Is Qitāl a lesser Jihād?
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

There is a persistent notion among many Muslims that fighting in the battlefield is something very inferior to fighting against one’s desires. While the former is termed as Jihād i Asghar (the lesser Jihād), the latter is called the Jihād i Akbar (the greater Jihād). Does this mean that we should be more anxious to take part in Jihād i Akbar?


Answer: First let me tell you that the terms Jihād i Akbar and Jihād i Asghar are supposedly attributed to the Prophet (sws). However, this attribution does not have a sound basis. The chain of narrators of this narrative is very weak. Authorities of Hadīth like Ibn Hajr, Ibn Taymiyyah and Al-Bānī have convincingly challenged the authenticity of this narrative1. So one can safely conclude that there is no such thing as a greater Jihād or a lesser one.

It needs to be appreciated that the word Jihād is used in the Qur’ān to connote striving in the way of Allah. One particular form of such a struggle is that in which one might have to fight for Allah’s cause. This is also termed as ‘Qitāl’. In other words, striving in the way of Allah in whatever form one is able to in accordance with the needs that arise is what is required from a believer. Whether striving in His way in a particular form is more superior than some other one has not been indicated in any authentic source.

1. Ibn Hajr’s Takhrīju’l Kashshāf as annotation on Zamakhashrī’s Kashshāf, 1st ed., vol. 3, (Dāru’l-Turāth al-‘Arabī, 1997), pp. 174-5 / Ibn Taymiyyah, Fatāwā, 2nd ed., vol. 11, (Riyād: 1399 AH), p. 197 / Al-Bānī, Silsilah al-Ahadīth al-Da‘īfah wa al-Mawdūfah, 1st ed., vol. 5, (Riyād: Maktabah al-Ma‘ārif, 1992), pp. 478-80.

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