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History of Jihad

Origins

The beginnings of Jihad are traced back to the words and actions of Muhammad and the Qu’ran.[1] This word of Allah explicitly encourages the use of Jihad against non-Muslims.[2] Sura 25, verse 52 states: “Therefore, do not obey the disbelievers, and strive against them with this, a great striving.”[3] It was, therefore, the duty of all Muslims to strive against those who did not believe in Allah and took offensive action against Muslims. The Qu’ran, however, never uses the term Jihad for fighting and combat in the name of Allah; qital is used to mean “fighting.” The struggle for Jihad in the Qu’ran was originally intended for the nearby neighbors of the Muslims, but as time passed and more enemies arose, the Qu’ranic statements supporting Jihad were updated for the new adversaries[2]. The first documentation of the law of Jihad was written by ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Awza’i and Muhammad ibn al-Hasan al-Shaybani. The document grew out of debates that had surfaced ever since Muhammad's death.[1]

Early Instances of Jihad

The first forms of military Jihad occurred after the migration (hijra) of Muhammad and his small group of followers to Medina from Mecca and the conversion of several inhabitants of the city to Islam. The first revelation concerning the struggle against the Meccans was surah 22, verses 39-40:[4]

To those against whom war is made, permission is given (to fight), because they are wronged;- and verily, Allah is most powerful for their aid. (They are) those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right,- (for no cause) except that they say, "our Lord is Allah". Did not Allah check one set of people by means of another, there would surely have been pulled down monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure. Allah will certainly aid those who aid his (cause);- for verily Allah is full of Strength, Exalted in Might, (able to enforce His Will).

—Abdullah Yusuf Ali

At this time, Muslims had been persecuted and oppressed by the Meccans.[5] There were still Muslims who couldn't flee from Mecca and were still oppressed because of their faith. Surah 4, verse 75 is referring to this fact:

And why should ye not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)?- Men, women, and children, whose cry is: "Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from thee one who will protect; and raise for us from thee one who will help!

—Abdullah Yusuf Ali

The Meccans also refused to let the Muslims enter Mecca and by that denied them access to theKa'aba. Surah 8, verse 34:

But what plea have they that Allah should not punish them, when they keep out (men) from the sacred Mosque - and they are not its guardians? No men can be its guardians except the righteous; but most of them do not understand.

—Abdullah Yusuf Ali

However hadith from Sahih Bukhari formalized the rules for warfare, which legitimized warfare based on disbelief.

It has been reported from Sulaiman b. Buraid through his father that when the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) appointed anyone as leader of an army or detachment he would especially exhort him to fear Allah and to be good to the Muslims who were with him. He would say: Fight in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah. Fight against those who disbelieve in Allah. Make a holy war..."[6]

Which takes as its basis the quranic verse 9:29

Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued..

—Abdullah Yusuf Ali


The main focus of Muhammad’s later years was increasing the number of allies as well as the amount of territory under Muslim control.[7] The Qu’ran is unclear as to whether Jihad is acceptable only in defense of the faith from wrong-doings or in all cases.[1]

Major battles in the history of Islam arose between the Meccans and the Muslims; one of the most important to the latter was the Battle of Badr in 624 AD.[7] This Muslim victory over polytheists showed “demonstration of divine guidance and intervention on behalf of Muslims, even when outnumbered.”[8] Other early battles included battles in Uhud (625), Khandaq (627), Mecca (630) and Hunayn (630). These battles, especially Uhud and Khandaq, were unsuccessful in comparison to the Battle of Badr.[7]. In relating this battle, the Qu’ran states that Allah sent an “unseen army of angels” that helped the Muslims defeat the Meccans.[9]

Jihad and the Crusades

The European crusaders conquered much of the territory held within the Islamic state, dividing it into four kingdoms, the most important being the state of Jerusalem. The Crusades originally had the goal of recapturing Jerusalem and the Holy Land (former Christian territory) from Muslim rule and were originally launched in response to a call from the Eastern Orthodox Byzantine Empire for help against the expansion of the Muslim Seljuk Turks into Anatolia. There was little drive to retake the lands from the crusaders, save the few attacks made by the Egyptian Fatimids. This changed, however, with the coming of Zangi, ruler of what is today northern Iraq. He took Edessa, which triggered the Second Crusade, which was little more than a 47-year stalemate. The stalemate was ended with the victory of Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi (known in the west as Saladin) over the forces of Jerusalem at the Horns of Hattin in 1187. It was during the course of the stalemate that a great deal of literature regarding Jihad was written.[7] While amassing his armies in Syria, Saladin had to create a doctrine which would unite his forces and make them fight until the bitter end, which would be the only way they could re-conquer the lands taken in the First Crusade. He did this through the creation of Jihad propaganda. It stated that any one who would abandon the Jihad would be committing a sin that could not be washed away by any means. It also put his amirs at the center of power, just under his rule. While this propaganda was successful in uniting his forces for a time, the fervor burned out quickly. Much of Saladin's teachings were rejected after his death.[10]

Islamic Spain and Portugal

Medieval Spain was the scene of almost constant warfare between Muslims and Christians. Periodic raiding expeditions were sent from Al-Andalus to ravage the Christian Iberian kingdoms, bringing back treasure and slaves. In raid against Lisbon in 1189, for example, the Almohad caliph Yaqub al-Mansur took 3,000 female and child captives, while his governor of Córdoba, in a subsequent attack upon Silves in 1191, took 3,000 Christian slaves.[11]

The Almohad Dynasty (From Arabic الموحدون al-Muwahhidun, i.e. "the monotheists" or "the Unitarians"), was a Berber, Muslim dynasty that was founded in the 12th century, and conquered all Northern Africa as far as Libya, together with Al-Andalus (Moorish Spain). The Almohads, who declared an everlasting Jihad against the Christians, far surpassed the Almoravides in fundamentalist outlook, and they treated the dhimmis harshly.[12] Faced with the choice of either death or conversion, many Jews and Christians emigrated.[13][14] Some, such as the family of Maimonides, fled east to more tolerant Muslim lands,[13] while others went northward to settle in the growing Christian kingdoms.[15][16]

Indian subcontinent

Sir Jadunath Sarkar contends that several Muslim invaders were waging a systematic Jihad against Hindus in India to the effect that "Every device short of massacre in cold blood was resorted to in order to convert heathen subjects."[17] In particular the records kept by al-Utbi, Mahmud al-Ghazni's secretary, in the Tarikh-i-Yamini document several episodes of bloody military campaigns. In 1527, Babur ordered a Jihad against Rajputs at the battle of Khanwa. Publicly addressing his men, he declared the forthcoming battle a Jihad. His soldiers were facing a non-Muslim army for the first time ever. This, he said, was their chance to become either a Ghazi (soldier of Islam) or a Shaheed (Martyr of Islam). The Mughal emperor Aurangzeb waged a Jihad against those identified as heterodox within India's Islamic community, such as Shi'a Muslims.[18][19]

Tamerlane

Timur Lenk, a 14th century Turco-Mongol conqueror of much of western and central Asia, thought of himself as a ghazi, although his wars were also against Muslim states.[20]

Fulani jihads

The Fula or Fulani jihads, were a series of independent but loosely connected events across West Africa between the late 17th century and European colonization, in which Muslim Fulas took control of various parts of the region.[21] Between 1750 and 1900, between one- to two-thirds of the entire population of the Fulani jihad states consisted of slaves.[22]

Caucasus

In 1784, Imam Sheikh Mansur, a Chechen warrior and Muslim mystic, led a coalition of Muslim Caucasian tribes from throughout the Caucasus in a ghazavat, or holy war, against the Russian invaders.[23] Sheikh Mansur was captured in 1791 and died in the Schlusselburg Fortress. Avarian Islamic scholar Ghazi Muhammad preached that Jihad would not occur until the Caucasians followed Sharia completely rather than following a mixture of Islamic laws and adat (customary traditions). By 1829, Mullah began proselytizing and claiming that obeying Sharia, giving zakat, prayer, and hajj would not be accepted by Allah if the Russians were still present in the area. He even went on to claim that marriages would become void and children bastards if any Russians were still in the Caucasus. In 1829 he was proclaimed imam in Ghimry, where he formally made the call for a holy war. In 1834, Ghazi Muhammad died at the battle of Ghimri, and Imam Shamil took his place as the premier leader of the Caucasian resistance. Imam Shamil succeeded in accomplishing what Sheik Mansur had started: to unite North Caucasian highlanders in their struggle against the Russian Empire. He was a leader of anti-Russian resistance in the Caucasian War and was the third Imam of Dagestan and Chechnya (1834-1859).[24][25]

Mahdists in Sudan

During the 1870s, European initiatives against the slave trade caused an economic crisis in northern Sudan, precipitating the rise of Mahdist forces.[26][27] Muhammad Ahmed Al Mahdi was a religious leader, who proclaimed himself the Mahdi - the prophesied redeemer of Islam who will appear at end times - in 1881, and declared a Jihad against Ottoman rulers. He declared all "Turks" infidels and called for their execution.[28] The Mahdi raised an army and led a successful religious war to topple the Ottoman-Egyptian occupation of Sudan. Victory created an Islamic state, one that quickly reinstituted slavery. In the West he is most famous for defeating and later killing British general Charles George Gordon, in the fall of Khartoum.[29]

Wahabbists

The Saudi Salafi sheiks were convinced that it was their religious mission to wage Jihad against all other forms of Islam. In 1801 and 1802, the Saudi Wahhabists under Abdul Aziz ibn Muhammad ibn Saud attacked and captured the holy Shia cities of Karbala and Najaf in Iraq, massacred the Shiites and destroyed the tombs of the Shiite Imam Husayn and Ali bin Abu Talib. In 1802 they overtook Taif. In 1803 and 1804 the Wahhabis overtook Mecca and Medina.[30][31][32][33]

Ottoman Empire

Upon succeeding his father, Suleiman the Magnificent began a series of military conquests in Europe.[34] On August 29, 1526, he defeated Louis II of Hungary (1516–26) at the battle of Mohács. In its wake, Hungarian resistance collapsed and the Ottoman Empire became the preeminent power in Central and Eastern Europe.[35] In July 1683 Sultan Mehmet IV proclaimed a Jihad and the Turkish grand vizier, Kara Mustafa Pasha, laid siege to the Vienna with an army of 138,000 men.[36][37][38]

On November 14, 1914, in Constantinople, capital of the Ottoman Empire, the religious leader Sheikh-ul-Islam declares Jihad on behalf of the Ottoman government, urging Muslims all over the world - including in the Allied countries - to take up arms against Britain, Russia, France and Serbia and Montenegro in World War I.[39] On the other hand, Sheikh Hussein ibn Ali, the Emir of Mecca, refused to accommodate Ottoman requests that he endorse this jihad, a requirement that was necessary were a jihad to become popular, on the grounds that:

'the Holy War was doctrinally incompatible with an aggressive war, and absurd with a Christian ally: Germany'[40]

Afghanistan

Ahmad Shah, founder of the Durrani Empire, declared a jihad against the Marathas, and warriors from various Pashtun tribes, as well as other tribes answered his call. The Third battle of Panipat (January 1761), fought between largely Muslim and largely Hindu armies who numbered as many as 100,000 troops each, was waged along a twelve-kilometre front, and resulted in a decisive victory for Ahmad Shah.[41]

In response to the Hazara uprising of 1892, the Afghan Emir Abdur Rahman declared a "Jihad" against the Shiites. The large army defeated the rebellion at its center, in Oruzgan, by 1892 and the local population was severely massacred. According to S. A. Mousavi, "thousands of Hazara men, women, and children were sold as slaves in the markets of Kabul and Qandahar, while numerous towers of human heads were made from the defeated rebels as a warning to others who might challenge the rule of the Amir". Until the 20th century, some Hazaras were still kept as slaves by the Pashtuns; although Amanullah Khan banned slavery in Afghanistan during his reign,[42] the tradition carried on unofficially for many more years.[43]

The First Anglo-Afghan War (1838–42) was one of Britain’s most ill-advised and disastrous wars. William Brydon was the sole survivor of the invading British army of 16,500 soldiers and civilians.[44] As in the earlier wars against the British and Soviets, Afghan resistance to the American invaders took the traditional form of a Muslim holy war against the infidels.[45]

During September 2002, the remnants of the Taliban forces began a recruitment drive in Pashtun areas in both Afghanistan and Pakistan to launch a renewed "jihad" or holy war against the pro-Western Afghan government and the U.S-led coalition. Pamphlets distributed in secret during the night also began to appear in many villages in the former Taliban heartland in southeastern Afghanistan that called for jihad.[46] Small mobile training camps were established along the border with Pakistan by al-Qaeda and Taliban fugitives to train new recruits in guerrilla warfare and terrorist tactics, according to Afghan sources and a United Nations report.[47]

Most of the new recruits were drawn from the madrassas or religious schools of the tribal areas of Pakistan, from which the Taliban had originally arisen. As of 2008, the insurgency, in the form of a Taliban guerrilla war, continues.

Alhough there is no evidence that the CIA directly supported the Taliban or Al Qaeda, some basis for military support of the Taliban was provided when, in the early 1980s, the CIA and the ISI (Pakistan's Interservices Intelligence Agency) provided arms to Afghan mujahideens resisting the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan,[48] and the ISI assisted the process of gathering radical Muslims from around the world to fight against the Soviets. Osama bin Laden was one of the key players in organizing training camps for the foreign Muslim volunteers. The U.S. poured funds and arms into Afghanistan, and "by 1987, 65,000 tons of U.S.-made weapons and ammunition a year were entering the war."[49]

Algeria

In 1830, Algeria was invaded by France; French colonial domination over Algeria supplanted what had been domination in name only by the Ottoman Empire. Within two years, `Abd al-Qādir was made an amir and with the loyalty of a number of tribes began a jihad against the French. He was effective at using guerrilla warfare and for a decade, up until 1842, scored many victories. He was noted for his chivalry. On December 21, 1847, Abd al-Qādir was forced to surrender.[50]

Abd al-Qadir is recognized and venerated as the first hero of Algerian independence. Not without cause, his green and white standard was adopted by the Algerian liberation movement during the War of Independence and became the national flag of independent Algeria.

The Algerian Civil War (1991–2002) was an armed conflict between the Algerian government and various Islamist rebel groups which began in 1991. By 1997, the organized jihad in Algeria had disintegrated into criminal thuggery and Algeria was wracked by massacres of intense brutality and unprecedented size.[51][52]



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Rudolph Peters, Jihād (The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World); http://www.oxfordislamicstudies/MainSearch.html (accessed February 17, 2008)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Jonathon P. Berkey, The Formation of Islam; Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 2003
  3. http://www.submission.org/suras/sura25.html
  4. William M. Watt: Muhammad at Medina, p.4; q.v. the Tafsir regarding these verses
  5. Adel Th. Khoury: Was sagt der Koran zum Heiligen Krieg?, p.91
  6. http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/engagement/resources/texts/muslim/hadith/muslim/019.smt.html#019.4294
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 David Cook, Understanding Jihad; University of California Press: CA, 2005
  8. The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, Badr, Battle of; http://oxfordislamicstudies.com/MainSearch.html (accessed February 17, 2008)
  9. John L. Esposito, Islam, the Straight Path; Oxford University Press: New York,2005
  10. Richard P. Bonney, Jihad: From Qu'ran to Bin Laden; Palgrave Macmillan: Hampshire, 2004
  11. Ransoming Captives in Crusader Spain: The Order of Merced on the Christian-Islamic Frontier
  12. The Almohads
  13. 13.0 13.1 Frank and Leaman, 2003, p. 137-138.
  14. The Forgotten Refugees
  15. Sephardim
  16. Kraemer, 2005, pp. 16-17.
  17. Sarkar, Jadunath. How the Muslims forcibly converted the Hindus of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh to Islam. 
  18. The Shade of Swords Jihad and the Conflict between Islam and Christianity M. J. Akbar
  19. K. S. Lal: Growth of Muslim Population in Medieval India, 1973
  20. Tamerlane: Sword of Islam, Conqueror of the World, by Justin Marozzi
  21. Usman dan Fodio (Fulani leader)
  22. Welcome to Encyclopædia Britannica's Guide to Black History
  23. Sufism in the Caucasus
  24. Imam Shamil of Dagestan
  25. Tough lessons in defiant Dagestan
  26. Civil War in the Sudan: Resources or Religion?
  27. Slave trade in the Sudan in the nineteenth century and its suppression in the years 1877-80.
  28. Holt, P.M., The Mahdist State in Sudan, Clarendon Press, Oxford 1958, p.51
  29. US Library of Congress, A Country Study: Sudan
  30. Saudi Arabia - THE SAUD FAMILY AND WAHHABI ISLAM
  31. Nibras Kazimi, A Paladin Gears Up for War, The New York Sun, November 1, 2007
  32. John R Bradley, Saudi's Shi'ites walk tightrope, Asia Times, March 17, 2005
  33. Amir Taheri, Death is big business in Najaf, but Iraq's future depends on who controls it, The Times, August 28, 2004
  34. Life Span of Suleiman The Magnificent, 1494-1566
  35. Kinross, 187.
  36. Ottoman Dhimmitude
  37. Supply of Slaves
  38. The living legacy of jihad slavery
  39. The Middle East during World War One
  40. T. E. Lawrence, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Jonathan Cape, London (1926) 1954 p. 49.
  41. for a detailed account of the battle fought see Chapter VI of The Fall of the Moghul Empire of Hindustan by H.G. Keene. Available online at [1]
  42. Afghan Constitution: 1923
  43. Afghan History: kite flying, kite running and kite banning By Mir Hekmatullah Sadat
  44. First Afghan War - Battle of Kabul and Retreat to Gandamak
  45. Reason to hope Canadians don't repeat history in Afghanistan, Alan G. Jamieson, The Edmonton Journal, July 31 2006
  46. "Leaflet War Rages in Afghan Countryside". Associated Press. 2003-02-14. http://www.intellnet.org/news/2003/02/14/16788-1.html. Retrieved 2007-02-28. 
  47. Tohid, Owias (2003-06-27). "Taliban regroups - on the road". Christian Science Monitor. http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0627/p06s01-wosc.html?related. Retrieved 2007-02-28. 
  48. Turning Out Guerrillas and Terrorists to Wage a Holy War, New York Times, March 18, 2002
  49. Rashid, Taliban (2000)
  50. Abd al Qadir, Library of Congress
  51. Algeria
  52. Centrifugal Tendencies In The Algerian Civil War, Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ)

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