Columnist Hamid Golpira has written a compact little column in the Tehran Times (thanks to MEMRI) explaining what jihad is all about. Interestingly enough, his explanation is exactly the same as the one I outline in Onward Muslim Soldiers: it involves an inner, spiritual struggle, but also a physical battle to spread the hegemony of Islam, “inviting” non-Muslims to accept Islam and subjugating those who refuse as second-class dhimmis.
This is another demonstration of the fact that the tenets of violent Islam that are usually ascribed by Western analysts to the Wahhabis alone are held by all sects of Islam, including the Shi’ites of Islam. Remember also that when he speaks about not attacking civilians, that the definition of civilians in this context has proven to be extremely elastic “” cf. Israel and the World Trade Center.
(I had a bit of trouble getting the direct link to the original Tehran Times piece to work. If you have trouble, go to their main page and search for “jihad.” The article is entitled “True Jihad.”)
Once I was the student of a very great shaikh. He taught me and the other students many things. May Allah bless him for teaching us so many things and accept his jihad of teaching.
Once our teacher taught us about the rules of jihad. He said that every Muslim must first do jihad-i-nafs, the struggle against the desires of the lower self, for self-purification. Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him and his family) said that jihad-i-nafs is the great jihad. We should reflect upon this deep hadith.
After performing jihad-i-nafs to a satisfactory level and committing oneself to lifelong performance of jihad-i-nafs, a Muslim can do the other jihad, the lesser jihad.
This jihad determines the three types of people in the world: (1) the true Muslims; (2) the non-Muslims who are not enemies of Islam actively fighting against Islam; and (3) the enemies of Islam, which includes all munafiqin (hypocrites who claim to be Muslims).
The true Muslims are our brothers and sisters and we must never fight against them. Also, we must never fight against the non-Muslims who are not enemies of Islam, since some of them live in Islamic countries and have paid the jeziya tax, making them dhimmis (people protected by Islam), and others are citizens of non-Muslim countries who are not personally fighting against Islam or assisting a war against Islam.
As far as the enemies of Islam, we are only permitted to fight against them if we have done everything in our power to avoid war and to encourage them to stop being enemies of Islam and to join one of the other two groups.
Our wise teacher explained it to us like this. First we must invite them to Islam. Even if they declare war against us, we should invite them to Islam by calling a one-day truce for them to think over our invitation. If after one day they embrace Islam, we should accept them as Muslim brothers and sisters and war has been averted.
If they do not embrace Islam, we should invite them to pay the jeziya tax and become dhimmis or to make a peace treaty with the Muslims, and we should again call a one-day truce for them to think over our proposal. If after one day they decide to pay the jeziya tax and become dhimmis or to make a peace treaty with the Muslims, we should accept their decision, and again war has been averted.
However, if they do not embrace Islam and do not decide to become non-Muslims who are not enemies of Islam but decide to make war against the Muslims, then, under such circumstances, we are allowed to wage war against them, as long as we observe all the other rules of jihad, such as treating prisoners fairly and not attacking civilians. And Islam teaches that genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and terrorism are always haram (forbidden).
Once, before a battle, Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him and his family) gave Imam Ali (peace be upon him) a flag on which was inscribed la ilaha illa “˜llah (there is no God but Allah) and told him to go out to the battlefield to invite the enemies to Islam while carrying the banner. And Imam Ali (peace be upon him) went out to the battlefield carrying the banner of Islam and inviting the enemies to Islam. This is the best example of true jihad.