Skip to main content

The Greater Jihād

Understanding the different types of Jihād.

And it is known that the jihād against the hypocrites is to be carried out with the establishment of proof and the Qurʾān.

Jihād Against the Innovator

Imām ʿAbd al-Raḥmān Ibn Nāṣir al-Saʿdī (d.1376H) – raḥimahullāh– said:

“The Jihād is of two types: a jihād by which the rectification of the Muslims is intended, and their correctness in their beliefs and their manners, and all of their religious and worldly affairs, and in their knowledge and action-related education.  And this type is the basis of jihād and its foundation, and built upon it is the second type of jihād.  It is the jihād by which the defense against the transgressors upon Islām is intended, such as the disbelievers, the hypocrites, the atheists, and all of the enemies of the Religion and their supporters.”1

Naṣr Ibn Yahyá said: I heard Muḥammad Ibn Yahyá adh-Dhuhalee (d.258H) – raḥimahullāh – saying: I heard Yahyá Ibn Yahyá saying: “Defending the Sunnah is more virtuous than jihād in the Path of Allāh.” Muḥammad said: I said to Yahyá: “A man gives his wealth, burdens himself, and fights, but that is more virtuous than this?” So he said: “Yes, much better!”2

Based upon the above narration, Shaykh Abū Anas Hamad Ibn Ibrāhīm al-ʿUthmān said:

‘‘And it is upon this that our imāms proceeded us, so they held that the jihād against the innovator was the foundation and that the jihād against the disbelievers was a branch from that foundation.”3

Jīhad Against One’s Own Self

Imām Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah (d.756H) – raḥimahullāh – said:

“So jihād against the external enemies of Allāh is a branch from the jihād of the servant against his own self in regards to Allāh, as the Prophet (ﷺ) said: “The mujāhid is the one who carries out jihād against his own soul in obedience to Allāh. And the muhājir is the one who leaves off that which Allāh has prohibited.”4 Jihād against the self takes precedence over and is the basis of, jihād against the outward enemy.  So the one who does not perform jihād against his own soul firstly, by carrying out that which he was commanded with, and leaving off that which he was prohibited from, and striving hard in that for the Sake of Allāh, it is not possible for him to perform jihād against the outer enemy.  Since, how can he perform jihād against his outer enemy, and be just with him, whilst the enemy that is within him has overpowered him and gained mastery over him, yet he does not perform jihād against this enemy, nor does he struggle against it for the Sake of Allāh!?  Rather, it is not possible for him to go out against his outer enemy until he has performed jihād against his own soul.  So the servant is tested by performing jihād against these two enemies, but amongst them is a third enemy.

It is not possible to perform jihād against the first two, except by jihād against this one; it is the one that stands between the two previously mentioned enemies and the servant, preventing him from jihād against the first two, and it forsakes him, and it keeps him back from jihād. He does not cease to make him think that his jihād against the first two enemies will mean leaving off wealth, pleasures, and desires.  So it is not possible for him to perform jihād against the first two enemies, except by performing jihād against this one. So jihād against this one is the basis of the jihād against the other two, and it is Shayṭān. Allāh the Exalted says:

“Verily Shayṭān is to you an avowed enemy, so take him as an avowed enemy.”
[Sūrah al-Aʿrāf, 7:22]

So the command to take him as an enemy is a warning against having a lack of ability in waging war and performing jihād against him, as if he is an enemy who never slackens, nor falls short in his war against the servant.”5

Jihād With Knowledge

Imām Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah – raḥimahullāh – said:

“So the supporting pillars of the Religion are knowledge (ʿilm) and jihād, and due to this, jihād is of two types: the jihād by the hand and the spear, and there is much participation in this. And secondly, there is the jihād with the proof and the clarification.  This latter jihād is specifically the following of the Messengers, and it is the jihād of the imāms, and it is the most excellent of the two jihāds due to its tremendous benefit and great burden, and numerous enemies. Allāh the Exalted said in Sūrah al-Furqān, and it is a madinī sūrah:

“And if We wished, We could have sent a warner to every city.  So do not obey the disbelievers and struggle against them with it (the Qurʾān) a great jihād.”
[Sūrah al-Furqān, 25:51-52]

So this jihād against them with the Qurʾān is the greater of the two jihāds, and it is additionally a jihād against the hypocrites.  This is because the hypocrites do not fight the Muslims, rather, they are with them outwardly, but when they fight, they oppose them.  So due to this, Allāh the Exalted said:

“O Prophet!  Perform Jihād against the disbelievers and the hypocrites and be harsh with them.”
[Sūrah al-Tawbah, 9:73]

And it is known that the jihād against the hypocrites is to be carried out with the establishment of proof and the Qurʾān.”6

Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr recited the following poetry:

“And ink that comes from their pens;

Is purer and more virtuous than the blood of the martyrs.

O students of the knowledge of the Prophet Muḥammad;

You are not without distinction.”7


[1] Wujūbut-Ta’aawun baynal-Muslimīn (p. 7-8)
[2] Siyar Aʿlām al-Nubʿalāʾ (10/518)
[3] Zajarul-Mutahāwun (p. 105)
[4] Ṣaḥīḥ: Related by Aḥmad (3/21).  It was authenticated by Shaykh al-Albānī in Ṣaḥīḥ al-Targhīb (2/150).
[5] Zād al-Maʿād (3/6)
[6] Miftāh Dārus-Sa’ādah (1/70)
[7] Jāmiʿ Bayān al-ʿIlm (1/31)

Prepared by Maaz Qureshi

Published: June 22, 2007
Edited: April 13, 2023

Events & Activities

Most Popular: Last 30 Days