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I have heard this from many places that Jihad means struggle and spiritual struggle is greater Jihad. I was chatting with my cousin yesterday and I said to him that the best jihad is controlling your nafs. He disagreed and made these points:

1) He said that there was no saheeh Hadis on jihad-e-nafs, only zaeef Hadis about it.

2) Almost all the Kuran's ayat on the hukum of Jihad use the word QATAL rather than JIHAD, about which there is no confusion that it means killing.

3) Why Rasool Allah and Khulafa chose to do lesser jihad, rather than greater jihad? They would have chosen the afzal amal.

4) How can self control be a greater jihad than participating in war, where you have to withstand real physical hardship and risk your life and spend your wealth? It is illogical.

My question: is there any proof (Kuran verse or Hadis) that spiritual struggle is the greater Jihad? Are the first 2 claims true?

  • Salam and welcome to Islam stack exchange the Q&A site about Islam. Take the tour and check our help center to learn more about this site and the stack exchange model. – Sassir Sep 28 '18 at 20:05
2

1) Jihad means striving for the path of Allah. This means that anything that furthers the cause of Allah is Jihad. This includes fighting, spending donations, having good manners etc. I have not found evidence of the greater and lesser Jihad concept, though.

There are many instances of the Prophet (SAW) considering non-fighting things Jihad:

A man came to the Prophet (ﷺ) asking his permission to take part in Jihad. The Prophet (ﷺ) asked him, "Are your parents alive?" He replied in the affirmative. The Prophet (ﷺ) said to him, "Then do Jihad by taking care of them." (Sahih Bukhari)

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: The best Jihad in the path of Allah is (to speak) a word of justice to an oppressive ruler. (Sunan Abi Dawud)

Hajj is the Jihad of every weak person. (Sunan Ibn Majah)

All the above hadith are Sahih, and they establish that Jihad means anything strived for cause of Allah.

2) Yes. Fighting is a very important component of Jihad, there is no doubt.

3) They are not mutually exclusive. They did both. The Sahabah spent many years spending all their wealth, all their time, all their mind, and all their bodies for the cause of Islam.

As Allah says: "They alone are believers who come to believe in God and His Apostle, then never doubt again, and struggle wealth and soul in the way of God. They are the truthful and sincere."

4) It isn't.

Is there any proof (Kuran verse or Hadis) that spiritual struggle is the greater Jihad? Are the first 2 claims true?

I have not found any authentic evidence to suggest such a concept. Jihad has always been understood as struggling for the path of Allah. This includes fighting, protesting, doing a difficult task etc. There is no reason to consider anything a greater or lesser Jihad.

-1

As‘salaamu alaikum, brother. After reading and pondering your question, I am left with the impression that you misunderstand the full scope of the jihad bin‘nafs. I say that because of your statement: “How can self- control be a greater jihad than participating in war, where you have to withstand real physical hardship and risk your life and spend your wealth? It is illogical.” Yes, self-control (sabr) is an important part of the jihad bin‘nafs, but it is by no means the whole of it. The ultimate goal of the jihad bin‘nafs is “taz‘kiah” (purification and beautification of the soul), and that is where the weightiness of the jihad bin‘nafs becomes obvious because taz‘kiah has direct bearing on our success or failure on the Day of Jtdgment. Consider ayah 7 - 10 of surat-ush-shams (91): “by the soul, and the proportion and order given to it, and its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right. CERTAINLY, HE SHALL SUCCEED WHO PURIFIES IT, AND HE SHALL FAIL WHO CORRUPTS IT.” Consider also ayah 15 - 18 surat-un-nazi‘at (79): “Has the story of Musa reached you? Behold, your Lord called him in the sacred valley of Tuwa: ‘You go to Fir‘awn, for he has indeed transgressed all bounds. And say to him - would you (like) that you should be PURIFIED?‘” The jihad bin‘nafs is THE WORK that must be done to achieve taz‘kiah. And it is indeed an intense struggle, especially in the world we live in today. But lets look at some simple aspects of it. A war is not the only aspect of jihad fee sabeelillah. Building masaajid, schools, and hospitals is jihad fee sabeelillah too. So is clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, and providing shelter to the homeless. Overcoming our stinginess to give our wealth to finance these causes is jihad bin‘nafs, (64: 16). Dhikr to Allah is Islamic meditation. Do you know how much we are supposed to do it? CONSTANTLY! (7: 205; 33: 41 - 42; 73: 7 - 8; 24: 36 - 38). But we live in a time of constant distraction AND TEMPTATION (but that‘s a whole new discussion!). Anyway, remembering our Lord in a world that is doing its best to forget Him is jihad bin‘nafs too. How is the jihad bin‘nafs greater than jihad of war? Because it is the jihad of striving to achieve salvation for ourselves in the akhirah, inch by inch and day by day. It is constant and unrelenting. There are no days off from the jihad bin‘nafs. That is my understanding of the matter, but Allah knows best. Ma‘as‘salaam, brother.

  • I am not asking for ayat on the virtue of Tazkia nafs, Dhikr and other actions, I am asking WHERE it is classed as Jihad, and WHERE it is classed as Jihad-e-Akbar, more afzal than war. – Faik Hamid Sep 28 '18 at 17:25
  • Oh! You are looking for something written that explicitly says that jihad bin‘nafs is the greater jihad. I have only read the hadith of when Rasulullah (a.s.) and his Companions (r.a.) were leaving ‘Uhud and he reportedly told them, “We leave the lesser jihad to resume the greater jihad.” And I was taught that the jihad bin‘nafs is the means by which we attain taz‘kiah nafs. I have never read in the Qur‘an the phrase “jihad bin‘nafs”. Sorry that my answer did not help you, brother. As‘salaamu alaikum. – Ibraheem Muhammad Sep 28 '18 at 18:16
  • Why did you post two posts what makes this much different than the other answer? Each post has an "edit" link which every registered user can use to rephrase, change, add etc. – Sassir Sep 28 '18 at 20:07
  • As‘salaamu alaikum, Sassir. I ended up making two of the same posts because, when I originally tried to edit my first post, the results were a chopped up confusing-looking text. So I tried to fix that and only made it worse (smh). Then I looked for a way to delete the post and start over but i found no way to do that either. So I decided to just repost the original copy. Forgive me, little brother, but I‘m not very tech saavy. That‘s what happened. – Ibraheem Muhammad Sep 28 '18 at 22:39
-1

As‘salaamu alaikum, brother. After reading and pondering your question, I am left with the impression that you misunderstand the full scope of the jihad bin‘nafs. I say that because of your statement: “How can self- control be a greater jihad than participating in war, where you have to withstand real physical hardship and risk your life and spend your wealth? It is illogical.”

Yes, self-control (sabr) is an important part of the jihad bin‘nafs, but it is by no means the whole of it. The ultimate goal of the jihad bin‘nafs is “taz‘kiah” (purification and beautification of the soul), and that is where the weightiness of the jihad bin‘nafs becomes obvious because taz‘kiah has direct bearing on our success or failure on the Day of Judgment.

Consider ayah 7 - 10 of surat-ush-shams (91):

“by the soul, and the proportion and order given to it, and its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right. CERTAINLY, HE SHALL SUCCEED WHO PURIFIES IT, AND HE SHALL FAIL WHO CORRUPTS IT.”

Consider also ayah 15 - 18 surat-un-nazi‘at (79):

“Has the story of Musa reached you? Behold, your Lord called him in the sacred valley of Tuwa: ‘You go to Fir‘awn, for he has indeed transgressed all bounds. And say to him - would you (like) that you should be PURIFIED?‘”

The jihad bin‘nafs is THE WORK that must be done to achieve taz‘kiah. And it is indeed an intense struggle, especially in the world we live in today. But lets look at some simple aspects of it.

A war is not the only aspect of jihad fee sabeelillah. Building masaajid, schools, and hospitals is jihad fee sabeelillah too. So is clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, and providing shelter to the homeless. Overcoming our stinginess to give our wealth to finance these causes is jihad bin‘nafs, (64: 16).

Dhikr to Allah is Islamic meditation. Do you know how much we are supposed to do it? CONSTANTLY! (7: 205; 33: 41 - 42; 73: 7 - 8; 24: 36 - 38). But we live in a time of constant distraction AND TEMPTATION (but that‘s a whole new discussion!). Anyway, remembering our Lord in a world that is doing its best to forget Him is jihad bin‘nafs too.

How is the jihad bin‘nafs greater than jihad of war? Because it is the jihad of striving to achieve salvation for ourselves in the akhirah, inch by inch and day by day. It is constant and unrelenting. There are no days off from the jihad bin‘nafs.

That is my understanding of the matter, but Allah knows best. Ma‘as‘salaam, brother.

  • You have not answered my question, perhaps even missed the point entirely. Where is it said that Tazkiah Nafs is even Jihad? Where is it said that building schools is even Jihad? – Faik Hamid Sep 28 '18 at 17:09

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