Islam forbids aggression, but orders us to fight if the limits of decency and freedom of conscience are exceeded and that truth and peace are in danger. In this case, the Muslim is called to fight and should not shrink from the fight to protect the religion approved by Allah, that is to say, Islam and the Muslims.
This is the teaching on the basis of which the Holy Prophet (pbuh) set his own line of conduct. He continued to suffer in Mecca and did not fight the aggression of which he was the innocent victim. Even after his flight to Medina, the enemy went there to extirpate Islam; he had to fight for truth and freedom of conscience, but the fights he had subsequently directed were ordained by Allah, especially on self-defence basis and to save the worship of God and His sincere adherents/ servants.
“Permission (to fight) has been given to those who are being fought, because they were wronged. And indeed, Allah is competent to give them victory. Those who have been driven from their homes unjustly only because they said: Our Lord is Allah - For had it not been for Allah's repelling some men by means of others, there would have been demolished monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which the name of Allah is much mentioned.
And Allah will surely support those who support Him – Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might – Those who, if We give them power in the land, establish worship and pay the Zakat and enjoin kindness and forbid iniquity. And with Allah rests the end of (all) matters.” (22: 40-42).
The verse is intended to mean that the permission to fight is given to victims of attacks. God certainly helps victims, that is to say, those who are expelled from their homes because of their beliefs. (By the word home, it can also mean, a Jamaat, wherein in my case, I was expelled from the Nizam-e-Jamaat Ahmadiyya also and persecuted).
This permission is wise because had God not rejected the cruel ones in order to help the just ones, there would have been no freedom of conscience and worship (of the unique God) in the world. God must help those who help establish (the) worship (of Allah) and freedom. It follows that fighting is allowed for a people who have suffered a long and deliberate assault – when the perpetrator has no reason to attack and despite that seeks to intervene in the religion of his victim. The duty of the latter, if he accesses to power one day, is to restore religious freedom and protect all religions and holy places. His power should not be used for his own glorification, but for the welfare of the poor, the progress of the country and the consolidation of peace.
This teaching is clear and precise. It proclaims the fact that the early Muslims had recourse to war because they needed to do so. Otherwise, wars of aggression were prohibited by Islam.
Political power is promised to Muslims, but they are warned that this power should not be exercised for their own benefit, but for the fate of the poor and to promote peace and progress.
“Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. Allah does not like transgressors.
And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and revolt is worse than killing. And do not fight them at al-Masjid al-Haram (the Sacred Mosque) until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers. And if they cease, then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.
Fight them until there is no (more) revolt and (until) they return to the worship of Allah. But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors.” (2: 191-194).
Allah gives details of fighting in His way. He gave the green light for fighting in the precarious situation of Muslims. Therefore, in situations where Muslims find themselves violated, persecuted and victims of murders because of their faith, it is then that God Almighty says that we must fight, but only for the love of God, not for ourselves. And especially not under the influence of anger or need for grandeur. And in any case, fighting should not exceed limits because Allah detests excesses. Fighting/ Battles must take place between groups; assaults against individuals is prohibited. Aggression against a religion must be rejected because committing such aggression is worse than bloodshed.
Muslims should not fight near the Holy Mosque (Ka’aba Shareef), except when the enemy attacks first. The fact of fighting near the Holy Mosque is an infringement of the right of all to make the pilgrimage. But if the enemy attacks, Muslims are free to fight back; this is the right response to aggression.
If the enemy withdraws, Muslims must also withdraw and forget the past. The struggle must continue for as long as persecution lasts and if religious freedom is not yet restored. The use of force or compulsion in religion is a bad thing. If the Kafiruun (unbelievers) cease not use it and allow freedom of religion to take its course, Muslims must refrain from fighting. We should take up arms against those who commit excess. As soon as the excesses cease, fighting must cease also.
---- Extracts from the Friday Sermon of 11 March 2016 ~(01 Jamad’ul Aakhir 1437 Hijri)- delivered by Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Saheb (atba) of Mauritius.