What is the purpose of Jihad?

Every Nation has ideals, which inspire them. A nations endeavor to accomplish its ideals becomes huge as much as they deeply believe in them. (1) Founding a state, having a voice in the international arena, gathering same nations members under one flag are some of those ideals.

At this point, the Holy Quran makes a clear distinction between the believers and the unbelievers, Those who (truly) believe fight in Gods cause, while those who disbelieve fight in the way of taghut (powers of evil who institute patterns of rule in defiance of God). So (O believers) fight against the friends and allies of Satan. Assuredly, Satans guile is ever feeble. (An-Nisa Surah, 4:76)

The expression, taghut includes anything worshipped other than God. Satan is a taghut. Pharaoh like people who follow Satan is taghut. Undisciplined nafs (self) is a taghut Do you ever consider him who has taken his lusts and fancies for his deity? (Al-Furqan Surah, 25:43), (Al-Jathiyah Surah, 45:23) Quran, with these verses, takes our attentions to the ones who idolize their habitual evil lusts.

As you see, unbelievers follow those taghuts. They subordinate themselves to Satan, become prisoners of their evil-selves, and struggle under the leadership of evil people. However, their struggle is destitute of sublimity, a menial one. There are benefits to reap in the foundation of this struggle. They never hesitate to burn the world for their benefits. In fact, one can clearly understand their menial interests if only glances at wars in the last two hundred years. (3)

They are after lands, colonies, new markets, and new resources; fight for supremacy over other nations. (4)

There is no difference between the colonialist powers that intend to capture the entire resources of the world and a Roman Emperor who says, by showing the fig in his hand to his commanders, We did not invade the lands that bear this fruit yet! Let us organize a campaign and invade those lands. States and leaders changes but mentality stands still. History repeats itself at this point. First and Second World Wars are the proofs of this truth.

Believers, on the other hand fight in the way of God. And fight in the cause of sublime values. They make efforts in the way of Divine Will. Their struggle is a struggle of virtue. It is a remarkable issue of that Fi Sabilillah (in the way of God) reads wherever Jihad and Kital (war) expressions are made mention in the Quran. Any struggle, any war, which is not in the cause of God, has no value.

The Surah An-Nisa, verse 141, believers gain victory, unbelievers meet with a success, indicates such a significant difference between believers and unbelievers conception of war. While believers fight in the cause of God, unbelievers fight in the cause of worldly gains. (5)

Quran sets the cause and the purpose of the struggle as follows:
And (if they still persist in unbelief and hostilities), fight against them until there is no longer disorder and oppression rooted in rebellion against God, and the whole of religion (the full authority to order the way of life is recognized) for God exclusively. (Al-Anfal Surah, 8:39) There are two objectives for Muslims in the verse; to root out the Fitna (sedition), and to make Gods religion prevail.

The term Fitna comes originally referred to the refining of metal (gold) to remove dross. (6) Tribulation, trouble, and disorder meanings derived from the original meaning. Torturing people because of their belief, intervening worship, forcing emigration; are all Fitna. Fitna is described in Quran in the following verse as, disorder (rooted in rebellion against God and recognizing no laws) is worse than killing. (Al-Baqarah Surah, 2:191) It should not be said there is nothing worse than killing, for, such circumstances which would make someone desire to die are worse than dying.

The following verse points out the sublime objective of Jihad:
Why, then, should you not fight in the cause of God and of the oppressed, helpless men, women, and children, who cry out: "O Lord! Bring us out of this land whose people are oppressors, and appoint for us from Your Presence a protector, and appoint for us from Your Presence a helper!" (An-Nisa Surah, 4:75)

The objective of the whole affair of religion belongs exclusively to God is to free humans from servitude to any other humans; and realization of servitude only to God. (8) Jews and Christians are mentioned in the Quran as, The Jews take their rabbis (teachers of law), and the Christians take their monks, as well as the Messiah, son of Mary, for Lords besides God (by holding as lawful or unlawful what the teachers of law and monks decree to be lawful or unlawful, as against Gods decree), whereas they were commanded to worship none but the One God. Doubtless, taking anything or anybody for Lord besides God does not necessarily mean that they refer to it by the name Lord. (9) As hadith explains the above given verse, accepting anything whatever rabbis and monks decree as haram (religiously forbidden) or halal (religiously permissible); is taking them for Lords besides God. (10)

Islam must be announced in a free environment. Persons who want to convert should not be hindered, and anyone who wants to live according to this religion must be free to live it. They should not have to face the hardships and seditions.

Jihads objective is to provide freedoms and to overcome the obstacles. When obstacles are overcome, humans will yearn for one and only Divine religion, Islam. (11)

Doubtless, the whole religion belongs to God does not mean that Islam does not grant rights to other religions, or it urges people to convert. (12) Muslims never forced people from other religions to convert to Islam. Non-Muslims have lived in peace and in comfort within Islamic countries since the age of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

As Ahmet Ozel says, Campaigns of conquest were not conducted to force people to convert to Islam but to find the chance to announce Islam in those places where it was once impossible. (13)

And (if they still persist in unbelief and hostilities), fight against them until there is no longer disorder and oppresssion rooted in rebellion against God, and the whole of religion (the full authority to order the way of life is recognized) for God exclusively. (Al-Anfal Surah, 8:39) This verse displays Islams determination of taking any necessary action. It shows the ultimate goal of Muslims. It expels worries from daily lives and urges to noble ideals. Conveying these high ideals to the new generations will open new frontiers and will give new sublime ideals to them.

Sources:
1-Hamidullah, İslam'da Devlet İdaresi, Ter. Ali Kuşçu, Ahmed Said Matbaası, İst. 1963, s. 135
2-Beydavi, I, 135
3-Abdurrahman Azzam, Ebedi Risalet, Ter. H.Hüsnü Erdem, Sönmez Neş. İst. 1962, s.165
4-Kutub, I, 187; Sabuni, Saffetu't-Tefasir, I, 127
5-Beydavi, I, 244
6-Ebu'l-Fadl İbnu Manzur, Lisanu'l-Arab, Daru Sadır, Beyrut, VI, 317
7-Yazır, II, 695
8-Kutub, III, 1433
9-Yazır, IV, 2512
10-Tirmizi, Tefsir, 9-10; Razi, XVI, 37
11-Yazır, II, 690
12-Zeydan, Şeriatu'l-İslamiye, s. 55-56; Vehbe Zuhayli, El-Alakatu'd- Düveliye fi'l- İslam, Müessesetü Risale, Beyrut, 1989, s.25; Madelung, VII, 110
13-Özel, TDV.İslam Ans. "Cihad" md. VII, 530

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