As we have already seen, jihad is a lot more than fighting in the way of Allah. The latter is referred to in the Qur’an with the Arabic term “qital,” which literally means “fighting.” Confusing the terms “jihad” and “qital” has been influential in the prevalent misreading of all occurrences of jihad in the Madinite verses as references to armed jihad. “Jihad” and “qital” have significantly different meanings and uses in the Qur’an.
As explained in §3.2, qital is only one, though the most prominent, aspect of armed jihad. The latter is a wider concept that includes every effort involved in both the preparation and execution of war, such as funding it. Armed jihad, in turn, is one form of the broader concept of jihad which involves peaceful jihad also. While it is always true to describe “fighting in the way of Allah” as “jihad,” the opposite is not necessarily true as jihad can also refer to other aspects of armed jihad or to peaceful jihad. This is why the references to “jihad” in the Qur’an cannot be equated with “qital.”
Fighting has been ordained for you [O you who believe!], and it is an object of dislike to you; and it may be that you dislike a thing while it is good for you, and it may be that you like a thing while it is evil for you; and Allah knows whereas you do not know (2.216).
Have you not seen [O Muhammad!] those to whom it was said: “Withhold your hands [from fighting], keep up prayer, and pay the obligatory alms,” when fighting was ordained for them, a party of them feared people as they ought to fear Allah, or [even] with a greater fear, and said: “Our Lord! Why have You ordained fighting for us? If You have only granted us a delay to a near date?” Say [O Muhammad!]: “The provision of this world is short, and the hereafter is better for he who acts dutifully toward Allah; and you shall not be wronged in the very least” (4.77).
Have you not considered [O Muhammad!] how the chiefs of the Children of Israel who came after Moses said to a Prophet of theirs: “Set up for us a king and we will fight in the way of Allah”? He said: “May it be that you would not fight if fighting was ordained for you?” They said: “And why would we not fight in the way of Allah having been driven out of our homes, and for the sake of our children?” But when fighting was ordained for them, they turned away except a few of them, and Allah knows the wrongdoers (2.246).
Note that verse 9.86 which was cited earlier in the chapter is not an exception to the above conclusion:
And when a chapter is revealed, stating: “Believe in Allah and jahidu (do jihad) with His Messenger,” the wealthy ones among them (the Muslims) ask permission of you [O Muhammad!] and say: “Let us be with those who stay home” (9.86).
Copyright © 2004 Louay Fatoohi
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