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Defensive jihad, in contrast with offensive jihad, is the defense of Muslim communities. Islamic tradition holds that when Muslims are attacked, then it becomes obligatory for all Muslims of that land to defend against the attack. Indeed, the Qur'an requires military defense of the besieged Islamic community.
Some Muslims consider armed struggle against foreign occupation to be worthy of defensive jihad.
Defensive Jihad in Islamic Theology 
In the Qur'an 
"Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress, for Allah loves not the transgressor. Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors. And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter. And fight not with them at the Inviolable Place of Worship until they first attack you there, but if they attack you (there) then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers. But if they desist, then lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrongdoers." (Al-Baqarah 190-193)
In Hadith 
|This section requires expansion. (April 2012)|
In Sharia 
In his fatwa, Dr. Azzam explained:
- ... the Ulama [pious scholars] of the four Mathhabs (Maliki, Hanafi, Shaffie and Hanbali), the Muhadditheen, and the Tafseer commentators [classical Muslim commentators of the Qur'an], are agreed that in all Islamic ages, Jihad under this condition becomes Fard Ayn [personal religious obligation] upon the Muslims of the land which the Kuffar [infidels] have attacked and upon the Muslims close by, where the children will march forth without the permission of the parents, the wife without the permission of her husband and the debtor without the permission of the creditor. And, if the Muslims of this land cannot expel the Kuffar because of lack of forces, because they slacken, are indolent or simply do not act, then the Fard Ayn obligation spreads in the shape of a circle from the nearest to the next nearest. If they too slacken or there is again a shortage of manpower, then it is upon the people behind them, and on the people behind them, to march forward. This process continues until it becomes Fard Ayn [a personal religious obligation] upon the whole world. 
Despite such contemporary edicts, in practical reality it is impossible to gain anything resembling global unanimity on questions of relating to defensive jihad (though some militant Islamist groups would suggest otherwise). The question of whether, when, and how to implement a military defense of a Muslim community under foreign invasion or oppression remains an emotional and divisive one among Muslims.
Modern history 
Colonial Times 
In the colonial period, Muslim populations often rose up against the colonial authorities under the banner of jihad (examples include Dagestan, and Chechnya, and the Algerian War of Independence against France).
Contemporary Defensive Jihad against non-Muslim countries 
When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the prominent militant Islamist, Dr. Abdullah Yusuf Azzam, issued a fatwa, Defense of the Muslim Lands, the First Obligation after Faith , declaring that both the Afghan and Palestinian struggles were jihads in which military action against kuffar (unbelievers) was fard ayn (a personal obligation) for all Muslims.
Contemporary Defensive Jihad 
In certain Muslim countries, secular governments oppose or ban Islam as a political movement, and militant Muslims often see it as their duty to oppose these governments. Though such anti-statist activity may be considered as acts of aggression, it is considered in the ideology of jihad to be a defensive act since it is warfare in a Muslim land. This a phenomenon that occurred after the independence of a large number of Muslim countries during the 20th century, and is discussed in more detail in the article on Islamism.
Jihad can sustain the breakdown of leadership. If a group of Muslims come under attack by non-Muslims, then no formal declaration of war is required and the Muslims are to defend themselves against such attack. Thus defensive jihad can occur in the absence of a Caliph. Indeed, fundamentalist Muslims believe that the absence of a Caliph is grave violation of Islamic law and that the fall of the Caliphate (brought to an end on March 3, 1924, by Kemal Atatürk) is an indication that Muslim lands and Islam are under attack by non-Muslims and in need of defensive jihad.
See also 
- Jihad, The Holy War of Islam and Its Legitimacy in the Quran(Shi'a viewpoint); Ayatullah Morteza Mutahhari
- Does the Quran Really Sanction Violence Against 'Unbelievers'? by Shaikh Kabir Helminski, The Huffington Post