Working hard, striving for and putting in untiring efforts for the establishment (Iqaamah) of Deen so that its individual and collective purposes are accomplished is called Jihaad.
Jihaad is a lifelong mission that entails dedicating one’s energies to the achievement of personal excellence according to the Deen of Islam and to the establishment or maintenance of an ideal Islamic society and domination of Islam as a way of life. From that perspective, Jihaad is not an option that Muslims can choose to engage in or avoid. It is the core Islamic obligation through which fundamental Islamic objectives are achieved. In fact, all the five pillars of Islam are designed to prepare Muslims for and help them in this Jihaad. Hence, it is the most important duty stemming from a person’s being or becoming Muslim. The conscious adoption of Islam as a way of life by a person (whether born in a Muslim family or a non-Muslim family) must be the start of a process of continuous personal improvement towards excellence that Islam wants each of us to reach as individuals. It must also start an intense effort on the part of that Muslim in the footsteps of the Messenger (peace be upon him) to find ways of establishing the Islamic society that Allaah wants to establish and making Islam the dominant way of life in that society.
That is why while defining true Muslims, Allaah SWT says:
Indeed the believers are only those who believe in Allaah and His messenger and then (regardless of difficulties, circumstances or onslaught of those who want to maintain the Un-Islamic status quo) never doubt or falter and exert their utmost (do Jihaad) with their wealth and their own selves (time, life and capabilities) in the way of Allaah. Verily they are those who are truthful (true believers). Al-Ĥujuraat 49:15
Many people confuse the word Jihaad with Qitaal (war). Qitaal is but only one facet or segment of Jihaad in the sense that at a certain stage in Jihaad, Qitaal may be required to remove the obstacles erected in the way of the Islamic movement for establishing an ideal, peaceful, free and independent Islamic society and making the Islamic way of life the dominant way of life. Its relevance is for the lands where people have been subjugated, occupied or deprived of their fundamental rights of living freely to practice and establish Allaah’s Deen. It becomes an obligation only at certain times depending on the circumstances and the requirements of the Ummah and the Islamic movement.
On the hand, the Jihaad of peaceful efforts is a critical obligation that is neither optional nor contingent upon circumstances. Jihaad must be the first and foremost priority in our life, if we want to be true believers.
September 9, 2001