As well as helping to establish the principle
that truces are temporary in
nature, this same hadith, referring specifically to idolaters
or polytheists also clarified, for most of the jurists. the
principle that aside from the Arabian ' pagans who possessed
no sacred scripture, the status of a protected community could
be offered to other religious communities, besides the Jews
and Christians, assuming they too had sacred scripture which
the Arabians lacked."21"
But the jurists also tended to put this same hadith aside in
favour of a
contradictory practice by the Prophet, whenever the hadith was
cited as an argument that there must always be an offer of terms
- a summons to Islam or jizyah - before an attack. The jurists
decided by the Prophet's example in combat (derived from still
another hadith) that when terms have been clearly offered, the
Muslims can subsequently attack in ambush, or by night, without
having to offer terms in each specific engagement. The juridical
principle here is that the Prophet's actions at a later period
carry more weight than his words in an earlier period."22"
This is but one of the general principles of Islamic jurisprudence.
worthy of mention here as an example of the painstaking application
of Ili technical objective considerations such as chronology
by the 'ulama to determine intent, be it Divine or prophetic.
in their single-minded dedication to devise an ethical code
of scar for the N-Iuslim Army and its Commander along rigorous,
unapologetic lines that did not hesitate to acknowledge and
address problems of controversy and apparent contradictory texts.
That single-minded dedication or striving constitutes the overall
jihad undertaken by the 'ulama to Islamize society and state
in which the juridicalpolitical doctrine of jihad was a signifiicant
but not exclusive element. Significant not only because the
ability to lead or direct jihad was, as noted earlier, one of
the fundamental principles in the Islamic political theory of
the Imamate or Caliphate, and perhaps one of the few to endure
the transformations of this doctrine to that of Sultanate."23"
And significant because it dealt directly with the exercise
of armed coercive power which is at the very heart of any state,
and in particular, the Islamic state, as underrstood by traditional
Islamic consciousness. "24"
The jurists acknowledged that armed coercive power is not only
exercised beyond the border of dar-al-Islam, but as mentioned
earlier, also within the borders - the internal jihad
And the same hadith
literature that the jurists drew
upon in determining these two clear dimensions of sacralized
combat also touches upon the problem of the inevitable misuse
by Muslims of this armed coercive power, injustice and tyranny.
The manner in which the 'ulama
were dealing with the
state in general and jihad
in particular, and still more
particularly, with the internal jihad
and the potential
role within it for the struggle against tyranny and injustic
within Muslim society, was influenced by the violent response
to the same problem - how to Islamize state and society - of
the first revolutionary ed sect in Islam.
Khawaridj Model and Orthodox Response
The momentum of the wars of conquest in the first
century of Islam propelled the earliest jurists to particularize
the legal formulation of jihad
as a code of military
conduct and conditions of sacred warfare exercised by the state
to the neglect of jihad
in its capacity as al-amr
, and applied by individual and collective
consciousness to the government of the community.
It was precisely this capacity that was to be stressed at this
moment in Islamic history by the khawaridj
, the first
"sect" to arise in Islam. Originating in the last few years
of 'Ali's caliphate, the khawaridj insisted on the primacy of
works over faith in defining who is a believer and on of puritanical
egalitarianism in their understanding of the qualifications
for leadership of the Muslims.
Gibb and others tend to dismiss the khawaridj
as a "tribalistic interpretation of Islam," and the
similar terrain - geographic as well as social - in which such
doctrinally at odds revolutionary sects as the khawaridj
the Arabian Shia'. and the Nejdi ikhwan
rose and fell
suggests there is much to the argument of a Bedouin atavism
ready to revive behind any banner that allows rebellion against
central authority and the plundering of one's religious brethren.
But the khawaridj
also drew on a religious impulse of
sufficient piety to be initially incorporated within the ranks
of 'Ali's forces in the earliest phase of the civil war that
would mark the end of the Rashidun caliphate; and significant
numbers of ethically concerned `ulama, disturbed by
pragmatic tendencies of the Umayyads, moved in at least similar
currents of thought, as the khawaridj
, if not in open
alliance, until tribal anarchy and khawaridj atrocities drove
almost all of them, however begrudgingly, into the Umayyad camp.
And in contrast to the shia', who emerge later in similar circumstances
but whose unique political-spiritual doctrines of state and
have little direct relevance to sunni political
thought, the khawaridj
understanding of jihad as a revolutionary
model for Islamizing the state and society has continued to
haunt sunni Islam to the present day-.
were more in the nature of an explosive
chain of sub-sects than a unified movement, periodically threatening
large areas of Arabia and Iraq from the time of Imam 'Ali's
rule ('All was assassinated by the khawaridj), for the duration
of Umayyad rule and on into the Abbasid caliphate.
In contrast to Sunni
juridical thought, which insisted
on Quraishi birth as a qualification for the caliphate, the
taught that any Believer who is morally and
religiously irreproachable could be elected by the
community as imam or amir al-mu'minin; but more significantly
as it concerns jihad
, they also believed in the right
and duty of the community to depose the imam if he diverged
from right conduct."27"
responded to the worldly misuse of Islamic
rule by raising jihad
, in an exclusively outward,occasional,and
violent sense as both banner for rebellion against wrong-doing
imams (whether sunni or within their own community) and as a
"sixth pillar" of absolute obligatory religious practice.
Performing jihad was at least equivalent to that of pilgrimage
, and profession
(the sunni Five Pillars) if not more so in kharidji
doctrine, as an obligatory practice required for salvation.
At all times, and exclusively in its most outward form, jihad
dimensions of jihad
were rejected. In the words of a
It is not the tongue, but the action of your hands that appease
Courage in war is a paramount condition in the election of the
imam, in contrast to its relegation as the sixth
of seven conditions of capacity in typical Sunni theory."30"
Some of the khawaridj
sects based the right of a Believer
to the position of imam
upon the extent of his past participation
, and a form of existential Imamate existed to
allow any kharidji
to initiate jihad
combat. The obligation to wage continuous jihad
fundamental to the typical kharidji
at times tolerated the existence of more
than one imam
, electing two - one to lead in war and
the other to lead in prayer, whereas jihad
but the fifth and sixth of ten duties assumed by one imam
to safeguard the rights of the community in typical sunni
chronicles testify to kharidji
and willingness to sacrifice, to their loyalty to the austere
egalitarian life-style of the Muslim community in the time of
the Prophet, to their intensely principled social political
style, and particularly to the high moral standards they set
for their own leadership. But rebellion against wrong-doing
imams and therefore the to necessity to fight whomsoever fights
on their behalf was given such positive content in kharidji
doctrine that jihad
as armed struggle to preserve the
community from the corruption of misrule became a jihad
against the very body of the Muslim community. "32"
Muslims who failed to recognize the imam
of the khawaridj
or to accept kharidji
doctrine by invitation were generally
classified as apostates and for this frequently put to the sword,
women and children as well as men, non-combatants as well as
The khawaridj way of takfir (to classify a Believer as an Unbeliever)
was inevitable since shari'a forbids a Muslim from killing another
except in three instances - the married person who commits adultery;
revenge for murder, and apostasy."33"
Since the ethical standards of the shari'a were the very criteria
for their armed rebellions, the khawaridj could only resolve
what must have been an unbearable moral tension by declaring
any Muslim they felt compelled to fight or wanted to kill, as
apostate. The doctrine of takfir is central to the way of the
khawaridj, and from the perspective of orthodox sunni Islam,
the basis (when made operative in practice) of khawaridj heresy.
The most extemist of the khawaridj argued that whoever apostacizes
- either by mortal sin or refusal to repudiate the sunni caliphate
and acknowledge the khawaridj imam - can never repent and must
be killed without exception along with their wives and children."34"
This ferocious displacement of jihad
as armed struggle
into the domain of jihad
as amr bi'l-m'ruf within the
Muslim community is underscored by what appears to be a khawaridj
indifference to jihad
against Unbelievers. In doctrine
preached an extraordinary tolerance; some
of their schools recognized Jews and Christians as full equals
to Muslims if they were prepared to pronounce a modified shahada
"Muhammad is the Apostle of God to the Arabs but not to us"
- lends strength to the interpretation of khawaridj
as a convenient banner for Arabian tribalism. Modern of scholarship
does not call attention to any role played by khawaridj
doctrine of isti'rad
(religious murder), applied against
Muslims from the earliest uprisings, appears
never to have been practiced against the Unbeliever.
There is a grim irony to the way in which khawandj
of ethical intent in attempting to Islamize the emerging Muslim
state and society produced a
doctrine capable of justifying atrocities clearly condemned
by hadith and the otherwise far less ethically coloured political
theory of the Sunni jurists."35"
threat to the unity of the community heightened
Sunni juridical consciousness of the limits to jihad
as an instrument for the purification of Muslim rule - limits
described in the hadith calling upon the believer to fight whoever
separates from the community or whoever rebels against the imam."36"
This internal jihad
- armed struggle by the state against
), is divided into three separate categories
by al-Mawardi in his juridico-political theory of the caliphate:
against apostasy (al- ridda
), and the jihad
or rebellion (al-muharibun
). Each of these categories
were the subject of extensive juridical debate
in determining the proper nature of their conduct and termination.
Not that the hadith
avoid the issue of moral judgement
of the imam
or condemn its exercise; on the contrary,
the Traditions reflect a profound pessimism about the quality
of leadership that awaits the Muslim community after the passing
of the Prophet and his companions. Condemnation by God and His
Prophet of unjust, tyrannical and corrupt rule runs like a thread
through the canonic literature and great punishment awaits on
the Day of judgement the leader who misuses his command."38"
The Muslim, however, must differentiate between his individual
moral responsibility not to obey any order to directly disobey
God even at personal risk, and his duty to otherwise obey a
potentially if not inevitably corrupt leader exercising the
responsibilities of an office that in itself is (relatively
speaking) morally indifferent, a necessary (if not necessarily
virtuous or just) instrument for the protection of the community
and the preservation of its unity under shari'a.
The necessary tension to this position is present in two canonic
hadith which recapitulate the themes of dozens more:
He who obeys me has obeyed God and he who disobeys me has
disobeyed God; he who obeys the commander has obeyed me and
he who disobeys the commander has disobeyed me. The imam is
only a shield behind whom fighting is engaged in and by whom
protection is sought; so if he commands piety and acts justly
he will have a reward for that, but if he holds another view
he will be held guilty.
Your best imams are those whom you like and who like you, on
whom you evoke blessings and who invoke blessings on you; and
your worst imams are those whom you hate and who hate you, whom
you curse and who curse you. They asked God's messenger whether
in that event they should not depose them, but he replied, `No,
as long as they observe the prayer among you. If anyone has
a governor whom he sees doing anything which is an act of disobedience
to God, he must disapprove of the disobedience to God which
he commits, but must never withdraw from obedience and quote'.