Q508 :It is stated that jihad, the holy war, is one action which earns the highest reward from Allah. Please comment.

A508 : If we were to ask people where do they place jihad for Allah's cause in their list of virtuous actions, most of them will undoubtedly place it at the very top. Jihad requires a person to recognize the fact that Islam is the religion of the truth, accept it and hold firmly to it, and to convey it to others. In order to do this, a person may have to sacrifice his wealth and his life. Jihad means to accept these risks willingly. Although most people understand the term to mean fighting the enemies of Islam in order that Islam may achieve supremacy over all other philosophies and creeds, its significance is much wider than its erroneous translation as "holy war". Every action which serves the dual purpose of establishing Islam firm in its own land and conveying it to others, including an information campaign, is part of jihad. Whether we take jihad in this widest sense or restrict it to the narrower sense of fighting the unbelievers in battle, it ranks with most people as the most important action which earns reward from Allah. Since jihad requires a positive effort which involves sacrifice of one's time, money or life, it tends to overshadow other virtuous actions which bring us reward from Allah. Companions of the Prophet were in the habit of asking him about everything which relates to religion. They realized that Islam is a complete way of life which requires them to modify or amend, or totally change their practices so that they are in line with what Allah requires of them. Hence, they went to the Prophet asking him about anything on which they did not have clear guidance. At times, they put their questions in general terms in order to establish a certain principle or a definite list of priorities. Abdullah ibn Masood, a companion of the Prophet who achieved great renown as one of the leading scholars among the companions of the Prophet, reports that he asked the Prophet once: "Which action is most pleasing to Allah?" He answered: "To pray on time." I asked: "What comes next?" He answered: "Then comes kindness to one's parents." I said: "What comes next?" He said: "Next comes jihad for Allah's cause." (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim and others.) We note that the Prophet mentions first a pure act of worship which falls in the area of personal relationship with Allah as the act most pleasing to Him. He follows that with an action which falls in a very narrow section of social relations, i.e. family relations. He places both actions above the one which has more to do with public life and with the common welfare of the Muslim community. Moreover, the two first actions require much less effort and sacrifice than the third one. This Hadith reveals that the Prophet had a keen insight into what motivates people to work and to sacrifice. We know that prayer is the most important duty imposed by Islam. It does not impose a very heavy burden on the individual. It is an easy and pleasant duty which makes man constantly aware of what Allah requires of him and keeps him on his guard against falling in sin. It is only natural that the fulfillment of the top and most frequent duty should earn the greatest reward from Allah. What the Hadith tells us is that prayer must be offered on time in order to earn that great reward and be most pleasing to Allah. In other words, punctuality is of essence for prayers to be so highly rewarded. Kindness to parents is placed second in importance. There is no doubt that our parents have the greatest claim on our love and kind treatment. Nothing that we may do for them in their old age, when they grow weaker and more dependent on us, compensates them for the kindness and love they show us when we were young and totally dependent on them. We need only look at any child being cared for by his mother in order to appreciate how great the sacrifice of the mother is and how little the child can offer in return. People may not argue about the claim of parents on their children's kindness, a duty which earns reward from Allah. Allah rewards us for our good actions although we may do them only by way of duty. But the emphasis placed by Islam on this kindness to parents is due to two different considerations. First, it is easy for a child just reaching adulthood to be preoccupied with its own affairs, looking after its own interests, and to be proud of strength, tough position, etc. It is very easy for such a person to be negligent in his duty toward his parents. Some people find it very difficult to part with their money, even when they have to pay it to their own parents. They may have more than enough for their own needs, and their parents may be poor, but nevertheless they find it extremely difficult to help their parents financially. It is not uncommon to hear about cases of unkind treatment of parents. Hence, the reminder is needed and the Prophet reminds us in the most effective of ways. Secondly, with such a great claim on their kindness and love which our parents posses, if we do neglect our duty, we are bound to neglect other duties which our religion imposes on us. We will definitely be less inclined to be kind to others who are not related to us. We will be hesitant to extend our help and support to those who need it and have no immediate claim on us. Such an attitude is totally alien to Islamic behavior. Hence, the Prophet stresses this duty. He says in another Hadith reported by Al-Bukhari on the authority of Abdullah ibn Umar: "Allah's pleasure is dependent on the pleasure of parents, and His displeasure is caused by the displeasure of parents with their child." In this Hadith the Prophet shows that the surest way to earn Allah's pleasure is to be kind to one's parents. If one is unkind to them to the extent that their love is replaced by displeasure, anger or bitterness, then this is the surest way to earn Allah's displeasure. There can be no gloomier prospect than this.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )