Is Islam a Conquest Ideology? On Jihad, War, & Peace
jihad al-nafs has such a rank and distinction, Imam Ibn Taymiyyah stated: “Jihad against the ego and desires is the basis for jihad against the disbelievers and hypocrites. Indeed, one cannot do jihad against them unless he first wages jihad against his ego and desires; then he goes out and fights them.” Tragically, this simple truism seems to have been lost on many of those who have spent the better part of their years waging war against the preeminence of jihad al-nafs!
 That is to say, pursue the path of peace and reconciliation; if such a path be denied by hostile intentions, then be prepared to act differently. The next hadith might also be used as a support: “After me there will be conflicts and affairs. If you are able, resolve them peacefully.” Also revealing are these words expressed by the Prophet ﷺ: “The most detested of names to Allah are War (harb) and Bitterness (murrah).” Given the above, and given also the numerous peace accords and ententes the Prophet ﷺ initiated so as to halt or mitigate the woes of war, let alone how he forgave and pardoned mortal enemies wherever he could, it's simply fictitious, mischievous, or fallacious to describe the Prophet as a ‘warmonger.’ A reluctant warrior, and a leader who took to combat to safeguard his nation from extinction or subjugation, are far truer descriptions of him ﷺ. In classical Islam, warfare is regulated by an all-important
shari‘ah dictum that says about jihad: wujubuhu wujubu’l-wasa’il la al-maqasid—”Its necessity is the necessity of means, not of ends.” That is, jihad of the military kind is not the goal; it's a means to a goal, that goal being the free and unhindered invitation to Islam and the summons to worship God alone. Islam treats war, given the harm, destruction, and loss of life that takes place, as a necessary ‘evil’ of sorts: “For had it not been for God's checking some men by means of others, monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques wherein God's name is often mentioned, would have been destroyed” [Qur’an 22:40]. Two or three centuries after Islam's birth, its jurists would define jihad in terms of armed combat against disbelievers who did not have a peace treaty, for advancing the religion. Al-Kasani said jihad involves: “Expending one's utmost abilities and strength to fight in Allah's way, with one's person, property, tongue, or other than this.” And al-Qastalani defined it as: “Fighting the disbelievers, so as to support Islam and make the word of God supreme.”This martial
jihad has rules and codes of conduct too. Among them are that the head of state carefully evaluate the potential pros and cons of war, ensure non-combatants [civilians] are not killed or willfully targeted, abide by any peace treaty or international agreement it has signed, and keep in mind receptivity to the call of Islam. The classical Islamic doctrine which forbids killing civilians in a military jihad takes its cue from the Prophet’s saying ﷺ: “March forth in the name of God, trusting in God and adhering to the religion of God. Do not kill elderly men, infants, young children nor women.” And Ibn ‘Umar narrates that the Prophet ﷺ “forbade the killing of women and children.” After quoting the last hadith, al-Nawawi stated: “Scholars agree upon acting by this hadith and forbid the killing of women and children, provided that they do not engage in combat. If they do, the great majority of scholars (jamahir al-‘ulema) hold that they can be fought.” And al-Buhuti reminds us: “Declaring jihad or not is entrusted to the head of state and his decision, for he best knows the conditions of the Muslims and of the enemy.”This brings us to another vital aspect about
jihad in Islam: who may be fought? Are Muslims required to wage jihad against disbelievers due to their disbelief (kufr)? Imam Ibn Taymiyyah takes up the issue, stating: “The disbelievers, they are only to be fought on condition of them waging war first—as is the view of the majority of scholars, and as is proven by the Book and the Sunnah.” Which is to say, Islam permits fighting disbelievers, not because of their disbelief, but only if they initiate war against Muslim societies, or manifest belligerence towards them. The Qur'an [2:190] says: “Fight for God's sake those that fight against you, but do not transgress the limits.” Along similar lines, Ibn al-Qayyim, another medieval jurist, held that: “Fighting is only a duty in response to being fought against, not in response to disbelief. This is why women, children, the elderly and infirm, the blind, and monks who stay out of the fighting are not fought. Instead, we only fight those who wage war against us.”
fatwa committees of our age hold—and their word in shari‘ah affairs is authoritative and represents orthodoxy—that a state of war shall not exist between Muslims and others unless hostility against a Muslim land is initiated or barriers to da‘wah erected. Al-Khallaf wrote: “The legislated jihad is there to carry the Islamic call and to defend the Muslims against any belligerency. Whoever does not respond to the call, nor resists its taking place, nor initiates hostilities against Muslim polities, then it is not permissible to fight them. A state of security cannot be altered for that of fear ... A state of war will not exist between the Muslims and others except in cases where hostility towards Muslims is initiated, or barriers to da‘wah are erected, or harm is perpetrated towards the callers or the call.” Inarguably, in an age of the Internet and social media, as well as global movement or displacement, it’s nearly impossible for countries to erect barriers to prevent da‘wah to Islam. Being a double-edged sword, it is precisely the same social media that also allow the alarming growth of Islamophobia and anti-Islam sentiments to gain wider and wider societal traction. As for when the Muslim army is in the thick of a religiously-sanctioned war, this is where the following passages of the Qur'an (and their like) come into play: “Slay them wherever you find them; drive them out of the places from which they drove you” [Qur’an 2:190-91]. Also: “Slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them [captive] and besiege them, and lie in ambush for them everywhere” [Qur’an 9:5]. And then, of course, there is this: “But if they incline towards peace, incline to it too” [Qur’an 8:61]. Observing peace accords with non-Muslim polities again demonstrates Islam's willingness to live peacefully with its neighbors, regardless of their religion. When Muslims are instructed to fight treaty-breakers, it is the breaking of a treaty that invites conflict, not the fact that the treaty-breakers are disbelievers: “Will you not fight a people who have broken their pacts and desired to drive out the Messenger and attacked you first?” [Qur’an 9:13]. If any Muslim state contracts a truce with a non-Muslim one, other Muslim states aren't bound by this peace treaty. For each Muslim country has its own peace accords and foreign policies that are specific to itself. The cue for this is taken from the Treaty of Hudaybiyah in which the persecuted Makkan Muslim fugitives, like Abu Busayr, Abu Jandal and their men, weren't covered by the treaty ratified by the Prophet ﷺ with the Makkans. Nor was their guerrilla warfare against the non-Muslim Makkans, nor their raids against their caravans, seen as breaches of the Prophet's truce ﷺ: for they were essentially a self-governing state not bound by the political jurisdiction of the Prophet ﷺ. Ibn al-Qayyim stated: “The peace treaty between the Prophet ﷺ and the [Makkan] idolaters wasn't a treaty that included Abu Busayr or his followers.”
 In other words, each Muslim state is required to honor its own international accords, and not aid or support other Muslim states against those with whom they have a pact of non-aggression. Such is the weight that the Qur'an places on covenants of security and peace accords and truces; as Allah says: “But if they seek help from you in the affair of religion then it is your duty to help them, except against a people between whom and you there exists a treaty” [Qur’an 8:72]. Ibn Taymiyyah once wrote: “The Prophet ﷺ was the most perfect in terms of this bravery—which is appropriate for commanders in war. He did not kill anyone [in war] save Ubayy b. Khalaf, killing him on the day of Uhud. He didn't kill anyone else before or after this.”
 Of the twenty-seven battles (ghazwat, sing. ghazwah) that took place in his life, the Prophet ﷺ participated in nine. The total number of deaths on both sides was one thousand and eighteen persons. Of those, seven-hundred and fifty-nine were enemy deaths; two-hundred and fifty-nine were Muslims. In fact, the number of enemy fatalities drops to three-hundred and fifty-nine when limited to those killed on the actual battlefield. Such were the pious restraints that infused the spirit of jihad of the Prophet ﷺ. What's remarkable, Gai Eaton wrote, isn't just the rapid pace with which Islam spread across the then known world, but “the fact that no rivers flowed with blood, no fields were enriched with the corpses of the vanquished … they were on a leash. There were no massacres, no rapes, no cities burned. These men feared God to a degree scarcely imaginable in our time and were in awe of His all-seeing presence, aware of it in the wind and the trees, behind every rock and in every valley... [T]here had never been a conquest like this.” The historical record belies the bloodthirsty image that ISIS-like extremists, on the one hand, and Islamophobes on the other, continue to portray of Islam and the Prophet ﷺ. Speaking of death tolls in war, Dr. Naveed Sheikh's essay,
hadith, we see the Prophet ﷺ relish the following: “By Him in whose hand is my life. I would love to be killed in Allah's way and then be brought back to life; then be killed and be brought back to life; then be killed and be brought back to life; then be killed.” The Prophet ﷺ cherished martyrdom, not because of the love of blood and gore, nor for the glory of war itself, nor for the clanging of steel or the thrill of the fight. He loved it because it represented the highest service to, and the ultimate sacrifice for, God. To surrender to Allah one's actual life, for a cause Allah loves and honors, is the greatest possible expression of loving Allah. It's no wonder, then, that the Prophet ﷺ said: “Whoever dies without participating in a battle, or even desiring to do so, dies upon a branch of hypocrisy.” Believers, though, whilst they long to meet a martyr's death, strive to live a righteous life. For how can one truly desire to die for God, if one does not sincerely try to live for God?
ummah. We each also belong to individual nations which are all committed to the global principle of non-aggression. This arrangement is certainly not perfect. But on the whole it has been instrumental in maintaining a fragile global peace—notwithstanding a few illegal occupations, continued conflicts, and even some modern genocides. At the turn of the second millennium, Gai Eaton wrote that the West still sees Islam as a religion of war, bent on conquest. “They have inherited the fear,” he insists, “which obsessed their ancestors when Muslim civilization was dominant and Christendom trembled before the ‘heathen’ threat.”
 He says that even Westerners who've turned their back on Christianity still share these fears and prejudices today. As for Muslims, he feels, historically they've seen Christianity, and now the secular West, as inherently hostile. Indeed, even today, many Muslims are convinced (and there is much rhyme and reason behind their convictions) that the ‘Christian’ West will carpet bomb them or shred them with missiles if they step out of line. “They react either with impotent fury or with a degree of subservience, but always with a deep sense of injustice.” He concluded with this sober resolve: “There is, then, no end to this argument, so let me leave it where it is and consider what Islam actually teaches about peace and war.” And that, more or less, is what I've tried to d
 Mufradat Alfaz al-Qur'an (Beirut & Damascus: Dar al-Qalam, 2002), 208; under the entry, j-h-d.
 Zad al-Ma‘ad (Berut: Mu'assasah al-Risalah, 1998), 3:9.
 Al-Tirmidhi, no.1671, where he graded the hadith hasan sahih. However, he narrates it without the final phrase, ‘in obedience to God.’ This additional phrase is found in Ibn Hibban, no.4707, and is sahih. Cf. al-Albani, Silsilat al-Ahadith al-Sahihah (Beirut: al-Maktab al-Islami, 1985), 2:81; no.549.
 Al-Bayhaqi, Kitab al-Zuhd al-Kabir (Beirut: Dar al-Janan and Mu'assasah al-Kutub al-Thaqafiyyah, 1987), no.373; al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, Tarikh Baghdad (Egypt: Matba‘ah al-Sa‘adah, 1929), 13:494, with the wording: ‘Jihad of the heart.’
 Kitab al-Zuhd al-Kabir, p.165; no.373.
 Al-Mughni 'an Haml al-Asfar (Riyadh: Maktabah al-Tabariyyah, 1995), 2:709; no.2584.
 Al-‘Asqalani, Takhrij al-Kashshaf (Beirut: Dar al-Turath al-‘Arabi, 1997), 4:114; no.33.
 Jami‘ al-‘Ulum wa'l-Hikam (Beirut: Mu'assasah al-Risalah, 1998), 1:489.
 Al-Albani, Silsilat al-Ahadith al-Da‘ifah wa’l-Mawdu‘ah (Riyadh: Maktabah al-Ma‘arif, 1996), 5:478-81, no.2460.
 Al-Qari, al-Asrar al-Marfu‘ah (Beirut: al-Maktab al-Islami, 1986), no.211; al-Suyuti, al-Durar al-Muntathirah (Riyadh: University of Riyadh, 1983), no.245.
 Majmu‘ Fatawa (Riyadh: Dar ‘Alam al-Kutub, 1991), 11:197-8. Stating that the hadith “has no basis (la asl lahu)” conventionally means the hadith is chainless which, in this case, is incorrect. For the hadith does indeed have a chain, albeit a flawed one. Declaring that no hadith authorities have recorded it is another erroneous claim. For al-Bayhaqi and al-Khatib both relate it in their respective works.
 Al-Bukhari, no.2785. Something similar is related in Muslim, no.1876.
 Al-Fawa'id (Riyadh: Maktabah al-Rushd, 2001), 177.
 Cited by Ibn al-Qayyim in Rawdat al-Muhibbin (Beirut: Dar al-Kitab al-‘Arabi, 1996), 475-6, where he begins by insisting: “Even if jihad against one's desires was not greater than jihad against the disbelievers, it is certainly not lesser than it. A man once asked al-Hasan al-Basri, may God have mercy on him: ‘O Abu Sa‘id! What is the best jihad?’ He said: ‘Your jihad against your desires.’ I once heard our Shaykh remark …” He then goes on to cite the words of Ibn Taymiyyah above.
 Fayd al-Qadir (Beirut: Dar al-Ma‘rifah, n.d.), 4:511.
 Sayd al-Khatir (Egypt: Dar al-Yaqin, 1998), 122.
 Muslim, no.50.
 Abu Dawud, Sunan, no.4344; al-Tirmidhi, Sunan, no.2175, saying: “A hasan hadith.”
 Al-Bukhari, no.3004.
 Abu Dawud, no.2504. Its chain is sahih, as per al-Nawawi, Riyadh al-Salihin (Riyadh: Dar Ibn al-Jawzi, 2000), no.1357, but with the wording “…with your wealth, lives, and tongues.’
 Al-Raghib al-Asbahani, Mufradat Alfaz al-Qur’an (Beirut: Dar al-Qalam, 2002), 208; under the entry, j-h-d.
 Al-Bukhari, no.3024; Muslim, no.172.
 Ahmad, Musnad, no.695. Its chain was graded sahih by Ahmad Shakir, al-Musnad al-Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal (Egypt: Dar al-Ma‘arif, 1954), 2:84-5, despite the presence of two questionable narrators in the chain: Faysal b. Sulayman and Iyas b. ‘Amr.
 Abu Dawud, no.4950. The hadith, with its various chains, strengthen each other to yield a final grading of sahih. Consult: al-Albani, Silsilat al-Ahadith al-Sahihah (Riyadh: Maktabah al-Ma‘arif, 1987), no.1040.
 Ibn Hajr al-Haytami citing al-Zarkashi, Tuhfat al-Muhtaj bi Sharh al-Minhaj (Beirut: Dar Sadir, 1972), 9:211.
 Al-Kasani, Bada'i‘ al-Sana'i‘ (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1986), 7:97.
 Irshad al-Sari (Egypt: Bulaq, 1887), 5:31.
 Abu Dawud, no.2614. The chain contains Khalid b. al-Fizr, who has been criticized. Hence the hadith was declared weak (da‘if) in al-Albani, Da‘if al-Jami‘ al-Saghir (Beirut: al-Maktab al-Islami, 1990), no.1346. The ruling of not targeting civilians or other non-combatants, however, is well established in other hadiths and juristic consensus.
 Al-Bukhari, no.3015; Muslim, no.1744.
 Sharh Sahih Muslim (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1995), 12:43.
 Kashshaf al-Qina‘ (Riyadh: Maktabah al-Nasr al-Hadithah, n.d.), 3:41. I've discussed the difference between acts of terror and a bona fide jihad in: Terrorism is to Jihad as Adultery is to Marriage, at: https://thehumblei.com/2013/05/23/terrorism-is-to-jihad-as-adultery-is-to-marriage/
 Kitab al-Nabuwwat (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, 1985), 140.
 Ahkam Ahl al-Dhimmah (Dammam: Ramadi li’l-Nashr, 1997), 1:110.
 Hidayat al-Hiyara (Makkah: Dar ‘Alam al-Fawa’id, 2008), 29-30.
 Al-Dardir, Aqrab al-Masalik (Nigeria: Maktabah Ayyub, 2000), 54.
 Al-Ghazali, Al-Wajiz (Beirut: Sharikah Dar al-Arqam b. Abi'l-Arqam, 1997), 2:188.
 Abu Zahrah, al-‘Alaqat al-Duwaliyyah fi’l-Islam (Cairo: Dar al-Fikr al-‘Arabi, 1995), 77. Also see: al-Jasim, Kashf al-Shubuhat fi Masa’il al-‘Ahd wa’l-Jihad (Kuwait: Jam‘iyyat Ihya al-Turath al-Islami, 2004), 49.
 Al-Khallaf, al-Siyasat al-Shar‘iyyah (Cairo: Matba‘ah al-Salafiyyah, 1931), 75.
 Zad al-Ma‘ad (Beirut: Mu'assasah al-Risalah, 1998), 3:274-5.
 Minhaj al-Sunnah al-Nabawiyyah (Riyadh: Jami‘ah al-Imam Muhammad bin Sa‘ud, 1986), 8:78.
 Cf. al-Azmi, al-Lu'lu al-Maknun fi Sirat al-Nabi al-Ma'mun (Riyadh: Dar al-Sumay‘i, 2013), 4:374. Ibn Sayyid al-Nas stated, Nur al-‘Uyun (Beirut: Dar al-Minhaj, 2010), 40-1: “His ﷺ battles in this period numbered twenty-five; some say twenty-seven, of which he fought in seven.”
 Muhammad Sulayman Mansurpuri, Rahmatan li'l-‘Alamin (Riyadh: Dar al-Salam, 1997), 468. The casualties and death tolls for each side, and each battle, is tabulated on pp.433-56. In the original Urdu edition, cf. Rahmatan li'l-‘Alamin (Pakistan: Markaz al-Haramayn al-Islami, 2007), 2:462-80.
 Islam and the Destiny of Man (Cambridge: The Islamic Texts Society, 1997), 30.
 Sheikh, 'Body Count: A Comparative Quantitative Study of Mass Killings in History', in Muhammad, Kalin & Kamali (eds.), War and Peace in Islam: The Uses and Abuses of Jihad (Cambridge: MABDA & The Islamic Texts Society, 2013), 165-214.
 Al-Bukhari, no.2797; Muslim, no.1497.
 Muslim, no.1910.
 I‘lam al-Muwaqqi‘in (Riyadh: Dar Ibn al-Jawzi, 2002), 4:337.
 Remembering God: Reflections on Islam (Cambridge: The Islamic Texts Society, 2000), 101.
 Ibid., 102.
 Ibid., 102.