2 Points in Clarification with regard to Jihad

February 7, 2008 at 6:12 pm (Islam, Islamism)

echnaton wrote:

Hello Muslihoon.
I got an interesting point while reading your recent post….“There are some Muslims, notably the Ahmadi sect of Hanafi Sunni Islam, who have determined that jihad by force is no longer permitted and no longer needed”….I knew about the Ahmadi “sect”….but it’s the first time (I was thinking that I was well read into islam (reading about it for the last 8 years)) that I hear that the Hahafi school sets itself apart from the ortodox view on jihad…could you please alaborate a little on that? (I was thinking that the Hanbali school, as the Shafi’i (1991’s manual certified by al-azhar) tells: if you think that you are oppressed, you are in a defensive jihad that doesn’t need the presence and the call of the kalif. (for the Maliki (Ibn Khaldun 1332-1406 in his “Muqaddimah” : jihad is a religious obligation bcs of the universalism of the muslim mission. Hanbali….ok is the one school that gave the birth to wahabism…everyone knows the rest).
Many thanks Echnaton

I’m sorry if what I have written has caused any confusion. Two points need to be made in clarification: one with regard to what Hanafi Sunni Islam says or believes about jihad by force (vis-à-vis the other schools of jurisprudence), and one with regard to the classification of the Ahmadi sect within Hanafi Sunni Islam.

One: Hanafi Sunni Islam and jihad

There are four schools of Sunni jurisprudence, of which the Hanafi school is one. (The other three are the Hanbali school, the Maliki school, and the Shafii school.) All four schools of jurisprudence agree on the essentials of Islam, differing only on minor points of practice and observance. (In reality, what differentiates each school of jurisprudence is the philosophy on how the law should be derived, which sources of Islam prevails over the others, and what rules ought to be followed in interpreting them.) All four schools of jurisprudence agree on the nature and importance of jihad by force. This includes the Hanafi school of jurisprudence. In this regard, the Hanafi school of jurisprudence does not differ from the other schools of jurisprudence. In other words, jihad by force is just as important, relevant, and essential as in the other three schools of jurisprudence.

Two: The Ahmadi sect and Hanafi Sunni Islam
In my post, I called the Ahmadi sect part of Hanafi Sunni Islam. I did this to put the Ahmadi sect in its context with regard to other Islamic movements: in many cases, the Ahmadi sect follows the Hanafi school of jurisprudence in practice, but this is not to say that the Hanafi school of jurisprudence agrees with the Ahmadi sect with regard to the Ahmadi sect’s beliefs on jihad by force. (Indeed, this point is one that places the Ahmadi sect at odds with not only Hanafi Sunni Islam but also with practically every form of Islam, with some exceptions (such as the Ismailis, who also do not believe in the current necessity or legitimacy of jihad by force).)

There is a widespread misconception that the Ahmadi sect is completely separate from all of Islam’s schools of jurisprudence whereas the reality is that in practice the Ahmadi sect adheres to Hanafi Sunni Islam, reflecting thereby the sect’s origins in the South Asian subcontinent (where the Hanafi school of jurisprudence prevails). In other words, most of the rules followed by the Ahmadis in their practice of Islam corresponds with those of Hanafi Sunni Islam. There are, obviously, differences between the two (especially when it comes to the realm of beliefs), but there are enough similarities to justify categorizing the sect as part of Hanafi Sunni Islam. As it is, a movement does not have to imitate the rulings, practices, and beliefs of Hanafi Sunni Islam to be a part of that school of jurisprudence: the Deobandis and Barelvis are both part of Hanafi Sunni Islam despite a number of differences between the two.

And it should be noted that the Ahmadi sect follows the Hanafi school of jurisprudence rather than Hanafi jurisprudence: the Ahmadi sect follows many trends and practices found in this form of Islam but does not follow the authorities and structure and rulings per se thereof.

(Note: Technically, an Islamic school of jurisprudence is called a “madh-hab” in Arabic. The plural of “madh-hab” is “madhahib”.)

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