For better understanding of Jihad, we take the help from a book written by Dr. Suhas Majumder, named “Jihad: The Islamic doctrine for Permanent War”. The first stage according to his analysis is that of Covert Jihad. In this article, we will discuss this in some detail.
In the petition, we find Jihad verses varying in tonality and call to action. The tenor of the verses was much more placating between the time period 609 to 622, which is the time that the Prophet and his followers spent in Makkah. They are conciliatory, they preach accommodation of other people’s belief. Here is an examaple of one such chapter, which was revealed during the Makkah period.
” Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ “O you disbelievers! I do not worship what you worship, nor do you worship what I worship. I will never worship what you worship, nor will you ever worship what I worship. You have your religion, and I have my religion.”” 109: 1-6
Many times we see that Muslims will present verses of this kind to prove that there is a sense of bonhomie in their faith and everyone is accepted along with their beliefs. However, there is a significance of this particular set of verses, and when it was revealed. This is where victimhood features very boldly among the community. Pronouncements for waging war are marked by a tone of apology and uncertainty of how they would be received. On of the messages from which this can be seen is
“Permission ˹to fight back˺ is ˹hereby˺ granted to those being fought, for they have been wronged. And Allah is truly Most Capable of helping them ˹prevail˺. ˹They are˺ those who have been expelled from their homes for no reason other than proclaiming: “Our Lord is Allah.” Had Allah not repelled ˹the aggression of˺ some people by means of others, destruction would have surely claimed monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which Allah’s Name is often mentioned. Allah will certainly help those who stand up for Him. Allah is truly All-Powerful, Almighty.”
So here, we see that there is concern shown for pulling down churches and monasteries (not Hindu or Pagan place of worship). But only a few years after this verse was revealed, the followers of Prophet Muhammad started to demolish and destroy all the churches with full gusto, when the invading of territories was ongoing. There is a fervent insistence on the necessity of war, representing Muslims as a beleaguered people whose only assurance of safety lay in taking up arms, and calling for Jihad in tones of injured innocence, as can be seen here:
“Fighting has been made obligatory upon you ˹believers˺, though you dislike it. Perhaps you dislike something which is good for you and like something which is bad for you. Allah knows and you do not know.” 2:216
As mentioned in the previous article (link below), this verse was revealed for those followers of the Prophet, who wanted to pursue a less bloody route to expanding the religion of peace. Also to be noted is the fact, a few years later, during expansion in the Hijab area, all sign of pagan worship areas along with synagogues were also demolished. A stock argument presented by Muslims for over a century has been, that their places of worship are endangered by the presence of the same of the non believers, and so they do what they have to do to protect themselves – case in point being Babri Masjid, and lately the Gyanwapi Mandir. Additionally, when the above revelations was received, there were only two mosques in the world, and they could not have felt any apprehension of attack on these places.
Another verse from the times of less power was revealed to support an act of violence by the followers of the Prophet is shared in Chapter 2 – The Cow. To provide some background, this was about the 7th attack by the believers, the first successful raid against the Makkans after they migrated to Madina, and started their careers by attacking and looting caravans. It was carried out in the area of Nakhlah, where two people were ent to spy to traveling caravans. They saw this particular caravan, couldn’t stop themselves as it was loaded with expensive items, and carried out their attack. This was the first time a member of the Kuffar died in such attacks, and the first time that the violation of ‘sacred months’ was carried out. There are four holy months in Islam; Zeeqad, Zil Hajj, Muharram and Rajab. The said raid took place during Rajab. This created a big controversy again, but then the verse was revealed
“They ask you ˹O Prophet˺ about fighting in the sacred months. Say, “Fighting during these months is a great sin. But hindering ˹others˺ from the Path of Allah, rejecting Him, and expelling the worshippers from the Sacred Mosque is ˹a˺ greater ˹sin˺ in the sight of Allah. For persecution is far worse than killing..””
Thus all killings in the sacred months was sanctioned as Halal. Throughout the Makkah and early Madina period, a narrative was guilt by the verses revealed to claim victimhood and justifying forbidden act because of the prevailing circumstances. This premise is supported by Tabari, one of the most claimed commentators on the Quran and Prophet’s Hadees.
“The messenger of God proclaimed God’s message openly and clearly and declared Islam publicly to his tribesmen. When he did so, they did not withdraw from him or reject him in any way, as far as I had heard. Until he spoke of their Gods and denounced them. When he did this, they took, exception to it and united in opposition and hostility to him..” Vol. 6
This exegesis describes the state of affairs in Makkah, and this is the essence of hostility, to fight against which, their caravans were looted and men murdered in the sacred months. When the Makkah pagans saw that the attacks against them were not stopping, they decided to go and speak to Abu Taliban, the Prophet’s uncle, who was left behind in Makkah for this very purpose. According to Tabari, they approached Abu Talib to stop desecration of their Gods, and we will leave him to the God he wants to worship. The Arab Pagans, even when under attack, were being considerate and were only concerned that if Abu Talib died and the Prophet did not change his ways, he will be attacked, and then people will say that they went after him soon as his uncle died. The Arab Pagans were enduring abuse of their forefathers, disregard for their ancient traditions, division among their ranks, all at the hands of the Prophet. The picture presented to, and by, Muslims, that the mall contingent of early Muslims were harassed and abused at the hand of Makkah pagans, is in fact the opposite of what actually happened. When a physically weak and old Abu Talib was unable to change the ways of the Prophet, the Arab pagans finally went to him for a third time, to warn him that if this vilification did not stop, they will announce war. The retaliation, mostly verbal the started, and even then the Muslims complained they were not let in to worship according to their wishes inside Kaaba, which was a Pagan temple, just like today, they complain of not being included’ in Garba.
An important part of this stage of Jihad is Taqiya, which means concealing the true intent.
“The believers may not take the unbelievers for their allies in preference to those who believe. Whoever does this has nothing to do with Allah unless he does so in order to protect himself from their wrong-doing.”
This practice is elaborately followed in both Shia and Sunni traditions, and well supported in Sahih Bukhari through Hadees. In a nutshell, when there is need, the believers are allowed to show support to non believers outwardly but not inwardly, in order to achieve the larger goal.
(This is the 8th article from an ongoing series of articles on The Calcutta Quran Petition. The series will continue)
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