How is Jihad (holy war) encouraged in the Quran?

Some verses that encourage and command jihad are as follows:
1-Do you consider the giving of drink to pilgrims, or the maintenance of the Sacred Mosque, equal to (the pious service of) those who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and strive with might and main in the Cause of Allah. They are not equal in the sight of Allah.
(at-Tauba, 19)
Although giving of drink to pilgrims and the maintenance of the Kaaba, which is the most sacred place on the earth, are good and pious deeds, they cannot be equal to striving with might and main in the Cause of Allah. Worshipping in the neighborhood of Kaaba is nice but striving with might and main in the Cause of Allah is nicer. It is because the first one is an individually performed prayer, the other spreading the religion of Allah. Just as prophethood is superior over piousness, so is the struggle of spreading the religion of Allah superior over individual perfection and prayers.

Because that point is not comprehended exactly, some Muslims who go to hajj (pilgrimage) wish to die in those blessed places. Whereas, if they go there not to die but to resurrect and if they participate in the service of the religion with a fresh spirit and excitement, it will be better for them.

2- Not equal are those believers who sit, except those who are disabled, and those who strive and fight in the cause of Allah with their goods and their persons. Allah had granted a grade higher to those who strive and fight with their goods and persons than to those who sit (at home).
(an-Nisa), 95)

3- And slacken not in following up the enemy: If you are suffering hardships, they are suffering similar hardships; but you have hope from Allah, while they have not. (an-Nisa), 104)
A believer who says: I will be a martyr if I die! must be braver than the followers of void causes who do not have such hopes.

4- Go you forth, (whether equipped) lightly or heavily, and strive and struggle, with your goods and your persons, in the Cause of Allah. That is best for you, if you (but) knew.
(Repentance (Al-Tauba), 41)

The phrase (whether equipped) lightly or heavily... is explained as follows:
- Whether you like or dislike.
- Whether your family responsibilities are light or heavy.
- Whether equipped with heavy or light weapons.
-Whether on foot or by a vehicle.
- Whether you are young or old.
- Whether you are healthy or ill
Go you forth in any case! (1)

The phrase with your goods and your persons indicates the two types of jihad. There are some sorts of people who spend their goods in the Cause of Allah. There is another group of people who sacrifice their lives in the Cause of Allah.

The phrase in the Cause of Allah statement is an important condition. A struggle which is not in the Cause of Allah does not deserve to be called as jihad. Here is the point which gives spirit to jihad. (2) Otherwise, people who are Muslims will fight too; they will try to spread their own religions and ideologies. Moreover, they will sacrifice their lives in the cause of that target. However, their struggle is not a struggle which has importance before Allah.

5- And strive in His cause as you ought to strive, (with sincerity and under discipline)...
(al-Hajj, 78)

Striving as what a jihad requires is different from supposing oneself a mujahid (a person who makes jihad). The first one is a right struggle but the second one is just a fooling.

6- make not your own hands contribute to (your) destruction
(The Heifer (Al-Baqarah), 195)

The following is narrated about that verse: In the era of Hazrat Muawiyah, Islam army came in front of Istanbul. During the fighting, a person from muhajirs (emigrants from Makkah to Madinah) attacked and plunged into ranks of the enemy. Some Muslims considered that movement as contrary to the verse makes not your own hands contribute to (your) destruction. Thereupon, standard-bearer of the Prophet (PBUH) Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari said: We know that verse better. That verse was revealed about us. We lived together with Allahs Messenger (PBUH). We confronted against many incidents with Him (PBUH) and helped Him (PBUH). Eventually Islam got victorious. We gathered together as Ansars, helpers of Madinah, and said: Allah granted us the honor of being friends of His Messenger (PBUH) and helping him. However, now Islam is victorious, Muslims have increased. We preferred Him (PBUH) instead of our children and goods. Considering the war is over, let us return to our homes and children and live with them. That verse was revealed when we talked like that. (3)

It is understood that the destruction is not in attacking but in staying behind. The phrase spend of your substance in the cause of Allah... at the beginning of the verse, signals the economic aspect of jihad. If rich people do not spend their goods and money in the Cause of spreading the religion of Allah, they will contribute to their destruction.

7- Truly Allah loves those who fight in His Cause in battle array, as if they were a solid cemented structure.
(As-Saff, 4)

8- O you who believe! Shall I lead you to a bargain that will save you from a grievous Chastisement? - That you believe in Allah and His Messenger, and that you strive (your utmost) in the Cause of Allah, with your wealth and your persons: That will be best for you, if you but knew! He will forgive you your sins, and admit you to Gardens beneath which Rivers flow, and to beautiful mansions in Gardens of Eternity: that is indeed the Supreme Triumph. And another (favor will He bestow,) which you do love, - help from Allah and a speedy victory. So give the Glad Tidings to the Believers.
(As-Saff, 10-13)

Striving in the Cause of Allah is explained as bargain in the verse. The essence of a bargain is to profit. Something is sold and an income is gained in return. Similarly, believers will sacrifice their wealth and persons in the Cause of Allah; they will gain a lot in return. The profits are listed in the verse as follows:

a. Forgiveness of Allah
b. Paradise
c. Triumph
d. A speedy victory

Forgiveness of Allah and Paradise concern the Hereafter; triumph and victory are related to this world. Therefore, the happiness in the world as well as the happiness in the Hereafter is only possible by striving in the Cause of Allah.

9- O you who believe! Fight the unbelievers who are near to you, and let them find harshness in you: and know that Allah is with those who fear Him.
(Repentance (at-Tauba), 123)

That verse is similar to the verse And admonish your nearest kinsmen, (Ash-Shuara, 214) which teaches the strategy of inviting to the religion. That is to say, just as it is necessary to start from the nearest kinsmen, so is fighting started from the nearest enemy. Therefore, Allahs Messenger (PBUH) fought his tribe first and then other Arab tribes and then Byzantines. Doubtlessly, fighting all of the unbelievers at the same time is impossible. So, it is reasonable to start from the closest enemy. (4)

Great interpreter Fakhruddin Razi says the following about the part of the verse: and let them find harshness in you: Gilza, in Arabic, is the opposite of mercy. It conveys harshness in the chastisement. Definitely, harshness is more effective in avoidance also it is more impressive in prohibiting evil. On the other hand, always being harsh is not suitable. It is because some situations require mercy and some harshness. Therefore, through drawing attention to the inconvenience of being harsh all the time, the following is stated and let them find harshness in you Always being harsh disrupts people and alienates people from each other. The phrase and let them find harshness in you is evidence that the harshness should not always exist. It is as if the following is said: When they search your ethics and character, it is natural that they will find harshness in you. Such an expression is valid for people who have compassion and mercy in most of their manners but have a sort of harshness in their nature. The existence of such harshness is not suitable in trading, conversations, eating and drinking, etc. (5)


1- Razî,XVI, 69-70; Baydawi, I, 406; Abu'l-Barakat Nasafî, Madariku't-Tanzîl, Daru'l-Fikir, II, 127
2- Qutub, 1, 187; Sabunî, Safwatu't-Tafasir, 1, 127; Qadiri, 1,50; Mawdudi, Jihad in Islam, p.,7; Afif Abdulfattah Tabbara, Ruhu'd-Dini'l-İslamî, Daru'l-İlm, Beirut,p., 380-381, Abdulazîz Hatip, Gönüllerin Fethinde Cihad, Gençlik Yay. Ist., 1994,p., 118-119; Zaydan, Usulu'd-Dava, p., 272
3- Ibnu Kasîr, I, 331; Abu Dawud, Sunan, Jihad, 22; Tirmizî, Commentary , 2/19
4- Razî, XVI, 228-229
5- Razî, XVI, 2301

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