Quranic Concept of Jihad Forbids Violence by Non-State Actors, Terrorism

DND Thought CenterQuranic Concept of Jihad Forbids Violence by Non-State Actors, Terrorism

By Iftikhar Hussain Jazib

In the Quran, the uses of the word “Jihad” relate to a broad range of concepts. Having a literary meaning to struggle, Jihad is primarily a personal effort for self-control to achieve moral excellence and any efforts to limit it only to waging war would be intellectual dishonesty. Islam stress on self-control so much that it prohibits killings of non-combatants even in the battle field, therefore, an inclusive application of Jihad is inevitable for Muslims. In this regard, the sayings and the conduct of Holy Prophet (PBUH) establish that reckless wars are not allowed, and making peace with enemy is also an essential part of the concept of Jihad. In addition, Muslim jurists have laydown laws of war with consensus, only a recognised Muslim state and its legitimate governmental authority could make decision for a war. Moreover, they have also outlawed “Fasaad”, any arms upheavals by individual groupings in an Islamic state. Hence, modern terrorist outfits and violent extremist ideologies like Al-Qaeda and ISIS are actually committing Fasaad and disorder a major offence under Shariah laws.


The misuse of the concept of Jihad by terrorist and violent extremist organisations for tactics of random violence necessitates to apply the narrative of Fasaad extensively on these deceptive outfits. Muslim jurists not only reserve the power of war for legitimate government but they also entitle recognised Muslim ruler for making war strategy: maintaining a disciplined army, and assessing whether going for a specific war is beneficial or avoiding it is useful for Muslims. Therefore, Al-Qaeda’s criticism on Muslim countries in the matters of war and peace was wrong and its violent ideology and terrorist attacks were shrouded in Fasaad, spreading disorder in Muslim lands. Such deviant approach is strongly condemned in the Quran, chapter 2, verses 190-191: “Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight you, and do not transgress. Verily, Allah does not like the transgressors. Kill them in the battle, and drive them out from where they drove you out, as Fasaad (to create disorder) is more severe than killing.” This verse of Quran strengthens the hands of Muslim countries to wage a Jihad, war against terrorism to tackle non-state actors, Al-Qaeda and ISIS to maintain peace for Muslims.

The terrorist outfits and violent extremist ideologies radicalise individual Muslims to commit violent attacks randomly. The violent mind-set perverts the morals of terrorists and dehumanise them to commit violence within their community. Unfortunately, the terrorist tactics have promoted Islamo-phobia among non-Muslims and some confrontationists misrepresent the concept of Jihad intentionally to tarnish the peaceful image of Islam. In fact, Islamic legal doctrine prohibited war in the name of Jihad by non-state actors to prevent disorder, rebellions and sectarian conflicts in Islamic state. Al-Qaeda and ISIS violated these principles, they not only created law and order situation in Muslim countries but they also escalated conflicts in international relations, making matters worse for the Muslims.

In this challenging situation, an individual Muslim need to lead by personal example to demonstrate that Jihad is to achieve self-control and terrorism is a prohibited method of mass murders and disorder in Quran. In the Quran, three accounts are narrated when a person killed another individual. Prophet Daood (AS) killed Jalut in a war, Prophet Musa (AS) unintentionally killed an Egyptian man and one son of Adam committed the murder of his brother. The analysis of these incidents would be the most appropriate to suggest proper conduct for an individual Muslim to refute the violent extremist ideologies, the terrorist tactics of Al-Qaeda and ISIS for mass murders in Muslim and non-Muslim countries.

In the 2nd chapter of Quran, from verse 246 to 251, Allah narrates a war of liberty: “So, they defeated them by the will of Allah, and Daood killed Jalut, and Allah gave him the kingdom and the wisdom and taught him what He willed.” It happened in a war, the children of Israil approach their prophet to appoint a king over them to wage Jihad against their enemies. The Prophet appointed Jalut as a king for this purpose and the war took place in which Prophet Daood (AS) earn the favours of his people by demonstrating extra-ordinary bravery. This account proves that even a Prophet did not lead a war expedition as he was not a king. So, Muslims could only choose war path under a legitimate state authority and individual terrorist groupings like Al-Qaeda and ISIS are on a wrong stance in this regard.

Allah narrates an account of unintentional killing In the Quran, chapter 28, from verse 15 to 21: “So Musa gave him a blow with his fist and finished him off. He said out of remorse, ‘This is some of Satan’s act. He is indeed a clear enemy who misleads people.’ He said, ‘O my Lord, I have wronged myself, so forgive me.’ So He forgave him. Indeed He is the most Forgiving, Very- Merciful.” Islamic scholarship Believe that Prophets are innocent persons and Allah has special arrangements to prevent them from committing even a minor sin. The murder is a so heavy crime that a great Prophet Musa (AS) regretted unintentional killing and asked Allah for forgiveness. Therefore, a true Muslim could never glorify terrorism, mass murders and suicide attacks and the leadership of Al-Qaeda and ISIS is promoting a deviated ideology of violence.

Allah narrates a feud between two sons of Adam in which one son of Adam committed murder of his brother intentionally. The response and moral courage of threatened brother is quoted in the Quran, chapter 5, from verse 28 to 30: “If you stretch your hand towards me to kill me, I am not going to stretch my hand towards you to kill you. Indeed, I fear Allah, the Lord of the worlds. I would rather let you bear my sin and your sin, and then become one of the people of the Fire. That is the punishment of the unjust. His self, however, prompted him to kill his brother, so he killed him and became one of the losers.” Even one reading of this passage from the Quran would move the heart of a Muslim and he would reject violent extremist ideologies and terrorism by non-state actors.

Finally, as the Quran instructs, chapter 25, verse 52: “and wage Jihad against them with the Quran, in utmost endeavour”, every Muslim should reject terrorist outfits and violent extremist ideologies with the help of Quran. It would be the best Jihad to strengthen the hands of governments in Muslim countries to defeat violent non-state actors.

M.Phil international Relations from Quaid-e-Azam University, the writer is a freelance contributor on the issues of violent extremism and militancy. He could be approached on X @radiant_j_007



The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk News Agency.

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