INTRODUCTION BY THE TRANSLATOR
Jihad is Life
|In India, religion is fickle
caste is permanent. My three generations have been associated with
Islam and lived as Muslims. But I am still categorized as Tyagi
In India, extremist Hindu organizations, particularly the
Vishwa Hindu Parishad, have launched a Shuddhikaran (purification)
movement. This means to purify the converts to Islam and
Christianity by verses from the Vedas and water of Ganges and in
this way admit them back to the Hindu fold. Their propaganda
literature contains two major points.
"Jihad, fighting with infidels, is central to Islam. As such it
is a religion of the sword, was propagated by the sword and upheld
by the sword." This, in my opinion, is just a canard. For
centuries members of almost all Hindu castes have been living in
my village. They lived as our neighbors when Rajputs ruled over
Delhi. They were our neighbors when the Mughals were the masters
of India. They were again our neighbors when people bowed to the
Union Jack. They are still our neighbors when we have the freedom
to choose our own rulers. During all these phases of history our
neighbors have remained Hindus. They are still Hindus. The
question is: were my neighbors so brave that they did not bow
before the sword of Islam? Were my ancestors so weak that the
'invaders' overwhelmed them? Were the conquerors of India
selective in using force so as to win converts to the fold of
Islam? The answer to these and other related question is pure and
simple No. Had force been used the followers of Islam in India
would not have been in the minority after nearly nine hundred
years of Muslim rule. The fact is that there is no compulsion in
Islam.1 My neighbors have remained Hindus out of their
own free will. My ancestors exercised their right to free choice.
Had this not been true I would have returned to idol worship when
there is no sword of a 'holy warrior' at my throat and the
Constitution of India guarantees me freedom of religion as a
The Hindu extremists charge that petro-dollars and
Christian-pounds play a significant role in conversion of Hindus
to Islam and Christianity. This is again an unfounded rumor. If
money had been used the tribes of Chattisgarh who converted to
Christianity would not have been in deplorable economic condition.
Similarly the Dalits (oppressed lower castes of Hinduism who are
not considered equal to upper caste Hindus) of Meenakshipuram who
embraced Islam would not have been struggling to make the two ends
meet. Besides, by becoming Muslims they had to forfeit their right
to reservation. By reservation is meant special preference given
by law to the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and Other
Backward Classes in fields of education, employment in government
sector and other welfare schemes of the Government so as to uplift
their economic condition. In context of India reservation is a
very big advantage and it is difficult to forfeit it. Despite this
Dalits throughout India have been entering into the fold of Islam
because it teaches equality and by this they are able to improve
their social status.
In my case the concept of 'improving social status by
conversion' also does not apply. I do not belong to a lower caste.
I am Tyagi Brahmin. The Brahmins lived, and quite a substantial
number of them still do live, on alms. My ancestors denounced the
idea of living on alms and were therefore called Tyagi, one who
sacrifices. They became agriculturists and thus were elevated to
the best gotra (sect) amongst the Brahmins, the upper most
caste of the Hindus.
If not by sword, if not by petro-dollars and if not by desire
to enhance social status, then why did my ancestors become
Muslims? My apologetic Muslim friends tell me that the Sufis
spread Islam in India. Some people might have been influenced by
the Sufi way of life. This much I am ready to accept. But I abhor
the very idea that the Sufis molded Hindus into Muslims. Firstly,
Sufism is not Islam. It is just another name for Hindu mysticism.2
So for the Hindus of India there was no point in exchanging their
Sanskrit terminology with Persian terminology of the Sufis.
Secondly, close observation of the Sufi shrines located in India
will guide you to the fact that there is hardly any Muslim
population in their vicinity. For instance take Meerut,
Muzaffarnagar, Bulandshahr and Baghpat, all Muslim dominated
cities and no prominent Sufis are buried in them. And lastly,
Sufis are still present in India but one does not hear about their
exploits in the field of religious conversion.
So again we are at square one. Why did my ancestors become
Muslims? This question has troubled me a lot. At the moment it is
taxing your patience. After much research and inquiry I got an
answer. If my great grandfather had been alive, I presume, he
would have said: "On the banks of Ganges, every year, a big
assembly for prayers and sacrifices was organized. Seventeen of us
would sit down and chanted mantras with great devotion from the
twentieth chapter of the Atharva Veda. Kuntap Sukt is included in
this chapter. Kuntap has two meanings. One is 'putting an end to
misery and troubles' and the other is 'hidden glands in the
abdomen'. This Sukt also talks about Narashans, the last Rishi
(religious messenger). This means that we were praying for the
arrival of the hidden Narashans so that with his message he might
put an end to the misery and troubles of mankind. Who this
Narashans would be? The Vedas have not given the exact name. But
they supply enough material to identify him. For instance the one
to fourteen mantras in the 127th Sukt of the twentieth
chapter of the Atharva Veda says that Narashans would be born in a
desert area. He will use camel as a vehicle for moving about in
the land. He will have twelve wives. He will be bestowed with
hundred gold coins (the early companions of the last Messenger,
who bore every kind of persecution but remained steadfast and thus
became pure and precious as gold), ten chaplets (ten best
companions of the last Messenger), three hundred good steeds
(companions who fought at the battle of Badr) and ten thousand
cows (ten thousand companions when Mecca was conquered without a
fight). In the Rig Veda (5/5/2) Narashans is also called Kavi. In
Sanskrit the letter 'Ka' stands for God. Therefore, according to
the Vedas a person who understands God and His attributes is
called Kavi. In the Rig Veda (2/3/2) Narashans is also called
Savrchi and Partidhamani. This means a person with a glowing face
and who impresses each and every one with his presence. He will
propagate the message of God and his importance would be felt in
every house. In the same Veda at another place (1/106/4) it is
said that Narashans would ordain good and forbid evil (amr bil
maroof wa nahi anil munkar).3 Now these qualities
are found only in one man of the world and he is Muhammad, the
only man of the world to call himself the last Messenger of Allah.
Muhammad means 'one who has been praised' and the meaning of
Narashans is no different. Though not in the Vedas but in other
Hindu Scriptures the name of Muhammad is clearly mentioned.4
Now the Vedas unambiguously give orders to believe in Narashans.
Believing in him means believing in Islam."
At this juncture one might ask as to what is Islam? Islam is
peace. "Peace is the nature, the meaning, the emblem and the
objective of Islam."5 By peace Islam means peace with
oneself. Peace with your fellow beings. Peace with this universe.6
Peace produces an atmosphere conducive for a man to develop his
Self. Peace instills in man a feeling to help another man in a
manner that he can overcome his deficiencies. Peace abolishes the
lordship of man over man and makes him subservient to the laws of
Allah. So this peace needs to be established. But how? Obviously
Jihad signifies striving, struggling or exerting oneself.
Striving for developing the Self. Striving for developing the
collective Ego. Striving for propagating the Truth as enshrined in
the Quran. Striving for protecting the State formed as a result of
the developed collective Ego. Striving for defending the weak and
the have-nots. Thus from birth to death the life of a Muslim is
Jihad and he must carry it under all circumstances.
From this we can infer three major dimensions of Jihad. One,
the Self of an individual needs to be developed. Two, collective
Ego needs to be developed so as to establish a State. And third,
the State needs to be protected both internally and externally.
For the first two dimensions force or power is not required
because a man is free to accept or reject the message of Islam. No
one can be forced to accept the Divine message. As was said
earlier there is no compulsion in Islam. But for the third
dimension power is essentially required because without it neither
internal harmony can be maintained or aggression from external
sources repelled. The use of power should be strictly in
accordance with the Divine laws as enshrined in the Quran and for
the Divine Order only. Any personal agenda should not be the
objective. This using of power judiciously under the guidance of
the laws of Allah is called Qital. It is to be remembered
that every Qital is Jihad but every Jihad is not Qital.
A person who overlooks this difference, ignorantly or
deliberately, grossly misinterprets the concept of Jihad.
There is only one way by which an individual can develop his
Self. By knowing the relationship between Allah and man. Allah is
the Creator and man is the created. As such only the Creator knows
about the path that is beneficial for man. That path has been
shown by Allah to man through His Wahy, revelation or
It is only through Divine Guidance that things develop and
finally attain the form of which they are capable. The Quran says:
"Allah has created (khalq), and further, given order and
proportion (taswiya); Allah has measured (taqdir),
and granted guidance (huda).7 Thus a natural
thing created with certain potentialities and, guided by Allah,
passes from stage to stage until it has reached full development.
Divine Guidance is at work everywhere in the universe.
Guidance from Allah is of two types. One is the direct guidance
that He has given to insects, animals, plants, etc. They live
their lives according to already settled principles.
And the other type is that which has been given to man. This
has not been given to him directly otherwise that would have
curbed his right to free choice. So the method adopted by Allah
was that a person was chosen from among men. Such a chosen person
was taught, guided and protected by Allah Himself right from his
birth. And when he came of age he was given the Divine knowledge,
called Wahy, and he was hailed as a Messenger. The duty of
a Messenger was to give the knowledge that he received from Allah
to his fellow beings. It is to be noted that the Wahy does
not include the thoughts, feelings, ideology, desire, efforts,
etc. of a Messenger who receives it. It is just revelation from
the Divine and nothing else. Further, with the finality of
Messenger hood the door of seeking knowledge from God has also
The Messengers helped forward the progress of moral and
intellectual development. For this reason, Messenger after
Messenger came to mankind in quick succession. Every nation had
its own Messenger who, relying not on force and compulsion but on
persuasion, summoned his people to the path of righteousness.
There are no people for whom a Messenger was not sent by Allah.
There have been many Messengers, but substantially the same
revelation was vouchsafed to them. However, there came a time when
the mind of man reached maturity and his intellectual powers were
ready to tackle the problems of life. Messenger-hood aimed at this
result and when it was accomplished there was no reason for the
continuance of this institution. The glorious line of Messengers
came to its natural end with Hazrat Muhammad, bearer of the last
revelation. Now modern man with his mature mind does not need a
personal guide; he needs general guidance in the form of ideas and
principles that are valid for all time. These ideas and principle
have been preserved for all time in the Quran, which enshrines the
final revelation. Besides, the purpose of the Quran is to
emphasize the essential unity of the Divine revelation that was
vouchsafed to different men in different ages and countries. It is
for this reason that the Quran forbids Muslims to make invidious
distinctions between the Messengers.8
The revelation from Allah tells man as to how to develop his
Self. This also gives him the laws. These laws have to be followed
so as to develop the Self. It should also be noted that man could
know Allah by His attributes. Allah Himself through His Messengers
has revealed these attributes, and they are now described in their
final shape in the Quran. The Quran says that every man is born
with 'Self'. The Self in its undeveloped form contains such
attributes of Allah, which are realizable possibilities within
human limitations. Such attributes though potent are dormant in an
underdeveloped Self. So through Jihad actualization or
manifestation of the potentials is the objective to be fulfilled
by man. When all the attributes are actualized in man (of course
within human limits) then man will reach nearer to Allah.
He who comes nearest to God possesses the most complete Self. He
is not absorbed into God but rather absorbs the attributes of God
into himself. He himself will not become God, as the Sufis would
like us to believe. God is God and man is His creation. But with
attributes of the Absolute, within human limits, man can share in
His activities. For instance, God the Best Creator blesses those
who share His Creative activity.9
You created the night, and I made the lamp,
You created the clay, and I made the cup,
You created the deserts, mountains and forests,
I made the parks, flowerbeds and gardens.
It is I who turn stone into a mirror,
And it is I who turn poison into an antidote!
It is to be further noted that a man has to develop his Self in
a society. The Quran does not approve of developing the Self in
isolation or in a monastery of a Sufi. According to Iqbal, "It is
the active and living membership of vital community that confers
on him (man or individual) a sense of power and makes him
conscious of great collective purposes which deepen and widen the
scope for the growth of his individual Self."10
And in Bang-e-Dara Iqbal says:
The individual exists in relation to the community; alone, he
As the wave exists in the ocean, outside the ocean, it is
"It is a psychological truth," says Iqbal, "That association
multiplies the normal man's power of perception, deepens his
emotion, and dynamises his will to a degree unknown to him in the
privacy of his individuality."11 In Ramuz-e-Bekhudi
he further elucidates:
For the individual, belonging to society is a blessing,
His virtues attain perfection by living in a society.
The individual achieves honors and respect because of a
The society achieves organization because of its individual.
When the individual identifies himself with a society,
The drop in its quest for expansion itself becomes an ocean.
Alone by himself, the individual is unaware of his goals
His abilities are inclined to become dormant.
Owing to the constraints of space it is not possible to list
all the factors required to develop the Self. Suffice is to say
that the Quran does not confine itself only to the development of
the Self of an individual. It asserts that the social or
collective Self must also be developed in the same way as the
individual Self is developed by Jihad, striving and struggling.
But the conditions necessary for the establishment of an ideal
society needs to be pointed out:
- Allah is accepted as the Central and Sovereign Authority.
- All members are equal in obedience and subservience to the
laws of Allah.
- The Quran is the code for its guidance.
- It has a clear goal towards which the whole community
- Every member of the society is answerable to the Divine
- It gains supremacy over the forces of nature.
- It provides justice and equity to all irrespective of
caste, creed, religion, race or color.
Now once this sort of a society is formed it will automatically
emerge as a State. And we all know that to maintain a State, power
is required. The use of power under the Divine Guidance as
enshrined in the Quran is also Jihad. During the running of a
State a situations might arise when war becomes inevitable. So
participating in a just war is also called Jihad. For this kind of
Jihad the Quran has used a very specific word- Qital. But
the Quran says that a State can wage war only for:
- Protecting the oppressed. (22/60)
- Establishing justice and equity. (57/25)
- Self defense against external aggression. (2/190-194)
- Maintaining internal peace. (5/33)
- Protecting the honor of women (33/60-61)
- Maintaining religious freedom and protecting religious
shrines of every religion (22/39)
- Ending the war. (47/4)
The Quran has also given the principles that are to be followed
in case of war:
- War should be as per the laws of Allah. (8/45-47)
- Become not aggressor begin not the fight. (2/190-194)
- It is a crime to create disorder and also to destroy crop.
- No war during prohibited months. (4/88-90)
- Accept the proposal for peace with caution. (4/94)
- If enemy offers genuine proposal to stop war then forgive
his past misdeeds. (8/38-40)
- If any member of the enemy asks for asylum or protection
then provide him. (9/6)
- Teach the enemy a lesson in proportion to his offence.
- Before going for a war make an offer of peace and treaty.
- No life should be taken unjustly. (4/92-93)
- Just to kill for fun is a grave offence (2/85)
- No friendship with aggressors. (60/8-9)
- Enemy should also be dealt with justice. (5/8)
- If enemy wants peace then you also desire for the same.
- Life of every person is precious therefore it can be taken
only in accordance with the laws of Allah. (6/151)
This shows that the idea 'everything is fair in love and war'
is alien to the teachings of Islam. For war in Islam is controlled
by definite laws. They are not to be violated in any
circumstances. Further war is only for the cause of Allah and not
for conquest, expansionism, imperialism or the seizure of others'
financial resources. And more importantly, as was said earlier,
Jihad is for putting an end to war. Once war meets its doom there
would be peace. And we know peace is Islam. So in this way peace
is established by Jihad.
After this there is nothing more to add. But three points need
to be clarified. One, it was said that every Messenger propagated
the message of Islam including the concept of a just war.
According to the Muslim belief Jesus was also the Messenger of
Islam. But the Christian missionaries say that Jesus preached –
'love your enemies', 'resist not evil' and 'whosoever shall smite
thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also'. (Matthew
5/38-41) This impractical teaching, we believe, is a later day
addition to the Bible. For the New Testament still contains orders
for the use of sword. "Then said he (Jesus) unto them, 'But now,
he that hath no purse, let him take it, and likewise his bag; and
he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one'."
(Luke 22/35-36) A few verses later is said, "….. Lord behold, here
are two swords." And he said unto them, "It is enough." (Luke
22/38) And the Quran says that previous Messengers also fought in
Allah's way (3/145-147) because He gave His Messengers power with
law so as to maintain justice and equity (57/25).
Two, the root cause of all evil and disorder in the land is
lordship of man over man. The only way to eradicate this cause is
to accept out of free will the Authority and Sovereignty of Allah
over man. More so, because the earth and all things therein
including man are sustained and created by Allah. All things
belong to Him. Therefore, no one has the right to rule in Allah's
earth or govern His subjects by any law except that of Allah
Himself. For maintaining the rule of Allah the Muslims have
entered into a contract with Allah. For the establishment of the
Divine Order the Muslims would sacrifice their belongings and
lives and in return Allah will provide them peace and security in
this world and in the Hereafter. Therefore Jihad in any form
should be for the cause of Allah and Allah alone. If there is any
personal agenda involved or the laws of Allah are violated then it
is not Jihad.
In context of the above a letter of the Second Caliph Umar Ibn
Al-Khattab merits a special mention. In his letter to the
Commander S'ad Ibn Waqqas he said: "Then after, I order you and
all the troops that are along with you to be obedient to Allah in
all circumstances as this (being obedient to Allah) is better than
the weapons against the enemy and a strong stratagem (device) in
the war. I order you and the soldiers who are with you to be more
cautious and afraid of your own crimes and sins 9and not to commit
them) than your enemy, as the crimes and sins of the soldiers are
more dangerous to them than their enemy. The Muslims are
victorious only because of the disobedience of their enemy to
Allah, and had it not been so, we have no power over them, because
neither our number is like their number, nor our weapons are like
theirs. If we commit crimes and sins as they do, then they (our
enemies) will have superiority over us in power and we will not
gain victory over them. We do not overpower them by our strength.
And you should also know that in this marching of yours (for
Allah's cause) there are guards (natural forces) upon you from
Allah (to watch you), and they know all what you do. So be shy
from them and do not commit Allah's disobedience (crimes and sins)
while you are going in Allah's cause and do not say: 'Our enemy is
worse than us, so they will not overpower us.' Perhaps some people
who are worse than the others may overpower the others as the
Magians overpowered the Children of Israel when they (the latter)
covered themselves with Allah's disobedience (crimes and sins). So
they (Magians) entered the very inmost parts of their homes and it
was a promise (completely) fulfilled. And ask Allah the assistance
over your own selves, (to save you from crimes and sins) just as
you ask Allah for the victory over your enemies. …… I ask Allah
for that, both for you and for us."12
Are the Osamas of the world paying heed?
Be that as it may, this brings us to our final point. During
recent times, owing to the foolishness of the armed bandits
masquerading as 'soldiers of Islam' and the wrong interpretation
of the concept of Jihad by the opponents and ignorant sympathizers
of Islam, Jihad and terrorism have become synonym. We have already
given the real purpose and meaning of Jihad. But terrorism is a
difficult term to define. It is a relative term. For instance if
you are a supporter of the Palestinian cause then the Zionist
lobby is terrorism personified. But if you are 'Children of
Israel' then the intifada of the Palestinians is an act of
terror against the 'civilized world'. Similarly, in Kashmir armed
youths can be categorized, according to your preference,
terrorists or freedom fighters.
So, who is going to decide as to who is a terrorist and who is
fighting for his rights? Certainly man-made laws are incapable of
deciding what is wrong and what is right. For the simple reason
that they change with time and space. For example during the reign
of Krishna his cousin Draupdi had five husbands. That was legal
and acceptable by the society at that time. Today it is both
anti-social and illegal. Similarly, homosexual relationships are
punishable crime in India but in the Netherlands they are not an
offense. This leaves us with just one option – the Divine laws.
Only they are immutable and do not change with time and space.
Besides, they have the strength to decide as to what is good and
what is evil?
It is a historical truth that now the laws of the Divine are
enshrined in the Quran only. Therefore the Quran will decide as to
what is Jihad and what is terrorism?
During recent times this question has assumed significance
because of the 'bombing' of the twin towers at New York on 11th
of September 2001, in which over two thousand innocent lives were
lost. Who did it? It is a matter of investigation. Leader of
Al-Qiada (the base) Mr. Osama bin Laden has repeatedly denied his
involvement. On the other hand America considers him to be the
prime suspect and is therefore 'spanking' Afghanistan for giving
him shelter. Who is speaking the truth only time will tell. But
what we are looking for is that whether the incident of 11th
September is Jihad or terrorism?
It has already been stated that Jihad is only for the cause of
Allah. The 11th September incident fulfilled no cause
of Allah. Therefore it was an act of terrorism and not Jihad.
No innocent life should be taken. The Quran says that if you
kill a person unjustly then it is as if you have killed the entire
humanity. In the 11th September incident thousands of
innocent lives were lost. Therefore again it was an act of
terrorism and not Jihad.
'Sahih Al-Bukhari' states that even during the Jihad a very old
man or a child or a woman should not be killed. In the twin towers
of New York hundreds of women were killed. Therefore again it was
an act of terrorism and not Jihad.
Similarly all the principles that govern the concept of Jihad
can be used as touchstones. And all of them will prove that the
New York incident was an act of terrorism and not Jihad. Further
more, no one should be allowed to spread any disorder and mischief
in the land. This is an unambiguous order of the Quran.
In the light of the teachings of the Quran the culprits of the
11th September incident ought to be punished. But no
innocent lives should be taken in the name of 'justice'. This will
also amount to grave violation of the Divine laws. Besides, no
country should be allowed to further its imperialist designs or
advertise the strength of its weapons for striking defense deals.
This is an ardent request of a son of a Brahmin whose mission is
to propagate the true teachings of the Quran.
Shahid A Chaudhary
1. Quran 2/256
2. For details see 'Sufism is not Islam' by Shahid A Chaudhary, Regency Publications,
New Delhi 1998
3. Quran 9/71
4. 'Bhavishya Puran', Prati Sarg Parv (3) 3, 3, 5-8
5. Abdalti, H., 'Islam in Focus' Cresent Publishing Company, Aligarh 1975, p.143
6. Chaudhary, S A., 'Jinn: who are they?' Regency Publications, New Delhi, 2001, p. 13
7. Quran 87/2-3
8. Parwez, G A., 'Islam a Challenge to Religion', Tolu-e-Islam Trust, Lahore, 1996, pp.
10. Saiyyidan, KG, 'Iqbal's Educational Philosophy' 6th ed., Lahore, 1965, pp.55-66
11. Iqbal, M.,
'Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam', Lahore, p.92
Sahih Al-Bukhari, Translated by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan, Kitab Bhavan, New
Delhi, 1984, Vol. 1 p. xxxviii - xxxix