The believers are only the ones who have believed in Allah and His Messenger and then doubt not but strive with their properties and their lives in the cause of Allah . It is those who are the truthful.
إِنَّمَا الْمُؤْمِنُونَ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَرْتَابُوا وَجَاهَدُوا بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنفُسِهِمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الصَّادِقُونَ
Don’t be afraid: Allah’s not telling us to go off to war, much less to participate in any of the so-called jihads being perpetrated by various political groups around the world. And insofar as there is no Muslim Caliphate there’s no opportunity for western Muslims to physically fight fisabilillah (for the sake of Allah). Instead, we have to strive and struggle in the path of Allah and in whatever ways He presents to us. This struggle is the third best action that we can perform.
I tried to write this post for 5 days, and just kept getting in the weeds created by 1) the Mujahideen in the 1980s who fought the Soviets (with U.S. backing, and with cheers from the U.S. media) and whose children and followers became Al Qaeda and 2) the U.S. government and media industrial complex that needs an enemy to keep the gears of war grinding away.
Apropos of that, here’s a brief comment from Sheikh Dr. Yasir Qadhi on the jihadi movement.
And if you’re interested in the classical and historical understanding of Jihad from a Sufi perspective, this article by Shaykh Hisham Kabbani is thorough.
And that’s enough of that. On to more practical matters.
As Allah azza wa jall says in the Quran
O you who have believed, shall I guide you to a transaction that will save you from a painful punishment?
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا هَلْ أَدُلُّكُمْ عَلَىٰ تِجَارَةٍ تُنجِيكُم مِّنْ عَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ
[It is that] you believe in Allah and His Messenger and strive (Jahidoon) in the cause of Allah with your wealth and your lives. That is best for you, if you should know.
تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَتُجَاهِدُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ بِأَمْوَالِكُمْ وَأَنفُسِكُمْ ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ
He will forgive for you your sins and admit you to gardens beneath which rivers flow and pleasant dwellings in gardens of perpetual residence. That is the great attainment.
يَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَيُدْخِلْكُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الْأَنْهَارُ وَمَسَاكِنَ طَيِّبَةً فِي جَنَّاتِ عَدْنٍ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ الْفَوْزُ الْعَظِيمُ
What can we, as American Muslims and Muslim Americans do to perform this 3rd best action, to earn Allah’s forgiveness and be granted Jannah (Heaven) in the hereafter, given that there’s no war going on that we could reasonably justify taking part in for the sake of Allah, and seeking only His pleasure? There’s loads of things…
Ibn Qayyim gave 14 categories of Jihad, subdivided into 4 sections: Jihad of the Self, Jihad against the Devil, Jihad against the unbelievers, and Jihad against the hypocrites. Pardon the lengthy block quote:
Jihad Against the Hypocrites
- By heart
- By tongue
- By wealth
- By person
Jihad Against the Unbelievers
- By heart
- By tongue
- By wealth
- By person
Jihad Against the Devil
- Fighting him defensively against everything of false desires and slanderous doubts in faith that he throws towards the servant.
- Fighting him defensively from everything he throws towards the servant of corrupt passion and desire.
Jihad of the Self
- That he strives to learn guidance and the religion of truth which is there is no felicity or happiness in life or in the hereafter except by it. And when he neglects it, his knowledge is wretched in both words.
- That he strives to act upon it after he has learned it. For the abstract quality of knowledge without action, even if he commits no wrong, is without benefit.
- That he strives to call to Allah and to teach it to someone who does not know it. Otherwise he will be among those who conceal what Allah had revealed of guidance and clarity. His knowledge doesn’t benefit him or saves him from Allah’s penalty.
- That he strives with patience in seeking to call to Allah. When the creation harms him he bears it all for the sake of Allah.
In practical terms, we can do quite a bit of all of this right here in our workplaces, communities, and homes.
On the authority of Abu Sa`eed al-Khudree, radiallahu anhu:
I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say, “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.”
Ibn Qayyim just added wealth in there, and sensibly, I think.
So first, against the hypocrites, the Tabliqi Jammat has that on lock, I think, but the rest of us can simply hate hypocrisy with all of our hearts. With our tongues we can talk to them and remind them of Allah azza wa jall and His books and miracles; we can encourage them to believe. And we can go out in the world and show them what it means to be Muslim, what Allah allows us to achieve and what good we can do in this world to earn His pleasure in the next.
With the nonbelievers and those who are currently worshiping other than Allah, we can hate their idolatry and their blindness, but there’s even more we can do. We can contribute money to Dawah organizations. We can talk to our non Muslim neighbors, friends, and coworkers about Allah, and His messengers, and His books and share with them whatever knowledge we have. We can join with the Dawah organizations and go out in the world, meet people, take them groceries, shake hands, help our neighbors and communities. We can strive to be the best Muslims we can be, in whatever way Allah azza wa jall allows us to be.
Against the devils, we must work harder. I wrote about that a good bit in previous days. Pray. Fast. Don’t be a jerk. Seek protection (A’udhu billahi minash shaitanir rajim).
How can we struggle against the hypocrites and nonbelievers here in the U.S.? By giving dawah, proclaiming the Oneness and Majesty of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala far and wide. By speaking truth in the face of manipulated lies. By standing up for our brothers and sisters in faith and for all oppressed peoples worldwide. We can join the BDS movement to try and nudge Israel to stop killing the Palestinian people, destroying their livelihoods and stealing their land.
Through dawah, we can fulfill all 4 categories of Jihad against (or for) the hypocrites and nonbelievers, and we can do so without killing, maiming, raping, pillaging, or any of the other stuff that various groups are hell-bent on around the world, and we can do it all fisabillilah, for the sake of Allah alone, without any partners.
As for the rest, the struggle agains the devil and against ourselves… I’ve been writing about that all of Ramadan: pray, fast, and don’t be a jerk; look deep inside and try to find the areas where we’re blind to Allah, things where we’re ignoring His instructions or forgetting Him (Audhu Billah!); reach out and act in our communities in the best way.
And as far as the Jihad within the self… I need to leave that for another day. Tomorrow, InshaAllah. I’m already overtime on this one. Astaghfirullah.
May He guide us to fear only Him and to strive hard to learn His book and follow its teachings and the teachings of the Prophet, peace be upon him. And may He give us strength in struggling against our desiring selves and the whisperings of the Devil. And, should we have the opportunity, may He give us the strength, courage, and will to fight the oppressors and those who seek to bar us from Allah’s beautiful religion, Ameen.
And anything I’ve said above that’s true or good is only from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, and anything that’s wrong or bad is from me and the accursed satan.