This is interesting in light of statements of Muslim apologists and spokesmen in the West, who routinely argue that Islam really means an inner spiritual struggle against sin, but inasmuch as it does refer to warfare, it is purely defensive. But when you look at the justifications al-Qaradawi gives for offensive jihad, you find that by his definition even the 'moderate' Muslims accept offensive jihad against the infidels under almost any pretense.
Translated from IslamOnline.net, 8 January 2011 (I previously translated the first half of this article here):
...I want to clarify here the difference between the moderates and extremists, or the "defensive (jihadists)" and "offensive (jihadists)", as they are called by some.
Some of the offensive (jihadists) have not been fair to those who hold the opposing view. They have put words in their mouths which they did not say, and accused them of that which they are innocent. They say: "They (the defensive jihadists) do not accept offensive jihad under any circumstance, in any form, or for any reason. They do not believe jihad is legitimate except in one condition, which is if Muslims are attacked in their homes and lands." This is how they depict the opinion of the moderates or the defensive (jihadists).
I think they are not being fair with the opposing side, and are not being precise or honest in presenting their views. Whoever reads their [i.e. the moderates'] opinions, will find that they accept offensive jihad, and attacking the infidels in their lands, for several reasons, including the following:
1- To ensure the freedom to propagate the call to Islam, to prevent fitna in the religion (of Islam), and to remove the physical obstacles which prevent the call to Islam from reaching the multitudes of people. This was the reason for the conquests of the rightly-guided (caliphs) and the companions (of the Prophet), as well as those who followed them in righteousness. (They fought) to remove the power of the tyrants who controlled the necks and minds of men, and who said what Pharaoh said to those of his people who believed (in Islam): "Have you believed before I gave you permission to believe?" This is the embodiment of the goal expressed in the saying of the Almighty: "Fight them on until there is no more fitna."
2- To ensure the security of the Islamic state and its borders, when they are threatened by the enemies (of the Islamic state) who lie in wait and conspire against it. This is what is termed in our present day "preemptive war." This is one of the prerogatives of the ruler, and is in accordance with the right to self-defense. Most of the Islamic conquests were of this type of preemptive war, after the Islamic state was attacked early during the reign of the Prophet by the two great kingdoms of Persia and Byzantium. The conflict with Byzantium began with the battles of Mu'ta and Tabuk, and the conflict with Persia began with Chosroes tearing up the Book of the Prophet (PBUH) [i.e. the Qur'an], and threatening what he threatened thereby.
3- To save the oppressed among Muslim prisoners, or those living in a minority status, who suffer afflictions, persecutions, and torture at the hands of the arrogant oppressors who rule over them without right. As the Most High said: "And why should ye not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)?- Men, women, and children, whose cry is: "Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from thee one who will protect; and raise for us from thee one who will help!" [Qur'an 4:75].
If oppressed and persecuted peoples, even if they are not Muslims, seek aid from the Islamic state, and if the Islamic state possesses the ability to save them, then it should answer their cries and come to their aid. For conquering the unjust ruler, helping the weak, and deterring the oppressor from the oppressed is a religious duty under the shari'a. It is also a moral duty within every religion. Every society protects virtue, and safeguards high moral values, whether the oppressed is Muslim or non-Muslim.
4- To remove all polytheism from the Arabian Peninsula, which is considered a free and pure nation for Islam and its citizens. Therefore it is a special stronghold for Islam, whose protection is not shared with anyone.
By Allah, there is wisdom in this: the Hijaz and the Arabian Peninsula around it is the haven and incubator of this religion. Islam seeks refuge in it whenever trials afflictions are brought by different factions. History has confirmed for us its usefulness and importance throughout the ages through which the ummah has passed.A God Who Hates: The Courageous Woman Who Inflamed the Muslim World Speaks Out Against the Evils of Islam
On this wise the verses from surat al-tauba were sent down on declaring immunity from (the contract with) the polytheists, and their delay of four months, during which time they wandered around the land [see Qur'an 9:1-3]. After which they had to choose for themselves: accept Islam, depart from this land [i.e. the Arabian Peninsula], or fight. These four months are those which are called forbidden because it was forbidden to fight during them. The Almighty said: "But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful" [Qur'an 9:5]. Allah wanted the Arabs to choose to enter Islam before the four months had ended, and thus make the peninsula purely for Islam, and make the Arabs the band of Islam and its preliminary soldiers, to carry its message to the world.
This is Allah's favor for the Arabs, with what he favored them: the Qur'an was sent in their language, the Messenger was sent from them, and the Ka'ba and the Masjid al-Haram and Masjid al-Nabui are in their land. They have become the guardians of Islam, and the preachers to carry its call to the inhabitants of the world.
Allah knows best.