As I understand it, Offensive Jihad which is the initiation of warfare against the kuffar based on their rejection of Islam is proven from the Qur'an, Sunnah and the Madhahib of the Salaf:

Allah said:

"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.(9/29)

and one of the 12th Century Judges of Muslim Spain, Ibn Rushd(Averroes) wrote:

They (The Jurists) agreed regarding the people who are to be fought that they are all of the polytheists because of the Words of the Exalted:
"And fight them until Fitnah is no more, and the religion is totally for Allah"(8/39)
[ Bidayat al Mujtahid 2/144 ]

however, there is a hadith which in my perspective seems to imply the opposite:

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: Do not desire an encounter with the enemy; but when you encounter them, be firm.
[ Sunnah Ref: Sahih Muslim 1741 ]

because if it is believed that it is an obligation to perform offensive jihad, then it would only be natural that one would want to encounter the enemy so that he can fulfil this obligation. But we are told to not desire that, and I'm not sure how to reconcile these two commands. So far I considered two possibilities:

  1. The hadith is from the period of the prophet's life before offensive jihad was commanded, so it would have been abrogated when the order to be at war against the kuffar in general was revealed

  2. the hadith was limited in scope to a specific expedition, meaning the prophet and sahaba were about to set off on a specific expedition, but for various and innumerably possible reasons such as muslim military weakness or other circumstances, the prophet wished to avoid a military engagement in that specific time.

Since I have no idea which is the case or if at all, I beseech the experts at Islam stack exchange 👍


1 Answer 1


The Prophet (SAW) said: "Do not desire an encounter with the enemy; but when you encounter them, be firm."

This hadith has more around it. See for full narration: https://sunnah.com/bukhari:3024

There are a few different explanations for this possible.

Firstly: It seems you are conflating jihad with encountering the enemy. Jihad has a couple of different outcomes other than fighting including surrender before any fighting and never encountering the enemy.

This is what the Prophet says. Don't wish to go into battle i.e. rather than succeeding without it or the battle becoming unneeded. But, if you do go into battle, be patient in it.

The reason you shouldn't wish to go to battle is because you don't know whether you can actually bear it. Perhaps it would be better for you if there was no battle. That is why you shouldn't wish that a battle happens but you should wish for well-being from Allah.

This is the same reason someone wouldn't ask Allah for difficulties or tests, because he doesn't know how he will fare in it.

Secondly: Sometimes being overly eager to go into battle without strategizing can be detrimental. It is possible the Prophet was telling them to be patient and not rush into battle without thought.

The full hadith mentions the context that this was said around the time of a battle.

Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) in one of his military expeditions against the enemy, waited till the sun declined and then he got up amongst the people saying, "O people! Do not wish to meet the enemy, and ask Allah for safety [...]"

So, it is possible this is a command to not rush into battle when being patient would be better.

  • after carefully considering your answer i must say i still find your answer a little off the mark. to begin with, there is actually a type of jihad in which nothing but fighting happens. it is in the circumstances when its not obligatory to give the call to Islam before attacking. in this case, the objective of the expedition would certainly be to meet the enemy right? you would start by fighting, and then the enemy may or may not submit to the jizya or Islam. That just feels completely inconsistent with this Hadith in which the prophet tell us not to want to meet the enemy...
    – Hisham
    Apr 1, 2023 at 23:03
  • @Hisham Why do you feel this must apply in every possible "type of Jihad"? Why can't it just be a command in general, while there are still cases where it doesn't apply? And even in those cases, the enemy could submit or run away
    – The Z
    Apr 2, 2023 at 1:55

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