A Medieval Theorist of Jihad

  • Ibn Taymiyyah


From the onset of the religion, Muslims regarded jihad as a just war on behalf of God; warfare in the pursuit of personal power or national aggrandizement did not constitute jihad. Both the Qur’an and the hadith, the sayings attributed to Muhammad, explicitly prescribe jihad as an obligation for both the individual and the collective community. Muhammad glorified jihad and criticized those who did not participate in it, calling them “hypocrites” and “sick at heart,” The Qur’an states: “Those who are killed in the path of God, He does not let their good deeds go for nothing.” The following passages lauding jihad are from the hadith:

He who draws his sword in the path of God has sworn allegiance to God. He who fights so that the word of God may prevail is on the path of God. He who when he dies has never campaigned or even intended to campaign dies in a kind of hypocrisy. In Islam there are three dwellings, the lower, the upper, and the uppermost. … The uppermost is the jihad in the cause of God which only the best of them attain.1


  1. 1.
    Bernard Lewis, ed. and trans., Islam from the Prophet Muhammad to the Capture of Constantinople (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), vol. 1, pp. 210–211.Google Scholar

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© Marvin Perry and Howard E. Negrin 2008

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  • Ibn Taymiyyah

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