Regarding Suicide Bombers - What Exactly is 'Jihad'? is it true that there is No Jihad Without the State?

There can be instances where such an act may be considered as allowed. However, such allowance can only be in the battlefield, while fighting a war. For instance, a suicide mission to destroy the ammunition store of the enemy - while in a state of war - or a suicide mission to defend one's people against the onslaught of the enemy may be considered as allowed. Nevertheless, a suicide mission - carried out in a covert fashion - to disrupt the civic life and to terrorize a society can by no means be considered as allowed.

Because of the fact that suicide bombings and other terrorist activities - in the absence of a war being declared by the state - against civilian targets is generally carried out in the **** of 'Jihad' (generally translated as 'The Holy War'), it is therefore imperative to understand the meaning and implication of the Islamic term 'Jihad'.

The Islamic term 'Jihad' has generally been misused in our present times to imply 'killing the opponent using any means, whatsoever'. This is the reason why in the present times, many terrorist activities are carried out in the **** of 'Jihad'. However, this implication of the term 'Jihad' is far from being correct. 'Jihad', on the contrary, is governed by strict laws and rules - derived from the Qur'an and the teachings ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh). For instance, 'Jihad', according to the Qur'an and the teachings ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh) - after the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) - is a declared warfare against injustice and oppression carried out by an organized Muslim state.

Keeping the foregoing definition of 'Jihad' in mind, it can safely be said that no terrorist activities can fall within the ambit of 'Jihad', even if such an activity is sponsored and silently backed by an organized state.

Besides the above definition, there are also some moral rules and ethical teachings regarding 'Jihad'. These moral rules and ethical teachings are also ****d on the fundamental teachings of the Qur'an and those ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh). For instance, if a Muslim nation has entered into a no-war pact with another nation, 'Jihad' cannot be carried-out against that other nation - even against injustice and oppression - until the appointed time of the pact expires or until the Muslim nation openly declares its withdrawal from such no-war pact. Furthermore, even in case of a declared warfare, women, children and the elderly can in no case be made a target of aggression.

In view of the above explanation, it should be clear that suicide bombings in some situations may be considered as allowed, while in another situation it may be considered as taking the life of individuals without a just cause.

And as for there is No Jihad Without the State Prominent Muslim scholars have always maintained that Jihaad is allowed only under the authority of the State:

And the third category of collective duties is one in which [the authority of] the State is a [necessary] condition; for example, jihaad and the implementation of the law of punishments in Islam. (fiqh-us-sunnah, assayyidussaabiq; vol.3, page 30)

Writes Ghamidi about the reason for this opinion of Muslim scholars:The reason for this [condition] is that without political sovereignity jihaad becomes fasaad [disorder, chaos, anarchy, etc]. How is it possible that a group which does not even have the right to award punishment to a criminal should be given the right to wage war? (meezaan, qaanuune da`wat; Urdu; page 35)

An explanation of this reason can be found in Islaahi's da`wate diin or us kaa tariiqe kaar (Urdu; Chapter 14, pages 241 and 242):

The first reason [for this condition] is that God Almighty does not like the dissolution and disintegration of even an evil system until a strong probability exists that those who are out to disintegrate the system will provide people with an alternative and a righteous system. Anarchy and disorder are unnatural conditions. In fact, they are so contrary to human nature that even an unjust system is preferable to them....this confidence [that a group will be able to harmonise a disintegrated system and integrate it into a united whole] can be reposed in such a group only as has actually formed a political government and has such control and discipline within the confines of its authority that the group can be termed as aljamaa`ah [the State, or the government]. Until a group attains this position, it may strive [by religiously allowable means] to become aljamaa`ah -- and that endeavour would be its jihaad for that time -- but it does not have the right to wage an `armed' jihaad.

The second reason is that the import of the power which a group engaged in war gets over the life and property of human beings is so great that sanction to wield this power cannot be given to a group the control of whose leader over his followers is ****d merely on his spiritual and religious influence on them [rather than being ****d on legal authority]. When the control of a leader is ****d merely on his spiritual and religious influence, there is not sufficient guarantee that the leader will be able to stop his followers from fassad fil'ard [creating a situation of disorder, chaos, anarchy on the earth]. Therefore, a religious leader does not have the right to allow his followers to take out their swords [that is to wage an armed struggle] merely on the basis of his spiritual influence over them, for once the sword is unsheathed there is great danger that it will not care for right and wrong and that those who drew it will end up doing all [the wrong which] they had sought to end. Such radical groups as desire revolution and the ****** of whom is nothing more than disruption of the existing system and deposition of the ruling party to seize power for themselves play such games -- and they can, for in their eyes disruption of a system is no calamity, nor is cruelty of any kind an evil. Everything is right to them [ as long as it serves their purpose]. However, the leaders of a just and righteous party must see whether they are in a position to provide people with a system better than the one they seek to change and whether they will be able to stop their followers from doing such wrong as they themselves had sought to root out. If they are not in that position, then they do not have the right to play games with the life and property of people on the basis of their confidence in mere chances and to create greater disorder than the one they had sought to end.