An-Nisa · Juz 5 · Qur'an Tafseer

Jihad – Fard al-Kifayah

According to leading exegetes, this ayah tells us that jihad is fard ala al-kifayah under normal conditions. Fard kifayah, as opposed to fard ala al-ayn (an obligation for every individual), is an obligation of sufficiency. It means that should some people fulfill it, the rest of Muslims stand relieved subject to the condition that those engaged in jihad must be sufficient for that jihad. If the situation is otherwise, jihad will become an obligation on all Muslims living in the neighboring areas who will have to come forward to help the Mujahideen.

The Definition of Fard Kifayah

In the terminology of the Shari’ah, fard kifayah refers to obligations the fulfillment of which is not mandatory on every individual Muslim. Instead, if some fulfill it, that will be good enough. Most activities of a collective nature fall under this category. Teaching of religious sciences and their wider dissemination is also an obligation of this nature – if some people are devoted to the fulfillment of this obligation and their number is fairly sufficient, then, other Muslims are absolved of this duty. But, should it be that just about nobody is discharging this obligation wherever there be the need to do so, then, everyone becomes a sinner.

The salah for the deceased, the bathing and shrouding of the body is also a collective obligation, for a brother fulfills the rights of a Muslim brother and this is how it is supposed to be, a requirement of the Islamic law. The making of masajid and madaris and running programs of public welfare are included under this very injunction that if some Muslims do that, the rest stand absolved of the obligation.

Generally, injunctions related to collective needs have been, of necessity, classed as fard kifayah by the Shari’ah of Islam so that all duties can be discharged under the principle of distribution of work. Thus, some people would be engaged in jihad, others in education and dawah activities and still others in attending various other Islamic or human needs.

In ayah 95, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has stated وَكُـلاًّ وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الْحُسْنَى  ‘and to all Allah has promised the best’. This statement gives peace of mind to those who are engaged in religious duties other than jihad. But, this injunction is operative in normal conditions when the jihad waged by some people is sufficient for defense against the enemy attack. Should it be that their jihad needs additional support, jihad becomes an absolute obligation on neighboring Muslims in the first instance. If this support too turns out to be still deficient, jihad becomes an absolute obligation on Muslims living nearby in their proximity. Finally, just in case, they too are unable to meet the challenge from the enemy, the mantle of jihad duty falls on the shoulders of other Muslims to the limit that there may come a time when every Muslim from the east and the west may have to participate in the jihad as solemn religious obligation.


Jihad is not obligatory on the lame, the crippled, the blind, the sick and on others who are excusable under the Islamic law.

[SOURCE: Maaruf-ul-Qur’an by Mufti Muhammad Shafi Usmani]


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