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Challenges

ISLAM - MODERN CHALLENGES

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Humanity, Religion, Culture, Ethics, Science, Spirituality & Peace

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INTRODUCTION :
The followers of Islam have been facing many challenges, right from the beginning like the menace of polytheism (shirk),deviations (bid’ah), sectarianism, extremism, militancy and Intolerance. At times these threats can be recognized but mostly it is difficult to identify them, hence hard to deal with. Consequently understanding of threats to the faith are very important to guard against falling pray to them innocently.
POLYTHEISM (SHIRK) :
Polytheism (Shirk) is the greatest sin which will not be forgiven by Allah, Who says in Qur’an: “Surely Allah does not forgive shirk (associating any partner with Him); and may forgive sins other than that if He so pleases. This is because one who commits shirk with Allah, does indeed invent a great sinful lie.”(Qur’an;4:48). Shirk basically is polytheism, i.e., the worship of others along with Allah, this is the unpardonable sin. Polytheism has always been rejected by Allah, it is mentioned in Bible: “I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; (Exodus; 20:2-5 & Deuteronomy; 5:7-9). “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” (1Timothy;2:5).
Shirk also implies attributing divine attributes to any one else besides Allah. It particularly implies associating partners in worship with Allah or believing that the source of power, harm or blessings is from others besides Allah. Allah says: "Verily, Allah forgives not that partners should be ascribed to Him in worship, but He forgives except that (anything else) to whom He pleases; and whoever ascribes partners to Allah in worship, has indeed invented a tremendous sin."(Qur’an;4:48). “Then when the Trumpet is blown there will be no more relationships between them that day nor will one ask after another! Then those whose balance (of good deeds) is heavy they will attain salvation: But those whose balance is light will be those who have lost their souls; in Hell will they abide. The Fire will burn their faces and they will therein grin with their lips displaced. "Were not My Signs rehearsed to you and ye did but treat them as falsehoods?" They will say: "Our Lord! our misfortune overwhelmed us and we became a people astray! "Our Lord! bring us out of this: if ever we return (to evil) then shall we be wrongdoers indeed!" He will say: "Be ye driven into it (with ignominy)! and speak ye not to Me! (Qur’an;23:101-108). “If anyone invokes besides Allah any other ilaha (god) he has no authority therefore; and his reckoning will be only with his Lord! And verily the Al-Kafirun (Disbelievers in Allah and in the oneness of Allah, polytheists, pagans, idolaters) will not be successful.” (Qur’an;23:117). There are three types of Shirk : Major Polytheism (Ash-Shirk-al-Akbar), Minor Polytheism( Ash-Shirk-al-Asghar) and Inconspicuous Polytheism (Ash-Shirk-al-Khafi).
Major Polytheism: The Major Polytheism (Ash-Shirk-al-Akbar) istheserious polytheistic form, it has four aspects: Firstly; Polytheism of Invocation (Shirk-ad-Du'a): This aspect implies invoking, supplicating or praying to other deities besides Allah. According to Qur’an :"And when they embark on a ships they invoke Allah, making their Faith pure for Him only, but when He brings them safely to land, behold, they give a share of their worship to others,"(Qur’an;29:65). Secondly; Shirk-al-Niyyah wal-Iradah wal-Qasd: This aspect implies intentions, purpose and determination in acts of worship or religious deeds not for the sake of Allah but directed towards other deities. Allah says in Qur’an: "Whosoever desires the life of the world and its glitter, to them We shall pay in full (the wages of) their deeds therein, and they will have no, diminution therein. They are those for whom there is nothing in the Hereafter but Fire; and vain are the deeds they did therein. And of no effect is that which they used to do."(Qur’an;11:15-16). Thirdly; Shirk-at-Ta’ah: This aspect implies rendering obedience to any authority against the Order of Allah. It is mentioned in Qur’an: "They (Jews and Christians) took their Rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah (by obeying them in things which they made lawful or unlawful according to their own desires without being ordered by Allah), and (they also took as their lord) Messiah, son of Mary, while they (Jews and Christians) were commanded (in the Torah and the Gospel) to worship none but One Ilah (God i.e., Allah), La ilaha ilia Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He). Praise and Glory is to Him (far above is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him)."(Qur’an;9:31). Narrated by Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi, and Ibn Jarir: Once Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) was reciting this Verse, Adi bin Hatim, who was reverted from Christianity said; "O Allah's Prophet! They (Jews and Christians) do not worship them (rabbis and monks)" Allah's Messenger said, "They certainly do. They (i.e. Rabbis and monks made legal things illegal, and illegal things legal, and they (i.e. Jews and Christians) followed them; and by doing so they really worshipped them."(Tafsir At-Tabari, Vol.10, Page No. 114). Fourthly: Shirk-til-Mahabbah; This implies showing the love which is due to Allah Alone to others than Him. Allah says in Qur’an: “And of mankind are some who take (for worship) others besides Allah as rivals (to Allah). They love them as they love Allah. But those who believe, love Allah more (than anything else). If only those who do wrong could see, when they will see the torment, that all power belongs to Allah and that Allah is Severe in punishment.”(Qur’an;2:165)
Minor Polytheism( Ash-Shirk-al-Asghar): Ash-Shirk-al-Asghar Ar-Riya’ (The Minor Shirk, i.e. acts performed to show off). Any act of worship or any religious deed done in order to gain praise, fame or for worldly benefit, falls under this category. Allah says in Qur’an : "Say(O Muhammad) :'I am only a man like you, it has been revealed to me that your Ilah (God) is One Ilah (God —Allah). So whoever hopes for the meeting with his Lord, let him work righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of his Lord.'"(Qur’an;18:110)
Inconspicuous Polytheism (Ash-Shirk-al-Khafi):This type implies being inwardly dissatisfied with the inevitable condition that has been ordained for one by Allah; conscientiously lamenting that had you done or not done such and such or had you approached such and such you would have had a better status etc. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: ''Ash-Shirk-at-Khafi inthe Muslim nation is more inconspicuous than the creeping of a black ant on black rock in the pitch-darkness of the night.” And this inconspicuous Shirk is expiated by saying thrice the following sentences every day “O Allah! I take Your refuge front ht I should ascribe anything as partner in Your worship, being conscious of that, and I beg Your pardon for that sin which I am not aware of.”
Disbelief (Kufr) :
Kufr is basically disbelief in any of the articles of Faith in Islam. The articles of Faith which are to be believed are: (1) Allah, (2)His angels, (3)His Messengers,(4) His revealed Books, (5)The Day of Resurrection, and (6)Al-Qadar, Divine Preordainments (i.e. whatever Allah has ordained must come to pass). There are two aspects of disbelief:
Major Disbelief-Al-Kufr-al-Akbar:Major Disbelief results in complete exclusion from the fold of Islam. There are five types (of this major disbelief): (1) Kufr-at-Takdhib; This implies disbelieving the divine truth or denying of any of the articles of Faith. Allah says in Qur’an: “Then who does more wrong than one who utters a lie against Allah and denies the truth (this Qur'an, the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, the Islamic Monotheism,) when it comes to him. Is there not in Hell an abode for the disbelievers?”(Qur’an;39:32). (2) Kufr-al-Iba' wat-Takabbur ma'at-Tasdiq: This implies rejection and arrogance to submit to Allah's Commandments after conviction of their truth. Allah says in Qur’an : "And (remember) when We said to the angels: 'Prostrate yourself before Adam.' And they prostrated except Iblis, he refused and was proud and was one of the disbelievers (disobedient to Allah)."(Qur’an;2:34). (3) Kufr-ash-Shakk waz-Zann: This implies doubting or lacking of conviction in the six articles of Faith. As per Qur’an : “And he went into his garden while in a state (of pride and disbelief) unjust to himself. He said: 'I think not that this will ever perish. And I think not the Hour will ever come, and if indeed I am brought back to my Lord (on the Day of Resurrection) I surely shall find better than this when I return to Him.' His companion said to him during the talk with him: 'Do you disbelieve in Him Who created you out of dust (i.e. your father Adam), then out of Nutfah (mixed semen drops of male and female discharge), then fashioned you into a man? But as for my part (I believe) that He is Allah, my Lord, and none shall I associate as partner with my Lord.”(Qur’an;18:35-38). (4) Kujr-al-I'rad: This implies turning away from the truth knowingly or deviating from the obvious signs which Allah has revealed. Allah says in Qur’an : “We created not the heavens and the earth and all that is between them except with truth and for an appointed term. But those who disbelieve turn away from that whereof they are warned.”(Qur’an;46:3). (5) Kufr-an-Nifaq: This implies hypocritical disbelief. Allah says in Qur’an : “They have made their oaths a screen (for their hypocrisy). Thus they hinder (men) from the Path of Allah. Verily, evil is what they used to do. That is because they believed, then disbelieved, therefore their hearts are sealed, so they understand not.” (Qur’an;63:2-3).
 Minor Disbelief -Al-Kufr-al-Asghar :This aspect of disbelief does not exclude one from the fold of Islam. It is also termed Kufrdn-Ni'mah. This implies disbelief manifesting itself in ungratefulness for Allah's Blessings or Favours. Allah says in Qur’an: “'And Allah puts forward the example of a township (Makka), that dwelt secure and well-content; its provision coming to it in abundance from every place, but it (its people) denied the Favours of Allah (with ungratefulness). So Allah made it taste extreme of hunger (famine) and fear, because of that (evil, i.e. denying Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him)which they (its people) used to do.”(Qur’an;16:112).
Hypocrisy (An-Nifaq):
Hypocrisy is the practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess; falseness.A hypocrite may be called Mr. Facing-both-ways in Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress." Such men declare that they are always with the Right (Islam), but calmly intrigue with Evil and Injustice, and even make Injustice to their judge if their personal interests are served in that way. If men are false to their covenants and words, the natural consequence will be hypocrisy to cover their falsehood. Such consequences will last till the Day of Judgment, when they will have to account for their deeds. They may think that they are deceiving men by their hypocrisy, but they cannot deceive Allah, to Whom all their most secret thoughts and plots and doings are known. In Islam Hypocrisy is of two types, namely; Hypocrisy in Belief and Hypocrisy in Deeds & Actions.
Hypocrisy in Belief: There are six aspects of hypocrisy in Belief: (1) To belie the last Messenger, Muhammad (peace be upon him). (2) To belie some of all that was brought by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) (e.g. the Qur'an, the Sunnah, laws and principles of Islam).(3) To hate the Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him). (4) To hate some of that which was brought by the Messenger Muhammad(peace be upon him) e.g. Islamic Monotheism, etc. (5) To feel happy at the disgrace of or the set back for the religion of Allah's Messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him). (6) To dislike that the religion of Allah's Messenger (Islamic Monotheism) becomes victorious, (not being pleased at the victory of Islam). A person having these six types (of hypocrisy) will be in the lowest depths (grade) of the Fire (Hell), as mentioned in Qur’an: “The hypocrites will be in the lowest depths of the fire: no helper wilt thou find for them.”(Qur’an;4: 145).
Hypocrisy in Deeds and Actions : There are five aspects of hypocrisy in deeds and actions, and their proof is from the statement of Allah's Messenger(peace be upon him). The signs of a hypocrite are: (1) Whenever he speaks, he tells a lie.(2) Whenever he promises, he always breaks it (his promise). (3) If you trust him, he proves to be dishonest (if you keep something as trust with him, he will not return it).(4) And in another narration of the Prophet (peace be upon him); Whenever he quarrels, he behaves in a very imprudent, evil, insulting manner. (5) Whenever he makes a covenant, he proves himself treacherous.
All out efforts may be made to strengthen the Faith to deny Hypocrisy taking roots in the heart of faithfuls. How should hypocrites be treated? To take them into your confidence would of course be foolish. To wage unrelenting war against them may destroy the hope of reforming them and purging them of their hypocrisy. The Prophet of Allah keeps clear of their wiles, but at the same time, does not hesitate to show them the error of their ways, nor to put in a word in season, to penetrate their hearts and win them back to Allah. Allah says in Qur’an: “Those men (hypocrites) Allah knows what is in their hearts; so keep clear of them but admonish them and speak to them a word to reach their very souls”(Qur’an;4:63).
SPIRITUAL FULFILMENT :
The Muslims get inspiration for their spiritual satisfaction from Qur’an and Sunnah of Holy Prophet, (peace be upon him). As per Qur’an;“Thus have We made of you an Ummah Wasat (justly balanced, moderate community) that ye might be witnesses over the nations and the Apostle a witness over yourselves;..”(Qur’an;2:143)."When my servants ask thee concerning Me I am indeed close (to them); I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calls on Me; let them also with a will listen to My call and believe in Me; that they may walk in the right way”(Qur’an;2:186). “..I'll accept their repentance, for I am the Receiver of Repentance, the Merciful.”(Qur’an;2:160). “Thee (alone) we worship; Thee alone we ask for help.”(Qur’an;1:5)."Say,(O Muhammad, to mankind): If ye love Allah, follow me; Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. Allah is Forgiving, Merciful” (Qur’an;3:31)."Say: Obey Allah and the messenger. But if they turn away, Lo! Allah loves not the disbelievers (in His guidance).”(Qur’an;3:32).“O you who have attained to faith! Remain conscious of God, and seek to come closer unto Him, and strive hard in His cause, so that you might attain to a happy state.”(Qur’an;5:35). Muslims are told to seek ardently the means () by which they may approach Him, and that can only be done by striving with might and main for His cause. "Those whom they call upon do desire (for themselves) means of access, to their Lord even those who are nearest: they hope for His Mercy and fear His Wrath: for the Wrath of thy Lord is something to take heed of."(Qur’an;17:57)."To dwell therein for ever: no protector will they find nor helper."(Qur’an;33:65). “O people of the Book! commit no excesses in your religion: nor say of Allah aught but truth…”(Qur’an;4:171). “O ye who believe! make not unlawful the good things which Allah hath made lawful for you but commit no excess: for Allah loveth not those given to excess.”(Qur’an;5:87).
There is no merit merely in abstention or asceticism, though the humility or unselfishness that may go with asceticism may have its value. “Say: Who hath forbidden the (zenah) adornment of God which He has brought forth for His devotees, and the good things of His providing? Say: "All these things are for the enjoyment of the believers in the life of this world though shared by others; but these shall be exclusively theirs on the Day of Resurrection. Thus do We make Our revelations clear for those who understand. Say: The things that my Lord hath indeed forbidden are: shameful deeds whether open or secret; sins and trespasses against truth or reason; assigning of partners to God for which he hath given no authority; and saying things about God of which you have no knowledge.”(Qur’an;7:32-33). Asceticism often means the negation of art and beauty, it has no necessary sanctity attached to it. The beautiful and good things of life are really meant for, and should be the privilege of those with faith in Allah. If they do not always have them in this life, and if there is sometimes the semblance of others having them who do not deserve them, let it be remembered that this is a test from Allah. In the life to come they will be purely for the faithful. Use Allah's gifts of all kinds with gratitude, but excess is not approved of by Allah. Christian monks are praised for particular virtues, though the monasticism is disapproved of. “…But the monasticism which they invented for themselves We did not prescribe for them: (We commanded) only the seeking for the Good pleasure of Allah;…(Qur’an;57:27). Allah certainly requires that men shall renounce the idle pleasures of this world, and turn to the Path which leads to Allah's Good Pleasure. But that does not mean gloomy lives, nor perpetual and formal prayers in isolation. Allah's service is done through pure lives in the turmoil of this world. "Our Lord! Give unto us in the world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good, and guard us from the doom of Fire."(Qur’an;2:201). This spirit was lost, or at least not fostered by monastic institutions. On the contrary a great part of the "struggle and striving" for noble lives was suppressed.
The introvert and pessimistic approach would have disastrous consequences. The Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) provides complete guidance; As per Qur’an; “It is He Who has sent amongst the Unlettered an apostle from among themselves to rehearse to them His Signs to sanctify them and to instruct them in Scripture and Wisdom although they had been before in manifest error”(Qur’an;62:2). The Muslims gain spiritual satisfaction through basic Islamic practices like offering obligatory prayers (Salah) five time a day, if done with devotion, sincerity and concentration provide a direct link between the man and Allah. “Truly the rising by night is most potent for governing (the soul) and most suitable for (framing) the Word (of Prayer and Praise).”(Qur’an;73:6).The optional (nawafil) late mid night prayer (Tahujud), fasting, paying charity, Zakat and performing Hajj or Umrah (pilgrimage to Makka), Aitekaf (spiritual retreat during Ramdan) provide excellent absorbing mystical and spiritual experiences. There are other supplications like recitation of verses of Holy Qur’an (with understanding and pondering); it is mentioned in Qur’an: “..recite the Qur'an in slow measured rhythmic tones”(Qur’an;73:4),“(This is) a Scripture that We have revealed unto thee, full of blessing, that they may ponder its revelations, and that men of understanding may reflect.”(Qur’an;38:29). “But keep in remembrance the name of the Lord and devote thyself to Him wholeheartedly.”(Qur’an;73:8), Zikar (reciting Holy Names of Allah); and Darood are the other easy means to seek blessings of Allah, which, can be performed in spare time while, sitting idle, waiting, traveling, walking or resting. Islam being a practical faith caters for all the spiritual and material needs of its followers so that they don’t have to look for un-Islamic spiritual practices. Those who still want to excel further, they engage in the optional prayers(nawafil), fasting and Zikar etc, however moderation is considered most appropriate. Muslim history is full of learned and pious men (Sufi) who while strictly adhering to the Islamic Shri’at, gained spiritual heights, and were instrumental in spread of message of Islam, resulting in to large scale conversion. They are highly revered but unfortunately some of their followers started indulging in un Islamic practices (bid’ah) under the influence of un Islamic local customs and practices not preached by great Sufis.
INNOVATIONS & DEVIATIONS (BID’AH) IN FAITH & WORSHIP:
The term ‘Bid’ah’ is derived from a root ‘bada’a’, which means “to invent, produce something new.” In its linguistic usage, the word carries proper and commendable connotations. From the same root, the term ‘badee’ is derived, which means “fine, excellent; and originator.” When it is applied to God, it means “Creator.” Thus God describes Himself in the Qur’an as “Badee Al-Samawat wal-Ard”, which means “the Creator (Originator) of the heavens and the earth.”(Qur’an;2:117).. Most people translate Bid’ah as innovation which means; the action of innovating; the introduction of a new thing; the alteration of something established, which from the Islamic point of view is wrong, as it seeks to invent some new practice or beliefs that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), has not sanctioned. The English word “innovation” carries good connotations, which are at variance with the Islamic concept. Hence, it is better to translate it as “Deviation” (Divergence from a course, method, rule, or established norm or doctrine). This is a more accurate rendering of the Islamic meaning of the word ‘Bid’ah’.
Deviations Not Acceptable in Worship and Faith:
In matters of beliefs and worship Bid’ah acquires negative connotations of “Deviation” from the right path. The development of Christianity as a faith, totally different to what Jesus had preached is the most glaring example. Jesus did not claim divinity or called himself as begotten son of God, (the term son of God was used in the spiritual sense as per the Hebrew traditions, for messengers and pious faithfuls). It started as a Bid’ah or deviation by his followers (Paul) who first raised him to the level of Divinity and later developed the strange concept of Trinity (Three persons as One God), Original Sin, exemption form Law (of Moses), preaching to gentiles etc, attributing these deviations to Jesus’ claiming that they received instructions from Jesus and Lord through ‘visions.’
According to Bible, all the praises and prayers are to God: “I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.”(2Samuel;22:4). “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:” (Isaiah;55:6), “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:” (Matthew;7:7 ).“Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray.”(Psalms;5:2), “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews;4:16). “I called upon the LORD in distress: the LORD answered me, and set me in a large place.”(Psalms;118:5), “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” (Isaiah;65:24). “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”(2Corinthians;12:8-9),“Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” (Jeremiah;33:3).  
Hence they have been admonished by Allah in Qur’an: “O People of the Book! do not overstep the bounds (of truth) in your religious beliefs. Speak nothing but the Truth about Allah. Messiah Jesus, the son of Mary was no more than a Messenger of God and His Word "Be" which He bestowed on Mary and a Spirit from Him which took the shape of a child in her womb. So believe in Allah and His Messenger and do not say: "Trinity"." Stop saying that, it is better for you. Allah is only One Deity. He is far above from the need of having a son! To Him belongs all that is in the heavens and in the Earth. Allah Alone is sufficient for protection. ”(Qur’an;4:171). This the reason that Muslims pray to Allah in every prayer (Salah); “O' God! Guide us to The Right Way. The Way of those whom You have favored; not of those who have earned Your wrath (Jews), or of those who have lost the way (Christians)”.(Qur’an;1:6-7). Hence any deviation in the matters of faith and worship will result in loosing the straight path of Islam, this is the reason that in Islam, Bid’ah (deviation) has been strongly condemned form the very beginning.
In the matters concerned with the principles of faith and proper values, or about Islamic worship, it has to be kept in view that God has made the religion of Islam perfect. He clearly states this in the Qur’an: “This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favor unto you, and have chosen for you as religion AL- ISLAM.”(Qur’an;5:3). Man cannot make more perfect what God has perfected. Thus, any increase or decrease in the fundamentals of faith and acts of worship, or the types of worship the believers offer, is a deviation. Any status given to any human being, without relying on the Qur’an or the Hadith, is a deviation. Any belief or idea or concept regarding faith, worship, and basic principles of Islam that have not been stated or explained in the Qur’an or the Sunnah is a deviation. There are many Ahadith to elaborate the aspect of Bid’ah (deviation). Narrated Ali ibn AbuTalib: Qays ibn Abbad and Ashtar went to Ali and said to him: Did the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) give you any instruction about anything for which he did not give any instruction to the people in general? He said: No, except what is contained in this document of mine. Musaddad said: He then took out a document. Ahmad said: A document from the sheath of his sword. It contained: The lives of all Muslims are equal; they are one hand against others; the lowliest of them can guarantee their protection. Beware, a Muslim must not be killed for an infidel, nor must one who has been given a covenant be killed while his covenant holds. If anyone introduces a deviation, he will be responsible for it. If anyone introduces a deviation or gives shelter to a man who introduces a deviation (in religion), he is cursed by Allah, by His angels, and by all the people. (Sunan of Abu-Dawood; Hadith Number: 2141). It is narrated by Bilal ibn Harith al-Muzani, Transmitted by Tirmidhi: Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said: He who revived a Sunnah out of my Sunan, which has died after me, for him is the reward like the reward of those who acted upon it, without any decrease in that reward. He who introduced some evil deviation which Allah and His Messenger did not approve has (a burden of sin upon him) like the sins of one who acted according to it, without their sins being mitigated thereby in the least. (Al-Trimidhi Hadith Number 54).
It has been narrated by Jabir ibn Abdullah: When Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) delivered the sermon, his eyes became red, his voice rose, and his anger increased so that he was like one giving a warning against the enemy and saying: "The enemy has made a morning attack on you and in the evening too." He would also say: "The last Hour and I have been sent like these two," and he would join his forefinger and middle finger. He would continue: "The best speech is that embodied in the Book of Allah, and the best guidance is the guidance given by Muhammad. The most evil affairs are their deviations; and every deviation is an error.".. (Sahih Muslim Hadith Number 425). There is an other common Bid’ah;  saying aloud 'Peace and blessings upon the Messenger' after the call for prayer(adhan): This is a hated Bid’ah. Ibn Hajr says in al-Fatawa al-Kubra, "Our Shaikhs and others have given a legal verdict about the prayers and salutations for the Prophet after the adhan and how the callers to prayer do it. Their verdict is that (the prayers for the Prophet) has its root in the Sunnah, but the manner in which they perform it is a Bid’ah (deviation). Muhammad 'Abduh was asked about saying the prayers and salutation for the Prophet subsequent to the adhan and he said, "The adhan, as mentioned in al-Khaniyyah, is only for the prescribed prayers. It consists of fifteen phrases, the last being La ilaha illal-lah. Whatever is mentioned before or after it is a deviation. (Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 1, Number 107b).
The Prophet (peace be upon him), has given a complete package of doctrine of faith and worship for the believers that admits no change or modifications. Hence, nothing can be added to basic fundamentals of Islamic faith and worship, or it will be a deviation (Bid’ah). In this sphere, there is no such a thing as good Bid’ah. The comments of 2nd Caliph Omar’s about Taraweeh being offered in the form of congregation; “This is a good Bid’ah.” are quoted to support deviations. These have to be put in proper context. The Prophet (peace be upon him), first offered the Taraweeh prayer in congregation. He offered it the first night with a number of his companions. On the second night, there was a much larger group of them and they offered it together with the Prophet (peace be upon him), leading the prayer. The third night, before coming out of his home he looked at the people gathering in the mosque for this prayer and he found the mosque full with hardly any room left for any newcomer. He did not come out for it. When he was asked later why he remained at home, he said: “I feared lest that this prayer should become obligatory for you.” During his reign, Omar went out at night to find out how people were faring, as was his habit. He noticed that there were many people in the mosque, but there were several congregational prayers in progress at the same time. He did not like what he saw because it gave an impression of disunity in the Muslim community. He interfered to make all these groups join one congregation, led by Ubayy ibn Ka’ab, a companion of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who was famous for his perfect recitation of the Qur’an. The next night, when Omar went to the mosque he found that all people were in one congregation. He commented saying: “This is a good Bid’ah.”(Sahih Al Bukhari Hadith, Volume 2 Hadith Number 117, Narrated by Abu Hurairah). From this it may be realized that Omar did not introduce anything new. Nor did he initiate something that was not done before. It was the Prophet (peace be upon him), who in practice recommended that night worship in Ramadhan, which is known as Taraweeh, be offered in congregation. When he absented himself from it later, this was for a specific reason. Then Omar brought it back to what was done by the Prophet (peace be upon him). Without the Prophet (peace be upon him), there was no chance that it would become obligatory as was mentioned by the Prophet (peace be upon him). Thus, this Bid’ah was to go back to the right practice. This was certainly good. To use this comment of Omar to justify something people invent is to quote it out of context. There can simply be no good Bid’ah in matters of worship. No one has ever been a more devoted worshipper of God than the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). If he did not do a particular act of worship, then it is not part of Islamic worship and can never be so. Anything new is a Bid’ah (deviation), and deviation in the religion named as Islam, perfected by God can never be good.
Illustrations :
The Prophet (peace be upon him), says that travel may be made to visit only three mosques: the Haram in Makkah, the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina and the Aqua Mosque in Jerusalem,(Fiqh-us-Sunna, Volume 5 Number 132c). To add any mosque anywhere in the world and say that visiting it is in itself an act of worship or that it is recommended, or brings this or that reward, is deviation. The Prophet (peace be upon him), had specified the number of Sunna prayers, faithfuls may offer, some of which he specified in number of rak’ahs, while some he has left to the choice of believers, as in the case of night worship (tahajud). To add a new figure to the specified rak’ahs is deviation.
Prophet (peace be upon him) has taught the believers to offer Friday prayer in a particular way. The believers cannot do a similar prayer on Monday. If they do, they will be like one who says that God has given certain duty, but people can improve upon it. Far be it from any one to suggest anything like that. Certainly any deviation of this sort is an error, and it leads to God’s displeasure.
Considering a hypothetical example: If someone encourages the people to recite certain phrases of God's glorification at a particular time every night after Isha Salah ( prayer), while seated in a particular position, placing in front of them certain type of food and drink. He tells them to eat the food and to drink before they go to bed. Now if one take each section of this on its own, it may be found to be permissible. But when some one combine it all and claim that it is part of the religious practices of Islam, he is adding something in the religion of Islam, which is not sanctioned by God and His messenger. That is a deviation (bida’h), which is totally unacceptable. The Prophet (peace be upon him), says: "Whoever invents in this matter (religion) of ours something that does not belong to it, he shall have it rejected." If such a person suggests that he only wants to get people to glorify God more frequently, or if he claims that he has chosen this particular time because he has noticed that people tend to do something against the teachings of Islam around this time, and by introducing this practice he only hopes to give them something more in line with Islam, his argument is futile. His practice remains wrong because he is practically saying that through what is revealed by God and taught by the Prophet (peace be upon him), Islam cannot cope properly with a certain need and that this method complements it. In brief, no one may add or subtract to what the Prophet (peace be upon him), has taught. No deviation is acceptable to the way of Qur’an and Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Tolerable Deviations :
The Prophet (peace be upon him), spoke about Bid’ah and distinguished between what is good and what is bad. But he made it clear that this applies to areas where God wants the faithfuls to follow a certain line. Where no specific guidance is given, the faithfuls have complete freedom of choice with in basic spirit and parameters of faith. To make n deviation in matters relating to day-to-day life is perfectly permissible because a large area of this field has been left to people to determine as they wish, provided they observe the general Islamic principles. If some one introduce an innovation that is calculated to benefit people generally, or some of them while not hurting others, then that may be acceptable. The person introducing it receives a reward from God to which is added a reward similar to that of people who take up the same practice. For example the Prophet (peace be upon him), has not specified guidance on food and clothes, except to point out what is forbidden in either. This means that whatever people choose is perfectly acceptable as long as they remain within the values and morality outlined by Islam. Some people may think that it is a Sunnah to imitate the way the Prophet (peace be upon him), used to dress. But the Prophet (peace be upon him), used the clothes which the people of his area used, without introducing anything new. There was no difference between the unbelievers and the Muslims in the way they dressed, except where something is forbidden in Islam. Thus, no Muslim would wear a robe made of silk, or the one, which reveals the area that must be covered or dress like a woman: Narrated Abu Hurayrah: The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) cursed the man who dressed like a woman and the woman who dressed like a man. (Sunnan of Abu-Dawood, Hadith Number 1857). Normally people eat and dress what is suitable for their environment and climate. This is perfectly acceptable. No Bid’ah applies here, because the Prophet (peace be upon him), did not state anything to prevent this. Nor did he recommend certain types of clothes saying that they were the ones to be used by Muslims throughout the world and in all generations. Allah says in Qur’an: “O Children of Adam! Put on your adornment (decent proper dress) when you attend your Mosque at the time of every prayer. Eat and drink, but do not be extravagant; surely He does not love the extravagant.”(Qur’an;7:31). There are many things which were not available at the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) like airplane, cars, television, radio, telephone, computers and so many countless technological inventions in all the fields. Making good use of all the modern technologies for the betterment of individuals and humanity with in the parameters laid down by Islam cannot be termed as harmful deviation on the plea that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) did not mention about them.
Structures over Graves : There are many sound and clear Hadith concerning the unlawfulness of building mosques over graves or putting lights on them. Abu Hurairah reported: "The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: 'May Allah destroy the Jews, because they used the graves of their prophets as places of worship.'' (Bukhari and Muslim). The worship of idols started with the adoration of the dead, making images of them, touching them, and offering prayers at their graves. (The commentator on this said: "It points to what Bukhari narrated from Ibn Abbas concerning the reason why the people of Noah worshipped idols. They were known as Wadd, Sawa', Yaghuth, Ya'uq, and Nasr. These were pious people of whom they made images in order to remember them after their death and imitate them. Due to the lack of knowledge that became prevalent among the people, Satan made it appear beautiful to worship their images and likenesses, and to honor them, wipe over them, and approach them. Wiping them is passing one's hand over them to invoke their blessing and intercession. The same was done to the graves of righteous people. This practice was initiated by idolaters, and then passed on to Jews and Christians and then to Muslims. Such objects are equivalent to idols."); (From Fiqh-us-Sunnah. 4.69A)
Etiquettes of Visiting the Graves:
Offering funeral prayer for non belivers and visiting their graves is not permisable, Allah says : “You shall never offer funeral prayer for any of them who dies, nor stand at his grave, for they have denied Allah and His Rasool and died while they were transgressors.”(Qura’n;9:84). The Prophet (peace be upon him), informed that: "when a human being dies, his actions come to an absolute end, except in one of three ways: A continuing act of charity, a useful contribution to knowledge or a dutiful child who prays for him." In other words, the living can be of benefit to the dead by praying to Allah on their behalf, but the dead cannot be of benefit to the living. According to ‘Etiquettes of Visiting Graves’ given at Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 4, Number 83a; The purpose of visiting graves is to remember the Hereafter, which is something that both men and women need. Men are by no means more in need of this reminder than women. Some scholars disliked it for women to visit graves as they are less patient and too emotional. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, "May Allah curse the women who are frequent visitors of the graves." (Reported by Ahmad, Ibn Majah, and Tirmidhi, who said that it is a sound hadith).
Abdallah ibn Abi Mulaikah is reported to have said; "Once 'Aish’a returned after visiting the graveyard. I asked, 'O Mother of the Believers, where have you been?' She said: 'I went out to visit the grave of my brother Abd ar-Rahman.' I asked her: 'Didn't the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), prohibit visiting graves?' She said, 'Yes, he did forbid visiting graves during the early days, but later on he ordered us to visit them'." This is reported by Al-Hakim and Al-Baihaqi, who also remarked that this hadith was narrated only by Bistam bin Muslim al-Basri. Adh-Dhahabi said that it is a sound hadith. (Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 4, Number 85).
Whoever pays a visit to a grave should face the deceased, greet him, and supplicate for him. Buraidah reported: "The Prophet (peace be upon him), taught us that when we visited graves we should say, 'Peace be upon you, O believing men and women, O dwellers of this place. Certainly, Allah willing, we will join you. You have preceded us and we are to follow you. We supplicate to Allah to grant us and you security'.'' (Reported by Muslim, Ahmad, and others). Similarly it was also reported by Ibn 'Abbas (Tirmidhi) and Aish’a (Muslim).
Some people while visiting graves start wiping hands over the graves and tombs, kissing them, and circumambulating around them, there are abominable Bid’ah (Deviations). Such things should not be done, for they are unlawful in Shari’a. These things are permissible, however, if performed in relation with the House of Allah, the Ka’bah, for Allah has so honored it. The grave of the Prophet (peace be upon him), cannot be considered a similar case, nor the tomb of a saint. All good comes from adherence to the example of Prophet (peace be upon him), whereas all evil flows from innovating new things in religion. Ibn al-Qayyim said: "The Prophet (peace be upon him), visited the graves to supplicate for their inhabitants, and to seek mercy and forgiveness of Allah for them. Contrary to this, the pagans supplicated to the dead, swearing by them, asking them for their needs, and seeking their support and help. Such pagan practices are in conflict with the guidance of the Prophet, peace be upon him, and his teachings about the Oneness of Allah and about the manner of supplicating for Allah's mercy for the dead. The people who do such things are guilty of polytheism; they are indulging in sin, and bringing evil to the deceased. They may be divided into three categories: (1) Who supplicate for the deceased; (2) Who supplicate through the deceased, and (3) Who supplicate to the deceased. They think that making supplications by a grave is better than in a mosque. For anyone who looks to the guidance of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), and his Companions, the distinction between the two cited positions is fairly obvious."(Fiqh-us-Sunnah,Volume4,Number. 83a). It must be kept in view that, the Muslims recite at least seventeen times in the daily prayers: “ (O' Allah!) You Alone we worship and You Alone we call on for help.”(Qu’ran;1:5). Hence there is not need to approach any one else for help.
Balanced Approach :
Every Muslim declares that: “There is no deity save Allah and that Muhammad is His messenger”. This declaration, is made of two parts: the first concerns the Oneness of Allah and the second stresses the importance of the Prophet's role as Allah's messenger. What the second part of the declaration means in practice is that a Muslim can receive the teachings, values and practices, with respect to his faith, only from the Prophet (peace be upon him). If the believers were to receive these from any other source, they do not give credence to the belief in Muhammad(peace be upon him) as a messenger of Allah. The role of a messenger is to convey a message; he is expected to convey it to people complete, without omissions or additions. Prophet (peace be upon him), has stressed, time and again, that he only conveys what he has been asked to convey. Allah says in Qur’an: “Obey Allah and obey His Messenger; but if you pay no heed, then you should know that Our Messenger's responsibility is nothing but to convey the message plainly.(Qur’an;64:12). “Say (O Muhammad)… I follow only that which is inspired in me.”(Qur’an;6:50). Moreover, throughout his life after receiving His message, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), never hesitated to convey anything entrusted to him, even when he was certain that conveyance of such a thing would be received with derision, ridicule and cries of "lies." If the message delivered by the Prophet (peace be upon him), is complete, then it cannot be made "more complete" by an addition made by any person, be he a scholar or devout, or indeed a direct descendant of the Prophet (peace be upon him). For any person to tell that a certain practice would endear us to Allah, or earn us any reward from Him, although it has not been taught or recommended to us by the Prophet (peace be upon him), is a deviator, who is making a false claim that he can never substantiate. The deviator indeed, commits a bigger sin than that, by saying this, he says that he knows something which the Prophet (peace be upon him), either did not know or he actually knew but did not convey to us as part of his message. Whichever case he implies, the deviator is guilty of an enormity. To say that the ‘deviator’ knows something of the faith of Islam which the Prophet (peace be upon him), did not know is to give himself a position higher than that of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
At the end of his long and blessed mission, the Prophet (peace be upon him), addressed the great congregation comprising large number of faithfuls who went with him on pilgrimage. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), in his farewell address summarized the basic principles and important duties of Islam, asking his followers again and again; "Have I conveyed to you Allah's message?" Every time he asked that question, the Muslims gathered answered in the affirmative. He then prayed; “Allah to bear witness to that fact”. Any one claiming to be a true Muslims, should follow the Prophet's guidance available in the form of his Sunnah. That entail discharging the duties and not adding to the faith of Islam anything that is not part of it. Unfortunately, such practices are widespread in large areas of the Muslim world, which are responsible for the backwardness of Muslims everywhere. Muslims will not fully redeem their strength and proper status until they disown such practices and strict to their true original Islamic faith, which will continue to guide them along the path set out by Allah's last messenger Muhammad (peace be upon him).
SECTARIANISM :
The defence forces are organized, equipped and trained to deal with the threat from the enemy which is normally visible in the form of a hostile state with in specified by its physical borders. In the prevalent geo political environments, of a Unipolar World, it is the privilege of the sole Super Power and her cronies to use the combat forces to get directly involved in the combat where ever they can create a bogy of threat [Terrorists or WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction)] to meet their strategic goals. The other type of belligerents specially those armed with nuclear weapons try to fight in the invisible front, whereby ‘The Enemy’ has no ‘Land’ or borders as it is with in. Terrorism is one tool which may be combined with communalism in a multi religious society and in case the target is a Muslim state, it gets most deadly once combined with sectarianism. The enemy need not to make much effort or employ larger resources, it is very economical, just flare up the sectarianism and watch form out side. Muslims will fight among themselves, once the desired results have been achieved to the satisfaction, then the political or conventional military tools may be resort, to finish the job. Efforts are being made by the enemies of Islam to exploit and hit at the soft underbelly of Muslims. It is high time that the Islamic world learn form their past history and guard against this threat, which if not checked will cause much more devastation, surpassing the sack of Baghdad by Mongols in 1258 C.E, in physical terms and long term effects. The pseudo religious leaders have been instrumental in brain washing the common innocent Muslims, sowing the seeds of disputes, hatred and intolerance against Divine guidance: “And obey Allah and His messenger, and dispute not one with another lest ye falter and your strength depart from you; but be steadfast! Lo! Allah is with the steadfast.”(Qur’an;8:46). Since it is a taboo to talk or discuss sectarianism due to sensitive nature of this topic. Efforts must be made by Muslims and scholars to expose the myth of sectarianism in Islam, with a view to guard against this menace to foster unity among Muslims.
Internal Criticism and Sects :
Internal criticisms of religion have their basis in the imbalance that occurs when one aspect or one understanding of religion is allowed to dominate the rest. Heresies have arisen when one way of understanding has been developed without balancing it with another. Since religious belief is so important and influences all aspects of a society, there is a tendency for religious institutions to become authoritarian and oppressive. If a religious institution becomes interwoven with political views it can become tyrannical, as happened after the era of Four Rightly Guided Caliph, resulting in to martyrdom of Imam Husain along with his companions for the just cause. Religion's only compulsion, according to some scholars, must be the compelling power of a vision, as the modern English-American philosopher Alfred North Whitehead expressed it: "The power of God is the worship He inspires." The authority of any religion is the authority of a vision, the authority of that which, in being disclosed, inspires men and leads them to fulfillment in their lives. For a Muslim, the final goal is the worship of God, complete submission and obedience to the Will of God, the last scripture Qur’an and obedience of His last Messenger, Muhammad (peace be upon him). For a Christian, the final authority is the love of God in Christ, and love is not love if its power is anything but inspiration. There exist a tendency of internal criticisms with in a religion, which usually focus on such themes as narrowness, sectarianism, traditionalism, conventionalism, materialism, and immorality. Some criticism is also reserved for religiosity, which, though granting a dimension of faith, treats faith in an altogether superficial and often unbalanced way. The internal disagreements and criticism if remains unresolved, or reconciled results in to formation of sects with in a religion.
The word ‘Sect’ in the religious terms has been defined with multiple meanings, according to Oxford Dictionary as: A body of people subscribing to views divergent from those of others within the same religion; a party or faction in a religious body; specially a religious faction or group regarded as heretical or as deviating from orthodox tradition. Formerly also, a system of belief subscribed to by any of the parties or factions into which a religion may be divided; speciallya system differing from orthodox tradition. A separately organized group, existing within a larger religious body, but with its own places of worship; a religious denomination. The system or body of adherents of a particular school of philosophy. While the basis of unity among Muslims is belief in Tawhid (Monotheism), One God, Qur’an and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), there exist the tendency toward sectarianism and division. Some of the schisms (discord) could be theological conflicts; others due to internal quarrels related to liturgical differences, interpretations of main sources of theology, power politics between different centres of power, problems of discipline and piety, or social and cultural conflicts. The sectarianism, though exist in all the religions of the world, Christianity has the most violent record. Millions of Christians were tortured, killed and burnt alive due to theological and doctrinal difference, specially during first half millennium. The Thirty Year’s War (1618-48 C.E), in European history is a case in point. The sectarian violence, turned towards terrorism in the conflict in for the religious denominations of Catholics and Protestants in the Northern Ireland. The statement of the American historian John T. McNeill, "the history of the Christian Church from the first century to the 20th might be written in terms of its struggle to realize ecumenical unity"; if not fully, is partially applicable to the Muslims as well.
Islam on Sectarianism, Intolerance and Extremism: Islam rejects sectarianism intolerance and extremism, which was the cause of decline of previous believers and corruption of scriptures. Allah says: “Their doom is because Allah has revealed the Book with the truth; surely those who seek causes of dispute in the Book (The Qur'an) are in extreme schism (divergence).”(Qura’n;2:176). Initially the people followed the teachings of their Apostles and scriptures but later followers innovated and corrupted the original message creating sects. Allah says: “Mankind was one nation having one religion. Later when people invented other religions, Allah appointed Prophets as bearers of good news and warnings; and revealed to them the Book with the True Guidance to settle the matters of dispute between mankind. But the very people to whom it was given, started disputes after the clear arguments had come to them, because of rivalry between one another. Allah has guided the believers by His will to the truth in those matters in which they had differences. Allah guides whom He pleases towards the Right Way.”(Qura’n;2:213).“Be not like those who became divided into sects and who started to argue against each other after clear revelations had come to them. Those responsible for division and arguments will be sternly punished” (Qura’n;3:105).“In fact, your religion is one religion, and I am your only Lord: so fear Me Alone. Yet people have divided themselves into factions and each faction rejoices in its own doctrines - well! Leave them in their heedlessness for an appointed time. Do they think that, in giving them wealth and children, We are eager for their welfare? By no means! They do not understand the reality of the matter.”(Qura’n;23:52-56)“those who divide their religion into sects and become separate groups, each group rejoicing in its own circle. When an affliction befalls the people, they turn in prayer to their Lord in repentance. But when He let them taste a blessing from Him, lo! Some of them begin to ascribe other powers a share in their Sustainers divinity, showing no gratitude for What We have given them. Enjoy yourselves; soon you will find out your folly.”(Qura’n;30:32-34).“Surely those who divide the religion into sects and identify themselves as a sect, O Muhammad, you have nothing to do with them. Their case will be called to account by Allah Himself, He will inform them as to what they did.”(Qura’n;6:159); “If two parties among the believers fall into mutual fighting, make peace between them. Then if one of them transgresses against the other, fight the one who has transgressed until he returns to the commands of Allah. Then, if he returns, make peace between them with justice and be fair; for Allah loves those who are fair and just. The believers are brothers to one another, therefore, make reconciliation between your brothers and fear Allah, so that you may be shown mercy.”(Qura’n;49:9-10)
The Rightly Guided Caliphs (632-661 C.E) :
The Prophet (peace be upon him) had rightly guided successors among his blessed companions, who followed his footsteps (Sunnah) to the best of their abilities in spreading knowledge, preaching Islam, and managing the affairs of Islamic State. The sequence of succession followed to the caliphate was; Abu Bakr as Siddiq(632-634 C.E), 'Umar Ibn al-Khattab (Caliph from 634-644 C.E), 'Uthman Ibn Affan(644-656 C.E)and 'All Ibn Abi Talib (656-661 C.E), may Allah be pleased with them all. The disputes that took place among the Prophet's Companions were the result of sincere interpretations that they worked hard to reach. Whoever was right among them will be rewarded twice, and whoever was wrong among them will be rewarded once and his mistake will be forgiven. It may not be appropriate for any believer to criticize them rather they deserve of beautiful praise. Muslims should purify their hearts from hatred and malice against any of them, because Allah said about them: “As for those who believe and do good deeds - We never burden a soul with more than it can bear - they are worthy of Paradise, wherein they will live forever. We shall remove whatever ill-feeling they may have in their hearts against one another…”(Qur’an;7:42-43),"They are not equal: those among you who spent and who fought before the conquest of Makka. Those are higher in rank than those who spent and fought afterwards. But to all Allah has promised a great reward" (Qur’an;57:10); “The vanguard (of Islam) the first of those who forsook (their homes-(Muhajirin)) and of those who gave them aid (Ansar) and (also) those who follow them in (all) good deeds well pleased is Allah with them as are they with Him:”(Qur’an;9:100). And Allah said about other Muslims: "And those who came after them say: 'Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith, and do not put in our hearts any malice against those who have believed. Our Lord, You are the most Kind, Most Merciful"' (Qur’an;59:10).
Richness of Islamic Scholarship : Initially during the period of ‘Rightly Guided Caliphs’ there was unanimity among the believers. However with the expansion of Caliphate to resolve new issues confronted by the Muslim society, the scholars formulated the responses basing on Qur’an and Sunnah. The very existence of main schools of thought is a testimony to the richness of Islamic scholarship. There are no differences among the main schools of thought with regard to the principles of faith or the essentials of worship. The differences relate more to matters of details or the views on political history. For generations after generations, Muslims prayed and lived side by side without ever the thought of belonging to one school of thought rather than another having any bearing on their mutual relationship or their dealings with one another. However this harsh fact can not be overlooked that; in certain period of history and in particular places, rigid adherence to different schools of thought are found who advocate a total boycott of the followers of others. Such trends existed in periods of backwardness, when scholarship lost its creative aspect and concentrated merely on imitation.
Tolerance : In reality the greater the understanding of the principles of Islam and the scholarly methods employed by scholars, the greater is tolerance. It is only inward-looking, narrow minded and rigid students who advocate total adherence to a particular school and a rejection of every thing else. Such an attitude is alien to Islam. When ever tolerance prevailed, then it was a bright period in the history of Islam. When ever intolerance took over, then it was a period of backwardness. Perhaps the worst manifestation of rigidly and narrow-mindedness is the total refusal by the followers of one school of thought to join the followers of another in prayer. This is against the practice and the teachings of the Imams who founded these schools of thought. Imam Al-Shaf’ie, for example, offered his prayers according to the manner followed by the Hanafi school of thought when he prayed in the mosque of Imam Abu Hanifah in Baghdad. He did that out of respect to the great scholar who had preceded him. Those who refuse to join an Imam (prayer leader) who belongs to a different school of thought are not only rigid and narrow-minded; they are ignorant as well. Had they known what exactly differentiates one school from another, they would have realized that what unites them is much greater than what divides them. They would have known that they all worship in an acceptable manner. Hence they would not allow their differences to affect their unity. It should be kept in view that God accepts worship when it is devoted purely to Him. All schools of thought teach how to make the prayer (Salah) dedicated to God alone.
SCHOOLS OF LEGAL THOUGHT:
There is unity among the Muslims, they all worship none but Allah, (One God), follow The last Messenger (Rasool) Muhammad (peace be upon him) and The last Scripture –Qur’an, one Qibla-Ka’ba (direction of prayer), then the question arises; Why so many groups among Muslims? This is due to difference in understanding and interpretations of the Scripture and Hadiths of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the matters related with implementation of certain religious, political, social and other duties. As far as the basic faith and fundamentals of Islam are concerned there is no scope for difference of opinion because they have been made absolutely clear. Incidental difference of opinion among the scholars in understanding of a Hadith to derive meanings either ‘literally’ as per the ‘text’ or based on ‘analogical reasoning’, is perfectly acceptable, as evident form Hadith; Narrated by Ibn Umar: On the day of Al-Ahzab (i.e. Clans) the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "None of you (Muslims) should offer the ‘Asr prayer’ but at Banu Quraiza's place." The 'Asr prayer became due for some of them on the way. Some of those said, "We will not offer it till we reach it, the place of Banu Quraiza," while some others said, "No, we will pray at this spot, for the Prophet did not mean that for us." Later on it was mentioned to the Prophet and he did not berate (rebuke) any of the two groups. (Sahih Al Bukhari; Volume: 5, Hadith Number: 445 ). It is established that if the Companions, who were direct recipient of guidance and instructions from the Prophet (peace be upon him), could develop differences in understanding of his instructions, it is perfectly normal for the Muslim scholars to form their genuine opinions based on either textual authority of Hadith or analogical reasoning. It is a well known fact that God has not gifted all humans with same level of intellect due to His wisdom and plan. The level of understanding differs from man to man. “He has raised some of you in ranks over others so that He may test you in the gifts He has given you.”(Qur’an6:165). Hence basic Schools of Legal Thought (Madhhabs) developed in Islam, not deviating to the basic tenants of Islam. History is full of examples where by individuals and groups, deviating form the fundamental doctrine of Islam were rejected by the faithfuls.
Sunni Schools of Legal Thought :
The Term "Sunni", means from linguistic point of view a follower of a method. In an Islamic sense, the term Sunnah means the method shown by the Prophet (peace be upon him). It refers to the majority of Muslims who gave allegiance to the Muslim state, starting with Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, Ali and going through the Umayyad, the Abbasids, etc. They do not recognize the Shiite claim that Ali had a stronger claim to succeed the Prophet, (peace be upon him), as the ruler of the Muslim state. They maintain that anyone has an equal claim provided that he meets the qualifications required for the post. Beginning in the mid eighth cen­tury, the four major Sunni schools of legal thought (madhhabs) Hanafi, Maliki, Shafii, Hanbali and the Shi’a Jafari madhhab (Twelvers) emerged. The four Sunni schools of thought started in the second and early part of the third centuries of the Islamic era. Imam Abu Hanifah (699-767 C.E), was the earliest of the four scholars, he was of Persian origin but lived in Iraq. Imam Malik ibn Anas (715-795 C.E) lived in Medina most of his life. His grandfather was a companion of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Imam Al-Shaf’ie (767-820 C.E) was born in Gaza and traveled when still a young boy to Medina where he studied under Imam Malik. He also traveled to Iraq where he met the leading scholars of the Hanafi school of though such as Imam Abu Yusuf. He then traveled to Egypt where he spent the last five years of his life. Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (780-855 C.E) lived mostly in Baghdad. He was a close friend of Imam El Shaf'ie. Both learned from each other, although Imam Ahmad, the younger scholar, was keen to maintain this close relationship which lasted until El-Shaf'ie left Baghdad for Egypt.
None of these scholars started with the aim of establishing a school of his own. However, they distinguished themselves as scholars of the highest caliber. Each of them had a large number of students, many of whom later became eminent scholars in their own right. Sufficient it is to say in this regard that Imam Ahmad was a student of Al-Shaf’ie, while Al-Shaf’ie studied under Malik for 9 years and under Muhammad ibn Al-Hassan of the Hanafi school for three years. These schools differ in their methodologies, which help them to arrive at verdicts to questions that are put to them. All Sunni schools use systematic reasoning to deal with areas of law not covered by the Qur’an or Sunnah. They differ primarily in their emphasis on textual authority or analogical reasoning, but each school recognizes the conclusions of the others as being perfectly legitimate and within the framework of orthodox Islam. Other minor schools also developed but they were short-lived. The Hanafi were also called ah-ur-rai w’al kiyas (people of judgement and analogy) in contradistinction to other Sunni schools also referred as ahl-ul-hadis (traditionalists par excellence), the terminology now mostly synonymous with Wahabis or Humbalis (Deobandi). The strict unquestionable blind adherence to a respective school is known as Taqlid, which according to some scholars, has marred the development and progress of thought. The new phenomenon of last century has been emergence of a movement among Sunnis called Ghair Muqalidin (Non Conformists). They do not restrict to any one school and use the great base of knowledge of early doctors to meet the new challenges of this age.
Shi’a-Jafari School of Thought: Linguistically speaking, the term Shi’a means followers or supporters. In a historical context, it means the supporters of Ali ibn Abu Talib, the Prophet's cousin, who became the fourth Caliph of the Muslim state. When he took over, there was a split between him and other groups of Muslims over the question of dealing with those who mounted the rebellion against his predecessor, Uthman ibn Affan. At this time, there was no such sect as Shi’a. However, after he was assassinated, his supporters wanted his son, Al Hassan, to take over. They maintained that succession should remain among his descendants. The Shi’s continued to oppose the Umayyad and Abbasid governments for a very long time. This lead to the provision of a religious backing to the political opposition. Hence, the rise of the Shiite school of thought which institutionalizes the role of the Imam. Shi’a Muslims, believe that Prophet Muhammad's (peace be upon him) religious leadership, spiritual authority, and divine guidance were passed on to his descen­dants, beginning with his son-in-law and cousin, Ali ibn Abi Talib, his daughter, Fatimah, and their sons, Hasan and Husain. 
Main Differences :
Sunnis and Shi’as differ in their understanding of ‘who held the power to inter­pret Shari’a’. For Sunnis, the scholars had this right, as delegated by the actual ruler. Shi’a s initially believed that only an Imam (in this case, a descendant of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him) could interpret Shari’a because the Imam, like Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was believed to be infal­lible. When the line of appropriate descen­dants ended, this tradition was reinterpreted to grant judicial authority to the fuqaha as the Imam's representatives. Shi’a legal thought and jurispru­dence is known as “Jafari”: Named after the sixth Imam Jafar al-Sadiq (699-748 C.E) the son of Muhammad al-Baqir, the fifth imam, and great-grandson of the fourth caliph, Ali.On his mother's side, Ja'far was descended from the first caliph, Abu Bakr. This may explain why he would never tolerate criticism of the first two caliphs. Shi’a legal thought recognizes four sources of Islamic law; the Qur’an, the Sunnah (including traditions re­ported by the Prophet and the Imams), Con­sensus (which must include the Prophet's or an infallible imam's opinion to establish its validity), and Human Reason. Human reason is capable of inferring categorical judgments drawn from both pure and practical reason. Whatever is judged necessary by reason is also judged necessary by revelation. This correlation between reason and revelation has allowed Shi’a jurists to derive religious rulings on many issues not covered in nor­mative sources such as the Qur’an and Sun­nah. Since 1959 the Jafari school of jurispru­dence has been afforded the status of "Fifth School" along with the Four Sunni schools by Al-Azhar University in Cairo. The other two legal schools that share the Jafari origin are the Zaydi and the Mustali Fatimid Ismaili jurisprudences. These two are some what closer to Sunnis in their derivation of religious practice.
Brothers in Faith :Keeping historical political differences apart, in theology the ‘institution and the role of the Imam’ is the main difference between Shi’as and Sunnis. The Shi’as accord great respect to Ali, placing him above other companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), in their esteem. But neither this, nor the other digressions, make it justifiable to pass extreme judgments. All, those who believe in the oneness of God and the message of His messenger, Muhammad(peace be upon him) are the brothers in faith, and have to move forward together.
OTHER CHALLENGES :
Deviations(Bid’ah) & Fisq :
There is general tendency among Muslims to blame others for ‘deviations’ (Bid’ah) equating it with “fisq”, which may not be appropriate. Fisq means transgression. Deviations’ (Bid’ah) means to add or invent something, which is not there. The two are not synonymous. As far as a person who practices certain ‘deviations’ is concerned, the matter really depends on what sort of deviations he practices. If it is something is related to the principles of faith, and he invents something new, then it need to be critically examined. He may be guilty of something, which takes him out of the fold of Islam altogether. Suppose that a person elevates some one to a degree, which makes him to share divinity or powers of Allah or considers some one as good as a prophet knowingly that there is no prophet after Muhammad (peace be upon him), such a person is surely falling in to disbelief. However this being a sensitive matter, should be decided by the government in consolation with authentic scholars, as was done in case of ‘Qadianis’ by government of Pakistan. On the other hand, if the Deviations’(Bid’ah) relates to a matter of detail then that represents no more than a slip or a mistake or even committing something forbidden. Every one is subject to mistakes and is liable to commit even a grave sin, but if repents, and declare that he genuinely believe in the Oneness of God and in the message of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), he is to be believed as such, Allah alone knows the matters of heart.
Extremist and Intolerant Groups : In recent days a new thought has emerged which tries to reject all schools of thought claiming that following any of them is an innovation. This is again appalling, which results in further disunity of the Muslim community. What makes matters even worse is that such people give disproportionate importance to certain matters of detail and define their relationship with others on the basis of these details and how they approach them. For example, keeping a beard, its size, refraining from smoking, standing astride in prayer so as to ensure that the feet touch the feet of other people standing on right and left, looking in one direction after finishing prayer so as not to shake hand with those who sit next, and similar matters are given such importance. This gives an impression that unless these matters are handled exactly as they think, a person stands to incur God’s wrath and receive grievous suffering in the Hereafter. They are getting strength in the remote areas, recent incidences of opposition to preventive vaccination of children and prohibition of education of girls being un Islamic are mater of concern. If they are asked as to; what they have left to God’s forgiveness? they are perplexed. To these people and to those who follow rigidly their schools of thought, elevating them to status of separate religions, it is appropriate to declare that this is not the way the Prophet (peace be upon him), has taught, nor is it the way the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), practiced. He taught tolerance and they practiced the perfect standard of tolerance. Rigidity was alien to their nature.
Tolerance and Equitable Treatment of Non Muslims Minorities :
Tolerance and moderation is the hallmark of Islam, Allah says :“We have made you (Muslims) a community of the middle way (keeping balance in extremes) so that you may testify against mankind and that your own Messenger may testify against you.”(Qur’an;2:143).. Human life of Muslims and non Muslims alike, has a very high place in Islam, Allah says: “whoever kills a person, except as a punishment for murder or mischief in the land (through judiciary), it will be written in his book of deeds as if he had killed the mankind and whoever will save a life shall be regarded as if he gave life to all the mankind.”(Qur’an;5:32). Muslims are encouraged to act towards all the non-Muslims living in Islamic state with kindness and equity. As per Qur’an; "As for such (of the unbelievers) as do not fight against you on account of your faith, and neither drive you forth from your homelands, Allah does not forbid you to show them kindness and to behave towards them with full equity. Indeed, Allah loves those who act equitably"(Qur’an;60:8). Hower there is word of caution: “O believers! Do not befriend those who have incurred the wrath of Allah. Indeed they despair of the Hereafter, just as the unbelievers despair of those buried in the graves.”(Qur’an;60:13).
There are numerous Hadith, which encourage Muslims to be kind to others. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the main enforcer of human rights safeguarding the legitimate interests of minorities. On establishing the first Islamic state at Medina, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) entered into many alliances, treaties with the Muslims and the non-Muslims, securing peace and tranquility for the Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The Charter of Medina, in fact was the first ever written constitution in the history of mankind. This was based on the contract agreed upon by Muslims, Jews and others, stipulating that they all would be treated as equal citizens of Medina, giving the non-Muslims right of choosing a legal system they wished their affairs be governed by, be it Islamic or Jewish law or pre-Islamic Arab tribal traditions. This confirms the principle “no compulsion in religion”, freedom of expression and religious practice was open to everyone. It gave the right of protection, security, peace and justice; not only to Muslims, but also to the Jews who lived in the City of Medina, as well as the allies of Jews who were non-Muslims. The Jews were recognized as a separate political and ethnic minority, and allowed to practice their religion quite freely. In fact, Jews were considered on an equal bases as Muslims under the Islamic State. The monks of Mount Sinai were provided protection. A treaty was concluded with the Chrisitans of Najran granting them complete freedom to practice their faith, security of churches and that no clergyman or monk to be turned out against payment of Jazya (poll tax). The life of non Muslim was considered equally sacred: Narrated Abdullah bin Amr : The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Whoever killed a Mu'ahid (a person who is granted the pledge of protection by the Muslims) shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise though its fragrance can be smelt at a distance of forty years (of traveling)."(Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith:9.49). Narrated Amr bin Maimun: The second Caliph Umar (after he was stabbed by a man from minority), instructed (his would-be-successor) saying, "I urge him (i.e. the new Caliph) to take care of those non-Muslims who are under the protection of Allah and His Apostle (peace be upon him) in that he should observe the convention agreed upon with them, and fight on their behalf (to secure their safety) and he should not over-tax them beyond their capability." (Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith: 4.287).
The strong emphasis placed on the need to behave with equity towards minorities has been heeded by Muslims throughout the ages. Minorities in the Muslim State have always enjoyed a fair and kind treatment by the Muslim majority. On the personal level, there is nothing to stop any Muslim from forging a friendship with non-Muslims who harbor no ill intentions against Islam or its followers. The English educationist and historian, Thomas Arnold observed: ‘During the Muslim rule, on the whole, the level of tolerance exhibited towards non Muslims was missing in Europe till modern times’.
Unity of Muslim Ummah : The sectarian killing of Muslims by Muslims and even non Muslims, suicide bombing on the name of Islam is the most unfortunate phenomena which can only benefit the enemies of Islam. In the present time, it is more important to stress points of agreement rather than points of disagreement, because what integrate Muslims is much greater than what divide them. With the enemies of Islam trying hard to sow the seeds of discord among Muslims, such nefarious designs must be frustrated through unity of Muslims, following different schools of thought. The example of ‘Yathrab’ a town torn with civil and tribal feuds and dissensions before the Messenger of Allah set his feet on its soil. After that, it became the City of the Prophet, Medina, unmatched Brotherhood was established and it became the pivot of Islam. Later the Arabs were united under the banner of Islam to become the torch bearers of Islamic Civilization now covering the globe. The seeds of Arab Nationalism sown by colonial powers in Arab and non Arab Islamic world has only added to the further disunity of Muslim Ummah, realizing the dream of enemies of Islam. Why can’t Muslims learn the lessons and revive the same unity with diversity and display the Muslim brotherhood based on tolerance and mutual existence. Marmaduke Pickthall noted: “It was not until the Western nations broke away from their religious law that they became more tolerant, and it was only when the Muslims fell away from their religious law that they declined in tolerance”.  Muslims should remember what Allah says: “All together hold fast the rope of Allah (Faith of Islam) and be not divided among yourselves. Remember Allah's favors upon you when you were enemies; He united your hearts, so by His favor you became brethren; you were at the brink of the fiery pit and He saved you from it. Thus Allah makes His revelations clear to you, so that you may be rightly guided.”(Qur’an;3:103).
CONCLUSION:
The main challenges to the faith are the form of the menace like unnoticeable (hidden) form of polytheism (shirk),deviations (bid’ah), sectarianism, extremism and Intolerance. The Muslims should follow Qur’an and Sunnah of Holy Prophet, (peace be upon him) which also provide spiritual satisfaction through the prescribed methods of worship. The  deviation in the matters of faith and worship will result in loosing the straight path of Islam, this is the reason that in Islam, Bid’ah (deviation) has been strongly condemned form the very beginning. Islam is complete faith, Allah says: “This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favor unto you, and have chosen for you as religion AL- ISLAM.”(Qur’an;5:3). Man cannot make more perfect what God has perfected. Islam rejects sectarianism intolerance and extremism, which was the cause of decline of previous believers and corruption of scriptures. Tolerance and moderation are the hallmark of Islam, life of Muslims and non Muslims alike, has a very high place in Islam, Allah says: “whoever kills a person, except as a punishment for murder or mischief in the land (through judiciary), it will be written in his book of deeds as if he had killed the mankind and whoever will save a life shall be regarded as if he gave life to all the mankind.”(Qur’an;5:32). True knowledge of Qur’an and Sunnah will enable the believers to meet the challenges posed to their faith.
The Muslims feel very close to their beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) by following his Sunnah in their daily life. However with the passage of time, there is more emphasis on adherence to the Sunnah in the physical appearance, rituals and worship where as the role model in his kind personality, social behaviour, tolerance and forgiveness have been mostly over looked in practical life. He was as great as a preacher, kind father, husband, just ruler and an ideal leader to be fully emulated to create love, tolerance and good behaviour, so scarce at present. Muslims are reminded of the saying of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): “A Muslim is the one who avoids harming Muslims with his tongue and hands.”(Sahih Bukhari Hadith:1.9).
 


JIHAD
 
"And strive in the cause of Allah with the endeavour which is His right. He has exalted you and has laid no hardship on you inreligion; the faith of your father Abraham." (Qur’an;22:78)
 
INTRODUCTION :
Jihad is a very important doctrine of Islam, which lays down guidelines and principles, to be adhered by a Muslim while striving against various forms of resistance, internal (against selfish desires and evil temptations) or external for the cause of Allah. Muslims are required to make persistent effort to serve the cause of Islam. That effort, whatever its future, falls within the meaning of the term “jihad-fi-Sabi-Lillah” (Jihad for the cause of Allah). Jihad is derived from the Arabic word ‘Juhd’, which means “effort”. The verb Jahida means ‘to be tried as a result of exerting an effort or energy; striving, making endeavor’. So Jihad is to contend with difficulties and to work continually, especially with strenuous effort. The term presupposes that such an effort will be made against resistance. Narrated AbuSa'id al-Khudri: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: The best fighting (Jihad) in the path of Allah is (to speak) a word of justice to an oppressive ruler. (Sunan of Abu Dawood:2040).
After thirteen years of worst oppression and persecution by the pagans of Makka, the early Muslims had to migrate to Medina as they were not permitted by God to fight even in self defence. Ultimately the armed struggle was initially permitted to defend the frail expanding Muslim community at Medina, strategically it was defensive in nature. “Those who believe and adopt exile and fight for the faith in the cause of Allah as well as those who give (them) asylum and aid these are (all) in very truth the believers: for them is the forgiveness of sins and a provision most generous.”(Qur’an;8:75). Later with changing scenario it became tactically offensive, a natural phenomenon. However most of the scholars consider it defensive in nature. Allah says in Qur’an: “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.(Qur’an;22:39-40).”
MISCONCEPTIONS :
Meanings and Categories of Jihad: The term “Jihad” has much wider significance than a military campaign and open warfare as commonly perceived. Jihad could be with “the heart” (intentions or feelings), with “the hand” (weapons etc) a simple action, such as standing firm in defense of the cause of Islam or “with tongue” (expression through speech or writing etc). This may require speaking out in public, for extending invitation of Islam to non believers (Dawah, preaching), against ignoring Islamic principles, and writing articles or publishing books to promote Islam. Since Islam is the faith of “Peace”, the early Muslim community was urged to conduct the Bigger Jihad (Jihad Kabira), through Qur’an, i.e. preaching of Allah’s message. Allah says in Qur’an: “therefore, do not yield to the unbelievers, and make Jihad (strive) against them with this Qur'an, a mighty Jihad (strenuous striving).”(Qur’an;25:52). The aim of making ‘Strenuous Efforts’ (Jihad) is three fold:
(1)    Jihad Against Selfish Desires: The first and foremost is to; ‘Strive Against Selfish Desires’ (Nafs ammarah), to purify the heart, so that the faith (Eman) of Islam is deeply rooted in the heart, to become fully subservient to the commands of God and His Apostle. Allah says: “The Bedouin Arabs say: "We have believed." Tell them: "You have not believed; rather say 'We have become Muslims;' for faith has not yet found its way into your hearts. If you obey Allah and His Apostle, He will not deny you the reward of your deeds; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.”(Qur’an;49:14), “(We take our) color from Allah, and who is better than Allah at coloring. We are His worshippers.”(Qur’an;2:138). Abu Bakr is reported to have said; To fight against the infidels is Jihad, but to fight against your evil self (Nafs ammarah) is greater Jihad. It may also take the form of reminding people of their Islamic duties and motivating them to conduct their lives according to Islam. God says: “The true believers, both men and women, are protectors of one another. They enjoin what is just and forbid what is evil; they establish prayer (Salah), practice regular charity (Zakah), and obey God Allah and His Apostle. It is they on whom God will have His mercy; surely God is Mighty, Wise.”(Qur’an;9:71).
(2)   Preaching-Strive to Convay Message of Islam: Secondly, making strenuous efforts (Jihad) to convey the Last message of God (Islam) to the humanity(Dawah) because Allah says: “Thus We have appointed you (Muslims) a middle nation, that ye may be witnesses against mankind, and that the messenger may be a witness against you.”( Qur’an;2:143), : “You (Muslims) are the best of peoples evolved for mankind enjoining what is right forbidding what is wrong and believing in Allah.”(Qur’an;3:110),  “We have given the Book as an inheritance to those of Our servants (Muslims) whom We have chosen”.(Qur’an;35:32). The Prophet (peace be upon him) in his last sermon said: “O’ People, no prophet or apostle will come after me and no new faith will be born. Reason well, therefore, O People, and understand my words which I convey to you. I leave behind me two things, the Qur'an and my example, the Sunnah and if you follow these you will never go astray. All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly. Be my witness oh Allah that I have conveyed your message to your people.” As true followers of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), it is the obligation of Muslims to pass on the Guidance and the Religion of Truth (Islam) to the humanity. This is a great responsibility so Muslims have to gain knowledge of Islam, practice it and then convey to the humanity.
(3)   Fight Against Oppression and Protect Believers: It was only after the first two stages which lasted for over thirteen years of the Prophetic mission of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that after migration to Median the third stage came. Hence Jihad is made permissible to provide protection to Muslims and non Muslims against oppression. Allah says: “He is the Lord of the east and the west: there is no God but Him, therefore, take Him as your Protector”(Qur’an;73:9), “And what reason do you (Muslims) have not to fight in the cause of God, to rescue the helpless oppressed old men, women, and children who are crying: "Our Lord! Deliver us from this town whose people are oppressors; send us a protector by Your Grace and send us a helper from Your presence?”(Qur’an;4:75). All out efforts are to be made to preserve Islam, and to create conducive environments for freely conveying the message of Islam to all the people, without any coercion. So that they may ponder and accept or reject it by their free choice using their reason and intellect in line with the teachings of Qur’an. Hence like any other struggle, Jihad also has defensive as well as offensive implications depending upon social, geopolitical, socioeconomic, military, religious and other considerations. According to the traditional procedure of Allah, the rejection of Message by the direct recipient form the Apostle (Rasool) are entitled to Divine punishment through the messenger and his followers. This Divine punishment was accomplished in case of Arabs in the life time of Apostle and for the neighboring powers through his companions. It is no more applicable now. Creating mischief on earth on the pretext of Jihad is against the sprit of Jihad. Allah says: “Eat and drink of what Allah has provided and do not create mischief in the land.”( Qur’an;2:60), “those who break their bond with God after it has been established (in their nature), and who cut aside what Allah has ordered to be united and cause mischief on earth. It is they who are the losers.( Qur’an;2:27).
Jihad is a life-long mission for the Muslim as a community to struggle against all evils, socio-economic, cultural, educational and political dogmas; superstitious and mythological concepts; and directing the Muslims towards obedience to Allah, enlightenment, refinement, scientific progress, dignified character and honest actions. Its top and most noble form is to fight the enemies of Islam in battle in order to foil their attempts to suppress the Muslims and the invitation to Islam.
Forced Conversion to Islam ! Conversion by force is prohibited in Islam. Allah says: “There shall be no coercion in matters of faith. Distinct has now become the right way from the (way of ) error: hence, he who rejects the powers of evil and believes in God has indeed taken hold of support most unfailing, which shall never give way: for God is all-hearing, all-knowing.”(Qur’an;2:256). “An so (O Prophet) exhort them, thy task is only to exhort: Thou canst not compel them to (believe). As for those who turn their backs and disbelieve, Allah will punish them with the mighty punishment.”(Qur’an;88:21-24). “to you be your religion, and to me mine.”(Qur’an;109:6). “So if they argue with you, tell them: "I have submitted myself entirely to Allah and so have those who follow me." Then ask those who are given the Book and those who are illiterates (not having revealed scriptures): "Will you also submit yourselves to Allah?" If they become Muslims they shall be rightly guided but if they turn back, you need not worry, because your sole responsibility is to convey the Message. God is watching all His servants very closely.”(Qur’an;3:20). “Call people to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and best advice, and reason with them, if you have to, in the most courteous manner: for your Lord knows best who strays from His Way and He knows best who is rightly guided.”(Qur’an;16:125). “O Muhammad, declare: "O mankind! The truth has come to you from your Lord! He that follows guidance (Right Way) follows it for his own good, and he that goes astray does so at his own risk; for I am not a custodian over you."(Qur’an;10:108). “Say "The Truth is from your Lord": let him who will believe and let him who will reject (it): for the wrongdoers We have prepared a Fire…. (Qur’an;18:29). “Will they not then ponder on the Qur'an?..”(Qur’an;4:82). “Say, O Muhammad: "Would you dispute with us concerning God, who is our Lord and your Lord as well? We shall be accountable to Him for our deeds and you for yours; to Him alone we are devoted.”(Qur’an;2:139). “And argue not with the followers of earlier revelations unless it be in (a way) that is better, save with such of them as do wrong; and say: We believe in that which hath been revealed unto us and revealed unto you; our God and your God is One, and unto Him we surrender.(Qur’an;29:46). “Have you ever seen the one who has taken his own desires as his god? Would you take the responsibility of guiding him?”(Qur’an;25:43). “If there are some among you who believe in the message with which I have been sent and others who disbelieve it, then be patient until Allah judges between us, for He is the best of all judges.”(Qur’an;7:87). “He creates man out of (mere) drop of sperm: and lo! This same being shows himself endowed with the power to think and argue”(Qur’an;16:4).
It is well known historic fact that after eight centuries of the Muslims in Spain they were totally eliminated from that country after Christian reconquest. If the Muslims had used force, military or economic there would not have been any Christian left in Spain to have kicked the Muslims out. One cannot charge Muslims with using the sword to convert Spaniards to the Islamic religion. Today, Islam is still spreading all over the world and Muslims have NO sword!! The Muslims were also the masters of India for almost thousand years, but they did not force Islam down the Hindus. In Spain and in India, the Muslims were no paragons of virtue, yet they obeyed the Qur'anic injunctions. Indonesia and Malaysia in the Far East and The majority of the people on the East coast of Africa as far down as Mozambique, as well as the bulk of the inhabitants on the West coast of the continent are Muslims, but history does not record any invading hoards of Muslims from anywhere. The Muslim traders and preachers through their good conduct and moral righteousness achieved the miracle of conversion. This forced De Lacy O'Leary in to write : ‘History makes it clear however, that the legend of fanatical Muslims sweeping through the world and forcing Islam at the point of the sword upon conquered races is one of the most fantastically absurd myths that historians have ever repeated.’ ("Islam at the Crossroads'' London, 1923, p.8).
Killing of Non Muslims: Killing of innocent people whether Muslim or non Muslim is strictly forbidden in Islam. Allah says: “..whoever kills a person, except as a punishment for murder or mischief in the land, it will be written in his book of deeds as if he had killed all the human beings and whoever will save a life shall be regarded as if he gave life to all the human beings..”(Qur’an;5:32), “You shall not kill anyone whom God has forbidden, except for just cause under the law. If anyone is killed unjustly, We have granted the right of retribution to his heir, but let him not carry his vengeance too far in killing the culprit through taking the law in his own hands, as he is supported by the law.”(Qur’an;17:33). The verse number 5 & 6 of Surah Tuba (Chapter Number 9 - The Repentance) from Qur’an aremost frequently misquoted, out of context by critics of Islam, to create misunderstanding, as a part of deliberate campaign to malign and project Islam as barbaric religion. Killing is only permitted in the state of war. Allah says: “But when the forbidden months are past then fight and slay the idolaters wherever you find them and seize them beleaguer them and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful.”(Qur’an;9:5), “If anyone from the idolaters ask you for asylum, grant it to him so that he may hear the Word of Allah, and then escort him to the place of safety: this should be done because these people do not know the truth.”(Qur’an;9:6).
It is made to appear that the Muslims have been given free hand to kill the pagans or non believers. It may be kept in view that some verses of Qur’an were revealed for specific occasions and carry instructions for similar circumstances if they ever exist again, out of context quotation of such verses in parts, by any one is misleading. Such efforts to twist the meanings with ulterior motives, result in tarnishing the image of Islam. A look at verses (Qur’an;9:1-6) in Qur’an revealed before conquest of Makka, provide the context, thereby leaving no room for misunderstanding. Allah says in Qur’an:
“A declaration of immunity from Allah and His Messenger is hereby made to those of the pagans with whom you have made a treaty: "You have four months to go around in the land unmolested; but you should know that you cannot frustrate the will of Allah, and that Allah will humiliate the unbelievers." This is a public proclamation from Allah and His Messenger to the people on the day of the Great Hajj (Pilgrimage) that Allah and His Messenger do hereby dissolve treaty obligations with the pagans. Therefore, if you repent, it will be better for you but if you turn away, then you should know that you cannot frustrate the Will of Allah. O’ Prophet, proclaim a painful punishment to those who are unbelievers. Except (this proclamation does not apply to) those pagans who honored their treaties with you in every detail and aided none against you. So fulfill your treaties with them to the end of their term; for Allah loves the righteous.”(Qur’an;9:1-4), “But when the forbidden months are past then fight and slay the idolaters wherever you find them and seize them beleaguer them and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful.”(Qur’an;9:5), “If anyone from the idolaters ask you for asylum, grant it to him so that he may hear the Word of Allah, and then escort him to the place of safety: this should be done because these people do not know the truth.”(Qur’an;9:6). “How can you trust them? If they prevail against you, they respect neither treaty nor ties of relationship. They just flatter you with their tongues, but their hearts reject you, and most of them are transgressors.”(Qur’an;9:8). “Fight them; Allah will punish them by your hands and humiliate them. He will grant you victory over them and soothe the hearts of a believing people.”(Qur’an;9:14)
The part of verse (Qur’an;9:5); “fight and slay the idolaters wherever ye find them,” if quoted separately would give different meanings to what is actually intended. Therefore if complete verses (Qur’an;9:1-6) are read together the context and meanings are self evident: The emphasis is on the first clause; it is only when the four months of grace are past, and the other party show no signs of desisting from their treacherous designs by right conduct, that the state of war supervenes-between Faith and Unfaith. When war becomes inevitable, it must be prosecuted with vigour. The fighting may take the form of killing, capture, or siege, or ambush and other stratagems of war. But even then there is room for repentance and amendment on the part of the guilty party, and if that takes place, then the duty is forgiveness and the establishment of peace. The repentance must be sincere, and that is shown by conduct-a religious spirit of true prayer and charity. In that case the gate against the repentant should not be barred. On the contrary Muslims must do all they can to make their way easy, remembering that Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. Even among the enemies of Islam, actively fighting against Islam, there may be individuals who may be in a position to require protection. Full asylum is to be given to them, and opportunities provided for hearing the Word of Allah. If they accept the Word, they become Muslims and brethren, and no further question arises. If they do not see their way to accept Islam, they will require double protection: (1) from the Islamic forces openly fighting against their people, and (2) from their own people, as they detached themselves from them. Both kinds of protection should be ensured for them, and they should be safely escorted to a place where they can be safe. Such persons only err through ignorance, and there may be much good in them. These verses contain excellent rules for conduct of war, which are so humane that never in the history of mankind one can find grant of privileges and rights to the fallen enemies.
Renowned scholar Muhammad Asad in his commentary on Qur’an has strongly refuted misconception of deducing any justification for forced conversion or killing of unbelievers: It may be kept in view that every verse of Qur’an must be interpreted against the background of Qur’an as a whole. The verse (Qur’an;9:5) which speaks of a possible conversion of pagan to Islam with whom the believers are at war, must therefore, be considered in conjunction with several fundamental Qur’anic ordinances. One of them: “there will be no coercion in matters of faith”(Qur’an;2:256), “to you be your religion (Din), and to me mine.”(Qur’an;109:6), lays down categorically that any attempt at a forcible conversion of unbelievers is prohibited.-which precludes the possibility of the Muslims ‘ demanding or expectation that a defeated enemy should embrace Islam as the price of immunity. Secondly, the Qur’an ordains, “Fight in the cause of Allah with those who fight against you, but do not exceed the limits. Allah does not like transgressors.”(Qur’an;2:190); and, if they do not let you be , and do not offer you peace, and do not stay their hands, seize them and slay them wherever you come upon them: and it is against these that We have clearly empowered you (to make war)”(Qur’an;4:91). “if they desist –behold, God is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace”(Qur’an;2:192), and, “If they desist, all hostility should cease except against the oppressors.”(Qur’an;2:193). As far as the enemy’s conversion to Islam –expressed in the words; “if they repent, and establish prayer and pay Zakat”, is no more that one, and by no means the only, way of their “desisting for hostility”; and the reference to it in verses 9:5 & 9:11 certainly does not imply an alternative of “conversion or death” as some critics of Islam (as well as some ill informed scholars) choose to assume. The verse 9:4 and 9:6 give a further elucidation of the attitude which the believers are enjoined to adopt towards such of the unbelievers as are not hostile to them: “Except (this proclamation of war does not apply to) those pagans who honored their treaties with you in every detail and aided none against you. So fulfill your treaties with them to the end of their term; for Allah loves the righteous.”(Qur’an;9:4). It is further clarified in Qur’an: “Allah does not forbid you to be kind and equitable to those who had neither fought against your faith nor driven you out of your homes. In fact Allah loves the equitable. Allah only forbids you to make friendship with those who fought you on account of your faith and drove you out of your homes and backed up others in your expulsion. Those who will take them for friends are indeed the wrongdoers.”(Qur’an;60:8-9).
On the expiry of warning period, the pagans who had violated the treaty, could either accept Islam by choice, leave the holy places, or face war, yet those pagans who had not previously taken the Message seriously and seek asylum were to be taken to the place of safety and provided protection to ponder and make their decision to accept Islam by free choice. The war orders (Qur’an;9:5) to kill the pagans were issued for the State of War, it is erroneous to assume that pagans be killed where ever found even in the normal state of peace, as evident in verses (Qur’an;9:4, 9:6 & 60:8-9) above. History is witness to the fact that the non believers have been living peacefully under Muslim rule for centuries and still continue to live in the countries with majority Muslim population.
UNIVERSAL MISSION :
It must be understood that the mission of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is two folds; firstly on short term basis, specifically the people around him i.e. the people of Arabia were to be guided to the Truth of Islam and trained to become torchbearers of Islam. Secondly on the long term basis these devout Muslims had to pass on this “Torch of Guidance” to the fellow brother to guide whole mankind till the end of the world. His universal mission could not have been achieved if Arabia was not purged of disbelief and pantheism during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Hence believer were commanded: “Believers, fight those of the non-believers who are near you and let them find you tough; and know that Allah is with those who are Allah-fearing.”(Qur’an;9:123). Therefore “war was declared against them, as per the war instructions, enough warning time was given to the pagans of Makka.
Divine Punishment for Rejecting The Messenger of God:
According to the traditional procedure of Allah, if a Messenger (Rasool) himself delivers the message of guidance to the community or nations, and if not obeyed, then those nations and communities were punished by Allah: “We have sent to you (O men!) an apostle to be a witness concerning you even as We sent an apostle to Pharaoh. But Pharaoh disobeyed the apostle; so We seized him with a heavy Punishment.”(Qur’an;73:15-16);“Nor was thy Lord the one to destroy a population until He had sent to its Center a messenger rehearsing to them Our Signs: nor are We going to destroy a population except when its members practice iniquity.”(Qur’an;28:59); “And how many a community revolted against the ordinance of its Lord and His messenger, and we called it to a stern account and punished it with dire punishment,”(Qur’an;65:8); “In truth thy Lord destroyed not the townships tyrannously while their folk were doing right.”(Qur’an;11:117). This punishment is either through the followers of the messenger if they are strong enough, but if they are weak in numbers and strength then the Divine punishment befalls upon them through natural calamites resulting in their destruction. The example of Divine punishment to the nations of Nuh, Aad, Samood and Loot (peace be upon them) in the form of destruction through natural calamities like floods, earthquakes, tornados etc are well known. It is mentioned in Qur’an: “The punishment for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive to create mischief in the land is death or crucifixion or the cutting off their hands and feet from opposite sides or exile from the land based on the gravity of their offense. This will be their humiliation in this world and in the Hereafter they will have grievous punishment, except those who repent before you apprehend them, in such a case, you should know that Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.”(Qur’an;5:33-34),“Messenger have been mocked before you (O Muhammad), but I always gave respite to the unbelievers and finally I seized them, so see how terrible was My requital!”(Qur’an;13:32). The rebellious people who are direct recipient of invitation of Messenger are given three choices (1) to accept the invitation after thorough deliberations, as Allah says: “ If anyone from the idolaters ask you for asylum (in battle), grant it to him so that he may hear the Word of Allah, and then escort him to the place of safety: this should be done because these people do not know the truth.”(Qur’an;9:6). or (2) be ready to be killed in war, or (3) either migrate or live as (dhimi) asubject under Muslim state after paying poll tax (jazya), enjoying freedom of faith, protection and exemption from military service. This phase of ‘divine punishment’ was accomplished during the life and Prophet and rightly guided caliphs, hence no more applicable now. The non Muslims enjoy freedom as citizens under Muslim rule.
Pagans of Makka:
The divine punishment for thepagans of Makka was expected due their denial and rejection of the Apsotle: “But Allah would not punish them whilst you (Muhammad) were amongst them; nor was He going to send it whilst they could ask for pardon. But now there is no reason why Allah should not punish them when they are blocking others 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.”(Qur’an;8:33-34). Makka being the Haram (city of peace) and centre of Islam was to be cleared of pagans. Hence in the case of pagan Arabs, the Divine punishment for disobeying him and Allah was in the form of their destruction through killing by the believers (mostly their relatives) after expiry of warning period continuing in the same Chapter (Number 9; ‘The Repentance’). Allah says: “Fight them; Allah will punish them by your hands and humiliate them. He will grant you victory over them and soothe the hearts of a believing people.”(Qur’an;9:14). Similar punishment was ordered for the Jews, who worshiped the calf (Qur’an;2:54) also mentioned in Bible: “then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, "Who is on the Lord’s side? Come to me. "And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him. And he said to them, "Thus says the Lord God of Israel, `Put every man his sword on his side, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.' And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses; and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.”(Exodos;32:26-28). Makka fell (630 C.E) almost without bloodshed. Prophet (peace be upon him) declared amnesty and protection, most of them accepted Islam while some of those, who chose to migrate also embraced Islam later.
The fall of Makka was followed by defeat of pagans at Hunain and fall of Taif paved the way for making the whole of Arabia the 'Abode of Islam' (Dar-ul-Islam). The result was that hardly a year had passed after the Battle of Hunain, when the major portion of Arabia came within the fold of Islam. The first part of his mission was accomplished during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) except few pockets of resistance in the Arabian peninsula. Arabia was cleansed of pagans and their evil. In 631 C.E Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) personally lead expedition to Tabuk, on information of concentration of Romans, but on hearing that the Prophet is himself leading the forces of Islam, they avoided the conflict. This was the year of Deputations (631 C.E), people form all over Arabia came to accept Islam, thus increasing the numbers many folds. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) died in 632 C.E.
Roman and Persian Empires : Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), prior to his death had invited the rulers of neighboring powers to Islam(Byzantine, Persians, and in Arabia) through epistles and emissaries. Due to their negative response, they were entitled for Divine punishment as per the rule of God. Due to death of Prophet (peace be upon him), this pending task was accomplished by his successors. It is no more applicable now. Apart from Divine punishment the object of Jihad was not to coerce them to accept Islam, but to ensure that freedom of choice is provided to the people of neighboring areas to choose between truth (Haqq) and falsehood (Batil). Hence they were enjoined to subdue the non-Muslim powers to establish the sovereignty of the Islamic State. The world was much different from the present, wherein as per international law every human being is free to adopt and practice any faith, (at least in theory) but this was not the case at that time. The great Roman (Christian) and Persian (Zoroastrian) Empires were the biggest hindrances in conveying the message of Islam to their population. They were to be prevented from thrusting forcibly their disbelief upon their subjects and the future generations hence the conflict with them was inevitable. By the period of Caliph Omar bin Khattab (634-644 C.E), not only Arabia was purged of non believers but other areas as far as Afghanistan and Egypt were also brought under the folds of Muslim rule.
BIBLE ON WARFARE :
Jihad (with sword) was also permissible in the previous scriptures. It is mentioned in Qur’an: “Indeed God has purchased from the believers their persons and their wealth and in return has promised them paradise; they fight in the cause of Allah and slay and are slain. This is a true promise which is binding on Him mentioned in Torah, the Gospel and the Qur'an; and who is more true in fulfilling his promise than Allah? Rejoice, therefore, in the bargain which you have made, and that is a mighty achievement.”(Qur’an;9:111).
Old Testament:
As regards actual ‘fighting with the sword’ there has been some difference in theological theories at different times, but very little in the practice of those who framed those theories. The Jewish wars were ruthless wars of extermination, the Old Testament does not mince words: “And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword. And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.” (Leviticus;26:7-8). "Now therefore Kill every male among the little ones, and Kill every woman (female) that hath known man by lying (having sex) with him. "But keep Alive for yourselves all the Girls and all the women who are Virgins."(Numbers;31:17-18). “Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”(1Samel;15:3); “slay utterly the old man, the young man and the virgin, and little children and women; but come not near any man upon whom is the mark: and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the old men that were before the house.”(Ezakhel;9:6). The Jews salvaged for themselves; “and thirty-two thousand persons in all, women who had not known man by lying with him.”(Numbers; 31:35). “But in the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God gives you for an inheritance, (O’ Jews) you shall save alive nothing that breathes,(Deuteronomy;20:16). 'And they (the Jews) Utterly Destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, ox and sheep, and Ass, with the edge of the sword"(Joshua;6:21),"He (Joshua) let None remain alive." (Joshua;10:28).  “Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand; To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye the LORD” (Psalm;149:6-9). Moses ordered the killing of Jews, guilty of idol worship; "And when Moses said unto his people: O my people! Ye have wronged yourselves by your choosing of the calf (for worship) so turn in penitence to your Creator, and kill (the guilty) yourselves. That will be best for you with your Creator and He will relent toward you. Lo! He is the Relenting, the Merciful.”(Qur’an;2:54, also mentioned in Bible in the book of Exodos;32:26-28.). “O my people! Go into the holy land which Allah hath ordained for you. Turn not in flight, for surely ye turn back as losers: They said: O Moses! Lo! a giant people (dwell) therein, and lo! we go not in till they go forth from thence. When they go forth, then we will enter (not till then).(Qur’an;5:21-22). (Their Lord) said: For this the land will surely be forbidden them for forty years that they will wander in the earth, bewildered. So grieve not over the wrongdoing folk.(Qur’an;5:26). “Bethink thee of the leaders of the Children of Israel after Moses, how they said unto a Prophet whom they had: Set up for us a King and we will fight in Allah's way. He said: Would ye then refrain from fighting if fighting were prescribed for you? They said: Why should we not fight in Allah's way when we have been driven from our dwellings with our children? Yet, when fighting was prescribed for them, they turned away, all save a few of them. Allah is Aware of evil-doers.”(Qur’an;2:246). “So they routed them by Allah's leave and David slew Goliath; and Allah gave him the kingdom and wisdom, and taught him of that which He willeth. And if Allah had not repelled some men by others the earth would have been corrupted. But Allah is a Lord of Kindness to (His) creatures.”(Qur’an;2:251).
New Testament:
In the New Testament the Jesus Christ(peace be upon him) says: “But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them before me.”(Luke;19:27), “Think Not that I am come to send Peace on earth; I came Not to send Peace, but a Sword.”(Mathew;10:34), “I am come to send FIRE on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?” (Luke;12:49),“Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather Division.”(Luke;12:51).“And, behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his Sword, and struck a servant of the high priests, and cut off his ear.”(Mathew;26:51). Saint. Paul, in commending the worthy fruits of Faith, mentions the warriors of the Old Testament as his ideals: “And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets -- who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, received promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.” (Hebrews; 11: 32-34). The monkish morality of the Gospels in their present form has never been followed by any self-respecting Christian or other nation in history. Pope Urban II (1088-99 C.E) coined the phrase ‘Holy War’, launched the Crusades movement which was subsequently vigorously supported by his followers for two centuries(1095-1291 C.E), causing death and destruction to millions besides sowing seeds of hatred and enmity among the followers of two great civilizations which still haunts the humanity. The association of Missionaries with Crusades posed a moral theological problem that troubled medieval Christian thinkers. Thirteenth-century Christian theologians held that conversion could not be forced, but most agreed that force could legitimately be used to preserve a situation in which peaceful propaganda was possible, and they continued to support the Crusade. Furthermore, Europe's fear was such that the Crusade idea persisted well into the 17th century, and the conviction that, in certain circumstances, war might be just became more deeply enrooted in the conscience of the West. Along with the now generally accepted use of the word ‘Crusade’ to denote any ‘Common Endeavour in a Worthy Cause’ (Christian Jihad), this is one of the most enduring results of the movement. After the bloodstained conversions in South America, the colonization of most of the free world by diplomacy, intimidation aggression and coercion took place. Pope Pius XII was obliged, under the pressures of World War II, to clarify and redefine the church's teachings on war and peace as well as to work out a strategy of survival. Pope Pius XII , tacitly condoned the Nazi holocaust. The deadly wars and large scale killings of people among weaker nations mostly Muslim which goes unabated on the pretext of war against terror lead by the American Evangelist and Neocons, the claim of love and peace by the Western (Christian) world appears to be hollow. They have forgotten the saying of Jesus (peace be upon him):“You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.”(Mathew; 7:5).
ISLAM LAID DOWN ETHICS AND RULES FOR WAR :
It is irrational to ignore the lust of blood in stubborn man as a form of evil which has to be combated “within the limits”, set by Allah. At the time of creation of Adam: “The angels said: Will You place there one who will make mischief and shed blood? ..”(Qur’an;2:30). It may undoubtedly be realized that human beings often resort to war without solid justification, at times over petty matters. One has to look at history, the past and present. The motives of war could be many, broadly they are; (1) Pursuit of trade and to gain economic advantage, (2) Spread of influence or religion, (3) Desire for security and political power, and (4) Combination of one or more of these three. At different times and in different places, different motives are dominant. War is a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between political units, such as states or nations or between rival political factions of the same state or nation. War is characterized by intentional violence on the part of large bodies of individuals who are expressly organized and trained to participate in such violence. Wars between nation-states may be fought to gain reparation for a particular injury; to acquire a particular territory or advantage; to gain recognition of a particular claim; or to achieve the extermination or unconditional surrender of the enemy. War may take defensive or offensive forms or combination of both according to the objectives and resources. Hence, the great religion as Islam, that provides a complete code of life, must address the possibility of war. The Qur’an certainly does so, and the code it provides is more civilized than any in the whole history of humanity.
Jihad for Allah's Cause Only: Jihad is not for self glory or spoils of war but for the cause of Allah only. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) highlighted the importance of Jihad and participants. It is narrated by Abu Huraira: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said; "The person who participates in (Jihad by sword) in Allah's cause and nothing compels him to do so except belief in Allah and His Apostles, will be recompensed by Allah either with a reward, or booty (if he survives) or will be admitted to Paradise (if he is killed in the battle as a martyr). Had I not found it difficult for my followers, then I would not remain behind any sariya (small force of 5 to 400) going for Jihad and I would have loved to be martyred in Allah's cause and then made alive, and then martyred and then made alive, and then again martyred in His cause." (Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith:1.35). Narrated by Ibn Masud: A man asked the Prophet; "What deeds are the best?" The Prophet said: (1) To perform the (daily compulsory) prayers at their (early) stated fixed times, (2) To be good and dutiful to one's own parents. (3) and to participate in Jihad in Allah's Cause."(Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 9.625).
Non Aggression, Self Defence: Initially the Muslims were not allowed to fight even for self defence, however when oppression exceeded the limits, Allah granted permission to the Muslims to fight for self defense: “Permission to fight back is hereby granted to the believers against whom war is waged and because they are oppressed; certainly Allah has power to grant them victory.”(Qur’an;22:39). Allah says:“Fight for the cause of Allah those who fight against you, but do not commit aggression. Allah does not love aggressors. Kill them wherever you may find them, and drive them away from wherever they drove you away; for oppression is even worse than killing. However, do not fight them near the Sacred Mosque unless they fight you first there. Should they fight you, then kill them. Thus shall the unbelievers be rewarded. But, if they desist, know that Allah is Much Forgiving, Merciful. Fight them until there is no more oppression and submission is made to Allah. If they desist, let there be no hostility except against the wrongdoers.”(Qur’an;2:190-193). The weakness invites aggression; hence the Muslims are urged to develop their military power. God says: “Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power including steeds of war to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies of God and your enemies and others besides whom you may not know but whom God does know. Whatever you shall spend in the cause of Allah shall be repaid unto you and you shall not be treated unjustly.”(Qur’an;8:60),“O’believers! Prepare yourselves for encounter, then advance in detachments or all together as the occasion may require.”(Qur’an;4:71).
War for Justice Against Oppression : Jihad is meant to serve Allah's cause ALONE to eliminate oppression and to ensure that people are given an opportunity to freely submit to the will of God. Qur’an says; "Fight against them until there is no more oppression, and all submission is to Allah alone."(Qur’an;8:39). The whole earth is populated by human beings that are being subjected to tyranny and oppression by fellow human beings, holding reign of power. Why does Islam, then, move forward to fight, and why has Allah bought the believers' souls and property, so that "they fight for Allah's cause, kill and get killed"? The answer is that jihad has a reason which is totally different from compelling other people to accept Islam.
Kindness and Equity to Non Aggressors : Allah says:“As for such of the unbelievers who do not fight against you on account of your faith, and neither drive you forth from your homelands, Allah does not forbid you to show them kindness and to behave toward them with full equity. Indeed Allah loves those who act equitably. Allah only forbids you to turn in friendship toward such as fight against you because of your faith, and drive you forth from your homelands, or aid others in driving you forth. Those who turn toward them in friendship are truly wrongdoers.”(Qur’an;60:8-9).
Resist Persecution : The believers are told; "Go forth, light-armed and heavy-armed, and strive with your wealth and your lives in the way of Allah. That is best for you if you understand" (Qur’an;9:41). "And strive in the cause of Allah with the endeavour which is His right. He has exalted you and has laid no hardship on you in religion (Deen); the faith of your father Abraham." (Qur’an;22:78). "So those who have migrated and were driven forth from their homes and have been persecuted in My Cause, and have fought and have been slain, verily I shall remit their evil deeds from them and verily I shall bring them into Gardens."(Qur’an;3:195). "And whosoever strives, strives only for himself, for verily Allah is altogether independent of His creatures of the world" (Qur’an;29:6).
Freedom of Faith : Indeed jihad seeks to guarantee the freedom of belief. Islam lays down rule stating in Qur’an that: “There shall be no coercion in matters of faith. Distinct has now become the right way from the (way of ) error: hence, he who rejects the powers of evil and believes in God has indeed taken hold of support most unfailing, which shall never give way: for God is all-hearing, all-knowing.”(Qur’an;2:256). “to you be your religion (Din), and to me mine.”(Qur’an;109:6). The choice is granted to humanity in the limited Free-will which involves a corresponding personal responsibility.
Killing by Burning Not Allowed: Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said: It is none but Allah Who punishes with fire, so, if you find them, kill them.(Sahih Al Bukhari, Hadith, Number.4.259). Narrated Ikrima : Ali burnt some people and this news reached Ibn Abbas, who said, "Had I been in his place I would not have burnt them, as the Prophet said, 'Don't punish (anybody) with Allah's Punishment.' No doubt, I would have killed them, for the Prophet said, 'If somebody (a Muslim) discards his religion, kill him. (Sahih Al Bukhari, Hadith, Number.4.260).
Suicide is not Permissible : Narrated Thabit bin Ad Dahhak about suicide: The Prophet said; “whoever commits suicide with something, will be punished with the same thing in the (Hell) fire”.(Sahih Al Bukhari Hadith Numbr:8.126). Narrated Jabir ibn Samurah: (The dead body) of a person who had killed himself with a broad-headed arrow was brought before the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him), but he did not offer prayers for him.(Sahih Muslim Hadith. Number.486).
Mutilation of the Dead Bodies is Prohibited : Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) prohibited to mutilate the dead bodies. (Sahih Muslim Hadith.804).
Treachery : “If you fear treachery from any of your allies, you may fairly retaliate by breaking off the treaty with them (through properly notifying them to that effect), for Allah does not love the treacherous.”(Qur’an;8:58).
Fulfilling Safe Conduct : Muslims have to fulfill commitment and not to kill by false promise. Yahya related to me from Malik from a man of Kufa that Umar ibn al-Khattab wrote to a lieutenant of an army which he had sent out, "I have heard that it is the habit of some of your men to chase an unbeliever till he takes refuge in a high place. Then one man tells him in Persian not to be afraid, and when he comes up to him, he kills him. By He in whose hand my self is, if I knew someone who had done that, I would strike off his head. (Al Muwata Hadith, Number.21.12).
Peace offer be Accepted : Allah says: “If the enemy is inclined towards peace, do make peace with them, and put your trust in Allah. He is the One Who hears all , knows all.”(Qur’an;8:61)
Grant of Asylum : Allah says: “If one amongst the pagans ask thee for asylum grant it to him so that he may hear the word of Allah and then escort him to where he can be secure: that is because they are men without knowledge.”(Qur’an;9:6).
Rules for Prisoners of War:
Taking Prisoners of War : Therefore, when you meet the unbelievers in the battlefield smite their necks and, when you have thoroughly subdued them, then take prisoners of war and bind them firmly. After the war lay down her burdens, then you have the choice whether you show them favor or accept ransom. Thus are you commanded. If Allah wanted, He Himself could have punished them; but He adopted this way so that He may test some of you by means of others. As for those who are slain in the cause of Allah, He will never let their deeds be lost.(Qur’an;47:4).
Care of Sick & Hungry Captives : Narrated Abu Musa: The Prophet said, "Free the captives, feed the hungry and pay a visit to the sick.(Sahih Al Bukhari, Hadith, Number.4.282).
Offer to Prisoners of War : Allah says:“O Prophet! Tell the captives in your custody: "If Allah finds goodness in your hearts He will give you even better than what has been taken from you, as well as forgive you. Allah Is Forgiving, Merciful. But if they have treacherous designs against you, O Prophet, they have already shown treason against Allah. That is why He made them your captives. Allah is Knowledgeable, Wise.”(Qur’an;8:70-71).
Providing Clothes to Prisoners of War : Narrated Jabir bin Abdullah: When it was the day (of the battle) of Badr, prisoners of war were brought including Al-Abbas who was undressed. The Prophet looked for a shirt for him. It was found that the shirt of Abdullah bin Ubai would do, so the Prophet let him wear it. That was the reason why the Prophet took off and gave his own shirt to Abdullah. (The narrator adds, "He had done the Prophet some favor for which the Prophet liked to reward him."). (Sahih Al Bukhari, Hadith, Number.4.252).
Prohibitions-of Killing Religious People, Women, Children, Aged, Sick People, Animals and Cutting Trees in Military Expeditions : The Hebrews wars were ruthless wars of extermination: “Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”(1Samel;15:3); “slay utterly the old man, the young man and the virgin, and little children and women; but come not near any man upon whom is the mark: and begin at my sanctuary. Then they began at the old men that were before the house.”(Ezakhel;9:6). Islam forbade killing of innocents. Narrated Abdullah: During some of the ghazawat of the Prophet a woman was found killed. Allah's Apostle disapproved and forbade the killing of women and children. (Sahih Al Bukhari, Hadith, Number.4.257,258). Abu Bakr advised Yazid, the commander of Muslim Military Expeditionsto Sham (Syria): "You will find a people who claim to have totally given themselves to Allah. Leave them to what they claim to have given themselves. You will find a people who have shaved the middle of their heads, strike what they have shaved with the sword. "I advise you ten things: Do not kill women or children or an aged, infirm person. Do not cut down fruit-bearing trees. Do not destroy an inhabited place. Do not slaughter sheep or camels except for food. Do not burn bees and do not scatter them. Do not steal from the booty, and do not be cowardly." (Al Muwata Hadith. Number;21.10).
Role of Women: The women are not required to participate in Jihad, as per Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith 4.128, Narrated by Aish’a (The mother of the faithful believers); “The Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked by his wives about the Jihad and he replied, "The best Jihad (for you) is (the performance of) Hajj.” However it is evident form a Hadith that in the initial days the women has been providing support. Narrated Ar Rabibint Muauwidh :We used to take part in holy battles with the Prophet by providing the people with water and serving them and bringing the killed and the wounded back to Medina. (Sahih Al Bukhari, Hadith, Number.4.134).
Exemption for Physical Disability : Allah says:“Those believers who stay at home - having no physical disability - are not equal to those who make Jihad (struggle) in the cause of Allah with their wealth and their persons. Allah has granted a higher rank to those who make Jihad with their wealth and their persons than to those who stay at home. Though Allah has promised a good reward for all, Allah has prepared a much richer reward for those who make Jihad for Him than for those who stay at home”(Qur’an;4:95).
Exemption of Non Muslim Subject from Jihad : The non Muslims subject who pay poll tax (Jazya) are exempted form military service and provided protection by the state.
SIGNIFICANCE OF JIHAD:
Collective Responsibility (Faradh Kafaya)- Jihad and Knowledge: All Believers not required to physically participate in Jihad; it is a collective responsibility (faradh kafaya) for Muslim community: Allah says: “It is not proper that all the believers take the filed (in time of war). From every group with in their midst some should refrain form going for the war, so that they may obtain the understanding of deeper knowledge of the Faith (Al-Islam), and teach their brethren when they return to them so that they may guard themselves (against evil)”.(Qur’an;:122). Qur’an does not draw any dividing line between the spiritual and the worldly concerns of life but, rather, regards them as different aspects of one and the same reality. In many of its verses, the Qur’an calls upon the believer to observe all nature and to discern God’s creative activity (Qura’n;10:5, 2:164, 30:46, 40:57, 50:7 & many more) in its manifold phenomena and ‘laws’ , as well as to mediate upon the lessons of history (Qura’n;22:46,27:69,29:20, 30:9) with a view to gaining a deeper insight into man’s motivations and the innermost sprigs of his behaviour; and thus, the Qur’an itself is characterized as addressed to ‘those who think’ (Qura’n;47:24, 38:29). In short, intellectual activity as such is postulated as a valid way to batter understanding of God’s will and - if perused with moral consciousness- as a valid method of worshiping God. This Qur’anic principle has been emphasized in many authentic sayings of Prophet, for instance “Striving after knowledge is a sacred duty (faridah) for every man and woman who has surrendered himself or herself to God”(Ibn Majah); or : Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) is reported to have said: “If anyone travels on a road in search of knowledge, Allah will cause him to travel on one of the roads of Paradise. The angels will lower their wings in their great pleasure with one who seeks knowledge, the inhabitants of the heavens and the Earth and the fish in the deep waters will ask forgiveness for the learned man. The superiority of the learned man over the devout is like that of the moon, on the night when it is full, over the rest of the stars. The learned are the heirs of the Prophets, and the Prophets leave neither Dinar nor Dirham, leaving only knowledge, and he who takes it takes an abundant portion.”(Sunan of Abu Dawood, Hadith:1631). Consequently, the obligation of the believers to “devote themselves to acquiring a deeper knowledge of the Faith” and to impart its results to their fellow-believer relates to every branch of knowledge as well as to its practical application.
Faith, Jihad and Salvation : There is very strong link between Faith, Jihad and Salvation .The faith (Eman) must be strong and deep rooted in the heart. The oral confession of faith through Shahada is just means for the entry to Islam, but to become a true believer (Momin) the belief in Allah, His Apostle should be without any doubt, which should be manifested through full obedience to God and His Apostle in the deeds and actions. Qur’an mentions: “The Bedouin Arabs say: "We have believed." Tell them: "You have not believed; rather say 'We have become Muslims;' for faith has not yet found its way into your hearts. If you obey Allah and His Apostle, He will not deny you the reward of your deeds; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. The true believers are those who believe in Allah and His Apostle, then never doubt; and make Jihad (exert their efforts) with their wealth and their persons in the cause of Allah. Such are the ones who are truthful in their claim to be the believers.”(Qur’an;49:114-5). The true believer (Momin) has to manifest his belief through deeds and Jihad. Hence Jihad (strenuous efforts) in the cause of Allah, with wealth and their persons is part of faith (Eman). The basic pillars of Islam are five, but Jihad may be included as part of the Faith. The true believers may expect reward for their good deeds in the form of salvation. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "The head of the matter is Islam, its pillar is the prayer, and the top of its hump is jihad in the way of Allah."(Fiqh As Sunnah: 1.75). Allah provides the key to salvation for the believers in an other verse: “O believers! Should I tell you of a bargain that will save you from a painful punishment? It is to believe in Allah and His Apostle and strive your utmost in the cause of Allah with your wealth and your persons. That is best for you, if you but knew it.”(Qur’an;61:10-11).
MULTI RELIGIOUS TOLERANT ISLAMIC SOCIETIES:
The Muslims granted the freedom to the nonbelievers if they chose to follow their old faith, provided they paid tax (Jizyah) as a sign of their submission to the Islamic State and protection. The existence of statue of Buddha for fourteen centuries of Muslim rule at Afghanistan stood as testimony to the same till its regrettable destruction by intolerant Taliban. The long history of Islamic rule spread over hundreds of years is witness to the fact that Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, Hindus and followers of other faiths lived in peace under the Muslim rule. There was no forced conversion as a policy of state in the light of Qur’anic verses (2:256 & 10:100. 109:6) Spain and India are the examples with majority non Muslim population despite Muslim rule for centuries. It is not permissible in an Islamic state to start killing the unbelievers unless they are in a state of war or convicted by courts for specified offences. One has to live in peace and preach Islam by inviting them to the real message of Qur’an. The Constitution, also known as the Charter of Medina (622 C.E) was the first written constitution signed between Muslims, Jews and other commnities living at and around Medina. It concerns the rights and responsibilities of the Muslim, Jewish, and other Arab and tribal communities of Medina during peace and war between that city state and its neighbours. The Constitution of Medina was a social contract in the form of a a treaty. The contract was built upon the concept of one community of diverse faiths and tribes living under the sovereignty of One God as one nation - Ummah. The Medina Constitution also instituted peaceful methods of dispute resolution among diverse groups living as one people but without assimilating into one religion, language, or culture. This can still serve as a model. of Medina
PRESENT ENVIRONMENTS :
Traditional Zones of war & Peace : The Muslims are not required to wage wars for the sake of acquiring worldly glory and power. The concept of Jihad was nevertheless used by some medieval Muslim rulers to justify wars motivated by purely political ambitions, keeping in line with the practice in vogue in the world by other powers of the time. Gradually, however, Jihad came to be interpreted more in defensive than in offensive terms. In the 20th century the concept of jihad inspired Muslims in their struggle against Western colonialism.
Oppression and Exploitation of Muslims : It is a well known fact that most of Muslim societies are under the state of ‘utmost oppression and exploitation’ by non believers as well as their own brothers in power. Narrated by Abdullah bin Umar: “Allah's Apostle said, "A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, so he should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor..." (Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith: 3.622). There is menace of conflict, injustices, ignorance, illiteracy, corruption and moral degradation, generally considered as the legacy of colonialism. The ‘Submission to Allah Alone’ is mostly oral, in actions they mostly follow their vain desires. According to Qur’an; “And Allah would turn to you in mercy; but those who follow vain desires would have you go tremendously astray.”(Qur’an;4:27), “..Do not transgress the bounds of truth in your religion, and do not yield to the fancies of those people who went astray before you, They misled many others and have themselves strayed away from The Right Way.”(Qur’an;5:77).
Bigger Jihad“Jihad Kibira”: Requirement of “Jihad Kibira” (Bigger Jihad- Qur;an;25:52)  seems to be the need of hour, which has to be launched against the evils and deviations, to adhere to the true faith and establish just Islamic welfare societies. This struggle should be aimed to provide knowledge (religious and secular) justice, fair play, development and equal opportunities for their people. This should enable them to become good practicing Muslims. After Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), it is the duty of every Muslim to spread the message of Islam all over the world being true inheritors of Qur’an: “Then We have given the Book (Qur’an) for inheritance to such of Our servants as We have chosen (Muslims)……” (Qur’an;35:32). Thus Muslims will be able to contribute towards the betterment of humanity as a whole.
Divergent Concepts :
Extremism: Today the Muslim society finds itself at the crossroads. There are divergent views on conduct of Jihad. One group feels that due to suppression and exploitation of Muslims by neocolonialist powers (Western) on one hand and politico-military suppression of Muslims at Palestine, Chechnya, Kashmir, Philippines and occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan, on the other hand, there is no other option but to resort to Jihad with arms. Due to ineptness of world and Muslim powers, the extremist non government armed groups are resorting to violence and extremism. Being weak in the modern weaponry, they follow the old dictum. “every thing is fair in love and war”. The term Jihad is being used by such groups of desperate people who are at times are involved in suicide bombing and violence against innocent civilians including women and children. At times some extremist Islamic groups declare their fellow Muslims who differ with them as Kafirs (infidels) and declare Jihad against them. Weather they achieve their objectives or not but these non conventional military ventures by few zealots are having disastrous consequences for the entire Muslim community (Ummah). It should be known that Allah does not like mischief : “.. and do not seek mischief in the land, for Allah does not love the mischief makers.”( Qur’an;28:77); “When it is said to them: "Do not make mischief on earth," they say: "We make peace. Be aware! They are the ones who make mischief but they do not realize it.”(Qur’an;2:11-12 similarly also at 2:60, 206, 3:63, 7:56); “The punishment for those who wage war against Allah and His Apostle and strive to create mischief in the land is death or crucifixion or the cutting off their hands and feet from opposite sides or exile from the land based on the gravity of their offense. This will be their humiliation in this world and in the Hereafter they will have grievous punishment,”(Qur’an;5:33).
Pessimism : The other group think that due to the weak state of their faith and non adherence to the fundamental Islamic practices, the Muslim societies of today in general may be considered closer the initial Makkan period of Islam (initial 13 years at Makka, 610-622 C.E) when Jihad with sword was not permitted, they were instructed by Qur’an; “Therefore listen not to the Unbelievers but strive against them with the utmost strenuousness(Jihad Kabira) with the (Qur'an).”(Qur’an;25:52). The Bigger Jihad (Jihad Kabira) through Qur’an is preaching Allah’s message orally, through pen or other means. They think that this is the time to understand, practice and preach Allah’s message orally, through pen or other means of communication. The achievement of the spiritual perfection in faith and Islamic practices, should lead towards establishment of firm Islamic Welfare States on the pattern of State of Medina established by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and later by four Rightly Guided Caliphs. These Islamic Welfare states should be politically, economically and militarily independent. They will act as a beacon of light for the spread of the real message of Islam through peaceful means.
The Middle Course:
The Muslim Ummah has to find a solution, which is not easy due to the complexity of non existence of any central authority (Khilfah)which could give direction in the light of Qur’an and Sunnah. The Muslim states have to first put their own house in order through Jihad Kabira, then decide about conduct of external Jihad for particular situation to help brothers under oppression. The decision by a state for the level of participation and type of support to the Jihad declared by others has to be taken in consultation with their genuine religious scholars (Ulema) while keeping in view their national political, economic, social, geographical and strategic interests. The Organization of Islamic Countries may also play enhanced role. In any case the Muslim states have to follow the path of development in all affairs. All out efforts should continuously be made against tyranny and suppression of humanity specially against Muslims. Efforts of Dawah (preaching) should be enhanced by teaching and preaching on regular basis. One of the purpose of Jihad is to provide freedom of choice to the people to opt for Islam or otherwise. In the modern democracies there is complete freedom of preaching (Dawa) or practicing any faith including Islam (at least in theory). Generally the governments do not impose restriction on peaceful preaching, consequently Islam is considered as the fastest growing religion in Europe and North America. While difference on their other policies do exist, violence against innocent population may not be justified on this account alone. It may have negative effects on preaching and spread of Islam due to tarnishing of the image of Islam by presenting it as a religion of violence and bloodshed. Requirement for tolerant, moderate, modern, progressive but powerful and strong Muslim society having a say in the international affairs proportionate to their ideology, population and resources to safeguard their interests is the need of the hour, which will help to achieve the main objectives of Jihad.
Challenges & Response:
It is difficult to agree to any one of the groups in totality. One may have to look for the middle course. In the words late Pakistani intellectual Eqbal Ahmad : “We are chasing an Islamic order ‘stripped of its humanism, aesthetics, intellectual quests and spiritual devotions…. concerned with power not with the soul, with the mobilization of people for political purposes rather than with sharing and alleviating their sufferings and aspirations .” There is dire need to lay down the basic parameters for conduct of Jihad (armed struggle against opression). Firstly the existence of a well recognized authority or government in the area where armed struggle is to be conducted against oppression. Secondly laying down of objectives to be achieved and parameters. Thirdly the availability of means and resources to achieve the objectives. The peace as and when visible should be given a chance. However one has to find answers to the questions like: Is killing of innocent civilians, women and children whether Muslims or non Muslims justified on the name of Jihad? Can the declaration of Jihad with arms be left at the discretion of few individuals and religious zealots? Or should it be the responsibility of the Islamic states keeping in view the teachings of Islam, national interests and the prevalent system of international relations(UN, OIC and other forums)? Muslim scholars and leadership through dialogue with the international community, have to analyze the reasons of this pathetic state and find out practicable, realistic and just solutions on long term basis to make the world safer place for every one.
At present the Muslim scholars are mostly devout and sincere but (with some exceptions), they generally lack in the knowledge of science and technology. They know little about other Social Sciences i.e. sociology, psychology, anthropology, economics, political science, and history. Only few have studied ‘comparative religions’ in-depth. The research to deal with the issues and challenges of present time in realistic and practicable way is very limited, rather nonexistent. This state has been reached over a very long period, due to the negligent attitude, fixing of wrong priories and lack of interest by the Muslim societies, besides many other reasons. Consequently a very medieval face of Islam is presented, which appears to be extremely rigid, primitive, intolerant to difference of opinion and at times aggressive, which is far from reality. Against all the odds and despite all these limitations, it goes to the credit of traditional Ulema (clergy) which is keeping the candle of Islam alight. It is high time that the Muslim societies besides developments in the field of education, science, technology and industrialization, address this problem by injecting the fresh intellect in the field of religious scholarship. Thus the ‘Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam’ proposed by great modern Islamic philosopher Dr.Muhammad Iqbal over seventy five year ago to meet the challenges of this time through Ijtehad could be achieved by modern Muslim intellectuals and scholars. This will enable the Muslims to regains the lost glory and gain respectable position in the community of nations in this modern world. While there could be divergent views on the conduct of ‘Jihad’ as an ‘armed struggle’, in the present scenario, but there is unanimity ‘Jihad Kabira’; the peaceful struggle with the Qur’an.   
CONCLUSION:
Jihad is striving against various forms of resistance, internal (against selfish desires and evil temptations) or external for the cause of Allah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: The best fighting (Jihad) in the path of Allah is (to speak) a word of justice to an oppressive ruler. There are many misconceptions about Jihad, it is not fighting only. The first and foremost is to; ‘Strive Against Selfish Desires’ (Nafs ammarah), to purify the heart, so that the faith (Eman) of Islam is deeply rooted in the heart, to become fully subservient to the commands of God and His Apostle. Secondly, making strenuous efforts (Jihad) to convey the Last message of God (Islam) to the humanity(Dawah). It was only after the first two stages which lasted for over thirteen years of the Prophetic mission of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that after migration to Median the third stage to defend Muslims against oppression was permitted. Islam laid down ethics and rules for war. Conversion by force and killing of innocent people whether Muslim or non Muslim is strictly forbidden in Islam. There are oppressed Muslims groups who are retaliating against injustice and tyranny, in Palestine, Chechnya, Kashmir, Iraq, Afghanistan, Philippines and elsewhere. There is a need to remove the root causes and make peaceful efforts through dialogue to end the armed resistance.

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