and yet is willing to carry the burden of state responsibility under Islamic law. The worldly position of a small shopkeeper is far better than the ruler of an Islamic State. He earns more during the day than the Caliph does and enjoys a sound sleep at night. The Caliph neither earns as much as he, nor enjoys peace during the night.

This is the cardinal difference between the Islamic and un-Islamic system of government. In an un-Islamic State, the ruling classes establish themselves as divine powers and exploit the means and resources of the country to their personal aggrandisement. In striking contrast to this, the governing class in an Islamic State serves without any thought of personal motives, and secures no greater personal advantage for itself than is readily available to the common man. Compare the scale of salaries granted to civil service cadres under the government of Islam with the incomes received on account of salaries by civil servants under modern imperialist governments or imperialist powers which were contemporary of the Islamic State, you will soon discover that there is an immeasurably vast difference both in spirit and nature of the worldly conquests of Islam and the world-wide dominance of imperialism.

In the Islamic State, the governors of Khurasan, Iraq, Syria and Egypt were paid a lesser amount of money as salary than is drawn by a low-grade Inspector today. The first Caliph Hadrat Abu Bakr Siddique (may Allah be pleassed with him) ran the administration of such a vast empire on a salary of Rs. 100/- per mensem. Hadrat ‘Umar’s (may Allah pleased with him) emoluments did not exceed Rs. 150/-per month, notwithstanding the fact that the coffers of the Islamic State were full with the wealth of the two empires of the known world. Although seemingly, imperialism conquers countries and so does Islam, yet between the two there is an elemental difference which is equal to the space between heaven and earth. Verse:

“Both fly in space, yet the world of the Eagle is far removed from the Crow’s”.

This, then, is the true meaning of ‘Jihad’, a term about which you have heard much. If you ask me now where is that Islam, the Muslim Party and the ‘Jihad’ whose ideology you have enunciated before us and why no trace of these may be discovered today among the Muslims of the world, I shall entreat you not to confront me with this question but ask it of those who have deflected the attention of the Muslims from their real mission to magical preparations like talismans, incantations, superstitious rites and supererogatory offerings. Ask it of those who prescribed short-cuts to salvation, reform and the attainment of the objective, so that all this may be obtained by no more striving or hard labour than is necessary for telling the beads or propitiating a soul lying asleep in a grave. Ask it of those who wrapped up the tenets, ideology and objectives of Islam and consigned them to the dark corners and engaged the Muslim mind in the polemics over the most insignificant things of Divine Faith or visits to the tombs or such other minor issues with the consequence that the Muslim people lost all sense of their true identity, the objective of their creation and the real character of Islam? If they fail to deliver a satisfactory answer, then put this question to the wealthy, the officials and the ruling authorities who profess faith in Qur’an and the divine ministry of the Holy Prophet (peace of Allah be upon him), but believe that they owe to the Qur’anic injunctions and the guidance of the Holy Prophet (peace of Allah be upon him) nothing more than holding assemblies for the recitations of the Qur’an from corner to corner and calling meetings to celebrate the birth of the Prophet (peace of Allah be upon him) or sometimes praising God for the beauty of His verse (may God forgive them and us!).

With regard to the enforcement of the Islamic law and the introduction of Islamic reforms in practical polity, these gentlemen deem themselves utterly free from any responsibility. For, as a matter of fact, the soul of these gentlemen is unprepared to accept the restraints and sustain the burden of duty imposed by Islam. They are suitors of a very easy salvation.

About Madudi: Maududi is acnowledged worldwide to be one of the most authoritative fountainheads of Islam in the 20th century.
He was not just an armchair theorist. His influence can be gauged from the fact that he not only iinspired Jihadi organizations in India, such as SIMI, PFI, Hurriyat, Indian Mujahiddin etc but also inspired UN desgnated terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda, ISIS, Hamas, Taliban etc. The credit for rapid Islamization of Pakistan post 1947 goes chiefly to Maududi.
Of particular interest to Indian readers is Maududi’s clear cut repudiation of loyalty to any nation state, its laws or the constitution of the land they live in. He insists that Muslims owe allegiance only to Islam and Sharia and must do all they can to bring the entire world under the umbrella of Mohamaddan law.
This lecture was delivered by Abul Ala Maududi on Iqbal Day,13th April, 1939, at the Town Hall, Lahore. 
Maududi is acknowledged worldwide to be one of the most authoritative fountainheads of Islam in the 20th century.
He was not just an armchair theorist. His influence can be gauged from the fact that he not only iinspired Jihadi organizations in India, such as SIMI, PFI, Hurriyat, Indian Mujahiddin etc but also inspired UN desgnated terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda, ISIS, Hamas, Taliban etc. The credit for rapid Islamization of Pakistan post 1947 goes chiefly to Maududi.
Of particular interest to Indian readers is Maududi’s clear cut repudiation of loyalty to any nation state, its laws or the constitution of the land they live in. He insists that Muslims owe allegiance only to Islam and Sharia and must do all they can to bring the entire world under the umbrella of Mohamaddan law.
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