Greater Jihad

Islam claims that there is a “greater jihad” that is inner spiritual struggle and that the killing jihad is the “lesser jihad”. How much of the jihad literature is about the “greater jihad”?

Bukhari contains 645,745 words he devotes 132,315 words to jihad. Below are all of the hadiths that refer to any religious practice as being equal or better than jihad. These “better or equal to jihad” verses are 2347 words, or 1.7% of all jihad hadiths  (2347 / 132,315 = 0.017, 1.7%) are devoted to “better of equal to jihad”.

None of these use the phrase “greater jihad” but they do give something more important than jihad or equal to it. Of course, other hadiths say that jihad is the best.

Here is a typical jihad hadith--this shows that jihad is the best deed, unlike some of the hadith below it. Ninety-eight percent (98%) of all jihad hadiths call killing jihad (lesser jihad) the best action.

Volume 3, Book 46, Number 694:
Narrated Abu Dhar

I asked the Prophet, "What is the best deed?" He replied, "To believe in Allah and to fight for His Cause." I then asked, "What is the best kind of manumission (of slaves)?" He replied, "The manumission of the most expensive slave and the most beloved by his master." I said, "If I cannot afford to do that?" He said, "Help the weak or do good for a person who cannot work for himself." I said, "If I cannot do that?" He said, "Refrain from harming others for this will be regarded as a charitable deed for your own good."

“Greater Jihad” Hadiths

Volume 8, Book 73, Number 1
Narrated Al-Walid bin 'Aizar

I heard Abi Amr 'Ash-Shaibani saying, "The owner of this house." he pointed to 'Abdullah's house, "said, 'I asked the Prophet 'Which deed is loved most by Allah?" He replied, 'To offer prayers at their early (very first) stated times.' " 'Abdullah asked, "What is the next (in goodness)?" The Prophet said, "To be good and dutiful to one's parents," 'Abdullah asked, "What is the next (in goodness)?" The Prophet said, To participate in Jihad for Allah's Cause." 'Abdullah added, "The Prophet narrated to me these three things, and if I had asked more, he would have told me more."

Volume 1, Book 2, Number 25

Allah's Apostle was asked, "What is the best deed?" He replied, "To believe in Allah and His Apostle (Muhammad). The questioner then asked, "What is the next (in goodness)? He replied, "To participate in Jihad (religious fighting) in Allah's Cause." The questioner again asked, "What is the next (in goodness)?" He replied, "To perform Hajj (Pilgrim age to Mecca) 'Mubrur, (which is accepted by Allah and is performed with the intention of seeking Allah's pleasure only and not to show off and without committing a sin and in accordance with the traditions of the Prophet)."

Volume 1, Book 10, Number 505
Narrated 'Abdullah

I asked the Prophet "Which deed is the dearest to Allah?" He replied, "To offer the prayers at their early stated fixed times." I asked, "What is the next (in goodness)?" He replied, "To be good and dutiful to your parents" I again asked, "What is the next (in goodness)? "He replied, 'To participate in Jihad (religious fighting) in Allah's cause." 'Abdullah added, "I asked only that much and if I had asked more, the Prophet would have told me more."

Volume 2, Book 15, Number 86
Narrated Ibn Abbas

The Prophet said, "No good deeds done on other days are superior to those done on these (first ten days of Dhul Hijja)." Then some companions of the Prophet said, "Not even Jihad?" He replied, "Not even Jihad, except that of a man who does it by putting himself and his property in danger (for Allah's sake) and does not return with any of those things."

Volume 2, Book 26, Number 594
Narrated Abu Huraira

The Prophet was asked, "Which is the best deed?" He said, "To believe in Allah and His Apostle." He was then asked, "Which is the next (in goodness)?" He said, "To participate in Jihad in Allah's Cause." He was then asked, "Which is the next?" He said, "To perform Hajj-Mabrur. "

Volume 2, Book 26, Number 595
Narrated Aisha (the mother of the faithful believers)

I said, "O Allah's Apostle! We consider Jihad as the best deed." The Prophet said, "The best Jihad (for women) is Hajj Mabrur. "

Volume 3, Book 29, Number 84
Narrated Aisha

I said, "O Allah's Apostle! Shouldn't we participate in Holy battles and Jihad along with you?" He replied, "The best and the most superior Jihad (for women) is Hajj which is accepted by Allah." Aisha added: " Ever since I heard that from Allah's Apostle I have determined not to miss Hajj."

Volume 4, Book 52, Number 41
Narrated Abdullah bin Masud

I asked Allah's Apostle, "O Allah's Apostle! What is the best deed?" He replied, "To offer the prayers at their early stated fixed times." I asked, "What is next in goodness?" He replied, "To be good and dutiful to your parents." I further asked, what is next in goodness?" He replied, "To participate in Jihad in Allah's Cause." I did not ask Allah's Apostle anymore and if I had asked him more, he would have told me more.

Volume 4, Book 52, Number 43
Narrated 'Aisha

(That she said), "O Allah's Apostle! We consider Jihad as the best deed. Should we not fight in Allah's Cause?" He said, "The best Jihad (for women) is Hajj-Mabrur (i.e. Hajj which is done according to the Prophet's tradition and is accepted by Allah)."

Volume 4, Book 52, Number 127
Narrated 'Aisha (mother of the faithful believers)

I requested the Prophet permit me to participate in Jihad, but he said, "Your Jihad is the performance of Hajj."

Volume 4, Book 52, Number 128
Narrated 'Aisha(mother of the faithful believers)

The Prophet was asked by his wives about the Jihad and he replied, "The best Jihad (for you) is (the performance of) Hajj."

Volume 4, Book 52, Number 248
Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Amr

A man came to the Prophet asking his permission to take part in Jihad. The Prophet asked him, "Are your parents alive?" He replied in the affirmative. The Prophet said to him, "Then exert yourself in their service."

Volume 8, Book 73, Number 1
Narrated Al-Walid bin 'Aizar

I heard Abi Amr 'Ash-Shaibani saying, "The owner of this house." he pointed to 'Abdullah's house, "said, 'I asked the Prophet 'Which deed is loved most by Allah?" He replied, 'To offer prayers at their early (very first) stated times.' " 'Abdullah asked, "What is the next (in goodness)?" The Prophet said, "To be good and dutiful to one's parents," 'Abdullah asked, "What is the next (in goodness)?" The Prophet said, To participate in Jihad for Allah's Cause." 'Abdullah added, "The Prophet narrated to me these three things, and if I had asked more, he would have told me more."

Volume 8, Book 73, Number 3
Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Amr

A man said to the Prophet, "Shall I participate in Jihad?" The Prophet said, "Are your parents living?" The man said, "Yes." the Prophet said, "Do Jihad for their benefit."

Volume 9, Book 93, Number 625
Narrated Ibn Mas'ud

A man asked the Prophet "What deeds are the best?" The Prophet said: (1) To perform the (daily compulsory) prayers at their (early) stated fixed times, (2) To be good and dutiful to one's own parents. (3) and to participate in Jihad in Allah's Cause."

Volume 1, Book 11, Number 624
Narrated Abu Huraira

Allah's Apostle said, "While a man was going on a way, he saw a thorny branch and removed it from the way and Allah became pleased by his action and forgave him for that." Then the Prophet said, "Five are martyrs: One who dies of plague, one who dies of an abdominal disease, one who dies of drowning, one who is buried alive (and) dies and one who is killed in Allah's cause." (The Prophet further said, "If the people knew the reward for pronouncing the Adhan and for standing in the first row (in the congregational prayer) and found no other way to get it except by drawing lots they would do so, and if they knew the reward of offering the Zuhr prayer early (in its stated time), they would race for it and they knew the reward for 'Isha' and Fajr prayers in congregation, they would attend them even if they were to crawl')

Volume 2, Book 13, Number 6
Narrated Abu Huraira

Allah's Apostle (p.b.u.h) said, "Any person who takes a bath on Friday like the bath of Janaba and then goes for the prayer (in the first hour i.e. early), it is as if he had sacrificed a camel (in Allah's cause); and whoever goes in the second hour it is as if he had sacrificed a cow; and whoever goes in the third hour, then it is as if he had sacrificed a horned ram; and if one goes in the fourth hour, then it is as if he had sacrificed a hen; and whoever goes in the fifth hour then it is as if he had offered an egg. When the Imam comes out (i.e. starts delivering the Khutba), the angels present themselves to listen to the Khutba."

Volume 2, Book 24, Number 504
Narrated Abu Huraira

The Prophet (p.b.u.h) said, "Seven people will be shaded by Allah under His shade on the day when there will be no shade except His. They are:
(1) a just ruler;
(2) a young man who has been brought up in the worship of Allah, (i.e. worship Allah (Alone) sincerely from his childhood),
(3) a man whose heart is attached to the mosque (who offers the five compulsory congregational prayers in the mosque);
(4) two persons who love each other only for Allah's sake and they meet and part in Allah's cause only;
(5) a man who refuses the call of a charming woman of noble birth for an illegal sexual intercourse with her and says: I am afraid of Allah;
(6) a person who practices charity so secretly that his left hand does not know what his right hand has given (i.e. nobody knows how much he has given in charity).
(7) a person who remembers Allah in seclusion and his eyes get flooded with tears."

Volume 7, Book 64, Number 265
Narrated Abu Huraira

The Prophet said, "The one who looks after a widow or a poor person is like a Mujahid (warrior) who fights for Allah's Cause, or like him who performs prayers all the night and fasts all the day."

Volume 7, Book 69, Number 515
Narrated Anas bin Malik

Abu Talha had the largest number of datepalms from amongst the Ansars of Medina. The dearest of his property to him was Bairuha garden which was facing the (Prophet's) Mosque. Allah's Apostle used to enter it and drink of its good fresh water. When the Holy Verse:-- 'By no means shall you attain righteousness unless you spend (in charity) of that which you love.' (3.92) was revealed, Abu Talha got up and said, "O Allah's Apostle! Allah says: By no means shall you attain righteousness unless you spend of that which you love,' and the dearest of my property to me is the Bairuha garden and I want to give it in charity in Allah's Cause, seeking to be rewarded by Allah for that. So you can spend it, O Allah's Apostle, where-ever Allah instructs you. ' Allah s Apostle said, "Good! That is a perishable (or profitable) wealth" ('Abdullah is in doubt as to which word was used.) He said, "I have heard what you have said but in my opinion you'd better give it to your kith and kin." On that Abu Talha said, "I will do so, O Allah's Apostle!" Abu Talha distributed that garden among his kith and kin and cousins.

Volume 8, Book 73, Number 35
Narrated Safwan bin Salim

The Prophet said "The one who looks after and works for a widow and for a poor person, is like a warrior fighting for Allah's Cause or like a person who fasts during the day and prays all the night." Narrated Abu Huraira that the Prophet said as above.

Volume 8, Book 73, Number 36
Narrated Abu Huraira

Allah's Apostle said, "The one who looks after and works for a widow and for a poor person is like a warrior fighting for Allah's Cause." (The narrator Al-Qa'nabi is not sure whether he also said "Like the one who prays all the night without slackness and fasts continuously and never breaks his fast.")

Volume 8, Book 76, Number 501
Narrated Abu Sa'id Al-Khudri

A bedouin came to the Prophet and said, "O Allah's Apostle! Who is the best of mankind!" The Prophet said, "A man who strives for Allah's Cause with his life and property, and also a man who lives (all alone) in a mountain path among the mountain paths to worship his Lord and save the people from his evil."

Volume 8, Book 82, Number 840
Narrated Abu Huraira

The Prophet said, "Avoid the seven great destructive sins." They (the people!) asked, "O Allah's Apostle! What are they?" He said, "To join partners in worship with Allah; to practice sorcery; to kill the life which Allah has forbidden except for a just cause (according to Islamic law); to eat up usury (Riba), to eat up the property of an orphan; to give one's back to the enemy and freeing from the battle-field at the time of fighting and to accuse chaste women who never even think of anything touching chastity and are good believers."

Volume 4, Book 52, Number 250
Narrated Ibn Abbas

That he heard the Prophet saying, "It is not permissible for a man to be alone with a woman, and no lady should travel except with a Muhram (i.e. her husband or a person whom she cannot marry in any case for ever; e.g. her father, brother, etc.)." Then a man got up and said, "O Allah's Apostle! I have enlisted in the army for such-and-such Ghazwa and my wife is proceeding for Hajj." Allah's Apostle said, "Go, and perform the Hajj with your wife."

Volume 4, Book 52, Number 295
Narrated Ibn 'Abbas

A man came to the Prophet and said, "O Allah's Apostle! I have enlisted in the army for such-and-such Ghazwa, and my wife is leaving for Hajj." Allah's Apostle said, "Go back and perform Hajj with your wife."