Shariah’s Black Box

In his written response, Usmani rejects any such suggestion. His response is provided below in full for three reasons: (1) it sets out in clear terms the standard, traditional Shariah doctrine on the Law of Jihad; (2) the response is a private response that Usmani purposefully made public by including in a book which was originally published in Urdu and which he subsequently had published in English; and (3) providing only a partial quote and allowing the reader to access the original at some other time would lessen the stark and startling impact of the legal ruling by one of the world’s most authoritative Shariah scholars and one of the most important Shariah authorities in the SCF world. His response was as follows:[344]

 I am in receipt of your esteemed letter. Whatever you have written about Jehad can be summarized as this “If a non-Muslim state allows for preaching Islam in its country, Jehad against it does not remain lawful.” If this is what you mean, my humble self does not agree with it. Obstruction in the way of preaching Islam does not mean only a legal obstacle, but greater power or domination of a non-Muslim state against Muslims is by itself a great obstacle in the propagation of Islam. There are no legal restrictions in most of the countries today on preaching Islam, but since their grandeur and authority is established in the world, it has led to developing a universal feeling which forms a greater obstacle than the greatest legal binding in the way of free propagation of Islam.

For this reason the most important purpose of Jehad is to break this grandeur so that the resulting psychological subordination should come to an end and the way of accepting the Truth become smooth. As long as this grandeur and domination persists the hearts of people will remain subdued and will not be fully inclined to accept the religion of Truth. Hence Jehad will continue. The Qur’an said in Sura Tauba:

Then, when the sacred months have passed, slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish worship and pay the poor-due, then leave their way free. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.[345]

Here, killing is to continue until the unbelievers pay Jizyah[346] after they are humbled or overpowered. If the purpose of killing was only to acquire permission and freedom of preaching Islam, it would have been said “until they allow for preaching Islam.” But the obligation of Jizyah and along with it the mention of their subordination is a clear proof that the purpose is to smash their grandeur, so that the veils of their domination should be raised and people get a free chance to think over the blessings of Islam. Imam Razi has written the following commentary on this verse:

The purpose of “Jizyah” is not to let the unbelievers stay in their contumacy against Islam but sparing their lives to give them a chance for a time during which they may hopefully get convinced of the truth of Islam and embrace it. So when an unbeliever is given time wherein he would be observing the respect and honour of Islam, and hearing the arguments of its validity, and also observing the baselesness of disbelief, these things would convince him to turn towards Islam. This, in fact, is the real purpose of legalizing Jizyah.