Friday, April 30, 2004

U.S.: Lying about jihad is a talent of some

Transcript of Interview with Hamza Yusuf Hanson by Michael Enright on the September 11 Tragedy

Aired on September 23, 2001

Extract from the interview 

Michael: Well we know now it was more plunder than religion.

Shaykh Hamza: Well, that’s true. And unfortunately a lot of religious wars tend to be for other than religion. But the word jihad is probably one of the highest concepts that the Arabs and the Muslims have. It represents really the best of humankind. In the Qur’an it is never once used to express a military meaning. Not once.

Comment: This is not true. Open any Quran commentary book and find for yourself. (See for example: surah 4 verse 95, surah 9 verse 41, and surah 61 verses 10-13)

Interestingly, even Hamzah Yusuf himself knows that this statement is not entirely accurate. In his tape “The Life of The Prophet Muhammad,” tape number 9  Hamzah Yusuf  - talking about the prophet SAAWS and his companions in Madinah- said: “They are in a state of perpetual vigilance and war. This is jihad, his life is really a life of jihad, of struggle against the people who were bent on not seeing Islam spread which is important to us to take as a lesson if we really want to spread Islam


Michael: It means… does it not mean to go to war with yourself?

Shaykh Hamza: Well, that’s one of the meanings. It literally means – if you look at the word, the root word is "jihad" which means to struggle, and juhd in the Arabic language means a struggle literally. So jihad is the act of struggling. And the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, said that the greatest jihad is to struggle with your own soul’s insidious suggestions.

Comment: The root word of Jihad is actually “jahada.” It means 'fighting the enemies or doing ones utmost in fighting' (see lisaan Al-Arab by Ibn Mandhoor, Vol. 2 page 396. First edition, published by Dar Ihya at-Turath al-Arabi, Beirut 1988).

The hadith mentioned at the end is a weak hadeeth (See the book of weak hadiths by Imam al-Albani, and the book of weak and fabricated Hadiths for Imam al-Shawkani). Sufis in general always quote this Hadith because it relieves them from waging the true Jihad.


Shaykh Hamza (continues): And I think that really clarifies to the Muslims. Building a hospital in the Arab world – and I’ve lived in the Arab world, I speak Arabic very well – building a hospital, the Arabs will literally say what a great jihad that was when it was completed.

Comment: This is not an accurate statement. Arabic is my native tongue and I have studied it – at least one session every day - for 22 years. That phrase would never be used to describe such an effort. Instead, the Arab might say: what a great juhd which means “effort”.

However the Shari’ (legal) meaning of the term ‘Jihad,’ is “ The war Muslims wage to make the word of Allah superior against kuffar (disbelievers) who do not have a covenant with Muslims after  being invited to Islam and rejecting the invitation.  Reference: The Fiqh encyclopedia by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Kuwait”


Shaykh Hamza (continues): The idea of spending money for anything good… those firefighters who were pulling people out of the World Trade Towers, they would be considered, that’s an act of jihad. They would be considered mujahideen if they were described in Arabic. And I’m not exaggerating at all. That really is at the essence of this word.

Comment: Again, this is not accurate. In Islamic literature, when the word “mujahideen” is used without any qualification, it means one and only one thing: those who fight in the battlefield for the sake of Allah. Please refer to the Quran (See for example the commentary on surah 4 verse 95) and search for the word Jihad and Mujahideen to gain a better understanding of how they are used. 

The following hadith in Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 4 Book 52, No. 44 shows how the prophet SAAWS understood the word “jihad” and “mujahid” (singular of mujahideen,” please compare this hadith to what Hamzah Yusuf said: Narrated by Abu Huraira (RA):   A man came to Allah's Apostle and said, "Instruct me as to such a deed that equals Jihad (in reward)." He replied, "I do not find such a deed." Then he added, "Can you, while the Muslim fighter is in the battle-field, enter your mosque to perform prayers without cease and fast and never break your fast?" The man said, "But who can do that?" Abu- Huraira added, "The Mujahid (i.e. Muslim fighter) is rewarded even for the footsteps of his horse while it wanders about (for grazing) tied by a long rope."

However, if one does use the terms 'Jihad' or 'Mujahid' in a context other than their literal meaning, one must supplement these words with specific references that modify its literal meaning. These two words may be qualified to mean other types of jihad e.g. you may say jihad against the devil which means being vigilant towards the devil’s tricks. Therefore, each time the word jihad is used without any qualification in the Islamic literature – aside from the Sufi books--it means primarily fighting in the battlefield for the sake of Allah(SWT). Without doubts scholars have clearly mentioned Jihad-ul-nufs (struggle against one’s insidious suggestions), however this has never been the primary understanding of the term Jihad.

Also, refer to all the authentic Hadeeth in which “jihad” is mentioned, observing what the scholars have said about it. For example when Imam Bukhari & Muslim compiled their books of Sahih Hadith, they carefully gathered related Hadeeth reflecting a certain theme under definitive titles. In order to see the understanding of these Imams about Jihad, please go and read the chapters on Jihad in their respective books of Hadeeth.   The same applies to Imam Nawawi in his book Riyad-us-Saliheen.


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