Witnessing (Ash-,Shahid - The Witness), and His Angels bear
witness to the shahid's extraordinary spiritual rewards; the
shahid is promised he will witness God."36"
The Believers are assured in the Qur'an that the shahid is
among those to whom Allah has shown special favour; that those
who are slain in the way of God live on in His care, and His
Pardon and Mercy are far better for the shahid than all of
the spiritual and material blessings to be acquired in this
The prerequisites and spiritual rewards of both jihad and
martyrdom are elaborated upon in hadith. The shahid is he
whose intention is pure - he fights and dies solely in Allah's
way, not for pride or worldly profit. The shahid is the best
among the Believers; he will not be touched by the fire. A
day and a night engaged in jihad is better for the Believer
than a month of lasting and prayer, for jihad (as a mode of
exceptional worship) is more excellent than obligatory prayer.
The shahid is spared both the punishment and the trial of
the grave; he is the first to enter paradise where he is stationed
closest to God. His good deeds continue to increase until
the Day of Judgement. So honored is the shaltid in Paradise
that he alone of all men wishes to return to this world and
be killed ten times more for the sake of the ecstatic Divine
Illumination the Beatific Vision that is his to witness -
or, at another level, of comprehension, for a mankind that
in its generality has rarely experienced or considered ecstasy
except in its most directly physical mode - for the seventy-two
dark-eyes maidens who will be his wives. "38"
In the limits to holy war mentioned earlier that were set
either by God in the Qur-'an or His Prophet in hadith are
to be found the many elements such as the requirement of a
declaration of war and offer of terms, the prohibition of
mutilation, avoidable destruction of civilian property and
the killing of non-combatants or the slaying of enemy fighters
who embrace Islam on the field of battle - that would be combined
with conditions derived from the Qur'an and hadith that permit
fighting, into a juridical doctrine of the jihad.
The formulation of this juridical doctrine would be the task
of the 'ularna in the earliest generations that followed the
Prophet and his Companions, as part of their overall task
to elaborate the shari `a - the comprehensive, eternal, divinely
revealed Law, that (as we noted earlier) determines in Islam
man's duties to God and to fellow man.
The sense of combat, of warfare, also adheres to the multiplicity
of meaning within jihad in its more-than-occasional and generally
non-violent forms of struggle. This combative identity is
particularly so in that dimension of jihad that is most distant
from physical, armed struggle, which is most continuous and
which is in effect a contemplative mode: jihad as spiritual
Thus the classic lexicons classify mujahada (fighting with
the enemy) as an expression of both armed struggle against
the unbelievers and waging war against the carnal Soul. "39"It
is understood as such by the Companions who report the Prophet
The mujahid is one who tries to struggle against his self
The relaionship between these two dimensions of jihad is
defined by the
famous hadith which directly alludes to the movement from
the outward and occasional to the inward and continuous when
the Prophet, returning from a military expedition, declares:"We
have come back from the lesser jihadto the greater jiahad."
The greater jihad is greater because it is more difficult,
for according to hadith, " Your most hostile enemy is
your nafs, enclosed between your two sides, "41"and
because as a continuous struggle it encompasses and affects
the efficacy (which is always determined by intention and
sincerity, a quality of the perfected soul) of the lesser
jihad. Ibn Qaiyim a1-Djawziya, the noted 13th centurt theologian,
The jihad against the enemies of Allah with one's life is
only a part ofthe struggle which a true sevant of Allah carries
on against his own self [nafsl for the sake of the Lord. This
striving against the evil tendencies which have dominated
his mind and heart is more important than fighting against
enemies in the outside world. It is in fact the basis on which
the struggle in the path of Allah can be successfully launched.
Just as the goal of the lesser jihad is to purify the social
order of disbelief so the immediate odjective of the greater
jihad is to purify the spiritual heart, by struggle against
those turbulent aspects of the soul which the 13th century
mystic Najm ad-Din Razi defines as passion and anger. Not
by annihilating what is present in the soul for a purpose,
but by disciplining and transforming these attributes into
a state of equilibrium, to be exercised only in accordance
with the Divine LaW."43"
The method or "weapon" of the greater jihad is
dhikr - simultaneously understood as the Remembrance of God
and the Invocation of His Name. Qushayri, author of one of
the classical manuals of tasazememf describes the dhikr as
a sword with which the mujahid - who has set out on the spiritual
encountered difficulties - threatens his enemies, for God,
Qushayri notes (in a paraphrase of a number of ayat from the
Q,ur'an), "will protect him remembers Him constantly
in the moment of affliction and danger."44"
The same theme is echoed in the Ihya ulum al-Din by al-Ghazali,
who frequently compares dhikr to jihad and provides an extensive
commentary on the Prophet's saying that whoever dies waging
the greater jihad will share the rank of shahid with the martyrs
of the lesser jihad. Both, according to alGhazali, have sealed
their belief, severing all ties except to Allah by dying at
the moment of sacred combat, and it is this blessed sealing
state that assures them Paradise."45"
Jalal al?Din Rumi and numerous other writers compare the first
shahada, la ilaha illa'Llah which is also one of the formulas
of dhikr most frequently recommended by the Prophet ? to a
sword, for it is this invocation which "slays the idol",
denying worldliness by denying any other object worthy of
worship, and in its most profound sense denying the ultimate
reality of anything apart from God. "46"
The great jihad is the first step on the Way to the intuitive
knowledge of God; a Way that is based upon the promise made
by God and reported by the Prophet:
My servant does not draw near to Me with anything more loved
by Me than the religious duties I have imposed upon him, and
my servant continues to draw near to Me with freely given
works so that I shall love him. When I love him I am his hearing
with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand
with which he strikes, and his foot with which he walks.
My earth hath not room for Me, neither hath my Heaven, but
the Heart of My believing servant hath room for Me. "47"
When the sword of dhikr has disciplined the rebellious nafs
and cleansed the spiritual heart at the center of the soul,
then the heart will mirror the Divine aspect that resides
There is a polish for eveything that takest away rust; and
the polish of the Heart is the invocation of Allah. "48"
Thus the greater jihad removes "all obstacles which veil
the Truth, and make it inaccessible."49"
Between armed struggle and the greater jihad is an intermediate
zone of behaviour contributing definition to the meaning of
To approach that zone requires first reconsidering the fundamental
encounter in Islam, which is between man and his Creator ?
the priority for consciousness of the meaning, duties and
rewards of jihad, as in all other things Islamic, is personal
or individual rather than collective. But the "rights"
of the individual Believer in Islamic society are acquired
by submitting to the obligatory practices and ethical norms
contained in shari `a ? in other words, acquired by the individual
by entering into a divinely governed community, where the
performance of divinely ordained duties by men within that
community create those "spaces", so to speak, which
may be described as rights."50"
The struggle to create a social and spiritual enviroment that
will allow the indivdual Believer to fulfill the practices
of shari'a and conform to its ethical norms is still another
dimension to jihad based upon the Qur'anic imperative, al-amru
bil mar'uf wa'nahya anil munkar ("to enjoin the doing
of what is right and to forbid the doing of what is wrong")
and when the Qur'an most directly expresses this imperative
for the individual, it does so by addressing the community:
You are indeed the best community that has ever been brought
forth for (the good of ) mankind: you enjoin the doing of
what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong, and you
belive in God."51"
This appeal from individual to collective consciousness is
stressed and elaborated upon in hadith:
By Him in Whose hand I repose! You must enjoin right and forbid
wrong or else God will certainly send down chastisement upon
you; then you will call to Him , but He will not respond to
If people see a wrongdoer but do not stay his hand, it is
most likely that God will encompass them all with all His
A community in the midst of which sins are being committed
which could be, but are not corrected by it is most likely
to be encompassed in it entirety by God's punishment."52"
In contrast to the most apparent dimensions of jihad as the
practice of armed struggle or the contemplative practice of
spiritual struggle, the imperrative of al-amr bi'l-ma'ruf
depoys jihad in an almost ambiguuous middle ground. This less
defined dimensions of struggle occupies a domain_ the socio-political
order of Islam itself_ in which divergence between the effective
and the ideal became so apparent not long after the Prophet's
death that there was a bitter, violent contention among the
Muslims over the content of jihad in this context. The understanding
that emerges is a factor in defining Sunni orthodoxy.
In the same social domain as al-amr bi'l-ma'ruf but without
its potential for violent consequences, is the concept of
vocation. This is suggested first by jihad's etymology, embracing
painstaking and diligent labor as root on the one hand for
the most demanding and restricted practice of legal scholarship:
ijtihad, to form an independent opinion in shari'a law respecting
a doubtful and difficult point by the method of analogy to
the Qur'an and Sunna;"53"
and on the other hand, to the broadest exertion of human energy
and effort_ jahud_ working difficult or hard land."54"
The vocational sense of jihad is also suggested in the phrase
with the Prophet turns away a man who volunteers for a military
expedition, but whose paarents rely on him as their sole support:
"fa-fihiima fa-jahid" ("exert yourself on their
The performance of work for the support of God's creatures
dependent upon the Believer constitutes jihad. The traditionalists
classify both this hadith and still another, that striving
for perfecting in performing one's work is a form of worship,
under the general heading of jihad, which is also expressed
in the hadith: "God loves that when any one of you does
a job, he does it perfectly."56"
Thus al-Ghazali, in his commentary on the former hadith, can
those who follow the Q,ur'anic verse, "Every living creature's
support comes from God," without comprehending its meaning
in relation to the verse, "Man obtains nothing except
by striving," place stress solely upon Allah's Beneficence
and ignore His justice, thereby approximating to Unbelief."57"
The aim here, as in the immediate objective of the greater
jihad, is for man to discipline the soul as he engages the
world and thereby achieve equilibrium.
This understanding ofjihad as vocation is also derived from
the Qur'anic concept of man's potential as khalifa (viceregent),
God's deputy on earth by inheritance from Adam, with a spiritual
capacity to mirror God's divine attributes or Names _in the
sense that man's true idea of perfection in his work, or of
beauty in his work, is a reflection of the Perfection and
Beauty of God."58" The
exercise of vocation in all of these senses is a jihad to
sacralize one's own portion of the world.
As the practice of al-amr bi'l_ma'ruf occupies a middle ground_within
what we will call the social jihad _ between armed struggle
and spiritual struggle but suggests for all its ambiguity
a movement towards outward, occasional action that is highly
combative in tone and intent if not necessarily in deed, so
jihad as vocation points from its position within the social
jihad towards the contemplative techniques and concerns of
the continuous, inward spiritual jihad.
Yet it is in this very domain that the Prophet acknowledges
his own combative mission: "Every prophet has his vocation
and my vocation is jihad."59"
The earliest biographies of the Prophet, written but one generation
removed, were called kitab al?maghazi, Book of Military Expeditions,
and the enduring term, from the 8th century, for the Prophet's
biography _ sira was adopted by scholars and jurists in its
plural form _ siyar _ as a technical heading for the early
collections of hadiths or fikr bearing on warfare. "60"
The image of combat penetrates all dimensions, from the most
inward to the most outward: as mujahada, spiritual warfare
against the turbulent soul; as jahada, the striving for perfection
of one's soul by striving to perfect one's work; as al?amr
bi'l ma'ruf, the discerning intellect as the sword of Islamic
ethics: and as qital fi sabil?illah, fighting in the way of
God, in a manner made known to the Believer by Revelation
and the sunna of the Prophet.
These dimensions are somewhat approximated by the four different
ways acknowledged by the jurists in which the Believer may
fulfill the obligation to engage in jihad. by his heart, his
tongue, his hands, and his sword."61"
In each dimension jihad opposes disequilibrium and the combativeness
of the Muslim (by example of the Prophet) engaged in jihad transfigured
into a state of repose by his certainty of divine determination
And those who fight for the cause of God, their works He will
not suffer to miscarry. He will guide them and bring their hearts
to peace and lead them into Paradise, which He has made know
Thus Schuon, after Qushayri, suggests that "the practice
of Islam at whatever level means to be at rest in effort,"
or, rephrased more pointedly, at peace in jihad. "63"
The two farther dimensions of jihad_the combative and the
contemplative_ are more than complementary; each dimension
contains within itself an aspect of the other. The mujahid
of the armed struggle seeks the promise of the Beatific Vision
in the Hereafter by fulfilling his duties to the Law (shari'a)
brought by the Prophet; the mujahid of the spiritual struggle
seeks knowledge of the Divine Presence in this life by following
the Way (tariqa) of the Prophet. Both are purified through
combat in the sense required by their respective dimensions;
both have contemplative goals. The equilibrium suggested by
this model of jihad conforms to the central doctrine of Islam_
at-tawhid_ the Unity or Oneness of God.
The forces that jihad opposes are the forces of disequilibrium,
be they at the frontiers or beyond the boundaries of the Islam
community, within the community in the form of tyranny, crime,
vice, corruption (in the broadest sense), heresy, or rebellion,
or within the soul. All of these combat zones, so to speak,
are suggested in the canonic texts_ the Qur'an, haith, tafsir,
and the four madhahib of orthodox Sunni Islam."64"
Since jihad is a reactive mode, it is disequilibrium and crisis
that has determined the reference points wherein definitions
of jihad were elaborated upon within traditional Islamic Consciousness.
36) Lane's Lexicon, IV, p.1610; SEL, s.v. "Shahid".
See also Qur'an IV:69; 46:4-6; 3:161.
37) At-Tabriz,ed., Mishkal al-masabih, J.Robson, tran.,
4 voles.(Lahore: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 1963), Bk.
38) Mishkal, XVIII, Ch. I. For an Islamic perspective
on the relationship between conjugal love and contemplation
see Ibn'Arabi, T. Burckhardt and A.Culme_Syemour, translators,
The Wisdom of the Prophets, Fusus al_Hikam (Glouocestershire,
England: Beshara Publications, 1975),pp. 116_125.
39) Lan's Lexicon, II, p.473.
40)Tirmidhi cited in A.H. Siffiqi, "Jihad in Islam:
a Comperhensive View",Criterion, Part I, III (November_December,
41) Hadith cited by the 13th century mystic Najam ad_Din
Razi in Mirsad al-'ibad and translated in "From the Heritage
of Islamic Literature: "Jihad", Al Bayan (June,1976),
42) Ibn Qaiyim, cited in Siddiqi, "Jihad in Islam",pp.28_29.
43) Razi, "Heritage",pp. 15_16. For full
re-statement of the traditional view, also see Sheikh Abdul
Wahad Yahya's discussion, published as Rene Guenon, Symbolism
of the Cross, A.MacNab, tran. (London: Luzac& Co., 1975),pp.40_45.
44)Quran VII:56; VII:45; XIII:28: qushyri cited in
Anne-marie Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions of Islam (Chapel
Hill: University of North Caroline Press, 1975),p.167.
45)Al-Ghazali, "The book of Invocation",
Ihya ulum al-Din, translated by Kojiro Nakamura as Ghazali
on Prayer (Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press, 1975),p.167.
46) Schimmel, Mystical Dimensions, pp.136-138; 168.
47) These are hadith qudusi_ the speech of God reported
by the Prophet in manner of these "holy traditions".
Al-Bukhari, Mishkal, IX, Ch. II. Both hadiths also appear
in Martin Lings, what is Sufism? (London: George Allen &
48) Al-Bayhaqi, Mishkal, IX, Ch.II.
49) Nasr, Islam and the Plight of Modern Man (London:
Longmans, 1975),p.73. For futher Discussion of the method
see Schuon, Understanding Islam,D.M. Matheson, trans, (London:
George Allen & Unwin, 1963), Ch.4, and Nasr, Ideals, Ch.5.
50) F.Schuon, Understanding Islam, pp. 13-18; H.A.R>
Gibb, "Islam", Concise Encyclopadia of World Religious.
51) Quran, III:110.
52) Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud, Mishkal, XVIII, Ch. XXII.
53) Lane's Lexicon, II, p.473.
54) Lane's Lexicon, II, p.474.
55) Al-Bukhari and Muslim, Mishkat, XVIII,Ch. I.
56) Al-Bayhaqi cited by Muhammed Umar chapra in "Objectives
of the Islamic Economic Oreder", in Islam: Its Meaning
and Message, K.Ahmed and S. Azzam, eds. (London: Islamic Council
of Europe, 1975),p. 185.
57) Al-Ghazali, The Alchemy of Happiness, C. Field,
trans. (Lahore: Sh. Muhammed Ashraf, 1964), p. 45.
58) Quran, II:29_35; Nasr, Ideala, PP. 18_19.
59) Which is also a portion of the haith: "My
forune is under the shadow of my spear." Al-Bukhari cited
in Elie Adib Salem, Political Theory and Institutions of the
Khawarij ( Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1956), p. 82.
60) Khadduri, The Islamic Law of Nations, pp. 38-41;SEI,
61) Hamidullah, Conduct, P.169.
62) Quran, XLVII: 4-6
63) Schuon, Understanding Islam, p/53.
64)The four Sunni schools of Jurisprudence; see SEL,
The Islamic Quarterly, London
Third Quarter 1983