One misunderstanding that is being spread abroad is that the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement forbade Jihad to please the British Government and to procure worldly benefits from it.
Before we enter upon a refutation of this misleading propaganda it would be helpful to set forth the meaning of the concept of Jihad. The root of the Arabic word Jihad is jahd which connoted endurance of rigorous conditions. Thus Jihad means to strive to the utmost for the achievement of a purpose and to leave nothing undone in pursuance of it. The well-known lexicon Tajul Urus says:
The true meaning of Jihad is not to hold back anything and to put forth every effort and to achieve the purpose in view by forcing one-self. Jihad is of three types, namely, to oppose the enemy with full effort, to employ all one’s faculties in opposition of Satan and to strive to the fullest that satanic designs should be altogether frustrated in the world, and to strive to the utmost in the struggle with oneself. The verse of the Holy Quran: ‘Strive in the cause of Allah a perfect striving’; comprises all these three types of Jihad.
Thus Jihad is of three types. One, the Jihad against oneself which in Islamic idiom is called the greatest Jihad (Jihad Akbar). Two, the Jihad that is waged against Satan and satanic teachings and designs, and is called the great Jihad (Jihad Kabeer). Three, the Jihad that it waged against the enemy of freedom of conscience; this is called the lesser Jihad (Jihad Asghar). The Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, has described the striving against self as Jihad Akbar. It is mentioned in the hadees that returning from an expedition (Tabuk), the Holy Prophet said:
We are returning from the Jihad Asghar (fighting) to Jihad Akbar (struggle against self). (Kashaf)
He also said:
The mujahid who is exalted above other mujahids is the one who strives against his own self.
The life of the Holy Prophet was divided into two parts, his life in Mecca and his life in Medina. During the Meccan period, he and his Companions were subjected to every kind of persecution, but they were not permitted to undertake Jihad by the sword. After the migration to Medina, God Almighty granted permission to the Muslims to oppose the aggression of their enemies by the sword. Now it is clear that every moment of the Holy Prophet’s life was devoted to Jihad. It would be wrong to say that he did not carry out Jihad in the Meccan period and carried it out only during the Medina period. The truth is that every moment of his life and of the lives of his Companions was devoted to some type of Jihad. Jihad was carried on in the Meccan period, though there was no fighting and no killing of the enemy. In the Medina period, Jihad was continued in the same way but here Jihad by fighting was also added.
Let us now consider the attitude of the Promised Messiah, peace be on him, towards Jihad by fighting. During his time British rule had been established over the subcontinent of India, also comprising what today is Pakistan. Before the British this part of the country was subject to the rule of the Sikhs who had abolished all religious freedom, especially for the Muslims, for whom it became difficult even to carry out Divine worship freely. In this connection the Promised Messiah, peace be on him, has stated:
The Muslims have not yet forgotten the time when, at the hands of Sikhs, they were condemned to a blazing oven and not only was their world in ruins but their religion was even in worse case. It was difficult for them to carry their religious obligations, so much so that on one occasion a Muslim was killed for calling out the Azan (call to Prayers). (Announcement of 10 July 1900)
It has been observed that the Sikhs were inspired with great hatred of the Muslims. Muslim men, women and children were mercilessly slaughtered; their villages were ruined; their women were dishonored and thousands of mosques were demolished. (Encyclopedia of Sikh Literature, p.1127).
After British rule replaced Sikh rule in this part of the country a darbar was held in Allahabad on I November 1858 in which it was announced on behalf of Queen Victoria:
We proclaim that it is our royal will and pleasure that no one of our subjects shall be persecuted or granted any favor on account of his religious beliefs or practices, nor shall any person be deprived of his security. In the eye of the law all people shall be equally entitled to impartial protection.
In these circumstances, when unlike the Sikhs the British Government did not consider the Muslims as deserving to be killed and they were granted complete religious freedom of profession and practice, the Promised Messiah, peace be on him, announced:
Government has granted to every people full freedom for the propagation of their respective faiths and in this way people have been provided with an opportunity to study and reflect upon the principles of every religion… that is the reason why we, in our writings and our speeches, make mention of the beneficence of the British Government. (Roedad Jalsa Dua)
In his booklet Tohfa Qaisariyya, the Promised Messiah, peace be on him, explained the doctrine of Jihad as follows:
The second principle on which I have been established is the clarification of the doctrine of Jihad which has been misinterpreted by some ignorant Muslims. I have been made to understand by God Almighty that those practices that are currently regarded as Jihad are entirely opposed to the teachings of the Holy Quran. There is no doubt that the Holy Quran permitted the Muslims to fight under directions that were more reasonable than those relating to the battles of Moses and were more attractive than those related to the battles of Joshua, son of Nun. They had their origin in the fact that those who had taken up the sword unjustly against the Muslims and committed murder and carried on their tyranny to the extreme deserved to be punished by the sword. Nevertheless, this punishment was not so severe as was inflicted upon the enemy in the battles of Moses. A person who accepted Islam or agreed to pay the poll tax was exempt from punishment and this method was in accord with the law of nature… In short, at the time of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, the basis of Islamic Jihad was that God’s wrath had been roused against the tyrants. But living under the rule of a benign government, as is the Government of our Queen and Empress, it is not Jihad to entertain rebellious designs against it but it is a barbaric idea which is born of ignorance. To entertain ill-will against a government under whom life is lived in freedom and there is complete security and religious obligations can be discharged to the full is a criminal step and not Jihad… Thus, God Almighty had established me on the principle that sincere obedience and gratitude should be rendered to a benign government such as the British Government. My Community and I are bound by this principle. I have written several books in Arabic, Persian and Urdu on this question and have expounded in them in detail how the Muslims of British India lead their lives in comfort under the British Government and how they can freely propagate their faith and discharge their religious obligations without let or hindrance and how wrongful and rebellious it is to entertain any idea of Jihad against this blessed and peace-loving Government. (Tohfah Qaisariyya, pp. 9-10)
This makes it clear that in the view of the Promised Messiah, peace be on him, there was no ground for undertaking Jihad by the sword against the Government in India as none of the conditions of Jihad operated in India.
The Promised Messiah, peace be on him, was not alone in holding the view that Jihad by the sword was not permitted against the British Government in India. All the eminent divines of his time made declarations to the same effect and in accordance with them refrained from any activity which might be construed as Jihad by the sword and thus confirmed their declarations by their conduct. By way of illustration we set out some of these declarations.
(1) Maulvi Muhammad Husain Sahib of Batala, one of the outstanding leaders of the Ahle Hadees, declared:
‘It is not permissible for the Muslims to fight, or to help with men and money those who fight, against a Government of whatever religion, whether Jewish, Christian, or other, under whom they live in security and are free to discharge their religious obligations, Accordingly, for the Muslims of India, Opposition to or rebellion against the British Government is forbidden.’ (Ishaatus Sunna, Vol. VI, No. 10)
The same divine urged:
Brethren, this is no longer the time of the sword. It has now become necessary to use the pen in place of the sword. (Ishaatus Sunnah, Vol. VI, No.12)
(2) Maulvi Muhammad Jafar Sahib of Thanesar, has recorded in his well-known biography of Hazrat Syed Ahmad Sahib Brelvi, the Reformer of the 13th century of Islam:
It is a correct statement that when he was proceeding on Jihad against the Sikhs someone asked him why did he propose to go so far to carry out Jihad against the Sikhs? Why did he not start Jihad against the British, who are the rulers of this country and deny the truth of Islam? He could fight them at home and take over India from them. He would have the support of hundreds of thousands in this enterprise. To travel to Afghanistan through hundreds of miles of Sikh territory and to remain there for years for fighting the Sikhs is a design so difficult that the people are not willing to adopt it. To this Syed Sahib made answer that he did not desire to take over any country from the British or from the Sikhs and to rule over it himself. The only reason why he designed to carry out Jihad against the Sikhs was that they oppress the Muslims and obstruct them in the performance of their religious obligations like calling out the Azan. If at this time or after the establishment of his supremacy the Sikhs refrain from persecuting the Muslims, he would no longer have any cause to fight them. The British are non-Muslims but they do not oppress the Muslims in any way, nor do they obstruct them in the performance of their religious obligations and worship. The Muslims openly propagate their faith and practice their religion under them. They not only do not forbid or obstruct the Muslims in any of this but are ready to punish anyone who might commit any aggression against the Muslims. He affirmed that his real purpose was the propagation of the Unity of God and the revival of the practice of the Chief of the Messengers, and that under the British he carried out this purpose without any hindrance. Then why should he start Jihad against the Government and should shed the blood of both sides contrary to the principles of religion. On hearing this reply, his interrogator held his peace having understood the true purpose of Jihad. (Biography of Hazrat Syed Ahmad, p.71)
At another place Maulvi Muhammad Jafar Sahib has stated:
It is also correctly related that while Maulana Ismail Shaheed was delivering a sermon during his stay in Calcutta, someone asked him whether it was proper to carry out Jihad against the British Government. In reply the Maulana said it was not permissible to carry on Jihad against such an impartial and non-bigoted Government. On the other hand, the tyranny of the Sikhs in the Punjab had reached a stage where it called for Jihad against them. (Biography of Hazrat Syed Ahmad, p.57)
(3) Maulvi Muhammad Hussain Sahib of Batala wrote:
At this time all the conditions of Jihad are nonexistent. Therefore, in India, from Calcutta to Peshawar, and from Sindh to the Deccan, no one is at liberty to carry on jihad against the British Government. (Ishaatus Sunnah, Vol. IX, No. I)
(4) Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Founder of the Aligarh College, wrote in 1885:
The vigorous conspiring of the Muslims and their consulting together that they should unite in carrying out Jihad against non-Muslims and should win their freedom from the Government is an utterly baseless thing. The Muslims enjoy complete security under the Government and can in no wise carry on Jihad against it. Twenty or thirty years ago a very well-known Maulvi, Muhammad Ismael, preached Jihad in India and urged people to join in it. At that time he stated quite clearly that the people of India who live in security under the British Government have no cause to carry on Jihad against that Government. (Causes of the Indian Rebellion, p.104)
(5) Maulvi Murtaza Ahmad Khan Sahib has recorded that the Khalifatul Muslimeen Sultan Abdul Hameed II of Turkey communicated a declaration to the British that the Muslims of India should not fight the British as they had proved to be the allies of and in sympathy with the Islamic Khilafat. (History of the Nations of the World, p.639).
(6) Maulvi Syed Nazir Hussain Sahib Delhvi declared:
As the conditions of Jihad do not exist in this country it would be ruin and sinful to carry on Jihad here. (Fatawa Naziriyya, Vol. IV, p.472)
He also declared that the rebellion of 1857 was not Jihad under the Islamic law but was a faithless proceeding involving a breach of covenant and disorder and rancor and that participation in it or any assistance rendered towards it was sinful. (Ishaatus Sunnah, Vol. VI, No. 10)
(7) Maulana Maudoodi Sahib declared:
When the Muslims were defeated and the British Government was established and the Muslims were content to live in this country with freedom to practise their personal law, this country ceased to be a country at war. (Book on Interest, p. 1)
All this shows that all serious minded Muslims have been grateful to the British Government who rescued them from the oppression and religious persecution of the Sikhs and gave them complete religious freedom. Muslim divines were united in declaring that it was not permissible to enter upon Jihad against the British. They did not confine themselves to declarations, but confirmed them by their conduct that the conditions of Jihad did not exist in India and Jihad was not permissible against the British. Had that not been so, the Muslim divines of India would surely have raised the banner of Jihad against the British.
If our opponents believe that Jihad had become obligatory against the British in India, then they are guilty of the charge that they failed to carry out this obligation. According to the Ahmadiyya Community the causes and conditions of Jihad were non-existent in India and therefore Jihad was not obligatory on them and by not embarking on it they were not guilty of any default. But those who believe that they are under an obligation and then commit a default in respect of it are certainly sinners.
The Promised Messiah, peace be on him, set forth the true Islamic teaching concerning Jihad. He states:
Without a doubt the causes of Jihad do not exist in this country in these days. Therefore, the Muslims of this country are today forbidden to fight in the name of religion and to slaughter those who reject the Islamic law. God Almighty has clearly forbidden Jihad by the sword in a time of peace and security. (Tohfah Golarvia, p. 82)
It is obvious that no divine can hold Jihad lawful at a time when its conditions do not exist.
It must be remembered that the Promised Messiah, peace be on him, did not forbid Jihad absolutely. He argued his Community to carry Jihad all the time. He states:
The Jihad of this age is to strive in upholding the word of Islam, to refute the objections of the opponents, to propagate the excellences of the Islamic faith, and to proclaim the truth of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, throughout the world. This is Jihad till God Almighty brings about other conditions in the world. (Letter addressed to Mir Nasir Nawab Sahib)
In this letter the words:
Till God Almighty brings about other conditions in the world,
are worthy of note. They clearly indicate that he did not reject the concept of Jihad by the sword but believed that the obligation of such Jihad had been postponed in this age on account of the absence of the conditions that call for it. He did not abrogate Jihad by the sword, nor could he do so as he was bound by the Holy Quran. He merely declared its postponement. He cited the hadees that the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, had prophesied that the Promised Messiah would not fight with the sword as his age would be a time of religious freedom.
Finally, we would draw attention to a statement of Hazrat Khalifatul Masih II which explains the attitude of the Ahmadiyya Community towards Jihad. He states:
As the salat is obligatory so, when the need arises, is fighting for the faith obligatory… It should be remembered that of the matters which have prescribed as the principal constituents of faith, one is Jihad… He who turns away from Jihad when it becomes obligatory is condemned to hell. (Report of the Majlis Mushawarat, 1950)
At a time when the conditions for Jihad by the sword did not exist the Ahmadiyya Community eagerly carried out Jihad with the Holy Quran, which has been called the Great Jihad, and Jihad against their own selves, which has been called the Greatest Jihad. They continue to refute the Christian and Arya Samajist opponents of Islam. After the establishment of Pakistan, when the Dogra forces and the Indian army were suppressing the Muslims of Kashmir, the Ahmadiyya Community of Pakistan was the only one that raised a volunteer corps called the Furqan Force to fight in Kashmir along with the army of Pakistan and thus carried out Jihad by sword in practice. Several young men of the Furqan Force became martyrs in this fighting. Thus, when the time came for Jihad by the sword the Ahmadiyya Community participated in it at once and should the conditions of Jihad by the sword arise again, the Ahmadiyya Community will, God willing, not hesitate to discharge the obligation of Jihad by the sword.