Is Jihaad Obligatory On All Able Muslims Today?

Shaykh Ahmad bn Yahyâ bn Muhammad An-Najmee – may Allâh bestow mercy on him – in the preface of his book, Risaalatul-Ir'shaad ilaa bayaanil-haqq fee hukmil-jihaad [Maktabah Al-Fur'qaan, third edition], said it is erroneous to say that Jihâd is compulsory on all Muslims of the world today – who can go out for it –such that all of them will be regarded as sinning for not carrying out Jihâd against the infidels. He was apparently refuting the position of Dr Abdullâh Azzâm – may Allâh pardon him – who opined that the obligation of Jihâd takes precedence over that of prayers, Zakâh and fasting.

Shaykh Yahyâ An-Najmee – may Allâh bestow mercy on him – brought about ten points to refute the assertion that Jihâd is more obligatory than other pillars of Islam, and that it is obligatory upon every Muslim in this era.

This is the summary of his points as found on pages 6-7 of the book:

  • That whoever says Jihâd is obligatory on every Muslim is by implication saying whoever among the Muslims has not gone out for Jihâd has committed a kufr with which he goes out of the Deen. For when Jihâd is like (or more than) the prayer in obligation, whoever leaves it has become a Kâfir because leaving the prayer is a Kufr act.
  • The implication of the assertion is that whoever flees the battleground among the Muslim fighter (in a legitimate Jihâd) becomes a kâfir that has left the pale of the Deen. Whereas all the reputable Muslim scholars (old and present) have agreed that fleeing the battlefront is one of the Major Sins that do not take one out of the Deen.
  • Just like the last point, the implication of the assertion is that whoever is guilty of a major sin is out of the pale of the Deen and will abide in the Hell forever. There is no doubt that this is the position of the Khawaarij.
  • The implication of saying Jihâd is an individual obligation is that whoever believes so must go to the battlefront and should either come back victorious or die there because it will mean that he has not carried out what he claims he can do.
  • Also the implication of the assertion is that all able men must go to the battlefront and leave the vulnerable women and children behind; so also their work – farm, workshop, business, etc. what will be the consequence of that? And if they say the ruler and his judges should stay back, it is only women and children that will remain with them.
  • The implication of that also is that all the Muslims will have to go and gather in a Muslim town (where the war might be going on) and leave the rest of the Muslim lands for other enemies to plunder from the back.
  • The assertion also implies striving to carry out what one does not have the ability to do; that opposes the Book of Allâh, the Sunnah of His Messenger – SallaLlahu alahye wa sallam – and the Consensus of the People of Knowledge.
  • Whoever says Jihâd is absolutely an individual obligation has come with a law other than Allâh's and His Messenger's law. Allâh said:
  • And it is not (proper) for the believers to go out to fight (Jihâd) all together. Of every troop of them, a party only should go forth, that they (who are left behind) may get instructions in (Islâmic) religion, and that they may warn their people when they return to them, so that they may beware (of evil). [Taubah: 122].

    Thus whoever says Jihâd is everybody's obligation is saying all the Muslims must go out in Jihâd whereas the Prophet – SallaLlahu alahye wa sallam – only said:

    '[as narrated by Abu Hurairah – may Allâh be pleased with him:] Whoever believes in Allâh and His Messenger, observes the prayer and fasts in Ramadan, it becomes a duty upon Allâh to make him enter Jannah whether he carries out Jihâd in the path of Allâh or dies in the land where he was born.' [Al-Bukhârî and Ahmad].

    Therefore from the purport of the hadith above, whoever says Jihâd is obligatory on each Muslim has come with what opposes the Messenger of Allâh – SallaLlahu alahye wa sallam – said above, and has made obligatory in this Deen what Allâh and His Messenger did not obligate.

    Someone might cite the following Verses of the Qur'ân to oppose the one earlier cited:

    March forth, whether you are light (being healthy, young and wealthy) or heavy (being ill, old and poor), strive hard with your wealth and your lives In the Cause of Allâh. [Taubah: 41]

    If you march not forth, He will Punish You with a painful torment [at-Taubah: 39]

    The best way to answer that is to say that we must bring all the texts together such that it will mean that we have worked with all of them. Thus, the Verse 122 earlier cited has reduced the effect of the obligation in the other Verses.

    There are other Verses that reduce the effect of the obligation:

    Not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home), except those who are disabled (by injury or are blind or lame, etc.), and those who strive hard and fight In the Cause of Allâh with their wealth and their lives. Allâh has preferred in grades those who strive hard and fight with their wealth and their lives above those who sit (at home). Unto each, Allâh has promised good (Paradise), but Allâh has preferred those who strive hard and fight, above those who sit (at home) by a huge reward. Degrees of (higher) grades from him, and Forgiveness and Mercy. and Allâh is ever Oft­Forgiving, Most Merciful. [Nisâ: 96-97].

    Allâh the Majestic also said:

    He knows that there will be some among you sick, others travelling through the land, seeking of Allâh's Bounty; yet others fighting In Allâh's cause. [Al-Muzammil: 20].

    In the first Verse, Allâh made the promise of goodness for the Mujahedeen and those who were at home for one legitimate reason or the other. In the second Verse, Allâh mentioned those striving for their livelihood on the surface of the earth with the Mujahedeen, in terms of the ease He brought upon those observing the optional night prayers.

    The Verses brought by those saying Jihâd is compulsory on every Muslim were revealed regarding the hypocrites whom the Messenger of Allâh induced to go out on Jihâd but stayed back and came up with flimsy excuses.

    Our opinion [Shaykh Yahyâ] is that whoever the ruler specifically mentioned to go out for Jihâd must go out, as the Messenger of Allâh – SallaLlahu alahye wa sallam – said: 'When you are asked to go forth, then go forth.'

  • The assertion that Jihâd is obligatory on all Muslims will bring no benefit to the Muslims neither will it take their right back for them rather it may bring more harm than good because such an assertion is a sin against Allâh and it is judging with other than His Law.
  • That all the scholars have agreed that Jihâd is a communal obligation, proofs for that are very clear therefore whoever says the situation of the Muslims today has made Jihâd to be obligatory on every Muslim has made himself a lawgiver beside Allâh and His Messenger – SallaLlahu alahye wa sallam, and he has indeed been unjust to his soul and landed it in perdition.]

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