Sheikh Sayyed Sabiq, a prominent Muslim scholar states that: “Jihad becomes an individual duty on all Muslims in certain cases:
1) When Muslims, who are legally responsible, attend the battlefield. At that time they are obliged to fight their enemy. Hence, Allah, the Almighty says: “O ye who believe! When ye meet an army, hold firm and think of Allah much, that ye may be successful.” (Al-Anfal: 45)
2) If enemies attack the country where Muslims live, all of them, male and female, must confront them. No one has the right to abandon this duty as long as there is no other way to repulse the enemy. In this respect, Allah, Exalted be he, says: “O ye who believe! Fight those of the disbelievers who are near to you.” (At-Tawbah: 123)
3) If the Muslim ruler commands someone to fight, it will be incumbent upon him to obey the order, as Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “There is no migration after the conquest (of Makkah); but let there be a Jihad and good intention, and if you are called (by the Muslim ruler) to fight, then go forth immediately.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari) And Allah, Exalted be He, says: “O ye who believe! What aileth you that hen it is said unto you: Go forth in the way of Allah, ye are bowed down to the ground with heaviness. Take ye pleasure in the life of the world rather than in the Hereafter? The comfort of the life of the world is but little in the Hereafter.‏” (At-Tawbah: 38)
Who must fight in Allah’s Cause?
Jihad, in general, is obligatory upon anyone who is Muslim, male, sane, has reached the age of puberty, and healthy, and leaves enough sustenance for his family during his absence in the battlefield. Thus, non-Muslims, women, the insane, and the sick are excused from participating in war, for they are lacking in the characteristics required in those who fight. That is to say, their participation may bring more harm than good. Therefore, Allah says: “Not unto the weak nor unto the sick nor unto those who can find naught to spend is any fault (to be imputed though they stay at home) if they are true to Allah and His Messenger.” (At-Tawbah: 91) “There is no blame for the blind, nor is there blame for the lame, nor is there blame for the sick (that they go not forth to war).” (Al-Fat-h: 17)
Ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) is reported to have said: “Allah’s Messenger summoned me on the eve of the battle of Uhud, while I was fourteen years of age at that time, and he did not allow me to take part in that battle.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim) Since Jihad is a kind of worship, it is not obligatory except on those who are mature.
Moreover, Ahmad and Al-Bukhari reported on the authority of `A’ishah who said: “O Allah’s Messenger! Should women take part in Jihad in Allah’s Cause?” He said: “They may take part in Jihad without fighting: they may go to (Makkah) to perform Hajj or `Umrah.” And in another version of this hadith, the Prophet says: “The best Jihad (for women) is Hajj Mabrur (accepted Hajj).”
Concerning this, Al-Wahidi and As-Siyuti also quoted Mujahid as saying: “Umm Salamah (may Allah be pleased with her) wondered: O Allah’s Messenger! Men take part in Jihad, while we do not! And, moreover, one woman’s portion of inheritance equals only half of that inherited by her brother! Hence, Allah, the Almighty, revealed: “And covet not the thing in which Allah hath made some of you excel others. Unto men a fortune from that which they have earned, and unto women a fortune from that which they have earned. (Envy not one another) but ask Allah of His Bounty. Lo! Allah is ever Knower of all things.” (An-Nisa’). Al-Wahidi and As-Siyuti also narrated on the authority of `Ikrimah who said: “Women were so eager to fight so that they said, “We wish we had the right to fight so that we might be rewarded as men.” So, this Qur’anic verse was revealed by Allah. But this does not prevent them from taking part in Jihad in order to nurse the wounded and so on.”
In addition, it is not necessary to take parents’ permission for the obligatory Jihad. On the other hand, it is a must to take the permission of one’s Muslim parents, or at least one of them, for the voluntary Jihad. Ibn Mas`ud reported: “I asked the Prophet of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) which deed is the best in the Sight of Allah?” He said: “Prayer at its appointed time.” I then asked, “What next?” He replied, “Showing kindness to one’s parents.” I asked further, “What next?” He replied, Jihad in the Cause of Allah.” (Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Ibn `Umar reported, “A man came to the Prophet of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) and said, “Allow me to fight.” The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) asked him: “Are your parents alive?” “Yes,” replied the man. “Then go back and exert your utmost in their service,” said the Prophet. (Reported by Al-Bukhari, Abu Dawud, An-Nasa’i, and At-Tirmidhi). In the book Shir`atul-Isalm (the Shari`ah of Islam) it is stated: “No one should go for (voluntary) Jihad except those who have no responsibilities towards their parents or their children, as in this case they are asked to perform a kind of Jihad that is far more better.”