Al-Nawawi and Hadith 8: Jihad and No Compulsion in Religion
I am only a student of Islam and by no means an expert. However, one of the striking things to me, a Protestant Christian from the Reformed tradition, is that the Quran appears to be insufficient despite its claim to be a book “explaining all things, a Guide, a Mercy, and Glad Tidings to Muslims” (Qur’an 16:89). The Quran lacks personal ethics; to be a good Muslim the Qur’an is not enough.
To be fair, Muslims will point to Quran 2:151, “We have sent among you a Messenger of your own, rehearsing to you Our Signs, and sanctifying you, and instructing you in Scripture and Wisdom, and in new knowledge” (cf. 16:89). This Quranic passage is interpreted to mean that Muslims are to look to the words and practices of Muhammad as a source of wisdom and guidance.
The words and practices of Muhammad are known as the ahadith.
Ali Gomaa’s Non-Western Explanation of Jihad Found in the Traditions of Muhammad
In order to study Islam should we go to the west or Muslim countries?
There was a recent article about where one should go to study Islam. If you live in Indonesia should you to to Mecca or Cairo or Boston? The conclusion was to make a differentiation between studying Islam religiously and studying Islam from a sociological perspective. Go west to study Islam without a religious orientation. Go to a Muslim country to study Islam religiously (see “Where Should We Go to Study Islam?“).
Studying Islam with Ali Gomaa
As a Christian, I am interested in learning about the religious side of Islam and in order to get a non-Western perspective on the ahadith I have been learning from Ali Gomaa. For years, I realized that Western media misrepresented Christianity. However, it took me a long time to realize that in order to understand Islam I needed to talk with Muslims from around the world. This is what I did in my book Is the Qur’an the Word of God.
Ali Gomaa is helpful for teaching the principles of Islam
One of my reform minded Muslim friends from Egypt isn’t a big fan of Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt. In his opinion, Ali Gomaa is too close to the repressive Mubarak Egyptian regime. However, he told me that Ali Gomaa is a good teacher and scholar when it comes to the principles of Islam. This is ironic because the Western media has tauted Ali Gomaa for being moderate, and yet my Egyptian friend does not share this opinion!
Here is the eighth hadith compiled by al-Nawawi, first in Arabic and then in English,
عن ابن عمر رضي الله عنهما ، ان رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلـم قـال : ( أمرت أن أقاتل الناس حتى يـشـهــدوا أن لا إلــه إلا الله وأن محمد رسول الله ، ويـقـيـمـوا الصلاة ، ويؤتوا الزكاة ؛ فإذا فعلوا ذلك عصموا مني دماءهم وأموالهم إلا بحق الإسلام ، وحسابهم على الله تعالى ) رواه البخاري [ رقم:25] ومسلم [ رقم : 22]
[Related by Bukhari (صحيح البخاري) and Muslim (صحيح مسلم)]
I have been ordered to fight against the people until they testify that there is none worthy of Worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and until they establish the Salaah and pay the Zakat. And if they do that then they will have gained protection from me for their lives and property, unless [they commit acts that are punishable] in Islam, and their Reckoning will be with Allah.
Listen to the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Ali Gomaa (على جمعة) teach about jihad and no compulsion in religion. My notes follow,
This hadith explains jihad (striving in the way of Allah). Ali Gomaa emphasizes that this hadith emphasizes self-defense and not compulsion in religion. He discusses the context of this hadith and how polytheists attacked Muslims:
- Battle of Badr
- Battle of Uhud
- Battle of the Trench
- The attack by the Jews of Khaibar and their coalition with the polytheists
According to Ali Gomaa, the above attacks were unprovoked and this is the background and context for this particular hadith.
It may appear that this hadith teaches compulsion in religion but Ali Gomaa says,
“This has nothing to do with compulsion in religion. Rather, it is linked to rebuffing attacks and preventing harm afflicted on poeple. Because Allah’s Messenger has been clearly informed in the Qur’an, that “To you is your religion, and to me is my religion! So whoever wills, let him believe, and whoever wills, let him disbelieve.”
Ali Gomaa explains that there is no compulsion in religion because this would be to make hypocrites – people who are forced to profess Islam with their lips, but in their hearts are not. Hypocrisy is a great sin; hypocrites will be in the lowest part of hell. It therefore makes no sense why Muslims would force their religion upon others.
“Allah (SWT) 1Abbreviation for the Arabic phrase, Subhanahu wa ta’ala. This expression is used after using the name Allah. The English translation means “highly praised and glorified is He.” did not give the Prophet authority over their hearts, their throats, or as to them being guided. It is also clear in the Qur’an that hypocrisy is prohibited. Since the guidance is in Allah’s hands and since hypocrisy is prohibited and knowing that “Surely the hypocrites will be in the bases bottom of the Fire.” The Prophet (SAWS) 2SAWS – an abbreviation for Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam meaning, “May the blessings and the peace of Allah be upon him (Muhammad)”. The Quran commands Muslims to use this, or like expression, when referring to Muhammad and promises to reward them ten times. would not create hypocrites by forcing them to embrace Islam whilst their hearts had not yet believed. Hence, “I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight agaisnt the people” for the sake of defense, and I am determined to convey the message of Allah’s religion to people…”
Gomaa then discusses the clause, “I have been ordered to fight”.
“He [Muhammad] did not say, “You have been ordered to fight” or “We have been ordered to fight.” “I have been ordered.” “I.” As if it was a temporary matter that was limited to the Prophet’s time. It was for self-defense; to drive aggression and tyranny away. Aggression caused by the Jews and their agreements with the polytheists. Caused by the polytheists themselves to the Messenger. It was to rescue the nation, and it was rescued and Islam spread. This spread was through nothing but making families.”
Christianity, the Hadiths, and Jihad
Those who say that Islam is not a religion of peace often point to this hadith. However, Ali Gomaa explains this hadith in terms of self-defense and opposing injustice. Here is a place where Christian and Muslim dialogue can breakdown and an important question arises, “Do we accept Ali Gomaa’s interpretation?” If not, who’s interpretation do we accept?
I am not an expert in Islam, I am only a student. However, I would like to explore further Ali Gomaa’s teaching that Islam expanded primarily through marriage and families. One of the books on my reading list is Peter Hammonds revision of, Slavery, Terrorism & Islam – Revised & Expanded Edition.
Jihad raises one of the most important issues: God’s justice. There is an eternal difference between the justice Muhammad accomplished through his self-defense compared with the justice Jesus accomplished by willingly laying down His life at the cross (Isaiah 53:6-8; 1 Peter 2:21-24).
Christians should therefore see this hadith has an opportunity to discuss the atoning work of the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:26-30).
Devoted Christians and Muslims are committed to dying for their beliefs, but hopefully they are not killing others to establish their beliefs. Martyrdom for one’s faith is the extreme limit we can go. My invitation to Muslims is that if you are willing to die for your beliefs, then you should be willing discuss them rationally. Are you so thoroughly convinced that Islam is true that you are willing to read the Bible to better interact with Christians? I invite you to use God’s gift of your mind and think more carefully about the question, Is the Qur’an the Word of God? Don’t be like the unbelievers described in Quran 6:5. Don’t be like those who close their minds to reason and to whom dialogue is no longer useful.
Next Post in This Series:
Previous Post in This Series:
- Six Reasons I’m Studying Hadith
- Introduction to Nawawi’s Forty Hadith
- Hadith 1 from Nawawi’s Forty Hadith: Actions and Intentions
- Hadith 2 from Nawawi’s Forty Hadith: Gabriel questions Muhammad about the Principles of Islam
- Hadith 3 from Nawawi’s Forty Hadith: The Five Pillars of Islam
- Hadith 4 from Nawawi’s Forty Hadith: Abortion and When Does Life Begin?
- Hadith 5 from Nawawi’s Forty Hadith: Innovation and Islam
- Hadith 6 from Nawawi’s Forty Hadith: Halal, Haram, and the Heart (Things Permitted and Prohibited)
References [ + ]
|1.||↥||Abbreviation for the Arabic phrase, Subhanahu wa ta’ala. This expression is used after using the name Allah. The English translation means “highly praised and glorified is He.”|
|2.||↥||SAWS – an abbreviation for Sallallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam meaning, “May the blessings and the peace of Allah be upon him (Muhammad)”. The Quran commands Muslims to use this, or like expression, when referring to Muhammad and promises to reward them ten times.|