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No Jihād without the State
Dr. Shehzad Saleem

Response: I have briefly gone through your articles on Jihād. There are few questions in that regard: What should a Muslim do, if he goes to his house and finds a gang of so-called Muslims raping his sister to death?

Choice 1: Go to mosque and pray to Allah for his sister.

Choice 2: Show the gang verses in the Qur’ān and H~adīth ie do Da‘wah.

Choice 3: Go get the Pakistani state officials for help (takes too much time)

Choice 4: Use a gun to shoot the criminals in order to save your sister.

The Qur’ān states (confirmed by Ahādith) that Muslims (not the state) should prepare themselves to fight the enemy. Therefore, in my opinion, the requirement of state for Jihād is totally baseless. Please reply.

Comment: There is a world of difference between self-defence and offence. For the former, if it occurs in the form you have referred to, a person (who is living in a properly instituted state as Pakistan for example) must stop the criminal by force if he sees that someone is raping his sister or if someone is trying to kill an innocent citizen. He can incapacitate him by shooting in the leg or even kill him if there is no other option. Remember this comes under self-defence and for this, in such emergency situations, state authority is not required.

However, when one has to wage Jīhad on another country the requirement of state authority is imperative. This is not self-defence; it is plain offence (even though for a noble cause as to save Muslims from persecution.) Only a state has been given this authority, simply because individual groups if given this license will create more Fasād by fighting among themselves once they overcome the enemy. The Afghanistan fiasco should serve as an eye opener for us in this regard.

The directive in which the Muslims were first allowed to lift arms occurs in Sūrah H~ajj (22:35) which is a Madīnan Sūrah. No Makkan Sūrah contains this directive. All our jurists agree that the distinction between Makkan and Madīnan Sūrahs is made to differentiate between the existence of a state from its non-existence. To further clarify this point, I will give you the example of punishments. Only a state has the authority to flog criminals for adultery or amputate their hands for theft. You and I cannot do this even if the state is not doing this. The reason for this that all punishments are mentioned in Madīnan Sūrahs when the state authority had come into existence and the plurals : ‘Flog the criminals...’ or ‘Cut off their hands...’ of the concerned verses are all directed at our rulers. Similar is the case with Jihād. So categorical is this principle that there is a consensus among all the celebrated authorities of Islam on it. If a state is indifferent to its responsibilities, we can only remind it of this apathy and not take it upon ourselves to discharge them.

Will you start punishing criminals for theft if the state is not doing so?

If you think that Jihād is allowed without the state, then you must give arguments from the Qur’ān and the life of the Prophet (sws). Please don’t forget that the history of Islamic warfare under Prophets is devoid of Jihād without the state.

It is high time that we Muslims try to understand a directive of the Sharī‘ah in the proper perspective instead of trying to change it.

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