Going to jihad vs. caring for one’s parents: what should come first?
Dar al-Iftaa asserts that jihad in Islam is a sublime human objective and a just Divine wisdom. Jihad means repelling oppression as well as protecting the right to learn about Islam and the freedom to accept it. This can only occur after summoning to Islam, teaching it to those who did not receive its call, and giving them the freedom to choose without coercion or falsification.
In its fatwa, Dar al-Iftaa explicated the concept of jihad in the cause of God and whether it is permissible to prevent one’s son from undertaking it in Syria, Iraq, Chechnya, Afghanistan and occupied Palestine. It also posed questions on whether jihad is an individual obligation at the present time,whether a parent’s refusal to send their son to jihad is religiously legitimate or is considered disobeying God the Almighty and preventing the establishment of Islamic legal duties.
Dar al-Iftaa explained that the expression ‘jihad in the cause of God’ may be implemented—as stated in al-Akhlaq wa al-Raqaq—in a broader sense to include striving against one's whims, caprices and Satan. This meaning is borne out by the hadith recorded by al-Baihaqay in al-Zuhd al-Kabir from Jabir ibn Abdullah [may Allah be pleased with him] who said that Prophet Muhammad told a group from among his followers who returned from battle, “You have arrived with an excellent arrival.You have come from the lesser jihad to face the greater jihad.” They [his Companions] asked, “What is the greater jihad?” The Prophet answered, “Striving against one’s inclinations.”
The fatwa maintained that combative jihad is primarily a collective duty. It can only be declared by the ruler and its organization is the responsibility of those in authority and the concerned state institutions who, from their divinely appointed positions, are best able to calculate the consequences of such a crucial decision. They examine the extent of the necessity that calls for defensive jihad and their decision is based on a meticulous study that carefully balances interests against harms. It must be free of sciolism, haphazardness, or heedless emotions.
No single group or person may initiate jihad without taking into account the above criteria and conditions. The people’s interest and livelihoods will surely be disrupted if a group of individuals wage jihad without being mobilized by the ruler; God the Almighty says, “And it is not for the believers to go forth [to battle] all at once” [Qur`an 9: 122].A call to arms without the ruler’s authorization is a destructive act without gain. It ignores consequences and causes blind chaos and fatal strife between Muslims which are the result of unilateral and unwise jihad decisions. It is known by religion, reason, and fact that dispersal and disunity forfeits the organization and nobility of combat on the one hand and depreciate its aim one the other.
The fatwa added that the jihad of those living outside an oppressed country is based on the extent of the necessity of its people. Jihad in such an instance must follow the proper means which include reference to the concerned authorities. Jihad must be undertaken in an official and well planned manner to prevent anyone who is devoted to the cause from falling prey to suspect organizations which may exploit their fervor and use it to the advantage of external objectives in the name of jihad.
The fatwa confirmed the permissibility of paternal restraint. A son’s obligation to obey his father in this regard is based on the hadith recorded in the Sahih of Bukahri and the Sahih of Muslim and to which Bukhari devoted a chapter entitled “Jihad is impermissible except with the permission of parents”. The hadith which is narrated by Abduallah ibn Umar [may Allah be pleased with them], states that a man came to the Prophet [peace and blessings be upon him] and asked for his permission to undertake jihad. The Prophet asked him, “Are you parents alive?” The man replied, “yes”, the Prophet said, “Then your jihad is with them [by honoring and serving them].”
The fatwa also cited the report recorded by Abu Dawud in his Sunan from Abu Sa’id al-Khudri [may Allah be pleased with him] who said that a man came to the Messenger of Allah [peace and blessings be upon him] from Yemen asking for permission to engage in jihad. The Prophet asked him, “Do you have any relatives in Yemen?” The man replied, “My parents.” The Prophet then asked him, “Did you take their permission?” “No,” the man answered. The Prophet said, “Go back and ask for their permission. If they agree, go for jihad. Otherwise, [obey them] and be dutiful to them.” The fatwa is based on the opinion of the majority of scholars who maintained that jihad is unlawful if both parents or one of them refuses to sanction jihad provided they are Muslims. This is because dutifulness to parents is an individual obligation whereas jihad is a collective obligation.