July 26, 2001
Special Dispatch No. 246

The Prophet Muhammad as a Jihad Model

Al-Jazeera's weekly religious program dedicated a special for the Prophet Muhammad, as a model of a Jihad warrior, and discussed the modern implications of this image.[1] The guest in the studio was the head of the Islamic law faculty at Qatar University, Sheik Yussef Al-Qaradhawi, who is a leading authority in the Muslim world today, and a spiritual leader of the 'Muslim Brotherhood' movement. Following are excerpts from the discussion:

The Unique Characteristics of the Prophet Muhammed
Sheik Al-Qaradhawi began his discussion describing the unique characteristics of the Prophet Muhammad when compared to the prophets that preceded him: …"The prophets that Allah sent prior to Muhammad were sent for a limited time …and to a specific people." … Allah established in the life of the Prophet Muhammad general, eternal, and all inclusive characteristics, and he gave every human being the possibility to imitate him and take his life as a model."

"The Christian is incapable of imitating Jesus regarding war and conciliation since Jesus never fought or made peace. He is incapable of imitating him regarding marriage, divorce, parenthood, and family, since [Jesus] never had a family, never had a wife, a father, or a grandfather."

"On the other hand, Allah wanted Muhammad's life to be a model. For instance, if we examine the question of marriage, he who has one wife can follow the Prophet Muhammed since most of the time Muhammad lived with one woman; whoever has more than one wife can also [follow Muhammad's example]; He who marries a virgin, he who marries a non-virgin… He who marries a young woman, he who marries an old woman [all can follow Muhammad's example]."

"Similarly, Allah has also made the prophet Muhammad into an epitome for religious warriors [Mujahideen] since he ordered Muhammed to fight for religion …"

The Urgency of Jihad Against Israel
Sheik Al-Qaradhawi explained that several types of Jihad exist and the prophet Muhammad launched an armed Jihad only when he arrived at Al-Medina. During the years he spent in Mecca, he supported unarmed Jihad, contrary to what his companions were demanding.

The interviewer, Maher Abdallah, asked how this relates to the lives of Muslims today, whether they should restrain themselves while preparing for Jihad, or launch an immediate armed Jihad. Sheik Al-Qaradhawi replied: "The youth who wish to hurry to establish an Islamic state with an Islamic rule seek clashes with the existing regimes in the Arab states despite the fact that they don’t have sufficient strength; they don’t have military strength and not even the mental strength to establish an Islamic rule."

He also mentioned that during the period of the Prophet Muhammad in Mecca, his friends pressured the Prophet to shatter idols displayed in Mecca. However, the Prophet ruled that the time was yet to come, and he even signed the Al-Hudaybiya agreement with [his adversary] the Qureish tribe. Only two years later, the Prophet Muhammad decided that the time had come to conquer Mecca, and he "picked up a lance" and hit the idols.

Sheik Al-Qaradhawi added, "On the other hand, there are some things that cannot wait; for instance, when the land of the Muslims is being invaded. When that happens, we do not say 'let's wait, we will surrender to them and only then [we shall see]'…no! In that case, Islam requires that the people of the invaded land will fight the invaders… and following them, their neighbors. And if this is not enough, all the Muslims [must enlist for this purpose]. Hence, a problem like the current Intifada and the Palestinian problem is one that cannot wait; the nation must fight and defend itself and not allow the invader to ruin the land…"

The interviewer argued that some Islamic law experts believe the Palestinians are like prisoners, and thus, not required to fulfill the duty of Jihad. Sheik Al-Qaradhawi however rejected this notion and argued that the only law expert raising this claim was the Albanian Mufti, and he referred only to the Palestinians who are residents of Israel. "Wise law experts say that if a woman is taken as a prisoner in the East and the people of the East are unable to free her, the people of the West must fight a holy war until she is freed."

"[If such an order is given] regarding a woman, it is obvious that when it is the homeland that was captured, the land of the The Prophet's Ascension to Heaven [Jerusalem], the land of the prophets and holy places, and the first direction of prayer [Qibla] - the Muslims around the world must make every effort to save the Al-Aqsa Mosque and to help the residents [of Palestine], since the Al-Aqsa Mosque is not the property of the Palestinian people only, but of each and every Muslim…"

Preparation For Jihad
Sheik Al-Qaradhawi argued that there are two types of Jihad: "A Jihad which you seek, and a Jihad in which you repulse an attack." In the Jihad which you are seeking, you look for the enemy and invade him. This type of Jihad takes place only when the Islamic state is invading other [countries] in order to spread the word of Islam and to remove obstacles standing in its way. The repulsing Jihad takes place when your land is being invaded and conquered… [in that case you must] repulse [the invader] to the best of your ability; if you kill him he will end up in hell, and if he kills you, you become a martyr [Shahid]…"

"There are various ways to prepare for Jihad: there is mental preparation, there is physical preparation, and there is material preparation, meaning the preparation of the weapons. The messenger [Muhammad] prepared all his friends first mentally since equipment and weapons cannot fight by themselves, but rather need hands to operate them, and those hands must also have a purpose.

"Why were we defeated in 1967? Officers stated that we had vast amounts of weapons but we did not provide the warrior with mental preparation. We did not prepare him to fight for religious belief and for defending religious sanctuaries. We are the oppressed, and the duty is on us. He who got killed is a [Shahid] in heaven… the first assignment is to prepare the hero who is willing to put his life in his own hands for Allah's sake, and he who does not care whether he encounters death or death encounters him…"

Suicide Bombings
Sheik Al-Qaradhawi – who throughout his recent appearances has declared that Palestinian suicide attacks are considered "self-sacrifice" and not suicide, and thus are permitted and even welcome from a religious standpoint - was again asked about this issue. He argued that the person who commits that act "is not a suicide [bomber]. He kills the enemy while taking self-risk, similarly to what Muslims did in the past… He wants to scare his enemies, and the religious authorities have permitted this. They said that if he causes the enemy both sorrow and fear of Muslims… he is permitted to risk himself and even get killed."

Jihad and the Arab Regimes
Sheik Al-Qaradhawi, who usually calls for coexistence with Arab regimes, had reservations about allegations that they prevent Jihad against Israel: "The matter is not as simple as it is presented [to the general public]. It is not true that if one ruler [or another] was to be replaced everything would change. There are great forces within the [Arab] society that support the regime… especially among the intellectuals who are described, unfortunately, as the elites. These elites have westernized, and the westernization of their thought and culture corrupted the Arab regimes. The cultural invasion, the cultural colonialism, the westernization – call it what you want – reshaped the way these elites are thinking, and turned them into foreign elements amongst their own people. We must change them, and this is why the campaign continues and it must continue on different levels – on cultural, educational, social, traditional, and political levels, on the level of constitutional reforms, political reforms, and the granting of freedoms to peoples, including freedom for Jihad…"

"It is incumbent upon us to maintain some kind of contact with the present rulers so we can act. How could we strengthen the Intifada? We are unable to do anything [without those rulers]. At the very least, the Intifada must go on, intensify, become more sophisticated, and broaden its base. And we must take whatever we can from the current rulers who are incapable of fighting… we must act within the parameters of the current restrictions…"


[1] Al-Jazeera Television [Qatar], June 19, 2001.


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