Concept & Contours of Jihad in Islam – II

Distinctive contours of the striving (Jihad) that brought this major revolution in human history
Concept & Contours of Jihad in Islam – II

As we have seen Makkans and their allies failed to dislodgethe Muslims in Madina despite several campaigns they had launched for thepurpose. Their loss in the invasions was greater than they could inflict on theMuslims. Particularly during the Ahzab siege their loss was substantially morethan the harm they could cause to Madina and its inhabitants. Muslims weregradually growing in numerical and material strength and in terms of influenceeven in the distant peripheries of Madina. It added to their confidence toventure out for pilgrimage into Ka'ba that had been adopted as their Kiblah inthe second year of Hijrah, while it was still controlled by their arch enemiespagan Quresh. It was during the sixth year of Hijra (628 CE) when the Prophet(PBUH) along with 1400 of his companions arrived in Hudaybiya on the outskirtsof Makka and sent an emissary seeking permission to enter the town in peace toperform pilgrimage. Instead of granting permission Makkans sent a delegation topush for a broader agreement with the Prophet (PBUH) whereby Muslims instead ofvisiting Makkah that year would be allowed to visit next year and that alsoonly for three days. There were also some conditions of the treaty seeking asort of unilateral advantage to Makkans on several issues of vital significanceto Muslims. These were seen very unfavourable by the visiting Muslims.Therefore, they generally wanted to reject this and make a forced entry intothe city that could potentially lead to bloodshed. Despite being disturbed bythe agitation of his colleagues the Prophet overruled the objections andaccepted the treaty with endorsement from the Divine Wisdom. The treaty (despiteits unfavourable conditions) provided a degree of peace to Muslims, that theyrarely had till then. By having neutralised the hanging threat from Makkans,even though temporarily, through the treaty, the Prophet focussed on theconsolidation of his mission, expand its influence across the length andbreadth of Arabia and gain more converts to his mission. He even targeted theworld outside by sending his emissaries to the major capitals of the time, farbeyond Arabia, inviting their rulers to accept Islam and surrender to the willof God. Thus, instead of causing a setback to Muslims signing of the treatybecame a turning point in Islamic history after which there was no holding backin their march forward. Only divine wisdom could have anticipated the good thatthis peace treaty, which most Muslims were perceiving as humiliating for them,would bring Muslims and the cause of Islam.

The unprecedented successes of Muslims were naturally tosend alarm bells to the Makkans and their arch anti-Muslim allies. Therefore,despite the treaty obligation they began to conspire along with some of theirmischievous allies against the Muslims and their allies. (On both sides thesewere mostly Ahli-Kitab i.e. Jewish and Christen tribes. This necessitated afirm response from Muslims to assert their moral authority in commensurationwith the influence and political position that they had by then gained withinArabia.  This was the context in whichthe sternest verses on Jihad (for military action) were revealed warning paganswho were repeatedly violating their oath (treaty obligations) under HudaibiyaPeace treaty. These verses formed part of 9th chapter of Quran that is uniqueas it is only one of the 114 of its chapters that begins without invoking themercy of God. It was because the sternness of message it wanted to convey tomischievous Makkans and their allied tribes. The gist of these verses broadly included the bar on the pagans fromentering the Ka'aba (9:28), commandment to fight the People of the Book untilthey surrender (9:29), forbiddance to the Prophet against praying for theforgiveness of the hypocrites (9:80) and against praying for those who died asunbelievers (9:113). The reason for this stiff approach was indicated aswhenever they (the hostile Arabs) came upon the Muslims, they defied the peacetreaty (of Hudaibiya) and disregarded even blood ties (9:10). Further these(like 9:8) cautioned Muslims about duplicity in their character and thereforeauthorised to "kill such archetypes/prototypes of defiance (kufr) who broketheir oaths (treaty obligations)… and defamed their religion (9:12) and who haddone all they could to drive the Messenger away (from Makkah)…(9:13). In doingall this God assures them of help against their enemies, bring disgrace upon themand soothe the bosoms of those who believe (9:14).

The revelation gives an ultimatum of four months to thehostile pagans who were repeatedly breaking their treaty obligations (9:1-3).It commanded the Muslims to kill them wherever they come upon them, capturethem, besiege them, and lie in wait for them at every conceivable place (takeall possible measures as advisable in warfare) after the expiry of the treatyperiod (9:5) unless they repented, kept up prayer and gave the Zakat (9:5,9:11). However, the pagans who were honouring their treaty of peace and nothelping anyone against the Muslims were to be given time until the treaty termexpired (9:4). At the same time, those pagans who sought protection were to begiven protection, until they heard the word of God and then to be delivered toa place of security (i.e. their tribal homelands) so that they were not harmedby any other victimized Muslim (9:6). Therefore, as per the divine commandMuslims gave advance notice for the renunciation of the treaty & beganpreparation for effective offense to capturing the Makkah and securing Ka'baexclusively for the worship of God.

But in spite of the severity of provocations from the Qureshand stern warnings from God, the Prophet, despite resolute march into Makkah(10-20 Ramadan, H. 8 ), once more set a great example of his composed grandeur,generosity, compassion, tolerance and unwavering commitment to peace, mercy andnonviolence towards its inhabitants. It was so  despite the fact that they hadoppressed him and his companions, forced them to leave their homes, conspiredto kill him and not allowing him to live in peace in his new home in Madina,preventing Muslims from performing the pilgrimage of Ka'ba even unarmed andfinally breaching the truce that they entered in with Muslims atHudaibiya.  Despite their unendinghostility towards Muslims, the Prophet with ten thousand strong force ontriumphant entry (Fathe Makkah, 8 H.) into the city issued strict orders to his commanders entering Makkahfrom different directions not to use their arms except in self-defence whenattacked. There were loud declaration made across the city that: "Whoeverremains shut in his house will be safe so also one who goes to the courtyard ofthe Ka'ba or deposes his arms, or takes refuge in the house of Abu-Sufyan(leader of Makkans)". Thus, the town was overwhelmed and occupied without anybloodshed. After conquering, the Makkah was placed under the governorship ofone Attab appointed by the Prophet before his departure from the city. The cityunder him continued with its multi religious character for worshipers ofdivergent faiths for about a year till the whole of its population graduallyconverted to Islam.  Thereafter, theProphet, during the final two years of his worldly life spent on attending toremaining trouble spots and challenges and thereby securing the whole Arabiafor Islam and the faithful. In the 10th (H.) he, along with a large number ofhis followers, sets for final pilgrimage (Haj) despite his failing health. Thereat Arafat from the top of Hill of Mercy (Jabal ar-Rahma) he delivers his finalsermon refreshing and outlining the fundamentals of his message for hisfollowers to remain committed to, carry forward to other of the faithful andfollow in the right spirit. The same day ((9 Dhulhaj, 10. H. i.e. March 6, 832CE) comes final (the last related verse of Quran) announcing from behalf ofAllah that;

 "This day have Iperfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosenfor you Islam as your religion."

The wars that Muslims fought towards the latter part (lasttwo years) of the Prophet's life and continued during the Khulfai Rashidun weremainly to secure Islam and Muslims within the Arabian Peninsula and itssurrounding regions. This eventful march of Muslims of a few decadestransformed the whole known world of the time changing the whole structure ofthe old order with a new one with tremendous creative potential. It founded anew dynamic civilisation that remained at the centre of global political andcultural power for almost a millennium to come still leaves a number of lessonsfor us to be summed up of the distinctive contours of the striving (Jihad) thatbrought this major revolution in human history.

(Next part next week)

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