Woking Muslim Mission, England, 1913–1968

M. Pickthall

Pickthall on the true concept of Jihad
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Marmaduke Pickthall on the true concept of Jihad

An explanation of the meaning of Jihad in Islam given by Marmaduke Pickthall is reproduced below, quoted from his biography Loyal Enemy by Anne Fremantle. His view of jihad is almost the same as the interpretation given by the Ahmadiyya Movement. It is, therefore, highly unjust that we should be accused by the anti-Ahmadiyya ulama of rejecting the Islamic teaching of jihad.

Pickthall’s view is recorded as follows:

“The error with regard to the common view regarding Islam arises from misapprehension of the meaning of the word ‘Jihad’, a word which in the hands of the C.I.D. reporters has caused much groundless fear to the British in India.

In English ‘Jihad’ is commonly translated ‘holy war’, with a meaning like crusade. It properly denotes the whole effort, individual and collective, of the true believer against evil, beginning with the conquest of a man’s own passions and ending possibly, but not necessarily, in persecution and exile or upon the battlefield. Every prophet made Jihad in his own way. That of Moses took the form of emigration to escape from evil. That of Jesus was of a non-violent and passive kind. That of Muhammad shows three stages: first a non-violent endurance of hostility and persecution while fulfilling his own mission, like that of Jesus; second, when the persecution threatened to exterminate his people, emigration, the Jihad of Moses; and third, when he and his followers formed an independent State, however small and weak, and when the persecutors still persisted in attacking them, then and not till then he was enjoined to fight.

The term ‘Jihad’ applies to all those stages, but in the minds of Europeans it is restricted to the third. That is the reason for the whole mistake. The sort of Jihad prescribed for peoples in a subject state differs from that prescribed for the same people in a state of independence. And the Jihad for subject peoples who are persecuted is the Jihad of Jesus, which was followed by Muhammad during thirteen years at Mecca.”

Loyal Enemy by Anne Fremantle, published by Hutchinson & Co. Ltd., London 1938, pages 323, 324.

The jihad indicated in the closing words, “the Jihad for subject peoples who are persecuted is the Jihad of Jesus, which was followed by Muhammad during thirteen years at Mecca”, is exactly the kind of jihad that Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad urged Muslims under British rule in India to undertake, for which purpose he created his Movement.

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the successor of the Woking Muslim Mission.