By Sheikh Abdullah Azzam

"Permission to fight is given unto those who fight because they are wronged, and Allah is all able to grant them victory. They are those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right with no reason other than that they say, 'Our Lord is Allah'. And if Allah had not countered one set of people by means of another, there would surely have been pulled down monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques in which the Name of Allah is mentioned much. Indeed Allah will help those help His Cause. And Allah is strong and powerful." [Quran 22:39-40]

"If the enemy enters a Muslim land, there is no doubt that it is obligatory for those closest to it to defend it. If they are lazy or incapable, then the obligation spreads to those around them, then those around them until it encompasses the whole World, East and West, because the Muslim lands are like a single land. It is obligatory to march to the territory in such conditions even without the permission of parents or creditor." [Ibn Taymiyyah, Majmu Al-Fatawa Vol. 28]

"Anyone who is aware of the weakness of the Muslims in the face of their enemy, and knows that he can reach them and can assist them, it is also upon him to march forward." [Imam Al-Qurtubi, Fath-ul-Bari 6/30]

Conditions when Jihad becomes Fard Ain (Obligatory upon all Muslims)

A) If the disbelievers enter or invade a land of the Muslims

B) If the rows meet in battle and they begin to approach each other

C) If the Imam calls a person or a people to march forward then they must march

D) If the disbelievers capture and imprison a group of Muslims

If The Disbelievers Invade a Land of the Muslims

In this condition the pious predecessors, those who succeeded them, the scholars of the four Islamic schools of though (Maliki, Hanafi, Shafi and Hanbali), the scholars of hadith, and the Tafseer commentators, are agreed that in all Islamic ages, Jihad under this condition becomes Fard Ain (obligatory upon all Muslims) upon the Muslims of the land which the disbelievers have attacked and upon the Muslims close by, where the children can march forth without the permission of the parents, the wife without the permission of her husband and the debtor without the permission of the creditor. And, if the Muslims of this land cannot expel the disbelievers because of lack of forces, because they slacken, are indolent or simply do not act, then the Fard Ain obligation spreads in the shape of a circle from the nearest to the next nearest. If they too slacken or there is again a shortage of manpower, then it is upon the people behind them, and on the people behind them, to march forward. This process continues until it becomes Fard Ayn upon the whole world. Sheikh Ibn Taymiyyah says on this topic in Fatawa Al-Kubara 4/608: "About the defensive jihad, which is repelling an aggressor, it is the most tasking type of jihad. As agreed upon by everyone, it is obligatory to protect the religion and what is sacred. The first obligation after Iman is the repulsion of the enemy aggressor who assaults the religion and the worldly affairs. There are no conditional requirements such as supplies or transport, rather he is fought with all immediate capability. The scholars, our peers and others have spoken about this."

Ibn Taymiyyah supports his opinion of the absence of the requirement of transport in his reply to the Judge who said: "If Jihad becomes Fard Ain upon the people of a country, one of the requirements, in comparison to Hajj, is that one must have supplies and a ride if the distance is such that one shortens the prayer."

Opinions of the Four Mathhabs (Islamic Schools of Thought)

Hanafi Fiqh

Ibn Aabidin said (Hashiyah Ibn Abidin 3/238): "Jihad becomes Fard Ain if the enemy attacks one of the borders of the Muslims, and it becomes Fard Ain upon those close by. For those who are far away, it is Fard Kifaayah, if their assistance is not required. If they are needed, perhaps because those nearby the attack cannot resist the enemy, or are indolent and do not fight jihad, then it becomes Fard Ain upon those behind them, like the obligation to pray and fast. There is no room for them to leave it. If they too are unable, then it becomes Fard Ain upon those behind them, and so on in the same manner until the Jihad becomes Fard Ayn upon the whole Ummah of Islam from the East to the West."

And the following have similar Fatawa: Al Kassani (Badai As-Sanai 7/72), Ibn Najim (Al-Bahr Ar-Raiq 5/191) and Ibn Hammam (Fath-ul-Qadir 5/191).

Maliki Fiqh

In Hashiyah Ad Dussuqi (2/174) it is stated: "Jihad becomes Fard Ayn upon a surprise attack by the enemy." Furthermore, Dussuqi said: "Wherever this happens, Jihad immediately becomes Fard Ain upon everybody, even women, slaves and children, and they march out even if their guardians, husbands and creditors forbid them to."

Shafi Fiqh

In the Nihayat-ul-Mahtaj (8/158) by Ramli: "If they approach one of our lands and the distance between them and us becomes less than the distance permitting the shortening of prayers, then the people of that territory must defend it and it becomes Fard Ain even upon the people for whom there is usually no jihad; the poor, the children, the slaves, the debtor and the women."

Hanbali Fiqh

In Al Mughni (8/354) by Ibn Al-Qudamah: "Jihad becomes Fard Ayn in three situations:

1) If the two sides meet in battle and they approach each other.

2) If the disbelievers enter a land, jihad becomes Fard Ayn upon its people.

3) If the Imam calls a people to march forward it is obligatory upon them to march forward."

And Ibn Taymiyyah remarked (Fatawa Al-Kubara 4/608): "If the enemy enters a Muslim land, there is no doubt that it is obligatory for the closest and then the next closest to repel him, because the Muslim lands are like one land. It is obligatory to march to the territory even without the permission of parents or creditor, and narrations reported by Imam Ahmad are clear on this."

This situation is known as the General March.

Evidence for the General March and its Justification

Evidence 1: The General March

Allah the Almighty the Majestic says: "March forth, whether you are light(being healthy, young and wealthy) or heavy(being ill, old and poor), strive hard with your wealth and your lives in the cause of Allah. This is better for you if you but knew." [Quran 9:41]

In a preceding verse the arrangement of punishment and the replacement by a people who carry Islam, has been mentioned as a recompense for those who do not march forward. Allah does not punish except those who leave an obligation or perform forbidden acts. "If you march not forth, he will punish you with a painful torment and will replace you by another people, and you cannot harm him at all and Allah is able to do all things." [Quran 9:39]

Ibn Kathir said: "Allah the Exalted ordered that everybody march forward with the Messenger of Allah (SAWS) (the General March) in the expedition of Tabuk to fight the enemies of Allah, the unbelieving Romans of the People of the Book." Bukhari has written a chapter in Sahih Al-Bukhari (entitled The Chapter On The Obligation of Marching Forward and What is Required from Jihad and Intention for It) and quoted this verse."

It was a general call because it became known to the Muslims that the Romans were gathering on the borders of the Arabian Peninsula and were preparing to invade Madinah. So what is the situation if the disbelievers enter a Muslim country, does not the march forward become the ultimate priority? Abu Talha (RA) said about the Exalted's words: "...light or heavy...": "old and young Allah did not listen to anyone's excuse" And Hasan Al Basri said: "in hardship and in ease."

Ibn Taymiyyah said in Majmu Al Fatawa 28/358: "If the enemy intends an attack upon the Muslims, then repelling him becomes obligatory upon the population under attack as well as the population not under attack. The Exalted has said: "...But if they seek your help in religion, it is your duty to help them..." [Quran 8:72]. As well, the Prophet (SAWS) ordered the assisting of a Muslim in need. Whether or not one is a salaried soldier, and no matter what his capabilities, it is an obligation upon everybody with their persons and wealth, little or much, riding or on foot. As it was when the enemy attacked Medina in the Battle of the Trench, Allah allowed no one to be exempted."

Az Zuhuri said (Al-Jaami Li Ahkam il-Quran 8/150): "The Tabi (Successor), Saeed bin Al-Mussayib went on a military expedition and he lost one of his eyes. It was said to him: 'You are injured.' He replied, "Allah has ordered the light and the heavy to march forward, therefore if it is not possible for me to fight, I will make your numbers seem greater by my presence and I can watch over your things."

Evidence 2: Fighting Collectively

Allah Almighty the Majestic says: "...and fight the Mushrikun (polytheists, pagans, idolaters, disbelievers in the oneness of Allah) collectively, as they fight against you collectively. But know that Allah is with those who are fearful of Him" [Quran 9:36] Ibn Arabi said (Al-Jaami Li Ahkam il-Quran 8/150): "collectively means besieging them from every side and in all possible circumstances."

Evidence 3: To Fight Until Polytheism is Eradicated

Allah Almighty and Majestic says: "And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and polytheism: i.e. worshipping others besides Allah) and the religion (worship) will all be for Allah alone (in the whole of the world)..." [Quran 8:39] The fitnah means Shirk as Ibn Abbas and As Siddi said (Tafseer Al-Qurtubi 2/253): "When the disbelievers attack and control a country, the Ummah is endangered in its religion and it becomes susceptible to doubt in its belief. Fighting then becomes an obligation to protect the religion, lives, honour and wealth."

Evidence 4: If the Ummah is Called to March Forth

He (SAWS) has said: "There is no Hijrah (migration) after the Conquest (of Makkah) but there is Jihad and the intention for it. So if you are called to march forth then march forth." Reported by Bukhari.

It is an obligation to march forth if the Ummah is called to do so, and in the situation of an enemy attack. The Ummah is called to march forward to protect its religion. The extent of the obligation is related to the need of the Muslims or demand of the Imam (leader of the Muslims).

As Ibn Hajr has clarified in the explanation of this hadith (Fath-ul-Bari 6/30): Al Qurtubi said: "Anyone who is aware of the weakness of the Muslims in the face of their enemy, and knows that he can reach them and can assist them, it is also upon him to march forward."

Evidence 5: Protection of Life, Honour and Property

Every religion which Allah has revealed safeguards five essential aspects: the religion, life, honour, the mind and property. Consequently, there must be measures to safeguard these five by any means. So, Islam orders repelling the aggressor (Al-Jaami Li Ahkam il-Quran 8/150). The aggressor is one who imposes himself with violence upon others, seeking their life, their wealth or their honour.

A-The aggressor against honour. Even if a Muslim displays aggression against honour, it is obligatory to defend it from him by the agreement of the scholars even if this leads to killing him. Accordingly, the scholars have stated that it is not permitted for a Muslim woman to surrender or allow herself to be captured, even if she is killed, if she fears for her honour.

B- Repulsion of the aggressor who attacks property and life is obligatory as agreed upon by majority of the scholars, and corresponds to the consensus of the Maliki and Shafi Mathhabs, even if this leads to killing a Muslim aggressor. In a Sahih hadith: "Whoever is killed protecting his wealth, he is a martyr. Whoever is killed protecting his blood, he is a martyr. Whoever is killed protecting his family, he is a martyr." Hadith Sahih narrated by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, At Tirmidhi and An-Nasai (Sahih Al Jami As-Saghir by Albani No 6321).

Al Jassas (Ahkam-ul-Quran 1/2402) after coming to knowledge of this hadith, said: "We know of no difference of opinion, that if a man bears his sword to another man to kill him unjustly, that it is upon the Muslims to kill this aggressor."

In this situation if the aggressor is killed he will be in the Hellfire, even if he was a Muslim. Whereas, if the defender is killed he will be a martyr. This is the ruling for a Muslim aggressor, so how will it be if the disbelievers invade a Muslim land, where they would oppress and assail the religion, 'Ard, lives and property to the point of disappearance. Is it not the foremost obligation upon the Muslims in this situation to repel this disbelieving aggressor, whether he be alone or a whole nation!?

Evidence 6: Muslims Being Used as Human Shields

If the disbelievers use Muslim captives as human shields in front of them in an advance to occupy a Muslim land, it remains an obligation to fight the disbelievers even if this leads to the killing of the Muslim captives.

Ibn Taymiyyah said in Majmua al Fatawa 28/537: "If with the disbelievers there are pious people from the best of mankind and it is not possible to fight these disbelievers except by killing them, then they are to be killed as well. The leading scholars are in accord that if the disbelievers use Muslim captives as human shields, and there is fear for the rest of the Muslims if they are not fought, then it is permitted to shoot them aiming the disbelievers. One of the sayings of the scholars is that, even if we do not fear for the Muslims in general, it is permissible to shoot the Muslim captives." And on pg.45 he said: "The Sunnah and Ijma agree that if the aggression of a Muslim aggressor cannot be stopped except by killing him, then he must be killed, even if his transgression is over a fraction of a dinar. Because, in a sahih hadith: 'whoever is killed protecting his wealth, he is a martyr'."

And this is because the protection of the remaining Muslims from fitnah and Shirk, and the protection of the religion, honour and wealth are more of a priority than a small number of Muslims captives in the hands of the disbelievers.

Evidence 7: Fighting the Renegade Muslim Group

Allah the Exalted has said: "And if two parties or groups among the believers fall into fighting, then make peace between both, but if one of them rebels against the other, then fight you (all) against the one that which rebels till it complies with the command of Allah; then if it complies, then make reconciliation between them justly, and be equitable. Verily! Allah loves those who are equitable." [Quran 49:9] If Allah had made it an obligation to fight the renegade Muslim group, to unify the Muslims and protect their religion, honour and wealth, then, what will the ruling be for fighting the aggressing disbelieving nation? Does it not take priority?

Evidence 8: The Ruling for the One who Wages War

The Almighty the Majestic says: "The recompense of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and do mischief in the land is only that they shall be killed or crucified or their hands and feet be cut off from the opposite sides, or exiled from the land. That is their disgrace in this world, and a great torment is theirs in the hereafter." [Quran 5:33]

This is the ruling applied on the one who wages war from among the Muslims. He spreads distress and corruption in the land and he infringes upon wealth and honour. This is the ruling which the Messenger of Allah (SAWS) carried out upon the sick Bedouins who turned apostate as has been reported in the Sahihs (Al Fatha Ar-Rabbani and Tarteeb Musnad Al Imam Ahmad Ash Shaybani by Ahmad Abdur Rahman Al Bana 8/128).

What then should be the treatment of the disbelieving nation that brings calamity upon the people, their religion, their wealth and their honour? Is not the first obligation upon the Muslims to fight them?

These are some of the evidences and reasons that corroborate the ruling on the General March when the disbelievers enter a Muslim land. Verily, the repelling of the disbelieving enemy is the most important obligation after Iman, as said Ibn Taymiyyah: "The first obligation after Iman is the repulsion of the enemy aggressor who assaults the religion and the worldly affairs."

Does One Fight Alone if the Rest Stay Behind?

Yes he fights alone because Allah the Almighty the Majestic revealed these words to His Prophet (SAWS): "Then fight ((O Muhammad (SAWS)) in the cause of Allah, your are not tasked (held responsible) except for yourself, and incite the believers (to fight along with you) it may be that Allah restrain the evil might of the disbelievers. And Allah is stronger in might and stronger in punishing." [Quran 4:84]

This verse orders the Messenger (SAWS) in two obligations:

1- Fight, even if alone.

2- Incite the believers.

The Lord of Honour relates the wisdom of fighting. It is for restraining the evil might of the unbelievers because unbelievers fear not our presence unless we fight: "And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and polytheism: i.e. worshipping others besides Allah) and the religion (worship) will all be for Allah alone..." [Quran 8:39] By neglecting fighting, Shirk, which is the Fitnah spreads, and Kufr becomes victorious.

The Companions (RA) understood this verse according to its apparent meaning. Abu Ishaq said: "When a man throws himself at the Mushrikun does he throw himself into destruction by his own hands?" He said, "No, because Allah sent his Messenger (SAWS) and He said: "Then fight (O Mohammed s.a.w.) in the cause of Allah, your are not tasked (held responsible) except for yourself...", what you cited refers to spending. " Reported by Ahmad and verified by al Hakim and agreed upon by ath Thahabi.

Ibn Arabi said in Ahkam-ul-Quran 2/954: "There may arise such a situation in which it is obligatory upon each and every one to march forward, when Jihad is Fard Ain if the enemy invades one of our countries or he surrounds one of our territories. Then, it is obligatory upon the whole of creation to march out for Jihad. If they fail to respond, they are in sin. If the march is general, due to the enemy's occupation of a territory or capture of prisoners, the march is obligatory upon everyone. The light, the heavy, the riding, the walking, the slave and the free man shall all go out. Whoever has a father, without his permission and whoever has not a father, until Allah's religion prevails, defends the territory and the property, humiliates the enemy and rescues the prisoners. On this there is no disagreement. What does he do is the rest stay behind? He finds a prisoner and pays his ransom. He attacks by himself if he is able, and if not he prepares a warrior."

Fighting alone pleases Allah. As in a Hasan hadith reported by Ahmad and Abu Dawud, he (SAWS) said: "Our Lord marvels at a man who attacks in the cause of Allah while his companions are beaten back and he knows what is upon him and he returns towards the fight until his blood is spilt and Allah the Almighty the Majestic says to his Angels: 'Look at my slave he returned desiring that which is with Me and fearing that which is from Me until his blood was spilt.'"