Government Angrezi aur Jihad 

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Author: Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas

The majority of the time that the British ruled the Indian subcontinent was spent in discussions among the Muslims whether Jihad should be waged against them or not. 

Whether the British qualified as the enemies of Islam was amongst the hottest debates in Muslim circles. Some held the opinion that even if they did not qualify to be classed so, their occupation of the Indian subcontinent – where Muslims had ruled for centuries – was reason enough for them to be ushered out of the country through weaponry Jihad. This led to a detailed discussion on the issue of India being Dar al-Harb or Dar al-Salam; where Jihad of the sword was obligatory or where it was not, respectively.

Government Angrezi aur Jihad is an Urdu booklet written in 1900 by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas, the Promised Messiah and the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat. In this booklet, he refers to the Holy Quran and the Ahadith (sayings) of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa in order to explain the true meaning of the Islamic concept of Jihad. The Promised Messiahas points to the peaceful nature of the Islamic faith and explains that Muslims resorted to defensive war early in their faith’s history only after suffering thirteen years of brutal oppression. Divine permission to retaliate was granted for the specific purpose of self-defence, to punish aggressors and to uphold freedom of conscience.

We quote here from this book to get a flavour of the detailed discussion carried out therein. Explaining the etymology of the term Jihad, Hazrat Ahmadas says:

“It should be understood that the word jihad is derived from the [Arabic] root juhd, which means “to strive” and is therefore used figuratively for religious wars. It seems that the word yudh, which is commonly used by Hindus to mean war, is in reality a corruption of the word jihad. Since Arabic is the mother of all languages, out of which all other languages emerged, the word yudh which in Sanskrit means war is actually the same as juhd or jihad.”

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Why wars were fought in the early history of Islam, Hazrat Ahmadas stated, was because the Holy Prophetsa had brought a new religion and this made the existing, established communities jealous of its speedy spread and growth. This jealousy led the leaders of other religions to inflicting violence and coercion upon those who accepted the new faith called Islam. 

“These reasons incited the hostility of pagan, Jewish and Christian scholars and prevented them from accepting truth in the time of the Holy Prophet (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). They therefore sought to eliminate Islam from the face of the earth. Since there were so few Muslims during Islam’s early period, their opponents treated them with bitter hostility out of the natural arrogance that inspires the minds of those who consider themselves to be superior to the followers of a new faith in terms of wealth, property, numbers, esteem and rank. They did not want this heavenly plant [of Islam] to take root upon the earth, but rather were fighting with all their might to destroy these righteous people. They feared that the firm establishment of this religion would in turn sow the seeds of destruction for their faith and nation. Because of this fear, which was deeply impressed on their hearts, they committed acts of extreme viciousness and cruelty and brutally murdered many Muslims.”

After many years of perseverance, tolerance and patience, Allah the Almighty finally instructed the Muslims to respond to these brutalities, but only by way of self-defence. (Surah al-Hajj, Ch.20: V.41-42)

“This commandment was specific to the period and time. It was not forever. It applied during the time when those entering the fold of Islam were being slaughtered like sheep and lambs. After the time of the Holy Prophet[sa] and his Successors, people unfortunately made very grave mistakes in understanding the philosophy of jihad, which is rooted in the preceding verse. The unjust slaughter of God’s creatures was deemed to be a mark of religious virtue.”

The Promised Messiah describes how the notion of Jihad has been used by the maulvis – who take themselves to be custodians of faith – to achieve their worldly goals and objectives.

“It should be remembered that today’s Islamic scholars (who are called maulavis) completely misunderstand jihad and misrepresent it to the general public. The public’s violent instincts are inflamed as a result and they are stripped of all noble human virtues. This is in fact what has happened. I know for certain that maulavis who persist in propagating these blood-spattered doctrines are in fact responsible for murders committed by ignorant, egotistical people who know nothing of why Islam was forced to fight battles in its early history…”

Highlighting the duplicity exercised by these maulvis in their word and practice is highlighted in the passage below:

“When these maulavis meet present day rulers, they bow down as if ready to prostrate; but among their own kind they insist repeatedly that this country is dar-ul-harb [warzone].”

An example of this duplicity practiced by the maulvis has been highlighted in the From the Archives column of this issue. 

The Ahmadiyya Archive and Research Centre (London) has been able to find the original English rendering of this book. 

This book was translated under the instructions of the author, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas of Qadian, printed at the Caxton Printing Works, Lahore, and sent to the learned circles of the British Government both in India and here in England. We are happy to share with our readers the title page of this first ever and original edition of the English rendering of a great work by a great man.

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