The Qur'anic View of Sharia, Jihad and War
... God is All-Gentle, Most Merciful to mankind.
There are two concepts widely exploited by radicals who perform terrorist acts supposedly in the name of the religion of Islam in their bid to show Islam as a religion of violence: Sharia and jihad.
As God explicitly states in Qur'an, 12:111, the Qur'an is "a clarification of everything," although the radical mindset that takes fabricated hadiths as its guide has never seen the Qur'an as entirely sufficient. For that reason, throughout the course of history they have maintained that some of the commandments of the Qur'an are "not sufficient" (surely the Qur'an is beyond that) and need to be interpreted. From that, they developed the idea that we can only understand the Qur'an through the hadiths.
The hadiths have come down to the present day as the words of our Prophet (pbuh). While some are entirely trustworthy and accurate quotations and practices, others have gradually been distorted and the meanings of some have been changed entirely. There are two ways of determining whether a hadith is really the words or the practice of our Prophet (pbuh) and that is if it is in agreement with the Qur'an or if it has already occurred. It is without doubt a grave slander to maintain that words or practices that conflict with the Qur'an actually belong to the Prophet (pbuh) because our Prophet abided by the Qur'an alone.
"Interior of a Mosque, Afternoon Prayer", by John Frederick Lewis, 1847. Oil painting on wood panel, private collection.
The idea that we can only understand the Qur'an through the hadiths has wrought enormous harm on the Islamic world because some Muslims thinking along those lines began to abide by fabricated hadiths. They even eventually abandoned the Qur'an altogether, taking those hadiths alone as the source of their religion. When fabricated hadiths conflicted with the Qur'an, some even had the effrontery to say, "This hadith overrules the commandment of the Qur'an." Hundreds of fabricated hadiths gave rise to different faiths, and the result was four schools that disagreed with one another on many areas within Islam. The scholars all called themselves Muslims, but they all espoused something very different. They even said that the others had abandoned the faith entirely.
Our Prophet (pbuh) complains to Almighty God of the state into which the Islamic world has fallen as follows in the Qur'an:
The Messenger says, "My Lord, my people treat this Qur'an as something to be ignored." (Qur'an, 25:30)
Indeed, the problem of a large part of the Islamic world today is that people regard the Qur'an as a book that has been abandoned.
Once the Qur'an had been abandoned, it was time for "ijma." (Ijma means eminent religious figures living at any time producing commandments regarding Sharia law on the basis of deductive analogy.) Since the Qur'an was not their guide they were smothered by thousands of fabricated hadiths and they finally decided that "neither the Qur'an nor the hadiths could properly explain the commandments." After a while these "religious leaders" began producing laws in the name of Islam.
The schools began clashing with one another, and the agreements of the Muslim communities came into conflict with those of other schools. Every "religious leader's" own interpretation was regarded as law, each community based itself on a different set of practices and the whole community of Islam began splitting up into sects, classes and finally tiny groups. The Qur'an, however, was left as little more than a decorative item hung up on the wall, still inside its case. As a result, a large part of the Islamic world "abandoned and ignored the Qur'an."
Looking at some of the opponents of Islam, we see that their problem is quite ironically the same as that of the peddlers of superstition: They do not learn about Islam from the Qur'an. Just like the peddlers of superstition, they concentrate on fabricated hadiths, traditions and interpretations of Islam by religious leaders that are generally incompatible with the Qur'an. In their eyes, "Islam" is the lifestyle and practices of the peddlers of superstition. In their view, "Islam" is the imaginative power of historians, not the faith as revealed in the Qur'an. They call the practices of this fabricated religion "Sharia," not the laws of the Qur'an. They are unaware of the values and concepts imparted in the Qur'an, but have a great knowledge of all the rules of the false religion of the peddlers of superstition. In criticizing the rules of that false religion, they imagine they are criticizing Islam. So attached are they to the religion of the peddlers of superstition that they do not believe it when they are told, "This is not Islam." And this is an exceedingly serious error.
These people must believe this if they are not opposed to Islam owing to any philosophical or religious opposition and if they genuinely seek a solution to the darkness of the fanatic mindset. Their religion is not Islam. The Qur'an by itself is sufficient for a Muslim. Hadiths are true and reliable so long as they are compatible with the Qur'an. A hadith that is incompatible with the Qur'an has no place in Islam. If a Muslim cannot find Islam in the Qur'an, it means he is looking for another religion and the Sharia of that faith is not Islam.