Jihad as a mean of assurance

Islam has its own dictionary of Biblical words like atonement or expiation, assurance, salvation and redemption.  Expiation (takfir) of sin must be done by the individual himself. Redemption is what men and women do with their own sin through repentance and through expiation by prayers, fasts, sharing their wealth with the poor, and so on. This is seen as type of redemption. So salvation is not just by faith. One enters Islam by reciting the Shahada (lit. witness: There is no god, but Allah and Muhammad is his apostle) but makes progress towards paradise only by strenuous effort that is to observe the five pillars of Islam,[1] including all other religious duties and obligations as prescribed by the Shari’a. So there is in Islam the demand of having the strenuous effort of the heart, the tongue, and the sword. In other words one should believe in the heart of the reality of God and surrender to him, by tongue, confess him both privately and in public and evangelize to the extent of being involved to protect Islam by ‘defense’ and even by ‘offence’ that is: if it is seen that the Muslim community and their faith is in danger or perceived as such.[2] 

Jihad as a mean of assurance

Often the obligations of practicing Islam is not just performing and teaching; preaching and fighting to defend and protect Islam is included. For example Muhammad said, “Anyone whose both feet get covered with dust in Allah’s Cause will not be touched by the (Hell) fire.” This statement although appears in the section of Jihad in the collection of Sahih Bukhari, could be easily used to support Islamic evangelism as well as for military struggle.[3]

 Here is another tradition. A man comes to Muhammad and asks, “Shall I fight or embrace Islam first?” Muhammad replied, “Embrace Islam first and then fight.” So he embraced Islam, then straight went into a battle and lost his life. Receiving the news, Muhammad said, “A little work but a great reward.”[4] In other words this person did not perform the five pillars of the faith after embracing Islam, but he is rewarded paradise for his fighting.

Amid all this a Muslim is bound to think that during Muhammad’s life, it was Muhammad who knew which war was really for God, but who can decide today that a particular war against the opposition is for Allah and Islam? It could be just a geo-political war. Other traditions make the military struggle as the ‘last resort’ among the duties a Muslim has to perform.



[1] Shahada (Creed); Salah (Prayer); Sawm (Fasting); Zakah (alms giving – offering); Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). Muhammad said: The foundation of Islam is on 5 [duties], that [a person should confess] there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the apostle of Allah; to perform prayers, give alms, perform Hajj and fast [during] Ramadan (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 2, Number 7).

[2] Duties like Da’wa (Evangelism) and Jihad (Struggle – inner and external) are further added (Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 2, Number 25). 

[3] Sahih Bukhari Volume 4, Book 52, Number 66.

[4] Sahih Bukhari, Volume 4, Book 52, Number 63.