Under Islamic Law mankind is free to embrace whichever faith they see correct and they will be judged about their decision as well. Even in an Islamic state, people who believe in religions other than Islam live under the authority of the great state of Islam based upon a covenant of protection given to them upon which their life, property, and freedom of religion are protected. Part of this agreement is that they will pay the Islamic government a non-Muslim tax (jizya). The government also receives the Muslims’ tax (Zakah) which is based on religious principles found in Islam and can’t be applied to non-Muslims who don’t believe in it.
Islam provides clear guidelines for the ethics the Islamic government is expected to operate on within the society and abroad. Regardless of what anyone says, the essence of Islam is compassion and mercy. God has stated at the beginning of each chapter of the Qur’an: “In the name of God Almighty, the Source of Mercy, Especially Merciful”. In a verse describing the purpose of designating the Prophet Muhammad as the final Messenger to mankind:
Consequentially, any ruler or Caliph in Islam should be characterized by mercy because he is inheriting the place of leadership that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) held. The ruler who is characterized by qualities of mercy is capable of showing compassion and doing his utmost to achieve justice within the society.
Islam doesn’t teach disrespect or hatred. Rather, we are taught to hope for the guidance of all and for their being the people of Paradise. We are taught to live in mutual respect and to be just and kind to our peaceful non-Muslim neighbors. God Almighty says-
In order to properly understand the concept of Jihad in Islam the above mentioned general Islamic principles should be taken into account. The philosophy of military Jihad in Islam is based upon human motivation of defending the lives and property of Muslims as well as liberating the oppressed and tyrannized people from mistreatment at the hands of oppressive people. The application of Jihad throughout history proves that Muslims didn’t seek worldly gains but aimed at liberating people from oppression and bringing them justice (this is a means of compassion and mercy).
The fighting part of Jihad is the final solution that can be utilized. Preemptive military force against even an oppressive non-Muslim state is impermissible if religious dialogue and freedom of religion is equally offered to every one in that land.
Also physical Jihad has certain parameters: It is forbidden to kill women, children, religious priests, and the elderly who neither fight nor take part in attacking or oppressing Muslims. This is clear through various authentic Hadiths.
In Islam, the decision of waging military Jihad against tyranny, oppression, and occupation is the right of none but the leader (president, king, etc…) of a Muslim state who consults with the scholars of Islamic Jurisprudence. Today when the Muslim lands lack any real leadership it is the responsibility of the well-known scholars grounded in the 4 legal schools of thought.
Justice, thorough knowledge of the Islamic Law and the current political situation, and piety are essential requirements of those who would theoretically have the right to give the green light to call for military Jihad. The topic of Jihad is considered to be one of the most controversial topics in Islam and the enemies of Islam seek to take it out of context in order to deface Islam as corrupt and barbaric. In truth, the military Jihad as known by Islamic Jurists is in compliance with modern international law. Once the true reality of Jihad is carefully studied within the Islamic law, one will realize it is not as they present- may God guide them!