Jihad: Its Ruling and Type; A study of Classical and Modern Statements

There are those who have subsidized themselves into the awkward views of extremist jihaadi groups while not even knowing when speaking about issues of jihaad. Some of these specious arguments are brought forth below.


Jihaad may be divided into two sections:

A)   The First: Jihaad of Conquest (Jihad at-Talib). Its following conditions from the sharee‘ah must be fulfilled [for it to be valid]:

i.       The Imaam

ii.     The State

iii.   The Banner

 B) The Second: Defensive Jihaad (Jihad ad-Daf). It is an individual obligation (fard ‘aynee) on all citizens of the country invaded by the attacking enemy [to repel them]. If they are unable, those neighboring them must help them from among the people where [the Muslim lines] are breached, and so on and so forth.


The material laid out in this treatise is related to Jihad at-Talib as the classical sunni orthodox scholars have placed conditions on this jihaad and have unanimously agreed to its being fard kifaaya and not fard ayn


The first argument is brought in the Quraan


1.        “Leave for Jihaad whether you are few or many”


As proof for it to mean in the absolute sense


Imaam al-Qurtubee in his tafseer and Abu Bakr al-Jassas both said that this ayaah is abrogated and using it as a proof is like someone who uses the ayaah in the quraan to say that “One should face the Baytul-Maqdis while standing in prayer”


However there is ikhtilaaf to its being abrogated. So even if one does not believe this ayaah to be abrogated then even then it should be understood as to how Ibn Hajr understood it.

He, Haafidh Ibn Hajr al-Asqalaani said

“It should be known these ayaah are not abrogated, but these ayaah indicate as to when an Imaam should be appointed, and this in itself is dependent upon the cirumstances of any given time” (Fathul-Baaree)


Ibn Katheer mentions the following in his tafseer


When the ayah

﴿انْفِرُواْ خِفَافًا وَثِقَالاً﴾

                                            “March forth, whether you are light or heavy”

Was revealed a man came forward, and he was fat, complained, and asked for permission to stay behind (from Jihad), but the Prophet refused. So Allah abrogated it with this Ayah,

﴿لَّيْسَ عَلَى الضُّعَفَآءِ وَلاَ عَلَى الْمَرْضَى وَلاَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ لاَ يَجِدُونَ مَا يُنفِقُونَ حَرَجٌ إِذَا نَصَحُواْ لِلَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ﴾

“There is no blame on those who are weak or ill or who find no resources to spend, if they are sincere and true (in duty) to Allah and His Messenger”


2.        Again they use the argument that Allah says


“And what is wrong with you that you fight not in the cause of Allah, and for those weak, ill treated and oppressed among men, women, and children whose cry is ‘Our Lord! Rescue us from this town whose people are oppressors”


Shaykh Taalibu-Rahman Shah has mentioned regarding this that


“According to Ibn Abbass, he and his mothers were the ones from the weak and the oppressed in Makkah while living here. If this verse made jihaad of kitaal fard ayn then tell us with which battalion did the prophet salallahu laihi wa salam dispatch to Makkah to aid Ibn Abbass (figure of speech meaning because there was no battalion then such people misunderstood and misapplied this verse). And so he quotes Ibn Battal to have said

“To help free those imprisoned is fardh kifaaya and this is what the majority of scholars have said”


3.        Again if the proof in the quraan is used


“March forth, whether you are light or heavy” (9:122)


The reply to this is that Haafidh Ibn Katheer mentions that

“Ibn Abbass, Muhammad Bin kab, and Ataa al-Khuraasaanee and others have said this verse was abrogated with the ayaah of Allah

‘And it is not proper for the believers to go out to fight all together. Of every troop of them, a party only should go forth” (Tafseer ibn katheer (2/474) ayaah (9:122)


Likewise Imaam ash-Shawkaani said

“Abu Dawood mentions in his Naasikh (book of abrogation), and Ibn Abi Haatim, and Ibn Mardawiyyah from Ibn Abbass that the ayaah ‘March forth whether you are light or heavy….” was abrogated by the ayaah “And it is not proper for the believers to go out to fight all together….”


Qurtubee, Tabari, Hasan al-Basri, Ikrimah and the majority of ulema held this opinion.


As for Ibn Hajr who did not view it to be abrogated, explained that this ayaah was specific with regards to whether a khalifa is in place by which if he commands all to go out to fight, then the fard ayn would be binding, but ONLY if the Khalifa of the Muslims commands so, thus this is the stance of Ibn Hajr.


If the hadeeth of the prophet is used in which it narrates “There will never cease to be a group from my ummah who will be manifest upon the truth” then this riwaya in its dirayaah (explanation) does not only entail “jihaad” as is or may be viewed by some of the people who have went into extremes or were exploited for their ignorance regarding the subject.


ash-Shaykh Abdullah Ibn Abdur-Rahman Abaabateen stated in explanation of this “they will never cease’ in this narration refers to a group who always speak with proof and sometimes (when required) fight the jihaad, and not to those who always fight with the sword” (ar_Rasaa’ilun-Najdiyyah 8/228)




As for the verse recorded in Suraatu Nisa (4:95) which states


﴿لاَّ يَسْتَوِى الْقَـعِدُونَ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ غَيْرُ أُوْلِى الضَّرَرِ وَالْمُجَـهِدُونَ فِى سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ بِأَمْوَلِهِمْ وَأَنفُسِهِمْ فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ الْمُجَـهِدِينَ بِأَمْوَلِهِمْ وَأَنفُسِهِمْ عَلَى الْقَـعِدِينَ دَرَجَةً وَكُـلاًّ وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الْحُسْنَى وَفَضَّلَ اللَّهُ الْمُجَـهِدِينَ عَلَى الْقَـعِدِينَ أَجْراً عَظِيما﴾


Not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home), except those who are disabled, and those who strive hard and fight in the cause of Allah with their wealth and their lives. Allah has preferred in grades those who strive hard and fight with their wealth and their lives above those who sit (at home). Unto each, Allah has promised good (Paradise), but Allah has preferred those who strive hard and fight, above those who sit (at home), by a huge reward.



Ibnu-Qudamaah al-Maqdisee actually quotes the majority of scholars as saying,

“This ayaah is a proof to say that those who stay behind in the jihaad are not sinful. Allah has ordered that ‘all’ the people should not go out and fight together. Indeed the prophet salallahu alaihi wa salam and some companions would remain behind while others would go and fight


As for Jihaad being Fardh Kifayaah


Imaam al-Qurtubee explains the ayaah of 9:122 which states


﴿وَمَا كَانَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لِيَنفِرُواْ كَآفَّةً فَلَوْلاَ نَفَرَ مِن كُلِّ فِرْقَةٍ مِّنْهُمْ طَآئِفَةٌ لِّيَتَفَقَّهُواْ فِى الدِّينِ وَلِيُنذِرُواْ قَوْمَهُمْ إِذَا رَجَعُواْ إِلَيْهِمْ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَحْذَرُونَ ﴾

And it is not (proper) for the believers to go out (to fight – Jihad) all together. Of every troop of them, a party only should go forth, that they may get instructions in religion, and that they may warn their people when they return to them, so that they may beware (of evil).”



So al-Qurtubee goes to explain by stating that

“Jihaad is not fardh ayn but kifaayah. If everyone were to go to jihaad there would be many problems for those left behind. Therefore, a group must remain to teach the people the religion. And when the troops return, those who stayed behind should teach them the religion also”


Imaam as-Sarkhasee states

“Jihaad is fardh Kifayah, when some people are performing it then the rest of the people are relieved of this obligation. The carrying out of jihaad is intending to attain the downfall of the splendor and glory of the mushrikeen, and to grant respect and honour to the religion (of Islam). If it was established to be obligatory everyone all the time, then a defect will arise in this matter.

[pay attention]

The intent of jihaad (meaning the highest level of jihaad with the sword) is  that Muslims live in peace and tranquility in order to acquire superiority and advantage in the affairs of the religion of this world (meaning to defend their very existence and defend their right to establish their Islam openly without any oppression against them which is the right of every nation and is the very essence of what Americans “supposedly” are fighting for) and if the people were engaged in jihaad (continuously as the jihaadis say) then they will not finish (this duty) to deal with the issues of the worldly affairs (that they are obligated by Allah to handle)


So jihaad is not that people are forced to convert or their heads get chopped as is plastered all over the media haphazardly.


al-Jassass states

“Concerning the issue of Jihaad it was the opinion of Umar radhiyallahu anhu that it is fardh kifaayah and it was never fardh ayn in any given conditions or time” [Tafseer al-Jassas]


Ibn Atiyyah said

“There is consensuis (ijmaa) about Jihaad being fardh Kifaayah upon the ummah of Muhammad salallahu alaihi wa salam” [Tafseer Ibn Atiyyah]


Imaam al-Qurtubee mentions

“Jihaad is not fardh ayn but it is fardh kifaayah” [Tafseer al-Qurtubee 8/293]


In another pace in his tafseer he only said it becomes fardh ayn when the khalifa of a nation declares it fardh ayn and order the people with it, then it is not permissible for them to remain. He ends by stating

“The ruling of Fardh Ayn will be due to the obedience of the Khalifa’s command, and not because jihaad is fardh ayn in and of itself” [8/91]


Haafidh Ibnul-Qayyim said

“Jihaad with one’s life is fardh kifaaya” [Z’adul-M’ad]


Imaam al-Kasaanee proves jihaads is kifaayah with the reasoning that

“Allah has promised al-Husna” (reward in Paradise), to those who make jihaad and those who do not. Further if jihaad was fardh ayn all the time in every condition, then why would Allah promise al-Husna to those who do not perform jihaad because if it was fardh ayn then not doing so in this situation will be haraam (unlawful)” [Badaa’i ad-Dhaa’i)


Thus it would be accusing Allah of rewarding those who did haraam with a reward that does not befit the one who does haraam.


Ibn Hajr as well concluded that Jihaad is fardh Kifaaya and not fardh ayn unless the khalifa of a nation makes it so.


Likewise Imaam al-Baghawee concluded jihaad to be kifaaya as well, not fardh ayn


Imaam Bin Baz as well said

“Jihaad is fardh Kifaayah and if some people are ready and waiting for the time and condition for when it arises, then the obligation is dropped from others”.


Imaam an-Nawawee concluded in explanation of a hadeeth (see faathul-Baree6/17) that

“This hadeeth contains proof that Jihaad is Fardh kifaayah and if it was fardh ayn then no individual would have stayed behind”.


Imaam al-Bayhaqee establishes a chapter in his Sunan al-Kubra entitled “Chapter

of Nafeer” thus proves jihaad is fardh kifaayah.


Haafidh Ibn Katheer states

Jihaad is kifaayah” in explanation of ayaah 9:122


Imaam ash-Shafi’ee states

“Jihaad is fardh Kifaayah” [Fathul-Baaree]


Ibn Nuhaas ad-Dimashqee states


Is Jihad Fard Kifayah Or Fard Ayn?

Realize that attacking the non-believers in their territories is a collective duty (fardh kifayah) with the consensus (ijmaa) of the scholars. However ibn al Musayeb and ibn Shubrumah state that it is a duty (fardh ayn) on each and every individual.



What must be understood is that what we have provided above was merely the intricate fiqh stance of the position of jihaad i.e. whether it is fard kifaya or fard ayn. The strongest of all the available sunni opinions is the opinion that Jihad is fard kifaaya and it only becomes fard ayn in a few stances


1.        When Allah or His prophet command so (which exempts everyone outside of the companions as the door to revelation is closed)

2.        When the Muslim Khalifa commands it

3.        When the enemy has occupied a territory by which everyone within that area is obligated and there is no difference of opinion in this

4.        If there ceases to exist a group among the ummah who takes the initiative, then the ummah bears the burden of its lack of performance and becomes ayn until a group from the ummah return doing so. Hence it is degenerated from ayn and back to kifaaya.


However, what makes our time unique is that for the first time in Islamic history, never has the nation of Muhammad experienced a period in which there is no khilafa and the only nation on earth whose code of law is that of the khilafa is viewed as not a khilafa. Outside of Saudi Arabia, whose constitution is the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah and whose direct methodology of issuing verdicts in the Kingdom is based on the hanbali manuals “al-Iqn’a” of al-Hajawee and “al-Muntaqah al-Iradaat” of al-Fuhuti.


Then we believe that the words of the faqih of the ummah, the Haafidh of our times, the reviver of the religion Muhammad Nasrudeen al-Albanee spoke of this topic so fruitfully it deserves to be written in gold where he said


“The Jihaad which is obligatory, and an individual obligation, is not possible for individuals to fulfil. Not even by some Islamic organizations or Islamic parties, because this type of Jihaad, especially in our time in which the means of fighting have multiplied, [cannot be fulfilled by them]. These parties or organizations, not to mention individuals, cannot fulfil this individual obligation. Instead it is an obligation on the Islamic countries that possess the weapons and forces and modern military means. Though, if they gathered and sincerely addressed this Jihaad they could fulfil this individual obligation. However, unfortunately, these countries have made no effort to fulfil the obligation of this Jihaad and, instead, they have left the responsibility to some organizations and parties which are unable to do anything to stop the incursions of the occupying disbelieving forces in some Islamic countries. The reality bears witness that any Muslim group which tries to fight the aggressor, as in Afghanistan, or revolt against the ruler whose disbelief has become apparent, as happened in Algeria, for example, this sad reality proves that individual or party Jihaad cannot produce the fruit which is hoped for; that of making Allah’s word supreme. Therefore, we believe that Jihaad cannot exist except under an Islamic banner, first and foremost, and under a united Muslim army taken from different Islaamic countries and not from a single country or region. In addition to that, there must be taqwaa (fear of) Allah, Most Great and Glorious, in avoiding the things, well known to Muslims, which Allah, Most High, has prohibited, but which are far from being applied practically. I have said on more than one occasion … that the cause of the humiliation and degradation which has befallen Muslims today – absolutely unknown in previous Muslim history – is because they have failed to apply the Qur’aanic verse: “If you support [the religion of] Allaah, He will support you.” [Soorah Muhammad, (74): 7]”(Tape: Silsilah al-Hudaa wan-Noor, 720/1)



Putting to perspective some statements of the classical jurists on Jihad.


Imam al-Mawardi al-Shafi’i who had written many beneficial works about Islamic governance, the author of “Ahkam as-Sultaniyya” said:

وفرض الجهاد على الكفاية يتولاه الإمام ما لم يتعين


“Jihad that is fard al-kifaya should be lead by an imam, but not if jihad becomes fard al-‘ayn”


One must realize a few factors. This statement of al-Mawardi was stated and applicable during a time were the khalifa is existing. His statement only makes sense when the khalifa exist and if the state of khilaafa is nonexistent, then it would not sound feasible or applicable. Likewise the statement of al-Albanee is more appropriate and applicable for a state where the khilaafa is nonexistent.


Mawardi’s statement in application makes more sense in a time where the khilafa is existent because a jihad that is fard kifayah under a khalifa is nearly binding to have him lead it. A jihad under a khilafa would become fard ayn if a region of a Muslim land was attacked by which alerting the khalifa of the news may injure the objectives of the mujahideen, that being to dispel the enemy. In such a case it would not make sense to have the khalifa as the Imam leading the jihad under that or similar circumstances.


However, the statement of al-Albanee is more applicable in our times than that of al-Mawardi, because in order for the ummah to come for the sake of jihaad in the offensive, there must be an Imaam, a state, to fight under. A type of jihad that does not adhere to this fundamental actually results in vigilantism and chaos. Again this is regarding offensive jihaad, not defensive jihad for which all agree to its being fard ayn.


Another prime example of misapplication is what can be taken from the words of the famous Imaam and jurist Ibn Nuhaas. The Shafi’i scholar Ahmad bin Ibrahim bin Muhammad Abu Zakariyya ad-Dimashqi, known as Ibn Nuhhas said in his famous book on this subject:

الجهد بغير إذن الإمام أو نائبه مكروه و لكنه ليس حراما


Jihad without permission from Imam or his deputy is makruh, but not haram.”


“Mashari al-Ashwaq ila Masari al-Ushaq”,


This statement is applicable when the state of khilafa exists. The existence of khilafa is the condition for this ruling to take effect. If there is no khilafa, then it is pointless to categorize whether jihad without an Imaam is makruh or haraam, or even waajib, mustahab, or mandub because in order for the classes of these rulings to become effective, a khilafa must establish the asl of Islam and therefore jihad.

In other words, if speaking about offensive jihad, a jihad in our times, under no Imaam would only be haraam due to the causal realities it produces as we have seen throughout the Islamic lands when groups staged coupes against their leaders and not because it is haraam from a juristic standpoint as is indicated by Ibn Nuhaas’s words.


So we end by saying that jihad is a subject that should be understood with some level of depth involved as two extremes have a prevalent view among the Muslims and both views are ripping those within (the balanced approach) apart. From one extreme, jihad is not just “battling the heart” and is not just “restricted to defensive efforts” all of which are talking points of the murjia among the liberals, modernist, and the secularists. Likewise Jihad is not fully fledged “kill the enemy” “it is fardh ayn” and other strange views as propagated among the revolutionists groups.