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Al-Qaradawi's Fiqh of Jihad (Part One)

A Book Review

By  Dr. Rajab Abu Maleeh

Consultant to Living Shari`ah Section  

Title: Fiqh of Jihad

Author: Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradawi

Publisher: Wahba Bookshop Year: 2009 Number of pages: 1439


Why Al-Qaradawi? And Why Jihad?

Between Fiqh of Zakah and Fiqh of Jihad

Importance of Jihad in the Fiqh of Al-Qaradawi

Sheikh Al-Qaradawi's Moderateness and the Fiqh of Jihad

Whom Does This Book Address?

Al-Qaradawi's Approach in Introducing the Fiqh of Jihad

The book entitled Fiqh of Jihad written by the mujahid and scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi has been published in more than 1,400 pages of average size by Wahbah Bookshop, Cairo. Many readers have been anxiously awaiting the publication of this book for a long time. However, the sheikh deliberated and postponed it until it was fully developed, and then, after being satisfied with its contents, he released it as a guiding light that dispels the clouds of darkness looming over this bewildered Ummah.

Why Al-Qaradawi? And Why Jihad?

In recent times, many scholars called for enlarging the scope of ijtihadregarding issues related to jihad, since topics covering acts of worship or transactions, especially financial transactions, have received their due share of individual and collective ijtihad. However, jihad has not received an equal share (of effort) in spite of its significance and of people's need for it in all ages, especially the present age in which many nations invite one another to collaborate against this Ummah just as people seated around a platter of food invite one another to eat.

On the other hand, others were afraid to open the door for research and writing on the topic of jihad in the present age lest ijtihad might appear to be justificatory and weak, resembling the status of our Ummah. They feared that ijtihad might breed submissiveness and justification of our bitter reality, inviting the Muslims to be advocates of peace in an age that only recognizes the language of aggression.

In his prime, this man was neither frightened nor tempted by either the sword or the wealth of the ruler, despite the fact that the comforts of life were within his grasp.  

They also feared that ijtihad might become draconian as a reaction to blood shed at the hands of our enemies, the violation of sanctities, and the usurpation of our sacred sites. Hence, it would be retaliatory ijtihad that respects neither ties of kinship nor that of covenants and that honors neither obligations nor sanctities, having as its motto the saying of Ibn Zuhayr,"He who does not harm people is harmed."

However, Almighty Allah opened the heart of the erudite sheikh and facilitated the means for him to undertake this great burden and carry out this task so that it would be neither justificatory nor retaliatory ijtihad. Thus, the book came to light when the sheikh passed his eightieth year (born 1926). In his prime, this man was neither frightened nor tempted by either the sword or the wealth of the ruler, despite the fact that the comforts of life were within his grasp.

He was even in need of being furnished with some of these comforts so that he could utilize them to fulfill the projects for which he had worked and aspired. With all the more reason, he did not pay heed to any blame along his way concerning his Lord after a long life of perseverance and jihad. Though he suffered much annoyance and harm both inside and outside his country, he persisted and persevered, seeking the reward of Almighty Allah, until he obtained a high rank that turned the hearts and minds of people towards him.

Moreover, no one can cast doubts on the efforts and jihad carried out by the sheikh for the sake of maintaining the religion, in his keenness on adhering to it, and in his defense of its boundaries throughout his long life. He never fluctuated in quest of mundane pleasures, never flattered anybody at the expense of his salvation in the afterlife, and never paid heed to any blame he received along his way to his Lord.

Moreover, no one can accuse him of either bigotry or extremism since he is the leader and theorist of moderateness in the modern age as well as the preacher and advocate of the middle path in his thought and fiqh.

In addition, we find his juristic talent, knowledge about reality, firm attachment to juristic heritage, and competence to deal properly with the texts of the Qur'an and the Sunnah. So, in the light of the aforementioned, we hope that many people would agree with his ijtihad and thought.


Between Fiqh of Zakah and Fiqh of Jihad

The erudite sheikh wrote his book Fiqh of Zakah, from which he obtained a Ph.D. degree, in 1973. Thirty-six years later, he published his book Fiqh of Jihad, and in the introduction of this book he stated,

I found it incumbent to undertake writing on this topic after Allah has opened my breast to it. How many times, since I finished my book, Fiqh of Zakah, has the idea to write a similar book on Fiqh of Jihad crossed my mind. And, how many times have honorable fellows asked me to write on this issue about which people are divided. Yet, I would apologize to them, giving the excuse that I lacked the spirit to undertake such a task.

However, I wrote sporadic pieces about it in the past, waiting for the right time to write about it in a regular, uninterrupted manner. This is because it is one of the basic topics that must be addressed through systematic writing due to the need of the Muslims, in particular, and the world, in general, to have proper knowledge about it, far removed from the immoderation of extremists and the undutifulness of the negligent.

Though Fiqh of Zakah basically addresses Zakah as one of the obligations imposed by Islam upon the Muslims and one of its fundamental pillars, it is also considered a type of jihad; it is jihad with money. This type of jihad is highly regarded and indispensible, both in this age and at any other time.

Importance of Jihad in the Fiqh of Al-Qaradawi

From the very first line of the introduction, Sheikh Al-Qaradawi illustrates the importance of this relinquished obligation and the resultant danger to the present and the future of the Ummah. He says,

Without jihad, the Ummah’s boundaries will be violated, the blood of its people will be as cheap as dust, its sanctuaries will be less worthy than a handful of desert sand, and it will be insignificant in the eyes of its enemies. As a consequence, the coward will take heart to attack it, the servile will look down upon it with arrogance, and the enemies will conquer its land and dominate and control its people. This is because Almighty Allah has taken away fear from the hearts of the enemies toward the Ummah.

Far into the past, this Ummah would be granted victory over its enemy on account of the awe instilled by Almighty Allah into the enemies’ hearts for a distance of one month's journey. More serious than that – or let's say, one of the reasons behind that - is the fact that the Ummah has neglected jihad, or perhaps even dropped it from its agenda. It has dropped it in all its aspects: physical, spiritual, intellectual and cultural.

They believe that whenever the Muslims have the capability, they are obligated to fight the disbelievers merely on account of their disbelief... 

Sheikh Al-Qaradawi's Moderateness and the Fiqh of Jihad

Sheikh Al-Qaradawi speaks about people's stance on jihad, dividing them into three categories. About the first category, he says,

It is a category that seeks to cast a veil of oblivion on jihad and drop it from the life of the Ummah. They, instead, assume as their major concern and role raising the Ummah – as they claim –spiritual values and behavioral virtues, considering this to be the major jihad: ongoing struggle against Satan and one’s vain desires.

Regarding the second category, he says,

As opposed to this category, there is another one that perceives jihad as a "fight against the whole world". They do not differentiate between those who fight against the Muslims, stand in the way of their da`wah or tempt them away from their religion, and those who extend the bridges of peace to the Muslims and offer reconciliation and rapprochement with them, raising no sword to them and supporting no enemy in its fight against them.


According to this category, all disbelievers are alike. They believe that whenever the Muslims have the capability, they are obligated to fight the disbelievers merely on account of their disbelief, which they regard as sufficient reason for fighting them.

He then opts for the moderate approach that is represented by the third category, saying,

The third category is the "moderate Ummah" which Almighty Allah has guided to the approach of moderation and granted knowledge, wisdom, and deep understanding of the Shari`ah and reality. Hence, it has not slipped into the negligence of the first category that seeks to keep the right of the Ummah unarmed with power, its Qur'an unguarded by the sword, and its home and sanctuaries with no guards to protect and defend them.

Likewise, it has not fallen into the excess and extremism of the second group that seeks to fight those who are peaceful and declare war against all people without discrimination; white and black, in the East or in the West. Their alleged aim by doing so is to shepherd people to (the way of) Almighty Allah, drive them shackled toward Paradise and take them coercively by the hand to the Straight Path.

They further add that their aim is to remove the obstacles set in front of those people by despotic regimes that do not allow them to convey the Word of Allah and the Call of His Messenger to the people, so that they can hear it loud and clear and free from all stains.

Whom Does This Book Address?

Imam Al-Qaradawi lists the categories of people who are in need of this book in order to obtain an accurate understanding of the issue of jihad in a way that is free of both negligence and excess. It is as if he has assimilated the categories of the entire society, Muslims and non-Muslims, rulers and the ruled, civilians and military men, and thinkers and intellectuals. He mentions ten categories that I consider cover the categories of the whole society.

1. Shari`ah scholars: The first category that needs such a study are the scholars of Shari`ah and the imams of fiqh, as most of them entertain fixed concepts and inherited culture about jihad. They, for example, hold that jihad is a collective duty on the Ummah and that this duty requires that we invade non-Muslim countries at least once a year, even if they show no act of hostility toward us, yet, instead, they extend the hand of peace and reconciliation. Although this opinion contradicts many clear Qur'anic verses, the effect of such verses – as we have indicated above - is nullified in their view on the grounds that they were abrogated!

2. Scholars of Jurisprudence: Likewise, this study is needed by legists and specialists in international law, many of whom have formed their own views about Islam and the Shari`ah, especially as regards jihad, war and peace. They derived their views from particular famous quotations from books as well as from information circulated by writers and that which is passed from mouth to mouth. Such people are to some extent not to blame, since the scholars of Shari`ah themselves are confused in this regard.  What then would be the case with ordinary people?

3. Islamists: More than any other, this study is needed by Islamists. By "Islamists" I mean the different Islamist groups that work in support of Islamic causes, and which are called by some as "the groups of political Islam." These groups usually include the youth of the Islamic awakening under their banner in various countries, both inside and outside the Muslim world. Hence, such groups, with their different inclinations and attitudes, whether moderate or extremist, are in dire need of such a study; especially those who are known as "violent groups."

4. Historians: Historians are also in need of this study, especially those who are interested in the Prophet’s biography and Islamic history, and those who incorrectly and unjustly interpret the battles of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) incorrectly and unfairly, considering that it was the Messenger who started attacking and fighting the polytheists. They gave as examples the Battle of Badr, the Conquest of Makkah, and the Battle of Hunayn. They also mentioned that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) initiated the invasion against the Jews in their sites and fortresses, citing the Battles of Banu Qaynuqa` and Banu An-Nadir, as well as the Battle of Tabuk in which he commenced the fight against the Romans.

5. Intellectuals: The study is also necessary for men of thought, research and meditation, especially those who are interested in Islamic thought and Islamist movements, both moderate and extremist, that arose from it, as well as the acts of violence — or terrorism as they are described — that some of these groups engage in. This, as a result, drove some people to hurl the accusation of violence and terrorism exclusively at Islam, as if all acts of violence and all forms of terrorism are Islamic. Indeed, this is incorrect and untrue.

6. Orientalists: Non-Muslims, such as Orientalists and those interested in Islamic studies, also need this kind of study. This applies to those whose interest is primarily aimed at seeking knowledge and discovering the truth, or those with a politically motivated interest that is intended to serve certain purposes of a particular country, or the West in general. This is also true for those who have religious motives to serve the church and the idea of "Christianization."

7. People Engaged in Dialogue: This study is essential for those interested in inter-faith dialogue or inter-cultural and inter-civilizational dialogue. From my viewpoint, this study represents a significant brick in the structure of such dialogue, which is strong at times and weak at others; progressing and stumbling from time to time. The reason for this lies in the narrow-mindedness of some toward the others, the bigotry that dominates the minds and the preference given to inherited thought over unconstrained thought. Undoubtedly, people cannot hold dialogue if they lack knowledge about each other.

8. Politicians: Moreover, politicians and decision-makers around the world also need this study. They make fateful decisions that have a crucial impact on the destinies of nations, human lives, potentials of peoples, and sanctities of religions. Their attack on religion is based on their mental conceptions about that religion. They, in reality, do not know it, have not read its scriptures or become acquainted with the biography of its Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him); they have not studied this religion’s history or even acquired any significant information about its creed and Shari`ah.

9. The Military: As politicians need this study to form a correct and well-judged opinion about jihad, so does the military, whether Muslim or non-Muslim. Those who misunderstand the reality of jihad among Western military leaders, such as American politicians, most of the generals in Europe; rather — unfortunately — the whole world, should read this book. On our part, we should translate it for them so that they can read and understand it in their own language. Undoubtedly, most of them, when sound logic is presented clearly to them, submit to it, and do not debate. Even if they debate in public, they would be defeated internally, and this is a considerable gain.

10. The Intellectual Public: Finally, this study is also required for the common readership and ordinary, unclassified intellectuals, Muslim and non-Muslim. Such people represent the large masses of people in any nation. They need to know the reality of Islam’s world view and the reality of jihad in the Way of Allah.

Among the aspects of this approach to fiqh, understanding and ijtihad, is that we should renew the religion from within and perform ijtihad that is compatible with our life and age. 

 Al-Qaradawi's Approach in Introducing the Fiqh of Jihad

His Eminence, scholar, Al-Qaradawi, speaking about his approach in his — hopefully — pleasurable and beneficial book, says that it rests on six pillars: namely, the Glorious Qur'an, the purified Sunnah, and the treasures of Islamic fiqh. Moreover, he says that his approach is also built on making comparisons between divine legislation and positive systems, taking into consideration the contemporary reality in which people are living. Thus, he has adopted the moderate approach as he always has in his books, researches and fatwas. In this regard, the sheikh says,

The approach which I have adopted in writing this book depends on a group of elements:

First, relying primarily on the texts of the Glorious Qur'an, since it is the first and foremost source of Islam, which is indubitable and indisputable. It has been conclusively proven to be authentic through a reliable, uninterrupted chain of transmission, memorized in the hearts, recited by the tongues, and inscribed in the mushafs (copies of the Qur’an). There is no disagreement whatsoever regarding this among scholars.

From the Qur'an, we derive the authenticity of all the other sources, including the prophetic Sunnah itself. Thus, the authenticity of the Sunnah is established through the verses of the Qur’an. Furthermore, we understand the Qur'an in the light of its modes of expression, with its literal and metaphorical language, considering order and context, avoiding affectation and arbitrariness, and conciliating texts, being sure that the verses of this noble book attest to the truthfulness of each other, and interpret each other.

Second, drawing on sound Sunnah narrations proven to be authentically reported from the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him). This includes his sayings, deeds and approvals that were transmitted in hadiths with a sound chain of narration, with no missing links, bizarreness or undermining factors.

Moreover, such hadiths should not contradict that which is stronger and more authentic: verses from the Qur’an, other hadiths, or that which is established by knowledge and reason. Thus, they should be illustrative of, not at odds with, what has been revealed in the Qur'an, and should proceed in line with the Book and the Balance (of justice) sent down by the Almighty.

Third, benefiting from the treasures of Islamic fiqh and drawing on its abundant resources, with no bias in favor of the fiqh a certain madhhab against another, or exclusively clinging to one imam while neglecting another. Rather, we should consider this a great legacy to be possessed by every researcher, so that they can delve into its depths, fathom its secrets, and utilize its hidden stores.

While doing so, a researcher should compare different views and proofs, without adopting a fanatical position in support of a certain opinion, or permanently imitating a particular madhhab. Yet, we can adopt Abu Hanifah's opinion in one case, Malik's in another, and Ash-Shafi`i's, Ahmad's and Dawud's in other cases, and so on. We may even, in some particulars, refer to non-Sunni madhhabs, such the Zaydi, Ja`fari or Ibadi madhhabs, if they provide the required solution. Moreover, we may adopt the approach of some obsolete madhhabs, such as that of Al-Awza`i, Ath-Thawri or At-Tabari.

Fourth, it is not sufficient for us merely to compare the madhhabs and opinions within Islamic fiqh and its schools. Rather, we may also compare the fiqh of Islamic Shari`ah as a whole with Western positive laws. The aim of such comparison is to illustrate the extent of the originality of the Shari`ah, the firmness of its principles, its independence from other laws, and its conciliation between idealism and realism, and between the divine and the human.

Fifth, linking fiqh to the contemporary reality lived by the Ummah and by the world. This is because fiqh is made to solve the problems of the Muslim individual, the Muslim family, the Muslim community, the Muslim state and the Muslim Ummah through the tolerant rulings of the Shari`ah.

Thus, it searches for cures or treatment of the diseases of the Muslims within — not outside — the treasures of this honorable Shari`ah. It also answers any question that is raised by the individual or the community as regards religion and life. Fiqh also leads the civilizational march of the Ummah in the light of the rulings of the honorable Shari`ah.

Sixth, as is the case with all our books and researches, in this book we have adopted the approach that Almighty Allah has guided us to choose and prefer in da`wah, education, iftaa', research, reform and renovation, namely the approach of moderateness and mildness.

Among the aspects of this approach to fiqh, understanding and ijtihad, is that we should renew the religion from within and perform ijtihad that is compatible with our life and age just as our preceding imams performed ijtihad that was compatible with their life and age. We should use the sources of knowledge from which they derived their views, understand the partial texts within the framework of the overall objectives, and trace ambiguous issues back to those that are clear, the conjectural to the conclusive, and the particular to the general.

Moreover, we should be strict when it comes to the basics and make things easy when it comes to secondary issues, reconcile between the fixities of the Shari`ah and the variables of the age, and link the authentic texts with manifest reasonableness.

It also behooves us to avoid partiality toward an old opinion or exaltation of a new thought; to adhere to the principle that the objectives are unchanging, yet the methods can be flexible; and to benefit from whatever is beneficial from the old views just as we welcome any useful new thought.

In addition, we should seek inspiration from the past, live the present, and look to the future, probe for wisdom in any vessel from which it comes forth, and measure the achievements of others against the values we have, and thus, accept what suits us and dismiss what does not benefit us, and so on.

His Eminence, the great scholar, Sheikh Al-Qaradawi has divided the book Fiqh of Jihad into an introduction, nine sections and a conclusion. So, in sha ’Allah, we will have additional reviews of others issues that are raised by the Imam in each of the sections of his study. We ask Almighty Allah for guidance and help.


Dr. Rajab Abu Maleeh was born in Bani Suef, Egypt, in 1966. He got MA in Fiqh and its Principles from the Faculty of Dar Al-`Ulum, Cairo University, and he obtained PH.D. in Shari`ah from the Faculty of Dar Al-`Ulum. He wrote some books and research on fiqh. He is a Shari`ah consultant at website. He can be reached at



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