Jihad And Ji’alaJihad and Ji’ala
Recently Jihad has made national headlines. Most people don’t know what that word means and what are the rules for declaring Jihad. Well, Jihad means holy war, which applies to Muslims. The idea of Jihad came about when Prophet Muhammad wanted to spread Islam. Jihad was first declared against the people of Mecca, who chased out the prophet and his followers and they had to escape to Medina. The take on Jihad was also used to expand the Muslim empire. Jihad can only be declared by an Imam (the leader of Islam) under certain conditions. Michael Bonner wrote a book titled Studies in the Jihad and the Arab-Byzantine Frontier. He talked about how Jihad had certain practice that was used in pre-Islamic Arabia, which was used in battles between the Arabs (Muslims) and the Byzantines. This paper is going to concentrate about Jihad and try to oppose his beliefs about how Jihad has pre-Islamic practices.
The first thing that Michael Bonner talks about is Ja’l which means:wage or pay which one gives to a man that he may aid himself thereby to serve in the war (p.12) He also mentioned Ji’ala which also mean when a man is obligated to go to war and has another man take his place in exchange for a wage stipulated in advance. (p.12) Also known as a bribe. He applied those two activities to Islam, and how they were used in the basis of Jihad. To start out with, Jihad is for a free adult Muslim male, in a health shape and he must bring his own provisions, weapons, equipment and mount all out of his own wealth. Islam opposes having Muslim pay other Muslims to fulfill their obligation to go to war and get rewarded the same as for the person who actually went and fulfilled his religious obligation. Michael Bonner said in his book that Ji’ala was used before Islam, a time called Jahiliyya. He also mentioned that Islam opposed it by mentioning Abdallah bi Umar, who was the son of the caliph Umar I, in how when he was asked about Ji’ala he replied ‘I don’t accept bribes, except for the bribe which God offers me’ (p.31), also another proof of opposition by the same person ‘The man who stayed [at home] used to give a donation to the warrior. But for a man selling his won capacity for warfare, I don’t know what that is’ (p.30) From those two quotes on could surely see no relation between Jihad and Ji’ala since Ibn Umar was raised by an influential Muslim leader (caliph). Also the Qur’an (holy book in Islam) doesn’t mention this kind of activity. The Qur’an mentions that a person could donate money or gifts to the men leaving for Jihad, but that person will not receive any service in return for what he donated. Ibn Umar used to do this.
Also Michael Bonner tried to prove his point by talking about how several Hadiths, which means formally recorded saying of the prophet Muhammad and of those around him, passed down through a process of oral transmission, supplemented at some point by writing. (p.xii), by using quranic verses, and by also translating poems after the spread of Islam. First of all Hadiths can be interpreted differently by Muslim lawyers, for example Iraq and Medina had different interpretation about the Hadith of Companions. In addition, the Qur’an is the language of God, and some parts in the Qur’an, it’s true meaning is still unclear, and different people have different interpretation. He used a quranic verse as a strong point to back up his point, but as mentioned above there are different interpretations. The prophet set certain conditions for jihad and it didn’t mention Ji’ala at all. Finally, he mentions a poem written by a Muslim poet. Poems are completely irrelevant to prove a sensitive point, they are not mean to be used to prove a religious point, it’s a form of art, and the Arabs back then were known for writing beautiful poems for the purpose of competing with other poets. So, these poems shouldn’t be used to back up historical activities.
In conclusion, for Michael Bonner to try to prove that Ji’ala was used during Jihad as a form of substitution for Jihad is not accurate. Yes, Ji’ala was used during the pre-Islamic time period, but Islam got rid of it. Jihad is an internal feeling a person feels in order to spread or protect God’s name. Also if a person goes to Jihad only to make people think he’s fighting in the name of Allah he may as well say home, because his jihad is not accepted. So ji’ala what Bonner was trying to argue that it existed in Islam weren’t consistent. Some Muslims interpret things in their own benefits to prove their point and that’s unacceptable in front of god. This point applies to what happened in the recent tragic events.