Jihad is one of the basic doctrines of Islam, but the average Indian’s knowledge of it is both superficial
and unsatisfactory. Hindus usually render the term as dharmayuddha, but this rendering is totally misleading.
Dharmayuddha, means ‘war fought according is totally misleading. Dharmayuddha means ‘war fought according to
rules laid down in the Dharmashastras’ such as not attacking a person who does not have a weapon or has
dropped it, not molesting an adversary who has surrendered, not pursuing a defeated enemy who has run away,
not attacking thenon-combatants in the enemy camp, not harming the women and holy people and places in the
enemy’s territory, etc. Hindus have never known the concept of a religious or holy war, a concept which is
characteristic of the monotheistic creeds. Therefore, to the common Hindu, in particular to those who are
ignorant of the history of the many religious wars waged by monotheistic creeds of Asia and Europe, Jihad is
a lofty conception.
Jihad has five clear components, and a complete understanding of the subject requires a discussion of each
one of them. Thus jihad stands(1)Forcible expansion Islam; (2) Destruction of infidels; (3) Establishment of
jizyah on the subdued infidel population; (4) Plunder in the form of properties wrested from infidels; and
(5) Plunder in the form of enslaved female and child population acquired from the vauquished infidels.
Hindus should clearly understand that the doctrine of jihad is absolutely fatal to their and property, not to
the honour of their womenfolk. If the Hindu does not make a serious and determined effort towards persuading
his Muslim brethren to renounce the doctrine of jihad, if he does not devote his heart and soul to devise
adequate means of achieving that end, in a word, if he does not shed his deep-seated indifference to things
Islamic, then he is most certainly proceeding towards self-destruction and that too in a not very distant
Suhas Majumdar (1937-1995) used to teach mathematics in a Calcutta College. He was born in an obscure village
in the Mymensingh district of East Bengla Desh. He wrote quite a few books in Bengali on the subject of re-
incarnation of the 7th century Islam on the soil of present-day India. He felt he was particularly fitted to
write on the subject of jihad as his early days passed under the shadow of the Noakhali slaughter. The
subject had been in his mind for the last fifty years but it was after reading the section Kitub Al-Jihad
Wa’I Aiyar of Sahih Muslim, that the idea of writing a book on it occured to his mind
There was a time, not so long ago, when the exponents of Jihad minced no words and pulled no punches. They
were brutally frank in spelling out what jihad really meant.
But times have changed, particularly after the collapse of Christianity in the West and there rise of modern
rationalism and humanism. Standards of moral judgment have increasingly tended to become universal, and no
statement of faith can escape scrutiny simply because it is made in a book hailed as holy by some people.
Defenders of jihad have been forced to develop an apologetics. They are now trying to protect by means of
scholarship a doctrine which has so far been sustained by means of the sword.
In the present study, Professor Suhas Majumdar has seen through this “scholarship”, and demolished it brick
by brick. He has rescued the doctrine of jihad from under the mass of pretentious verbiage, and made it stand
in its pristine purity. Let no one say more that jihad does not mean what it has meant all along in the
blood-soaked history of Islam, and what we are witnessing today in Kashmir.
At the end of it all, however, I wonder why scholarship should be needed for making people see what the
ordinary common sense can see straight away. There is plenty of evidence that the common sense of the Pagans
of Arabia had seen Islam for what it was worth when Muhammad proclaimed his prophet-hood. For common sense is
after all a combination of natural reason and natural moral conscience which all human beings share in
greater or lesser measure.
The story of why common sense had to keep quiet wherever and whenever the prophetic creeds came to prevail
(and among prophetic creeds I would certainly place Christianity as closest in tie and kindred to Islam) is
yet to be pieced together. There is no better place than India for piecing together this story. For India’s
yogic spirituality has never worked counter to man’s natural reason and natural moral conscience. On the
contrary, yogic spirituality has raised that reason and that conscience to their highest stations.
A hoary and hallowed Hindu tradition recognises six types of gangsters. The sloka in which gangsterism stands
defined, occurs frequently in the Itihasa-Purana and the Dharmasastras. It says:
agnidah gardascaiva sastrapanirdhanapahah
ksetra-dara-harascaiva, sadete atatayinah
(He who sets fire to (other properties), he who poisons (other people), he who wields weapons (for committing
murders), he who robs (others people’s) wealth, he who forcibly occupies (other people’s) lands, and he who
forcibly carries away (other people’s women-these six are gangsters.)
The same tradition prescribes a punishment for acts of gangsterism-the gangster should he killed as soon as
he is sighted. The Gita, which deals with this subject among many others of high spiritual import, calls for
this punishment when it says, “jahi ma vyatistha (kill them, do not hesitate).
There is, however, another tradition which we meet in the Bible (at least in some of its books) and the
Quran. This tradition has been elaborated endlessly and spelled out in unmistakable terms in the theologies
of Christianity and Islam. In this tradition, the above-mentioned acts of gangsterism are supposed to have
been sanctioned by no less an authority than Almighty God himself. And the person who perform these acts or
advocate their performances, stand hallowed as apostles, prophets, saints, sufis, and the rest.
This tradition also prescribes a punishment. But not for those who practise or advocate gangsterism, On the
contrary, it lays down that those who object to advocacy of gangsterism or resist down that those who object
to advocacy of gangsterism or resist gangster acts, ahould be put to death.
This second tradition arrived in India at first in the guise of Islam, and later on in the guise of
Christianity, particularly in its Portuguese incarnation. Hindus were not slow to identify Islamic and
Christian practices for what they were. The only point at which Hindus failed was to trace the Islamic and
Christian behaviour patterns back to their systems of belief. It was a great failure indeed. For, in course
of time, Hindus were led to believe mostly by their own scholars, that Islamic and Christian behaviour
patterns were not enshrined in the Bible and the Quran, and that Muslims and Christians could be brought
round by appealing to them in the nane of “true Islam” and “true Christianity”. Mahatma Gandhi became the
most eminent embodiment of this Hindu illusion, which has now become the stock-in-trade of one school of
Secularism in this country-that of sarva-dharma-samabhava.
Votaries of sarva-dharma-samabhava are not likely to relish the charge that for all practical purposes they
become passive accomplices of gangsterism when they equate Hinduism with Islam and Christianity, and advocate
equal respect for the two predatory creeds. But that is truth, and it has to be told in order to cure them of
their smug self-reighteousness.
As for the second school of Secularism, nanely, that which is rooted in Marxism and allied ideologies
imported from the modern West, it does not practise samabhava between Hinduism on the one hand and Islam and
Christianity on the other. It is openly hostile to Hinduism, and stands unashamedly allied with Islam and
Christianity. This is but natural, and this stance should be understood rather than assailed. For, in the
ultimate analysis, Marxism, is that same as the other two creeds. All of them have their source in te Bible.
Those who have applauded the gangsterism of Lenin, Stalin, and Mao, cannot be expected to thwart the other
sort, particularly when it is aimed against Hindus whom they regard as the main enemy. They are bound to be
active accomplices of Christian and Islamic gangsteriam.
This is a slightly enlarged version of a small monograph I wrote in Bengali on the important Islamic subject
of Jihad fi Sabilillah (war in the way of Allah). Jihad has five clear components, and a complete
understanding of the subject requires a discussion of each one of them. Thus jihad stands for (1) Forcible
expansion of Islam; (2) Destruction of infidels; (3) Establishment of jizyah on the subdued infidel
population; (4) Plunder in the form of properties wrested from infidels; and (5) Plunder in the form of
enslaved female and child population acquired from the vanquished infidels. In the Bengali monograph I
discussed at length only the subject of plunder, which Arabic is known as ghanimah. I discussed and explained
the other divisions from the text of the Koran alone, without illustrating them from the career of the
Prophet. In this enlarged version I have devoted separate chapters to these divisions, highlighting the
Prophet’s activities in connection with each of them, and added some new appendices. It is my hope that,
though increasing the size but slightly, I have left out nothing of real importance, and the theoretical
aspects of this important Islamic doctrine have been treated here in full. I have not indeed described the
numerous historical jihads undertaken by Islamic zealots over the centuries; but I have discussed two of the
ghazwahs (=jihadic campaigns) of the Prophet-his conquest of Mecca and his destruction of the Jewish clan of
Kuraizah; these two form part and parcel of the theoretical apparatus of jihad. The Prophet’s life and works
form the bedrock of Islamic theology and are known as Sunnah. This, with Korainic sayings attributed to Allah
and known by the Arabic title ‘wahy’ (=revelation), are the final sources of Islam.
My ignorance of the Arabic language notwithstanding, I have tried to be as accurate as possible, and depended
on the best translations of the Koran and the Hadis. The Koranic verses I have cited are mostly from Mohammed
Marmaduke Pickthall’s well known translation; but I have not failed to consult other reliable versions to
ascertain Pickthall’s faithfulness to the original. Bal all accounts, this faithfulness seems to be of a very
high order, and though I have detected one two small errors-not to mention his somewhat disconcerting
affectation of an archaic English style-, I have on the whole stuck to his version even when alternative
versions seemed to render the meaning of the original clearer. This is because Pickthall was an Englishman
who became a Mussalman by choice, and his rendering brings out his conscientious orthodoxy at every age of
As regards the Hadis, available English versions are by no means numerous. I have used the English version of
the second most important, Sahih Muslim. This version is by Abdul Hamid Saddiqi, a Pakistani scholar. For
cross-checking I have used a Bengali rendering of the important collection Mishkat-ul-Masabih. This rendering
is by a Bangladeshi theologian, M. Aflatoon Kaisar. Mishkat is a compendium of various canonical collections
including ahadis (=traditions) not reckoned canonical but recognised as important source materials to settle
matters of dispute. On the whole, I have found that Abdul Hamid Siddiqi’s version and that of Maulana kaisar
agree rather closely.
I have quoted rather generously from Sir William Muir’s classic biography of the Prophet and also the
painstaking work of Professor D.S. Margoliouth.
In India, critical studies of Islam are few and far between. Muslim scholars have done important work in
translating the canonical literature, but they have shied away from critical studies of Islam for obvious
reasons. It is thanks to Shri Ram Swarup of Delhi giving a lead that Islam has started being studied in India
in a critical manner in recent years. I could not use his pioneering study, Understanding Islam through
Hadis, as this work has been banned by the Delhi Administration through a fiat which was aimed against
nothing less than the freedom of schol-arship itself. But without Shri Ram Swarup's guidance, I could not
have started looking for the Hadis collections and the invalu-able stock .of information contained in them
regarding the theory and practice of jihdd. Warmest thanks are due to him, and I take this opportunity to
acknowledge my indebtedness to him
Sita Ram Goel's The Calcutta Quran Petition is a mine of information regarding the historical jihads that
took place in medieval India. His discussion of the theoretical aspects of jihad is not large in volume, but
it has helped me in my research at every step as a sure guide.
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