The Slandered Jihad

by Abu Khubayb and Abu Zubayr

Among the erroneous notions aimed at stifling the spirit of Jihad in this Ummah is the idea of 'greater' and 'lesser' Jihads. According to this belief, striving against desires of the self is considered the Greater Jihad, which makes the Jihad of the battlefield the Lesser Jihad. This idea is based upon a story mentioned by Al-Khatib Al-Baghdadi in his book, The History of Baghdad, by way of Yahya ibn al 'Ala', who said,

We were told by Layth, on the authority of 'Ata', on the authority of Abu Rabah, on the authority of Jabir, who said, "The Prophet (salallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) returned from one of his battles, and thereupon told us, 'You have arrived with an excellent arrival, you have come from the Lesser Jihad to the Greater Jihad - the striving of a servant (of Allah) against his desires.'''

This concept, despite the fact that it is based on a hadeeth, can be refuted from several aspects, of which we shall mention the following.


This hadeeth cannot be used to establish proof, for Al-Bayhaqi has said regarding it, "Its chain of narration is weak (da'eef)". As-Suyuti also pronounced a verdict of weakness on it in his book, Al Jami' As-Saghir.

Somebody might claim that da'eef (weak) ahadeeth can be accepted in matters of supererogatory virtuous deeds. This is unacceptable, for we do not believe that Jihad can be a supererogatory deed. Indeed, how can it be so when the Messenger of Allah (salallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam) has said that the asceticism of his Ummah lies in Jihad?

Furthermore, anybody who follows up on Yahya ibn al 'Ala', the narrator of the hadeeth, will find in his biography things which will make him forsake the man's ahadeeth. Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani said about him in Al-Taqrib, "He was accused of forging Ahadeeth." Adh-Dhahabi said in Al-Mizan, "Abu Hatim said that he is not a strong narrator, Ibn Mu'in classified him as weak, Ad-Daraqutni said that he is to be neglected, and Ahmad bin Hanbal said that he is a liar and a forger of ahadeeth."


This hadeeth explicitly contradicts clear verses of the Quran. Allah the Mighty, the Majestic, says, (Translation of the Meaning),

"Those believers who sit back are not equal to those who perform Jihad in the Path of Allah with their wealth and their selves. Allah has favored those who perform Jihad with their wealth and their selves by degrees over those who sit back. To both (groups) has Allah promised good, but Allah has favoured the Mujahideen with a great reward, by ranks from Him, and with Forgiveness, over those who sit back. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most- Merciful." (Quran 4:95-96)


This hadeeth contradicts mutawatir (mass-narrated) ahadeeth which have been reported from the Prophet (salallaahu 'alayhee wa sallam), and which make plain the excellence of Jihad. We will mention a few of these.

"A morning or an evening spent in the Path of Allah is better than the world and all it contains." [Bukhari and Muslim]

"Standing for an hour in the ranks of battle in the Path of Allah is better than standing for sixty years (in prayer)." [Sahih Al-Jami']

Abu Hurayrah (radiallaahu 'anhu) said, "Is any of you able to stand in prayer without stopping, and to fast continuously for as long as he lives?" The people said, "Oh Abu Hurayrah! Who could endure that?" He said, "By Allah! A day of a mujahid in the Path of Allah is better than that."

The claim of those who say that the 'struggle against the self' is the Greater Jihad because the individual is put to test by day and by night, may be refuted by the following hadeeth:

On the authority of Rashid, on the authority of Sa'd (radiallaahu 'anhu), on the authority of one of the Companions, that a man said, "Oh Messenger of Allah! Why is it that the believers are all put to trial in their graves, except for the martyrs?" He (salallaahu 'alayhee wa sallam) said, "The clashing of swords above his head was sufficient trial for him." [Sahih Al-Jami']


This erroneous and slanderous notion involves injustice and wrong to the status of the Mujahideen. Allah (Ta'aala) has ordered us to practice justice in our verdicts, saying, (Translation of the Meaning),

"Be just, it is closer to piety; and fear Allah. Allah is aware of what you do." (Quran 5:8)

Is it any part of justice and fair treatment for us to say that our brethren in the land of attention and battle are in a lesser Jihad when the mines are exploding beneath their feet, with the result that their bodies fly into the air, and their limbs and blood are scattered all over, to the extent that their pure corpses cannot be contained in a grave?

And that is for the sake of Allah, and if He wills, He may bless the limbs of a body torn to pieces. Were these youths in a lesser Jihad, while our fasting, and breaking our fasts on the most delicious of food are then a greater Jihad? By Allah! This is an unequal measure, and if you were to put the matter before the most knowledgeable people on earth, they would never arrive at such a disparate verdict.


The Egyptian, Dr. Muhammad Amin says, in his book, The Path of Islamic Propagation,

Jihad of the self and Jihad by wealth, if they do not lead one to establish the Call of Truth, and to stand beside it, enjoining the right and forbidding the wrong, and contributing one's life and wealth in the Path of Allah, are deficient Jihads containing inadequacy. It is astonishing that the hour of testing and of severity, in which the feet are shaken and the heart reaches the throat, can be called the Hour of the Lesser Jihad, while the hours of safety and comfort in secure homes, in the midst of one's family and friends, can be called hours of the Greater Jihad! In the like of such appellations do the holders-back rejoice in their sitting behind from obeying the Messenger of Allah (salallaahu 'alayhee wa sallam) and his Companions (radiallaahu 'anhum)? Such people find contentment and comfort in this way, while in reality they only deceive their weak souls, for the true values of the deeds are entirely the opposite.

Finally, we conclude with some verses which were sent by the Mujahid scholar Abdullah bin Al-Mubarak, from the land of Jihad to his friend Al-Fudayl bin Ayyadh, who used to preach to the rulers and make them cry, yet did not seek any payment, being a sincere worshipper.

Oh worshipper of the Two Holy Sanctuaries, if you could only see us, You would see that you, in your devotions, are only playing. If you are one whose cheek is tinged with his tears, Then our chests are dyed with our blood.

The Pretended Jihad

Some people may be astonished when they hear a person describing Jihad in person as a lesser Jihad, or who deems fighting in the Path of Allah (Ta'aala) little in comparison to other acts of devotion. However, if we pursue the lives of these people, look at their histories and investigate the reason for their confusion regarding the matter, we will find that the explanation for their stance is simple. These are the people who's people undervalue Jihad and give priority to studying in universities, writing in magazines, and giving speeches in conferences over fighting and being martyred. By examining their lives, one will find a common denominator, which brings them together in deficiency and unites them in their viewpoint.

The common denominator among the feeble and those who hold back from Jihad (the people of theories and concepts) is that they have not participated in Jihad. The opportunity has not presented itself to these people (by the Will of Allah Ta'aala), nor have they had the good fortune to join a camp of Mujahideen. In such a camp there is a lack of luxuries and a scarcity of necessities which would make them feel the difference between a day in the camp and a similar day in the university with its food, entertainment, and air-conditioned class rooms.

How can these people recognise the true value of Jihad when they have not participated in the regiments of war nor entered into the arenas of tumult?

If a man plunges into a single battle, it will be sufficient to correct all his misconceptions. The Mujahid, in only a few hours, may see things whose horror would make children grey-haired: bombs and splinters sweeping away the souls of the most beloved of his brethren who shared with him his travelling, training, ribat (guarding the front line), and Jihad. What will be the situation of these people when the rockets and shells are exploding over their heads and beneath their feet? How will it be when they see with their very own eyes the scattering of arms, legs and intestines so that a healthy body with well-proportioned limbs will become handicapped, dismembered, or paralysed?

This then is the underlying reason for the confusion on the part of those who underrate Jihad.

In a few hours or days, the Mujahid sees, with his own eyes, such hardships, trials, and tribulations, as others do not see in decades. It will be impossible for anyone who engages in this experience of Jihad to equate physical Jihad with other pacifistic means of Dawah. Therefore, anyone who disputes with the Mujahid in the issue of Jihad or who calls people to abandon fighting should join a camp, even if only as a servant. Or he should participate in a battle even if only as a cook. Then after that, we will see if, in his opinion, the pen is equal to the Kalashnikov.


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