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Understand Islam

When Does Jihad Become Obligatory for a Muslim?

What are the circumstances that make Jihad obligatory on a Muslim citizen? What is the punishment for not taking part in Jihad when it has become obligatory?

When there is a just cause for Jihad, which must have a righteous intention, it then becomes an obligation. It becomes an obligation for defending religious freedom (Quran 22:39-41), for self-defense (Quran 2:190) and defending those who are oppressed: men, women and children who cry for help (Quran 4:75). It is the duty of the Muslims to help the oppressed, except against a people with whom the Muslims have a treaty (Quran 8:72). These are the only valid justifications for war we find in the Qur’an.

As far as an individual is concerned, Jihad becomes compulsory upon him if both the following conditions are fulfilled:

i. The rulers give a call to each and every citizen of their country to participate in Jihad.

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ii. The individual himself is convinced that his rulers are waging war on the only legitimate basis on which war can now be waged: to uproot injustice and oppression perpetrated by a country. If a person is convinced that his country has some other objective in mind, he can of course refuse their call.

Punishment for Not Taking Part in Jihad:

Even when war becomes necessary, we find that there is no “conscription” in the Qur’an. The Prophet is instructed only to “urge on the believers” (Quran 4:64). The Qur’an – and the hadith at greater length – urge on the Muslim fighters (those who are defending themselves or the oppressed) in the strongest way: by showing the justice of their cause, the bad conduct of the enemy, and promising great rewards in the afterlife for those who are prepared to sacrifice their lives and property in such a good cause.

See also  Intention, Time and Place of I’tikaf

A study of the Qur’an shows that there is no worldly punishment for either a state or an individual if they do not undertake Jihad when it becomes obligatory upon them. The reason for this is that the Qur’an does not mention any such punishment. It seems that it is the Almighty Himself Who directly punishes such negligence in this world or in the Hereafter.

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