Reciprocation with Idolaters Allowed
The Honorable Messenger was not allowed to make war or jihad in Mecca. He devoted all his time and effort to put the fundamentals of belief in hearts, souls and minds, according to the commands of God. He was continuing his service there with preaching, sermons, warning and guidance to the true path. He was supposed to behave patiently and peacefully against all kinds of cruelty of the era. This could clearly be seen in the verses that were sent in earlier times in Mecca.
As a matter of fact, the principle in Islamic Law is peaceful interaction among people. War and Jihad are resorted to only in case of an obligation. (1) There could be no other reality than this among people whom God the Glorious created from one mother and one father. However, dividing people into branches and tribes was for the purpose of mutual interests such as recognition of generation and purity of posterity. (2)
The Prophet and Muslims were not allowed to make war or Jihad in Mecca but were advised to be patient and deliberate despite all the cruelty and tortures they were exposed to; similarly, they were not allowed to make war or Jihad right after migration to Medina.
Islam was gaining power day by day and advancing rapidly in Medina. The sun of the Quran was starting to embrace souls with all its glory; nevertheless, the Honorable Messenger and Muslims were not in an atmosphere of certain safety. Muslims of Medina had greeted the Prophet in a festival-like enthusiastic atmosphere but hypocrites and Jews were developing a deadly grudge and enmity against him in their hearts. Although the Jews signed a contract with the Prophet, it was obvious from all of their behavior that they were disclaiming this contract.
Hypocrites were posing even a greater danger.
An ornamented crown had been prepared for Abdullah bin Ubai bin Salul, the chief of Khazraj tribe, before the Prophet migrated to Medina. When he was about to wear it like a head of a state with a magnificent ceremony, the migration took place. As a result of this, all people of Khazraj converted to Islam. Therefore, they did not pay homage to the crown or kaftan (signs of sovereignty) any more.
Abdullah bin Ubai converted to Islam in appearance because of his tribe, but he founded a sect of hypocrites, for he was upset as he was deprived of leadership. He started sowing discord and plotting mischief secretly. And sometimes he even went too far, daring to interfere with the Honorable Messenger’s service of summons and advice. Events plotted by this sect of hypocrites in order to sow discord spread mischief among Muslims will be mentioned as the occasion arises.
Moreover, idolaters of Mecca were trying to provoke hypocrites and Jews of Medina, and even tribes near Medina persistently and preparing for taking action to kill the divine light, which they failed to kill in Mecca, in Medina this time.
It was now impossible to behave patiently and peacefully against all these external and internal enemies. Most of the Muslims wished to stand up to the people of Quraish and square accounts with them. Sa’d bin Muadh, a notable person from the Ansar, put this desire into words as follows:
“O God! You know that there is nothing lovelier than fighting against the Quraish tribe for Your sake! The Quraish disclaimed the Messenger’s prophethood. And they obliged him to leave his homeland in the end. O God! I presume that you will let us fight against them!” (3)
Apparently, Muslims were not safe in Medina.
Then, in the meantime, the Prophet was allowed to fight for self-defense and reaction. The Quranic verse which was sent pertaining to this issue said:
“To those against whom war is made, permission is given (to fight), because they are wronged;- and verily, God 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 God".” (4)
As it can be understood from the statement of the Quranic verse, the permission of jihad is restricted and it is permitted only in case of “being attacked and subjected to torture.” That is to say; Muslims would not attack in any way. If they are subjected to cruelty or if they are attacked, they will fight back in order to defend themselves. It is also clear from this verse that Islamic wars depend not on attack but on defense.
These verses had given Muslims “the right to self-defense and protection against attacking enemies”. When political conditions and financial capability of Muslims improve and the first conditions disappear, jihad will be made fard (obligation) for Muslims, with the verses to be sent later. (5)
1. Tajrid Translation, V.. 10, p. 130.
2. Al-Hujurat, 13.
3. Tajrid Translation, V.. 10. p. 134.
4. Al-Hajj, 39-40.
5. see Al-Baqara, 190-191; at-Tahrim, 9; at-Tawba, 5-29; al-Anfal, 39.
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