As the question states is Jihad an obligation for all Muslims? And if so, are there different forms of Jihad which Muslims can perform?

  • please clear it if you mean only lesser Jihad. (physical war) to avoid irrelevant answers. Commented Jul 10, 2012 at 11:15

4 Answers 4


The meaning of jihad is not limited to taking a rifle, going to the battlefield, and fighting to death. It has a wider meaning; that is to correct the problems in yourself and on your surroundings.

If we categorize ibadats of a Muslim, there are three different categories:

  1. Tawheed: Staying away from shirk.
  2. Salat: Supporting the way of Allah via education.
    Animals born with enough knowledge to stay alive without any education. But humans are not so. Education for humans has no limit, and every human being must be educated. What we call salat or prayer is in fact only a small subset of the actual salat ordered in Quran. Our daily prayers are study of Quran, but we must do more salat out of them.
  3. Jihad: Fixing the problems in our behaviors (nefs), and around us.
    Fixing ourselves is called tawba, and fixing around us is called estigfar and islah. Jihad is a combination of tawba and islah.

Yes, jihad is obligatory for all Muslims. But it doesn't mean that all Muslims must take their rifles and rush to battlefield. There are many ways for making jihad. Kindly warning your friends about their mistakes and offering them solutions is a kind of jihad. Nurturing a good child who will one day be a good citizen is a kind of jihad.

  • please categorize your answer for greater Jihad and lesser Jihad. and please sunni view about obligatory rules. Commented Jul 10, 2012 at 11:17



Words have literal meanings and technical \ specialized meanings. For example Zakat literally means to increase or purify. However when used in Islamic texts and discussions, without any further context or qualifications, it is understood to mean the purification of wealth through giving of charity and not any other type of purification. Similarly: Sawm literally means abstinence, however as a technical term in Islam it means fasting i.e. to abstain from food, drink and sexual pleasures from dawn till sunset. Similarly: Salah literally means supplication, however as a technical term in Islam it means a worship ritual involving certain movements and recitations.

In the same way Jihad literally means 'to struggle', and is occasionally used to mean different types of struggle. However when used without any more context or qualification, it is understood to be used in its technical meaning, which is defined as: physically fighting against the disbelievers. And at times for ancillary functions of fighting such as its financing or motivation.

قال: وما الجهاد؟ قال: أن تقاتل الكفار إذا لقيتهم ، قال: فأي الجهاد أفضل؟ قال: من عقر جواده وأهريق دمه

A man asked: "What is Jihad?"

The Prophet ﷺ said: "To fight the disbelievers when you meet them."

The man asked: "Which Jihad is most superior?"

The Prophet ﷺ said:"That in which his steed's feet are cut and his blood is spilled."

Musnad Ahmad

أن الجهاد في سبيل الله إذا أطلق فلا يقيم بإطلاقه إلا على مجاهدة الكفار بالسيف حتى يدخلوا في الإسلام أو يعطوا الجزية عن يد وهم صاغرون

If Jihad in the way of Allah is mentioned categorically then it does not mean anything except struggling against the disbelievers with the sword until they accept Islam or pay Jizyah while being subdued.

Muqaddimmat al-Mumahhidaat

So if for example a text or scholar talks about Jihad, then they mean this type of Jihad (unless they explicitly indicate that they are talking about something else). The rest of the answer will assume that you are asking about this Jihad and will itself use the word in this sense.


Obligatory means Fard or Wajib. An obligatory act is that which has to be performed and a person does not have the option to omit it when he is not in the mood etc. A person earns reward for doing it and if he leaves it then he earns sin and may be punished for that in the afterlife. Examples of obligatory acts include the five daily prayers or fasting in Ramadan.

Obligatory is different from Recommended i.e. Mustahab or Mandud act. A Recommended act is one for whose performance a person receives reward but does not earn sin for omitting it. An example of a recommended act can be fasting in the month of Shawal. Obligatory is also different from a Permissible i.e. a Mubah act which is something which is permissible without necessarily being praiseworthy.

Obligatory acts can further be subdivided into two types:

  • Fard al-Ayin: Means an obligation on an individual level, applicable to every Muslim. Similar to how prayer or fasting is obligatory on all individual Muslims.
  • Fard al-Kifayah: Communal Obligation. Something which is obligatory on the Muslims as a whole. If enough of them perform it to fulfill the intended goals then the obligation is discharged on behalf of all Muslims and no one earns blame. However if no one performs it then every single Muslim earns sin. An example of Fard al-Kifayah is calling the adhan or performing the funeral rites for the deceased, or giving fatwas etc.

Ruling on Jihad:

In general Jihad is obligatory. Not merely recommended or permissible.

Fighting is commanded in numerous verses of the Quran such as:

فاقتلوا المشركين حيث وجدتموهم وخذوهم واحصروهم واقعدوا لهم كل مرصد فإن تابوا وأقاموا الصلاة وآتوا الزكاة فخلوا سبيلهم

Kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way.

Quran 9:5

قاتلوهم يعذبهم الله بأيديكم ويخزهم وينصركم عليهم ويشف صدور قوم مؤمنين

Fight them; Allah will punish them by your hands and will disgrace them and give you victory over them and satisfy the breasts of a believing people

Quran 9:14

قاتلوا الذين لا يؤمنون بالله ولا باليوم الآخر ولا يحرمون ما حرم الله ورسوله ولا يدينون دين الحق من الذين أوتوا الكتاب حتى يعطوا الجزية عن يد وهم صاغرون

Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture - [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.

Quran 9:29

وقاتلوا المشركين كافة

And fight against the disbelievers collectively

Quran 9:36

جاهد الكفار والمنافقين واغلظ عليهم

Fight against the disbelievers and the hypocrites and be harsh upon them.

Quran 9:73

قاتلوا الذين يلونكم من الكفار وليجدوا فيكم غلظة واعلموا أن الله مع المتقين

Fight those adjacent to you of the disbelievers and let them find in you harshness.

Quran 9:123

وقاتلوا في سبيل الله الذين يقاتلونكم

Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you

Quran 2:190

واقتلوهم حيث ثقفتموهم ... كذلك جزاء الكافرين

And kill them wherever you overtake them ... such is the recompense of the disbelievers.

Quran 2:191

وقاتلوهم حتى لا تكون فتنة ويكون الدين لله

Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] worship is [acknowledged to be] for Allah.

Quran 2:193

فإذا لقيتم الذين كفروا فضرب الرقاب

So when you meet those who disbelieve [in battle], strike [their] necks

Quran 47:4

A command is by default interpreted as an obligation unless there is evidence to interpret it as a recommendation instead. So the verses above can be used as evidence that Jihad is obligatory as they command performing it.

Further there are verses of the Quran such as:

كتب عليكم القتال وهو كره لكم وعسى أن تكرهوا شيئا وهو خير لكم وعسى أن تحبوا شيئا وهو شر لكم والله يعلم وأنتم لا تعلمون

Fighting has been enjoined upon you while it is hateful to you. But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not.

Quran 2:216

ألم تر إلى الذين قيل لهم كفوا أيديكم وأقيموا الصلاة وآتوا الزكاة فلما كتب عليهم القتال إذا فريق منهم يخشون الناس كخشية الله أو أشد خشية

Have you not seen those who were told, "Restrain your hands [from fighting] and establish prayer and give zakah"? But then when fighting was ordained for them, at once a party of them feared men as they fear Allah or with [even] greater fear. They said, "Our Lord, why have You decreed upon us fighting? If only You had postponed [it for] us for a short time."

Quran 4:77

فإذا أنزلت سورة محكمة وذكر فيها القتال رأيت الذين في قلوبهم مرض ينظرون إليك نظر المغشي عليه من الموت

But when a precise surah is revealed and fighting is mentioned therein, you see those in whose hearts is hypocrisy looking at you with a look of one overcome by death.

Quran 47:20

These verses very clearly state that fighting is obligatory (كتب). The content of the second and third verse would not make sense if it was merely optional to fight.

Further, the Quran condemns and threatens punishment for abstinence from it. This is evidence of its obligation, since abstinence from an optional act is not worthy of being condemned or punished:

ما لكم إذا قيل لكم انفروا في سبيل الله اثاقلتم إلى الأرض ... إلا تنفروا يعذبكم عذابا أليما ويستبدل قوما غيركم

What is [the matter] with you that, when you are told to go forth in the cause of Allah, you adhere heavily to the earth ... If you do not go forth, He will punish you with a painful punishment and will replace you with another people

Quran 9:38

And there are also ahadith which condemn abstinence from it, which is again evidence of its obligation as explained above:

من مات ولم يغز ولم يحدث به نفسه مات على شعبة من نفاق

Whoever dies without having fought (in Jihad) or having thought of fighting, has died as a type of hypocrite


One can also read the lengthy hadith of Ka'b bin Malik which is about absence from fighting, as recorded by Bukhari and Muslim. Kab'b was reproached for not joining the Tabuk expedition. He was punished for it by social boycott from the Muslims and later he repented and was forgiven. Reproach, punishment and repentance are indicators that he had neglected an obligation. Hence Jihad was obligatory on him in this event.

As for whether it is obligatory on all Muslims. That requires further discussion of the different types of Jihad:

Ruling on Defensive Jihad:

Defensive Jihad means fighting the disbelievers when they attack the Muslims. Fighting in this case is Fard al-Ayin, especially on the people being attacked, and the Muslims of surrounding areas if the attacked ones are not powerful enough to defend themselves. And eventually on all Muslims if needed.

Fard al-Ayin means an obligation on an individual level, similar to how prayer or fasting is obligatory on all individual Muslims. Fighting in this type of Jihad is obligatory on every kind of Muslim, including for example women and slaves who are excused from the second type of Jihad.

يا أيها الذين آمنوا إذا لقيتم الذين كفروا زحفا فلا تولوهم الأدبار

O you who have believed, when you meet those who disbelieve advancing [for battle], do not turn to them your backs [in flight].

Quran 8:15

فإن هجم العدو على بلد وجب على جميع الناس الدفع تخرج المرأة بغير إذن زوجها والعبد بغير إذن المولى

If however, the enemy attack a land it becomes obligatory upon all the people to defend it. For doing so the woman goes out without the permission of her husband and a slave without the permission of his owner.

Al-Hidayah fi Sharh Bidayat al-Mubtadi

إذا تعين الجهاد بغلبة العدو على قطر من الأقطار ، أو بحلوله بالعقر ، فإذا كان ذلك وجب على جميع أهل تلك الدار أن ينفروا ويخرجوا إليه خفافا وثقالا ، شبابا وشيوخا ... فإن عجز أهل تلك البلدة عن القيام بعدوهم كان على من قاربهم وجاورهم أن يخرجوا على حسب ما لزم أهل تلك البلدة ، حتى يعلموا أن فيهم طاقة على القيام بهم ومدافعتهم ... ولا خلاف في هذا

When jihad becomes obligatory because of the enemy's attack then it is obligatory on all of the inhabitants of the area to go out to fight them, whether they be light or heavy, young or old ... And if the people of a settlement are unable to defend against their attacker then it obligatory on the inhabitants of the neighboring areas to go out to fight them until they know that it the force is adequate enough to fight the enemy ... and there is no disagreement on this.

Tafsir al-Qurtubi

ومعلوم في اعتقاد جميع المسلمين أنه إذا خاف أهل الثغور من العدو ولم تكن فيهم مقاومة لهم فخافوا على بلادهم وأنفسهم وذراريهم أن الفرض على كافة الأمة أن ينفر إليهم من يكف عاديتهم عن المسلمين وهذا لا خلاف فيه بين الأمة إذا ليس من قول أحد من المسلمين إباحة القعود عنهم حين يستبيحوا دماء المسلمين وسبي ذراريهم

It is known that all Muslims believe that when those living at the border of the state fear an attack by the enemy and they lack the power to defend themselves because of which their cities, lives, properties and children are in danger of harm - then in this case it is obligatory on the entire Ummah that such people reach the borders who are able to protect the Muslims from the enemy. There is no disagreement in the Ummah on this, and no one claims that it is permissible in this case for any Muslim to remain at their home and to give the opportunity to the enemy to spill the blood of the Muslims and to capture their families.

Tafsir al-Jassas

Ruling on Offensive Jihad:

Which means going out to fight the disbelievers in their own settlements, even if they have not initiated hostilities first. This involves calling them to accept Islam or to become Dhimmis and otherwise fighting them. Usually when the term 'Jihad' is used by scholars it refers to this type of Jihad.

Offensive Jihad is Fard al-Ayin in some circumstances, which is for example when the ruler commands everyone to take part. This is the reason for condemnation of the absentees from Tabuk expedition in the Quran and Sunnah. It is also Fard al-Ayin after the armies meet, meaning that it is haram to flee from the battlefield.

Other than those circumstances, there is some difference of opinion in its ruling: The view of the vast majority is that it is Fard al-Kifayah while some rare dissenting options consider it to be Fard al-Ayin or Tatawwu‘ (supererogatory).

The meaning of Fard al-Kifayah is that if some Muslims perform this duty it suffices on behalf of all the Muslims, however if none of them perform it then every Muslim is equally blameworthy and earns sin. And jurists have noted that it is obligatory on the Muslims as a whole to perform it at least once per year, if the Muslims have enough strength to do that.

الجهاد فرض كفاية ابتداء يعني يجب علينا أن نبدأهم بالقتال وإن لم يقاتلونا .... وعليه إجماع الأمة

Initiating Jihad is Fard al-Kifayah, meaning It is obligatory on us to initiate fighting them even if they do not fight us ... and on this the Ummah has a consensus

Tabyeen al-Haqaa’iq

The evidence for it being Fard al-Kifayah include the verses:

  • لا يستوي القاعدون من المؤمنين غير أولي الضرر والمجاهدون في سبيل الله بأموالهم وأنفسهم فضل الله المجاهدين بأموالهم وأنفسهم على القاعدين درجة وكلا وعد الله الحسنى وفضل الله المجاهدين على القاعدين أجرا عظيما

    Not equal are those believers remaining [at home] - other than the disabled - and the mujahideen, [who strive and fight] in the cause of Allah with their wealth and their lives. Allah has preferred the mujahideen through their wealth and their lives over those who remain [behind], by degrees. And to both Allah has promised the best [reward]. But Allah has preferred the mujahideen over those who remain [behind] with a great reward -

    Quran 4:95

    This verse is evidence that those who do not participate in Jihad are also rewarded by Allah but less than those who participate. This indicates that participation is not obligatory on everyone.

  • وما كان المؤمنون لينفروا كافة فلولا نفر من كل فرقة منهم طائفة ليتفقهوا في الدين ولينذروا قومهم إذا رجعوا إليهم لعلهم يحذرون

    And it is not for the believers to go forth [to battle] all at once. For there should separate from every division of them a group [remaining] to obtain understanding in the religion and warn their people when they return to them that they might be cautious.

    Quran 9:122

    This verse specifically instructs some Muslims to not participate in Jihad and rather to remain behind. This is evidence that Jihad is a communal obligation and not obligatory on every individual.

People on whom (offensive) Jihad is not obligatory:

Note also that offensive Jihad is not obligatory on some people who have valid excuses. These include women, children, and people who are weak due to disability or old age or illness or lack of means.

ليس على الضعفاء ولا على المرضى ولا على الذين لا يجدون ما ينفقون حرج إذا نصحوا لله ورسوله

There is not upon the weak or upon the ill or upon those who do not find anything to spend any discomfort when they are sincere to Allah and His Messenger.

Quran 9:91

ليس على الأعمى حرج ولا على الأعرج حرج ولا على المريض حرج

There is not upon the blind any guilt or upon the lame any guilt or upon the ill any guilt [for remaining behind].

Quran 48:17

واتفقوا أن لا جهاد فرضا على امرأة ولا على من لم يبلغ ولا على مريض لا يستطيع ولا على فقير لا يقدر على زاد

The jurists are in agreement that Jihad is not obligatory on a woman, nor a child below the age of puberty, nor on a sick person, nor on one who is not able, nor a destitute

Maratib al-Ijma'


From the dictionary:

ji·had   [ji-hahd]

  1. (among Muslims) A war or struggle against unbelievers
  2. The spiritual struggle within oneself against sin

Everyone should Jihad (Muslim or not): The spiritual struggle within oneself against sin.

Of Jihad: A war or struggle against unbelievers

Nobel Qur'an (3:113-115)

Of the people of the Book are a portion that stand (for the right); they rehearse the Sings of Allah all night long, and they prostrate themselves in adoration. They believe in Allah and the Last Day; They enjoin what is right, and forbid what is wrong; and they hasten (in emulation) in (all) good works: They are in ranks of the righteous. Of the good that they do, nothing will be rejected of them; for Allah knows well those that do right.

This would suggest that a Muslim should respect peaceful people of other religions. However, it does not imply that they should remain that way if attacked.

pintails7886 has a really good article found here. I quoted what I found most interesting below.

Some steps we must take in order for peace to work are as follows:

  • We must first think of what we can do for others, then ask what they can do for us.
  • We have to let go of selfishness, and realize that there are other people on this earth, and we are not better than another

  • We must realize that not all people will accept Islam and that we should love them no matter what their religion.

  • We must realize that God created many people with many colors, and He did this so we could come together no matter our differences. So we could become stronger for overcoming this. And be better servants to Him.

  • We have to realize that even though we are different we have the same goal. And we can work together even if we are different.

  • The future will not improve unless we accept the past and forgive on another and learn from it, accept all culture and ways of life.

  • We have to realize that no man is better than the other, No nation has the right to Judge another. But God will have His day of Judgment where no man will have power. And no matter what you social status you will bow before Allah, the One, the only One worthy of worship.

  • We must realize that all men and women are equal. And the law of man must apply to one just the same as the other. No man is above the law. Allah is the only one above the law. Because He is the Law.

  • We must provide help to all people in need. Not just one race or nation. This aid must be given without any conditions. You should never make a man pay a charity back. And a man must not force an unwanted charity onto another.

  • Leaders are not born, leadership is earned, through hard work and God-fearing rules. No person is worthy of leadership unless put in place by the people they rule.

  • We must realize that the rights we enjoy were not free. Some one had to pay for them. And if you want to enjoy these rights you must realize they are not just something that is given out. They cost blood, sweat, and tears, even if they weren't yours, you should act as if they were and be humble and respect these rights.

  • We must realize that military might does not give a nation more rights. People of the entire world should stand against such actions by any nation. Power through fear and strong arming should be shunned and should not be tolerated.

  • Change starts with one, at home, in the family. Our charity should be given freely to those who need it. Raise your children to give excess to those in need. Raise them to love your enemy instead of hating them. Teach your children that kind actions reap kind actions, and Bad actions sow more bad actions. The children are the key. Raise them to love, and love they will.

  • Thank you for your response brother. It is clear in the Quran that all true muslims must be ready to fight Shaytan, both within them, and in front of them. Allahu Akbar.
    – Muhammed J
    Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 7:40
  • @MuhammedJ IMHO, it is far more important to Jihad with someone's struggle against sin. The battle against Shaytan, the one who brings darkness, is that battle. Unbelievers need to be taught not fought against - unless there is no other option. Then we can all be brothers, Insha'Allah.
    – user206
    Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 13:42
  • Yes of course brother, but as the Prophet(pbuh) discovered after Banu Qurayzah, not all kuffars wish to open their hearts to Allah - and when that happens we muslims can only follow Allah and the Prophet's guidance for what punishment should await them, in this world and the next.
    – Muhammed J
    Commented Jul 16, 2012 at 14:25
  • Let me be very clear, as I believe Jesus said in Matthew 5:39: "But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." - which is to have toleration first. And when I said, "unbelievers" I am talking about those who do not believe in the one living and true God. As described in the Nobel Qur'an (3:113-115)
    – user206
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 13:02
  • @MuhammedJ I was quoting it as a mention of what I believe - it doesn't have to be what you believe. I was just telling you where I was coming from. And I am sorry that I disagree with you with one major point. If you and I and anyone else believes in one God, it is the same God worshiped differently. The differences are made by humans, not God. You and I may agree or disagree, but God the Most Merciful will forgive us as we are only trying to understand him more. In my opinion, your lack of toleration is not consistent with the Nobel Qur'an (3:113-115).
    – user206
    Commented Jul 25, 2012 at 12:43

Jihad means striving in the path of Allah. It includes every effort for the dheen of Allah and making his words superior. The ultimate in this striving is when we get an opportunity to protect the dheen using our body and we attain martyrdom if we die in this way. That said we should not always try to get martyrdom, our life is more important than our death and we should try to use our life to promote the message of Allah in a peaceful way.

And strive in His cause as ye ought to strive, (with sincerity and under discipline). He has chosen you, and has imposed no difficulties on you in religion; it is the cult of your father Abraham. It is He Who has named you Muslims, both before and in this (Revelation); that the Messenger may be a witness for you, and ye be witnesses for mankind! So establish regular Prayer, give regular Charity, and hold fast to Allah! He is your Protector - the Best to protect and the Best to help! Quran 22:78

So every Muslim should strive in the way of Allah in whatever capacity he is able to do.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .