Jihad by Means of the Qur’an

By Sayyid Qutb
Muslim Intellectual — Egypt

Jihad by Means of the Quran-

{Many times have We explained this (in the) Qur’an to them, so that they may take it to heart, but most people refuse to be anything but unbelievers.

Had We so willed, We could have sent a warner to every city.

Do not obey the unbelievers, but strive most vigorously against them with this Qur’an.} (Al-Furqan 25: 50-52)

After mentioning the blessing of rain, through which dead land is brought to life, these Verses refer to the Qur’an which, like pure rain water, descends from on high to purify people’s hearts and souls. It wonders how man warms to rain, which is essential for physical life, but does not warm to the Qur’an which gives life to hearts and souls.

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We have put it to them in a great variety of forms, styles and presentations, addressing it to their minds, hearts, souls and feelings. 

We sought to awaken their consciences to its import in numerous ways, employing different means to ensure that they interact with it. All it needs from them is that they should {take it to heart.}

The point is that the Qur’an aims to remind people of a truth that is well established in their nature, even though they often forget it. What makes them heedless of it is the fact that they submit to their desires:

{but most people refuse to be anything but unbelievers.} (Al-Furqan 25:50)

This means that the mission entrusted to Allah’s Messenger is a very tough one. He faces the whole of mankind when the great majority of them choose to follow their desires, insisting on unbelief, being ingrate, despite the presence of numerous signs pointing to the truth of faith.

{Had We so willed, We could have sent a warner to every city.} (Al-Furqan 25:51)

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Such a course would have divided the task and made it easier to carry out. Allah, however, chose one of His servants, the last of His messengers, and required him to address all mankind, so as to give them the same message which remains free from local variations. Allah also gave His Messenger the Qur’an, so as to make it the address he drove home to them: 

{Do not obey the unbelievers, but strive most vigorously against them with this Qur’an.} (Al-Furqan 25:52)

This Qur’an has great power and influence. It is irresistible. When Allah’s Messenger addressed the Arabs with it, it shook their hearts and consciences. They tried hard to counter its effects, employing every means at their disposal, but all their efforts were useless. The Quraish elders used to say to their people:

{Do not listen to this Qur’an, but rather talk frivolously about it, so that you might gain the upper hand.} (Fussilat 41: 26)

The elders of Quraish were themselves touched by the power of the Qur’an.

This betrayed their profound fear that the Qur’an would touch their own hearts and the hearts of their followers and that they would embrace Islam. They were aware that it took only the reading of a couple of verses, or perhaps a surah or two, by Muhammad, and listeners were so affected that they accepted his message. To them, it seemed like the Qur’an had a magic effect on people.


An Attempt to Resist the Qur'an's Splendor

The elders of the Quraish were themselves touched by the power of the Qur’an. It was only because they were keenly aware of this profound effect that they resorted to such tactics, warning their people against listening to it and encouraging them to take it frivolously. Indeed, their statement is indicative of how worried they were about the effect of the Qur’an.

Ibn Ishaq reports that three of the Quraish elders, Abu Jahl, Abu Sufyan and al Akhnas ibn Shariq went out one night to listen to the Qur’an being recited by the Prophet as he prayed in his home during the night. Each of them was on his own, thinking that no one would know about what he did.

As the day began to break, they went back. However, the three of them inevitably met. There was no need for them to ask each other what they were doing. Therefore, they remonstrated with one another and concluded that their action was inadvisable: “Should some of your followers see you,” one of them said, “you would stir doubts in their minds.”

The following night they did the same, and once again they met at the break of day. Again they counseled each other against such ‘irresponsible’ action. Nevertheless, the third night each of them went to sit outside the Prophet’s home and listen to the Qur’an. When they met in the morning, they were ashamed of themselves. One of them suggested that they should give each other their word of honour not to listen to the Qur’an again. They did so before going home.

Later that morning Al-Akhnas ibn Shariq went to see Abu Sufyan at his home. He asked him what he thought about what he heard Muhammad reciting. Abu Sufyan said: “I heard things which I know and recognize to be true, but I also heard things whose nature I cannot understand.” Al-Akhnas said that he felt the same. He then left and went to Abu Jahl’s home to put the same question to him.

Abu Jahl’s answer was totally different. For once, he was candid and honest with himself and his interlocutor:

I will tell you about what I heard! We have competed with the clan of `Abd Manaf (the Prophet’s clan) for honours: they fed the poor, and we did the same; they provided generous support to those who needed it and we did the same. When we were together on the same level, like two racehorses running neck and neck, they said that one of them was a Prophet receiving revelations from on high! When can we attain such an honour? By Allah, we shall never believe in him.

The Qur’an embodies simple and natural facts which link hearts directly to the truth .
This is just an example of how strongly attracted they were to the Qur’an. They felt that it was too powerful for them. Hence, they needed to pledge their word of honour that they would not listen to it again. What they feared most was that some of their subordinates might see them so taken by the Qur’an that they too would be unable to resist it.


The Wonderful Book

Indeed, the Qur’an embodies simple and natural facts which link hearts directly to the truth that issues forth with irresistible power. It includes scenes and images of the Day of Judgment, and others derived from the universe around us, historical accounts, scenes of the fate of past communities, and powerful arguments, all of which strike basic cords in our hearts.

Indeed, we often find that a single surah affects us so powerfully as to take hold of our whole being. Indeed, the Qur’an is often described as more powerful than great armies. It is no wonder, therefore, that Allah ordered His Messenger not to obey the unbelievers, and not to budge from fulfilling his task.

The divine order also required the Prophet to vigorously strive against unbelievers by means of the Qur’an. Having been given the Qur’an, the Prophet was equipped with something much more forceful and compelling than any human logic.

Taken with slight modifications from the author's Book  "In the Shade of the Qur'an"

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