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JIHAD: Jihad according to the Shafi’i school
This page reflects the thinking about Jihad by the Shafi’i school. For your information, the Shafi’i school is one of the four big schools of Sunni Islam and is followed worldwide by about 28% of muslims and by the religious authorites of the following countries: Egypt, Somalia, Yemen, Saoudi-Arabia, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, the Phillipines, Vietnam, Cambodia, the Maledives, Sri Lanka, a number of areas in India, in Mauritania, Ethiopia, Israel, the Palestinian territories, large parts of Lebanon and Syria. The Shafi’i school is the official school followed by the governments of Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia.

In most of the abovementioned countries, part of the legislation is based on the Shariah and the lawbooks of the Shafi’i school are followed. So those books are to be taken seriously and are not to be treated as historic documents that do not deserve too much attention. They are the result of a consensus of a large number of scholars and are not the opinion of a couple of individuals who adapt their discours to a Western public and only transmit what can reasonably be accepted.
In the book “Reliance of the Traveller” the Shafi’i school states:

o9.0 Jihad
(O:Jihad means to war against non-Muslims, and is etymologically derived from the word mujahada, signifying warfare to establish the religion.  And it is the lesser Jihad.
Our comments

Those people don’t beat around the bush. The first sentence is not about what Muslims want us to believe, that Jihad is mainly a spiritual inner struggle and can only mean violence in extreme circumstances, and then only in case of self-defense.
No, jihad according to the scholars of the Shafi’I school is an aggressive war to impose Islam as a system, to “establish the religion”, which means to introduce shariah or Islamic law everywhere.
As for the greater Jihad, it is spiritual warfare against the lower self (nafs), which is why the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, as he was returning from Jihad,
“We have returned from the lesser Jihad to the greater Jihad.”
They briefly mention that there is also a spiritual jihad. This is based on a weak tradition/Hadith, so this can not be a basis for Islamic “theology”. Proof is that in the rest of the chapter concerning jihad, no further attention is paid to it.
Furthermore, in Muslim countries; Jihad simply means war, offensive as well as defensive. Muslims in the West cannot admit this, so they make up texts about the spiritual nature of jihad. These texts are being repeated endlessly until they are convinced that jihad is a spiritual thing. As far as we know, there is no organization in the world named “Islamic Jihad”, that is only active in education or charity. On the contrary, groups who choose the name “Islamic Jihad”, are generally the most extreme “militants”.
The scriptural basis for Jihad, prior to scholarly consensus (def: b7) is such Quranic verses:
(1) “Fighting is prescribed for you” (Quran 2:216);
(2) “Slay them wherever you find them” (Quran 4:89)
(3) “Fight the idolaters utterly” (Quran 9:36)
Then, a few verses follow to prove that the Quran prescribes armed struggle.  There are literally hundreds of verses that call for battle and that admonish believers who hesitate to fight the ‘infidels’.

We would have chosen the following verses from the Quran to illustrate the goal of jihad:
2.193. And fight with them until there is no persecution, and religion should be only for Allah, but if they desist, then there should be no hostility except against the oppressors.
8.39. And fight with them until there is no more persecution and religion should be only for Allah; but if they desist, then surely Allah sees what they do.
From the very moment Muhammad started his “mission” there has always been “persecution”. In the early days in Mecca it was due to the fact that Muhammad behaved in an extremely aggressive way towards those with another religion and those who did not recognize him as a Prophet. The people of Mecca had never experienced such religious intolerance before. Later in Medina, the military part came with endless wars.  Ever since little has changed.  Today when Muslims pray, they insult Christians and Jews 17 times a day when reciting Soerat Al-fatiha in which they call them the ones who lost their way (ad-dalin) and the ones whom Allah is angry at (al-maghdoebi allayhim) respectively. But like Muhammad, Muslims claim respect for themselves and if they do not get it, one group commits violence and others either approve of it or keep silent.
Persecution is a broad term in Islam and includes everything that stands in the way of following and spreading Islam. Muslim-girls who are not allowed to wear a veil at school are being persecuted and every good Muslim has to resist that.  The following verse even states that, “Persecution is worse than killing”.
2.217. They ask you concerning the sacred month about fighting in it. Say: Fighting in it is a grave matter, and hindering (men) from Allah's way and denying Him, and (hindering men from) the Sacred Mosque and turning its people out of it, are still graver with Allah, and persecution is graver than slaughter; and they will not cease fighting with you until they turn you back from your religion, if they can; and whoever of you turns back from his religion, then he dies while an unbeliever-- these it is whose works shall go for nothing in this world and the hereafter, and they are the inmates of the fire; therein they shall abide.
One of the reasons behind the persecution is the fact that Muhammad caused a separation in the society, and still does today between Muslims and non-Muslims, by introducing hundreds of specific behavior rules. Furthermore, the Quran curses non-Muslims hundreds of times, using quite undiplomatic terms as
8.55. For the worst of beats in the sight of Allah are those who reject Him: They will not believe.
Not really an invitation for peaceful coexistence between Muslims and non-Muslims.
And such hadiths as the one related by Bukhari and Muslim that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said:
"I have been commanded to fight people until they testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and perform the prayer, and pay zakat. If they say it, they have saved their blood and possessions from me, except for the rights of Islam over them. And their final reckoning is with Allah”;

And the hadith reported by Muslim,
“To go forth in the morning or evening to fight in the path of Allah is better than the whole world and everything in it.”
Moreover, the aggressive way Muhammad raged against non-believers was a recipe for eternal conflict with non-Muslims.  The Hadith that the Shafi’i school mentions here is a good example of the aggressive nature of Muhammad’s message. Can you imagine a Christian leader saying he must fight Muslims until they attest that Jesus is the son of God or else they are not safe anymore? And Muslims wonder why people are “afraid” of Islam.
The referenced Hadith is nothing but a call for war against all non-Muslims to make them believe what Muhammad believed. There is nothing “defensive” about it. There are several Hadith making identical statements: Bukhari 1.2.24 , Muslim 1.29, 1.30, 1.31, 1.32 en 1.33.

Details concerning jihad are found in the accounts of the military expeditions of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), including his own martial forays and those on which he dispatched others. The former consist of the ones he personally attended, some twenty-seven (others say twenty-nine) of them.. He fought in eight of them, and killed only one person with his noble hand, Ubayy ibn Khalaf, at the battle ofUhud. On the latter expeditions he sent others to fight, himself remaining at Medina, and these were forty-seven in number.)
The military expeditions took place in the period Muhammad lived in Medina, the last 10 years of his life. He took part in 27 expeditions himself and sent others to fight without him 47 times. This means 74 times in 10 years or on average more than once every 2 months. It must be said that some of these expeditions were not really wars against armed groups but missions to murder eliminate his critics. Documented examples are Ka’b bin Al-Ashraf, Asma bint Marwan, Abu Rafi, Abu Afak, ... Also see webpage “Violence in Islam”.

The least that can be said is that Muhammad did not succeed to persuade people in a peaceful way or that he stood for non-violence. Moreover, according to Muhammad’s biographies, most wars were not defensive but offensive, often against unsuspecting citizens.  There are no reports that great leaders like Jesus, Buddha and Gandhi committed acts of violence, no matter how much they were “persecuted”.
In the book “Reliance of the Traveller” the Shafi’i school states:

o9.1 Jihad is a communal obligation (def: c3.2). When enough people perform it to successfully accomplish it, it is no longer obligatory upon others (O: the evidence for which is the Prophet’s saying (Allah bless him and give him peace),
Our comments

“He who provides the equipment for a soldier in jihad has himself performed jihad,”

And Allah Most High having said:
“Those of the believers who are but sit behind are not equal to those who fight in Allah’s path with their property and lives. Allah has preferred those who fight with their property and lives a whole degree above those who sit behind. And to each, Allah has promised great good” (Quran 4:95).
If none of those concerned perform jihad, and it does not happen at all, then everyone who is aware that it is obligatory is guilty of sin, if there was a possibility of having performed it. In the time of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) jihad was a communal obligation after his emigration (hijra) to Medina. As for subsequent times, there are two possible states in respect to non-Muslims.
This sentence is important for Muslims in Belgium. An alternative for conducting armed battle is giving financial or logistic support to groups, which defend or extend the territory of Muslims worldwide.
If in Belgium, freedom of religion is taken seriously, one should allow Belgian Muslims to give financial support to movements like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al-Qaeda, Taliban, Jama’a Islamia, ...
Like a Muslim woman gets blessings from Allah by wearing a veil, all Muslims get blessings from Allah by doing jihad or support it in one way or another.  Maybe Jihad could be recognized as a charity, so donations could be tax deductible.  This could be a gesture of goodwill to the Belgian Islamic community so they would finally feel their religion and identity respected.
The first is when they are in their own countries, in which case jihad (def:o9.8) is a communal obligation, and this is what our author is speaking of when he says, “Jihad is a communal obligation,” meaning upon the Muslims each year.
The first case of Jihad is attacking non-Muslims who don’t attack first, meaning an aggressive attack of non-Muslims with the goal described above in verses of the Quran 2.193 and 8.39 that “religion only belongs to Allah.”
The second state is when non-Muslims invade a Muslim country or near to one, in which case jihad is personally obligatory (def: c3.2) upon the inhabitants of that country, who must repel the non-Muslims with whatever they can).
The second case is when a Muslim is attacked; logically he has to defend himself.  This is the defensive jihad, which is usually mentioned when the term Jihad is used.  This indeed is one aspect of it.
o9.2 Jihad is personally obligatory upon all those present in the battle lines (A: and to flee is an enormity (dis: p11)) (O: provided one is able to fight. If unable, because of illness or the death of one’s mount when not able to fight on foot, or because one no longer has a weapon, then one may leave. One may also leave if the opposing non-Muslim army is more than twice the size of the Muslim force).
The third case is when, somewhere in the world, Muslims are being attacked or non-Muslims occupy their land.  Like Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, but also Chechnya occupied by Russians, the Gulf States where American troops are based, the South of the Philippines and Thailand, occupied by respectively the Christian Philippine State and the Buddhist Thai State, Kashmir occupied by the Hindu Indian State, Kosovo occupied by the Christian Serbian State, … Soon other parts of Europe with a local Muslim majority will be considered occupied too.
o9.3 Jihad is also (O: personally) obligatory for everyone (O: able to perform it, male or  female, old or young) when the enemy has surrounded the Muslims (O: on every side, having entered our territory, even if the land consists of ruins, wilderness, or mountains, for non-Muslims forces entering Muslim lands is a weighty matter that cannot be ignored, but must be met with effort and struggle to repel them by every possible means. All of which is if conditions permit gathering (A: the above-mentioned) people, provisioning them, and readying them for war. If conditions do no permit this, as when the enemy has overrun the Muslims such that they are unable to provision or prepare themselves for war, then whoever is found by a non-Muslim and knows he will be killed if captured is obliged to defend himself in whatever way possible. But if not certain that he will be killed, meaning that he might or might not be, as when he might merely be taken captive, and he knows he will be killed if he does not surrender, then he may either surrender or fight.
Here it’s the duty of all Muslims to offer help by all possible means”.  This is what movements like Al-Qaeda are doing worldwide. They probably have read Islamic law books too and they are looking for the big reward the Quran promises them in verse 4.95. Who can blame them?  It’s their religion, you know! Freedom of religion?
A woman too has a choice between fighting or surrendering if she is certain that she will not be subjected to an indecent act if captured. If uncertain that she will be safe from such an act, she is obliged to fight, and surrender is not permissible).
Practically, this means that a muslim woman who risks to be raped has to fight until she is dead. Further down in this text, you will learn what muslim fighters are allowed to deal with captive non-muslim women.
In the book “Reliance of the Traveller” the Shafi’i school states:


o9.4 Those called upon (O: to perform jihad when it is a communal obligation) are every able bodied man who has reached puberty and is sane.

o9.5 The following may not fight in jihad:
(1) Someone in debt, unless his creditor gives him leave:
(2) Or someone with at least one Muslim parent, until they give their permission:
Our comments

This paragraph deals with offensive Jihad to attack non-Muslim countries to spread Islam.  This is a matter for adult men.

unless the Muslims are surrounded by the enemy, in which case it is permissible for them to fight without permission.

In case of defensive Jihad, when Muslims are being attacked or non-Muslims occupy their land, according to o9.3 everyone is obligated to fight. Also women and children are, and they don’t need permission from their parents or husbands.
o9.6 It is offensive to conduct a military expedition against hostile non-Muslims without the caliph’s permission (A: though if there is no caliph (def: o25), no permission is required)
The caliph needs to give permission, this is clearly a tactical consideration to avoid that war breaks out when the caliph is not fully prepared yet. In case there is no caliph anyone can carry out a military expedition, as, for example, Al-Qaeda does.
o9.7 Muslims may not seek help from non-Muslim allies unless the Muslims are considerably outnumbered and the allies are of goodwill towards the Muslims.
This inevitably leads to confusion and violence among Muslims. The Saudi-Arabian king called for help from the US after the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq. The conditions as shown on the left were fulfilled. The US is an ally. But Al-Qaeda sees it differently and says the US have a secret agenda.  They consider the non-Muslim troops as occupation and according to o9.3 must be fought “with all possible means”.
In the book “Reliance of the Traveller” the Shafi’i school states:

o9.8 The caliph (o25) makes war upon Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians (N: provided he has first invited them to enter Islam in faith and practice, and if they will not, then invited them to enter the social order of Islam by paying the non-Muslim poll tax (jizya, def: o11.4)---which is the significance of their paying it, not the money itself—while remaining in their ancestral religions)  (O: and the war continues) until they become Muslim or else pay the non-Muslim poll tax (O: in accordance with the word of Allah Most High,
Our comments

There are 2 categories of non-Muslims. The first ones are the Jews, Christians and Zoroastrians.. Before the Muslims attack them, they are invited to convert to Islam. They have 3 options:
1. They become Muslims, their land will be absorbed in the Islamic State and they will be treated like every other Muslim.
2. They preserve their original belief provided they pay special tax for non-Muslims (jizya). Their land will be absorbed in the Islamic State and they submit themselves to Islamic law, which discriminates them in cases of mixed marriages or conflicts with Muslims. In the field of family law where no Muslims are involved they follow their own legislation and have their own courts.
If they reject the first 2 options, there will be war until they are, either dead, or accept option 1 or 2.
“Fight those who do not believe in Allah and the Last Day and who forbid not what Allah and His messenger have forbidden---who do not practice the religion of truth, being of those who have been given the Book—until they pay the poll tax out of hand and are humbled’’ (Quran 9.29),
The time and place for which is before the final descent of Jesus (upon whom be peace). After his final coming, nothing but Islam will be accepted from them, for taking the poll tax is only effective until Jesus’ descent (upon him and our Prophet be peace), which is the divinely revealed law of Muhammad. The coming of Jesus does not entail a separate divinely revealed law, for he will rule by the law of Muhammad. As for the Prophet’s saying (Allah bless him and give him peace).
“I am the last, there will be no prophet after me.”
This does not contradict the final coming of Jesus (upon whom be peace), since he will not rule according to the Evangel, but as a follower of our Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace)).
A non-Muslim who dares to quote verse 9.29 to show Islam is aggressive against non-Muslims will be branded an Islamophobe and supposedly takes verses out of context. But all Islamic scholars agree that the context of this verse, as described in different Islamic sources, is exactly as indicated under o9.8.
o9.9 The caliph fights all other peoples until they become Muslim (O: because they are not a people with a Book, not honored as such, and are not permitted to settle with paying the poll tax (jizya)) (n: though according to the Hanafi school, peoples of all other religions, even idol worshippers are permitted to live under the protection of the Islamic state if they either become Muslim or agree to pay the poll tax, the sole exceptions to which are apostates from Islam and idol worshippers who are Arabs, neither of whom has any choice but becoming Muslim (al-Hidaya sharh Bidaya al Mubtadi’ (y21), 6.48-49)).
The second category of non-Muslims are all others, they can choose between converting to Islam or die. This is based on the following Quran verse:
9.5. So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captives and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
In the book “Reliance of the Traveller” the Shafi’i school states:

o9.10 ‘It is not permissible (A : in jihad) to kill women or children unless they are fighting against the Muslims. Nor is it permissible to kill animals, unless they are being ridden into battle against the Muslims, or if killing them will help defeat the enemy. It is permissible to kill old men (O: old man (shaykh) meaning someone more than forty years of age) and monks.
Our comments

Women and children may not be killed unless, ... they may be killed, namely when they fight Muslims. To fight is generally considered as granting aid or encouraging their men during the fight. Or even criticizing Islam or Muhammad.
o9.11 It is unlawful to kill a non-Muslim to whom a Muslim has given his guarantee of protection (O: whether the non-Muslim is one or more than one, provided the number is limited, and the Muslim’s protecting them does not harm the Muslims,  as when they are spies) provided the protecting Muslim has reached puberty, is sane, and does so voluntarily (O: and is not a prisoner of them or a spy)
The classic “become Muslim (in time) or die” phrase, which proves one more time the unbreakable link, which exists in Islam between belief, politics, war and loyalty to a group.
o9.12 Whoever enters Islam before being captured may not be killed or his property confiscated, or his young children taken captive.
o9.13 When a child or a woman is taken captive, they become slaves by the fact of capture, and the woman’s previous marriage is immediately annulled.
Elsewhere in the book “Reliance of the Traveler” it is stated that rules concerning slavery in Islam will not be discussed, since slavery has been abolished everywhere.  We want to point out, Islam did NOT abolish slavery, and the rules concerning slavery are still known and ready to be used at any time. Mohammad himself enslaved people, though he also encouraged releasing slaves as a good deed.  It’s like the bank robber who gets rewarded for bringing back some of the money he stole.
On the left, one of the rules concerning slavery in Islam is given, namely that the marriage of a woman is cancelled after being enslaved. In practice, Jihadists used women who were caught in Jihad, as sex slaves. This is also allowed in the Quran in this verse:
4.24. And all married women except those whom your right hands possess (this is) Allah's ordinance to you, and lawful for you are (all women) besides those, provided that you seek (them) with your property, taking (them) in marriage not committing fornication. Then as to those whom you profit by, give them their dowries as appointed; and there is no blame on you about what you mutually agree after what is appointed; surely Allah is Knowing, Wise.
The context of this verse is illustrated by a reliable hadith reported by Muslim, Muslim, Book 008, Number 3432:
Abu Sa'id al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that at the Battle of Hanain Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) sent an army to Autas and encountered the enemy and fought with them. Having overcome them and taken them captives, the Companions of Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) seemed to refrain from having intercourse with captive women because of their husbands being polytheists. Then Allah,
Most High, sent down regarding that:" And women already married, except those whom your right hands possess (iv. 24)" (i. e. they were lawful for them when their 'Idda period came to an end.
o9.14 When an adult male is taken captive, the caliph (def: o25) considers the interests  (O: of Islam and the Muslims) and decides between the prisoner’s death, slavery, release without paying anything, or ransoming himself in exchange for money or for a Muslim captive held by the enemy.  If the prisoner becomes a Muslim (O: before the caliph chooses any of the four alternatives) then he may not be killed, and one of the other three alternatives is chosen.
Men are not so lucky. Their fate depends on the mood of caliph or his tactical considerations. In the worst case the prisoner will be killed.
Prisoners of war can just be killed.  Some Muslims claim Muhammad already applied the Geneva convention. The killing of male prisoners and the enslavement of women and their use as sex slaves is in fact exactly the opposite
o9.15 It is permissible in jihad to cut down the enemy’s trees and destroy their dwellings.
We cannot help but think about the World Trade Center in New York destroyed on the 11th of September 2001.
In the book “Reliance of the Traveller” the Shafi’i school states:


o9.16 (O: As for truces, the author does not mention them. In Sacred Law truce means a peace treaty with those hostile to Islam, involving a cessation of fighting for a specified period, whether for payment or something else. The scriptural basis for them includes such Quranic verses as:
(1) “An acquittal from Allah and His messenger…” (Quran9:1);
Our comments

Truce in Islam does not mean what we generally understand by peace, it’s just the discontinuation of hostilities to gain strength and prepare for the next phase of fighting.
(2) “If they incline towards peace, then incline towards it also” (Quran 8:61);
This is again a Quranic verse usually taken out of “context”.  Ibn Ishaq writes on page 236, in his biography of Mohammad, the following about verse 8.61: “Then He said, "And if they incline to peace incline thou to it," i.e. if they ask you for peace on the basis of Islam then make peace on that basis, "
Peace in Islam means you accept Islamic authority, it does not mean you can live as equals indefinitely.
As well as the truce which the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) made with Quraysh in the year of Hudaybiya, as related by Bukhari and Muslim
Truces are permissible, not obligatory. The only one who may affect a truce is the Muslim ruler of a region (or his representative) with a segment of the non-Muslims of the region, or the caliph (o25) (or his representative). When made with other than a portion of the non-Muslims, or when made with all of them, or with all in a particular region such as India or Asia Minor, then only the caliph (or his representative) may effect it, for it is a matter of the gravest consequence because it entails the nonperformance of jihad, whether globally or in a given locality, and our interests must be looked after therein, which is why it is best left to the caliph under any circumstances, or to someone he delegates to see to the interests of the various regions.
This was a 10-year treaty Mohammad broke, when he felt strong enough for the final battle against Mecca.
At the beginning of 2008, Hamas presented a truce for 10 years to Israel; it was not meant to finally recognize Israel as a state but to arm themselves and to prepare for the next phase of war, when they feel strong enough. The treaty of Hudaybiya was also established in such a way, that each party could find reasons to break it, and put the blame on the other party.
In Belgium, almost nobody understands that Hamas followed the example of Mohammad with this truce and no one wonders why this truce had to be exactly 10 years! Hamas just had the example of Muhammad in mind.

There must be some interest served in making a truce other than mere preservation of the status quo. Allah Most High says,
“So do not be fainthearted and call for peace, when it is you who are the uppermost” (Quran 47:35).
And this higher goal, of course is, spreading Islam and to submit everybody to Islam.

Do not make peace when you are strong. And you will win because you work for Allah, so don’t ask for peace because your enemies, when stronger than you, will treat you badly, as stated in this Quranic verse:
60.2. “If they find you, they will be your enemies, and will stretch forth towards you their hands and their tongues with evil, and they ardently desire that you may disbelieve.”
Interests that justify making a truce are such things as Muslim weakness because of lack of numbers or materiel, or the hope of an enemy becoming Muslim, for the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) made a truce in the year Mecca was liberated with Safwan ibn Umayya for four months in hope that he would become Muslim, and he entered Islam before its time was up. If the Muslims are weak, a truce may be made for ten years if necessary, for the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) made a truce with Quraysh for that long, as is related by Abu Dawud. It is not permissible to stipulate longer than that, save by means of new truces, each of which does not exceed ten years. The rulings of such a truce are inferable from those of the non-Muslim poll tax (def: o11); namely, that when a valid truce has been effected. No harm may be done to non-Muslims until it expires.)
A truce as a tactical move not a permanent peace or surrender.