ISLAMIC CODE OF RULES FOR WAR – WHAT IS JIHAD?: “JIHAD” IS A TERM OFTEN MISUNDERSTOOD”


ISLAMIC CODE OF RULES FOR WAR – WHAT IS JIHAD?: “JIHAD” IS A TERM OFTEN MISUNDERSTOOD” 

 

by Syarif Hidayat

 

“Jihad” is a term often misunderstood and associated with violent radical militants. This Arabic word is frequently mistranslated as ”holy war,” although there is no such thing in Islam. Holy war is something undertaken to forcibly subject others to certain religious doctrines. As we have seen this expressly forbidden in Islam.

The Arabic word “Jihad” actually means a struggle or striving within and applies to any great effort on the personal as well as the evil from oneself and from society. This exertion of effort can be spiritual, social, economic or political.

 

For example, one of the highest levels of jihad is to stand before a tyrant and speak a word of truth. Restraining the self from wrongdoing is also a form of jihad. It is a broad Islamic concept that includes opposing evil inclinations within the self, opposing injustice by peaceful means, the exertion of effort to improve the quality of life in society, as well as striving by military forces on a battlefield in defense of the community or of peoples oppressed. Jihad is not synonymous with war, as that is only one possible aspect of the term and it certainly does not include terrorism!

 

There is also jihad of the soul, which means striving to purify the soul, to increase its faith, incline it toward good and keep it away from evil. Then there is jihad through wealth, which means spending it in various beneficial ways, including charities and welfare projects. And there is jihad through the self which comprises all good works done by a believer.

 

It includes the protection of societies from oppression, foreign domination and dictatorships that usurp rights and freedom, that abolish just and moral rule, that prevent people from hearing the truth or following it, and that practice religious persecution. Jihad endeavors to teach belief in the one supreme God (Allah SWT) and worship of Him, to spread good values, virtue and morality through wise and proper methods.

 

Jihad means striving for social reform and the elimination of ignorance, superstition, poverty, disease and racial discrimination. Among its main objectives is securing rights for weaker members of society against the impositions of the powerful and influential.

 

What Al Qur’an says about Jihad?  

Individuals are encouraged to read passages from the Al Qur’an in context; reading a chapter in its entirety, along with the explanatory commentary, provides the most accurate picture of what took place.

 

There are passages which require fighting, even killing, by the Muslims because of the oppression, torture and murder conducted by cruel people. When read in context, it is clear that the Muslims were commanded by God (Allah SWT) to have the utmost restraint, and the greatest compassion and forgiveness. But there were times when the enemy had gone too far and had to be dealt with harshly.

 

Al Qur’an on Jihad

 

 

The Qur’an has many passages about fighting. Some of them advocate peace, while some are warlike.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.  ”To those against whom war is made, permission is given (to fight), because they are wronged;- and verily, Allah is most powerful for their aid.” – (Al Qur’an 22:39

 

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. “Therefore if they withdraw from you but fight you not, and (instead) send you (Guarantees of) peace, then Allah Hath opened no way for you (to war against them).” – (Al Qur’an 4:90)

 

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. But if the enemy incline towards peace, do thou (also) incline towards peace, and trust in Allah: for He is One that heareth and knoweth (all things).” – (Al Qur’an 8:61)

In the Name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. ”Jihâd (holy fighting in Allâh’s cause) is ordained for you (Muslims) though you dislike it, and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allâh knows but you do not know.” – (Al Qur’an, Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 216)
The literal meaning of Jihad is struggle or effort, and it means much more than holy war. Muslims use the word Jihad to describe three different kinds of struggle:

      – A believer’s internal struggle to live out the Muslim faith as well as possible

      – The struggle to build a good Muslim society

      – Holy war: the struggle to defend Islam, with force if necessary

Many modern writers claim that the main meaning of Jihad is the internal spiritual struggle, and this is accepted by many Muslims.

However there are so many references to Jihad as a military struggle in Islamic writings that it is incorrect to claim that the interpretation of Jihad as holy war is wrong.

 

Jihad and the Prophet

 

The internal Jihad is the one that Prophet Muhammad PBUH is said to have called the greater Jihad. But the quotation in which the Prophet says this is regarded as coming from an unreliable source by some scholars. They regard the use of Jihad to mean holy war as the more important.

 

The internal Jihad

 

The phrase internal Jihad or greater Jihad refers to the efforts of a believer to live their Muslim faith as well as possible.

All religious people want to live their lives in the way that will please their God.

So Muslims make a great effort to live as Allah has instructed them; following the rules of the faith, being devoted to Allah, doing everything they can to help other people.

For most people, living God’s way is quite a struggle. God sets high standards, and believers have to fight with their own selfish desires to live up to them, no matter how much they love God.

 

The five Pillars of Islam as Jihad

 

The five Pillars of Islam form an exercise of Jihad in this sense, since a Muslim gets closer to Allah by performing them.

 

What Are the Five Pillars of Islam?

 

The Five Pillars of Islam are the framework of the Muslim life.  They are the testimony of faith, prayer, giving zakat (support of the needy), fasting during the month of Ramadan, and the pilgrimage to Makkah once in a lifetime for those who are able.

 

1) The Testimony of Faith:

 

The testimony of faith is saying with conviction, La ilaha illa Allah, Muhammadur rasoolu Allah.  This saying means “There is no true god (deity) but God (Allah),1 and Muhammad is the Messenger (Prophet) of God.”  The first part, “There is no true god but God,” means that none has the right to be worshipped but God alone, and that God has neither partner nor son.  This testimony of faith is called the Shahada, a simple formula which should be said with conviction in order to convert to Islam (as explained previously on this page).  The testimony of faith is the most important pillar of Islam.

 

2) Prayer:

 

Muslims perform five prayers a day.  Each prayer does not take more than a few minutes to perform.  Prayer in Islam is a direct link between the worshipper and God.  There are no intermediaries between God and the worshipper.

In prayer, a person feels inner happiness, peace, and comfort, and that God is pleased with him or her.  The Prophet Muhammad PBUH said: {Bilal, call (the people) to prayer, let us be comforted by it.}  Bilal was one of Muhammad PBUH’s  companions who was charged to call the people to prayers.

Prayers are performed at dawn, noon, mid-afternoon, sunset, and night.  A Muslim may pray almost anywhere, such as in fields, offices, factories, or universities.

(For detailed information on how to perform prayer, please refer to the links at How to Perform Prayer or refer to the book entitled A Guide to Salat (Prayer) by M. A. K. Saqib.)

 

1)      Giving Zakat (Support of the Needy):

 

All things belong to God, and wealth is therefore held by human beings in trust The original meaning of the word zakat is both ‘purification’ and ‘growth.’  Giving zakat means ‘giving a specified percentage on certain properties to certain classes of needy people.’  The percentage which is due on gold, silver, and cash funds that have reached the amount of about 85 grams of gold and held in possession for one lunar year is two and a half percent.  Our possessions are purified by setting aside a small portion for those in need, and, like the pruning of plants, this cutting back balances and encourages new growth.

A person may also give as much as he or she pleases as voluntary alms or charity.

 

3) Fasting the Month of Ramadan:

 

Every year in the month of Ramadan,4 all Muslims fast from dawn until sundown, abstaining from food, drink, and sexual relations.

Although the fast is beneficial to health, it is regarded principally as a method of spiritual self-purification.  By cutting oneself off from worldly comforts, even for a short time, a fasting person gains true sympathy with those who go hungry, as well as growth in his or her spiritual life.

 

5) The Pilgrimage to Makkah:

 

The annual pilgrimage (Hajj) to Makkah is an obligation once in a lifetime for those who are physically and financially able to perform it.  About two million people go to Makkah each year from every corner of the globe.  Although Makkah is always filled with visitors, the annual Hajj is performed in the twelfth month of the Islamic calendar.  Male pilgrims wear special simple clothes which strip away distinctions of class and culture so that all stand equal before God.

 

The rites of the Hajj include circling the Kaaba seven times and going seven times between the hillocks of Safa and Marwa, as Hagar did during her search for water.  Then the pilgrims stand together in Arafa5 and ask God for what they wish and for His forgiveness, in what is often thought of as a preview of the Day of Judgment. The end of the Hajj is marked by a festival, Eid Al-Adha, which is celebrated with prayers.  This, and Eid al-Fitr, a feast-day commemorating the end of Ramadan, are the two annual festivals of the Muslim calendar.

 

Other ways in which a Muslim engages in the ‘greater Jihad’ could include:

      – Learning the Qur’an by heart, or engage in other religious study.

– Overcoming things such as anger, greed, hatred, pride, or malice.

      – Giving up smoking.

      – Cleaning the floor of the mosque.

      – Taking part in Muslim community activities.

      – Working for social justice.

      – Forgiving someone who has hurt them.

 

The Prophet is said to have called the internal Jihad the “greater Jihad”.

On his return from a battle, the Prophet said: “We are finished with the lesser jihad; now we are starting the greater jihad.” He explained to his followers that fighting against an outer enemy is the lesser jihad and fighting against one’s self is the greater jihad (holy war).

 

When Muslims, or their faith or territory are under attack, Islam permits (some say directs) the believer to wage military war to protect them.

However Islamic (shariah) law sets very strict rules for the conduct of such a war.

In recent years the most common meaning of Jihad has been Holy War.

And there is a long tradition of Jihad being used to mean a military struggle to benefit Islam.

 

What can justify Jihad?

 

Armed jihad is not an option for Muslim individuals or groups. It can only be declared by the Muslim head of state and religious leadership. Moreover, it must never be fought for worldly gain, conquest or revenge. Muslims may only engage in battle to protect people’s lives, properties and freedom.

 

There are a number of reasons, but Al Qur’an is clear that self-defence is always the underlying cause.

Permissable reasons for military Jihad:

      – Self-defence

      – Strengthening Islam

      – Protecting the freedom of Muslims to practise their faith

      – Protecting Muslims against oppression, which could include overthrowing a tyrannical ruler

      – Punishing an enemy who breaks an oath

      – Putting right a wrong

 

What a Jihad is not

 

A war is not a Jihad if the intention is to:

      – Force people to convert to Islam

      – Conquer other nations to colonise them

      – Take territory for economic gain

      – Settle disputes

      – Demonstrate a leader’s power

Although the Prophet engaged in military action on a number of occasions, these were battles to survive, rather than conquest, and took place at a time when fighting between tribes was common.

 

The rules of Jihad

 

A military Jihad has to obey very strict rules in order to be legitimate.

      – The opponent must always have started the fighting.

      – It must not be fought to gain territory.

      – It must be launched by a religious leader.

      – It must be fought to bring about good – something that Allah will approve of.

      – Every other way of solving the problem must be tried before resorting to war.

      – Innocent people should not be killed.

      – Women, children, or old people should not be killed or hurt.

      – Women must not be raped.

      – Enemies must be treated with justice.

      – Wounded enemy soldiers must be treated in exactly the same way as one’s own soldiers.

      – The war must stop as soon as the enemy asks for peace.

      – Property must not be damaged.

      – Poisoning wells is forbidden. The modern analogy would be chemical or biological warfare.

 

 

Code of rules for war.

War has always been a complex subject for objective study or analysis. Given the nature of man, one cannot imagine a world without wars. The best we can strive for is to have a code of rules for war. It is the merit of Islam that it does provide such rules, which remain ever nobler and more realistic than any other code existing for the conduct of war.

 

Islam sets down clear guidelines as to when war is ethically right, and clear guidelines as to how such a war should be conducted.

 

In brief, war is permitted: 

– in self defence

– when other nations have attacked an Islamic state

– if another state is oppressing its own Muslims

 

War should be conducted:

– in a disciplined way

– so as to avoid injuring non-combatants

– with the minimum necessary force

– without anger

– with humane treatment towards prisoners of war 

 

Concerning the rules of combat as outlined in Islam, the following points are important to note:  “In war as in peace, the injunctions of Islam are to be strictly observed. Worship does not cease during times of war. Islamic jurisprudence maintains that whatever is prohibited during peace is also prohibited during war.”

In the Name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. Allah says in the Qur’an what means: “Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities.Lo! Allah loves not, aggressors.” – (Al-Baqarah 2:190)

 

 

The above permission to fight clearly lays down the following conditions:

(1) Never commit aggression; fighting is allowed only for self-defense.

(2) Fighting must never be against non-combatants or non-fighting personnel.

The Prophet used to instruct his followers during battles and tell them not to be embittered or inclined to commit treachery. He asked them to spare non-combatants, particularly children and hermits.

 

The Prophet Muhammad PBUH gave the following instructions during all wars; they were echoed by Caliph Abubakar to the commander who led the campaign to Syria:  “Do not betray, be treacherous or vindictive. Do not mutilate. Do not kill children, the aged or women. Do not cut or burn palm trees or fruit trees or any green tree. Do not slay a sheep, a cow, or camel except for your food. And you will come across people who take refuge in places of worship (synagogues and churches); leave them alone to what they devote themselves to.”

 

In the early days of Islam, Muslims were harassed, tortured and abused, sometimes until death, as in the case of Sumayah bint Khayyat, an elderly woman who was the first Muslim stabbed to death. The Muslims were commanded to turn the other cheek despite this abuse. Later on the Muslims were given permission to fight in self-defense:

 

In the Name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. “Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits: For Allah loveth not transgressors. And slay them wherever ye find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out; for persecution is worse than slaughter; but fight them not at the Sacred Mosque, unless they first fight you there; but if they fight you, slay them. Such is the reward of those who reject faith. “ – (Al Qur’an 2:190-191) .

 

But note there is no permission to attack someone who ceases to attack you:

In the Name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. “But if they cease [attacking you], Allah is oft-forgiving, most merciful.” – (Al Qur’an 2:192)

 

The faithful do not wish to hurt people; they want peace, not war. However, God tells us it is a high form of charity to fight in the cause of truth, against cruelty and oppression:

In the Name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. “Warfare is ordained for you, though it is hateful unto you.” –

(Al Qur’an 2:216)

 

Muslims are taught not to be afraid in a righteous battle, that they must defend the weak and the poor (not to just look out for their own interests):  In the Name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. “Fight in the way of Allah who sell the life of this world for the other. Whoever fights in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward. And why should ye not fight in the cause of Allah and (in the cause) 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 will protect; and raise for us from Thee One who will help!” – (Al Qur’an 4:74-75)

 

 

Muslims are taught to fight against evil: In the Name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. “Those who believe do battle for the cause of Allah; and those who reject faith do battle for the cause of Evil. So fight ye against the friends of Satan; feeble indeed is the cunning of Satan.” – (Al Qur’an 4:76)

 

 

The Fight against traitors

 

 

Muslims are allowed to fight against traitors, hypocrites who pretend to be friends with the Muslims, such as those who deserted the Muslims at the last moment when facing a fierce battle at Mt.Uhud and which nearly caused a disaster for the Muslims. Such traitors are to be treated as enemies, just as they are by all nations at war:

 

In the Name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. “They [the unfaithful] long that ye should reject Faith, as they do, that ye may be upon a level (with them). So choose not friends from them till they forsake their homes in the way of Allah; if they turn back (to enmity) then take them and kill them wherever ye find them, and choose no friend nor helper from among them.” – (Al Qur’an 4:89)

 

Note the limiting condition “IF” they turn back to their evil ways …

For the most dangerous amongst the traitorous hypocrites, they must be treated as open enemies to prevent them attacking the Muslims again: In the Name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. “If they do not withdraw from you and they do not give you guarantees of peace besides restraining their hands, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them: in their case we have provided you with a clear argument against them.”

– (Al Qur’an 4:91)

(Note that even though these are the most dangerous of traitors, the permission begins with “IF”. So were such an enemy traitor to withdraw and guarantee peace, there is no authority for the Muslims to harm them.)

Punishments for treason against the State, and overt crimes such as murder, were very serious, and were the criminal law of the land: In the Name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. “The punishment of those who wage war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter theirs will be an awful doom.”- (Al Qur’an 5:33)

Note that other tortures such as “hanging, drawning, and quartering” in English Law, and piercing of eyes and leaving the victim exposed to the desert sun, which was the practice in Arabia at the time(before Islam), were abolished.

Either way, sincere repentance was a ground for mercy.

 

Muslims were told God sent messages to the angels about those who reject faith and attack the believers: In the Name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. “Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): “I am with you: give firmness to the Believers. I will instill terror into the hearts of those who reject faith. Smite ye above their necks and smite all their fingertips off them.”

– (Al Qur’an 8:12)

 

Those in battle are taught to meet their enemy fairly and squarely, not rashly, but after due preparation, with no room for cowardice when fighting a just cause: In the Name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. “When ye meet those who disbelieve in battle, turn not your backs to them. Whoso on that day turneth his back to them, unless maneuvering for battle or intent to join a company, he truly hath incurred wrath from Allah, and his habitation will be hell, a hapless journey’s end.”

– (Al Qur’an 8:15-16)

Muslims are taught to continuously remember that all things come from God, including the destruction of an enemy: In the Name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. “Ye (Muslims) slew them not, but Allah slew them. And thou (Muhammad) threwest not [the handful of dust which struck the eyes of the enemy] when thou didst throw, but Allah threw.” – (Al Qur’an 8:17)

 

 

Muslims are reminded, yet again, that God is in control of every outcome:

In the Name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. “And let not those who disbelieve suppose that they can outstrip (Allah’s Purpose). Lo! they cannot escape. Make ready for them all thou canst of (armed) force and of horses tethered, that thereby ye may dismay the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others beside them whom ye know not. Allah knoweth them.” – (Al Qur’an 8:59-60)

The Prophet Muhammad was told to encourage the Muslims to have faith in God and not fear the battle with the enemy during wartime: In the Name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. Exhort the believers to fight. If there be of you twenty steadfast they shall overcome two hundred, and if there be of you a hundred (steadfast) they shall overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve, because those who reject Faith are a folk without intelligence.” – (Al Qur’an 8:65)

 

Muslims are reminded that in fighting for God against oppression and evil, there is no glory for worldly goods gained. The goal, and the glory, is to stop all the oppression and evil throughout the land BEFORE considering taking captives (which were then traded to the enemy for a ransom). In the Name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. “It is not for any prophet to have captives until he hath subdued the land.” – (Al Qur;an 8:67)

 

 

Over the years, Pagans were continuously violating the treaties they had with the Muslims. The Muslims eventually made a Declaration that the treaties were dissolved, and they gave the Pagans a 4 month “grace period” before going after the Pagans for their violations. Once the war had begun, the Muslims were told to prosecute the war completely. However, there were still limitations if the Pagans repented.

 

In the Name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. “But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay those Pagans wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. But if they repent, and establish regular prayers, and pay charity, then open the way for them: For Allah is oft-forgiving, most merciful.”

– (Al Qur’an 9:5)

If enemies repent, Muslims must accept them as their brothers in Faith: In the Name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. “But even so, if they repent, establish regular prayers, and pay charity, they are your brethren in Faith: Thus do We explain the signs in detail, for those who understand.”  – (Al Qur’an 9:11)

 

Some of the enemies repented and were forgiven, but went against their oaths yet again. The Muslims are given permission to stop the enemies, while reminding them that God is ultimately the One in control: In the Name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. “But if they violate their oaths after their covenant, and attack your Faith, then fight the Chiefs of the unfaithful. For their oaths are nothing to them, so they must be restrained. Will ye not fight people who violated their oaths, plotted to expel the Messenger, and attacked you first? Do ye fear them? Nay it is Allah whom ye should more justly fear, if ye have faith! Fight them, and Allah will punish them by your hands, and disgrace them, help you (to victory) over them, heal the breasts of the Believers.” – (Al Qur’an 9:12-14)

Some hypocrites, who pretended to accept Islam, were devising a plot to murder the Prophet. Some of these people were merchants who were thriving under the peace and prosperity of the Muslim government in Madinah with the Prophet as the leader. Even though they were prosperous in the Muslim community, they were still plotting revenge against the Muslims. God tells the Prophet to be harsh with those trying to kill him, and reminds the Muslims, and the unfaithful, that God is aware of everything: In the Name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. “O Prophet! Strive hard against the unfaithful and the hypocrites, and be firm against them. Their abode is Hell, an evil refuge indeed.” – (Al Qur’an 9:73)

 

In the Name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. “They swear by Allah that they said nothing evil, but indeed they uttered blasphemy, and they uttered it after accepting Islam; and they meditated a plot which they were unable to carry out: this revenge of theirs was their only return for the bounty with which Allah and His Messenger had enriched! If they repent, it will be best for them. But if they turn back to their evil ways,, Allah will punish them with a grievous chastisement in this life and in the Hereafter: They shall have none on earth to protect of help them.” – (Al Qur’an 9:74)

 

God reminds us that our life belongs to Him, and in return the faithful will have heaven as their reward, that God will hold true to his promise: In the Name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. “Allah hath purchased of the Believers their persons and their goods; For theirs in return is the Garden of Paradise. They fight in the way of Allah and slay and are slain. A promise which is binding on Him in Truth, through the Torah, the Gospel and the Qur’an. And who is more faithful to his covenant than Allah? Then rejoice in the bargain which ye have concluded, that is the achievement supreme.” – (Al Qur’an 9:111)

 

When fighting against oppression and evil, there is no room for compromise: In the Name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. “O ye who believe! Fight those of the disbelievers who are near to you, and let them find harshness in you. “

– (Al Qur’an  9:123)

And in the midst of a righteous battle, Muslims are reminded to subdue the enemy completely before deciding on mercy or ransom. They are also reminded that everything is up to God, some things are tests, and the good deeds of the faithful will be remembered.

 

In the Name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. “Now when ye meet in battle those who disbelieve, then it is smiting of the necks. At length, when you have thoroughly subdued them, bind the captives firmly, then is the time for generosity or ransom, until the war lays down its burdens. Thus are ye commanded, but if it had been Allah’s will, He could certainly have exacted retribution from them Himself; but he lets you fight, in order to test you, some with others. But those who are slain in the way of Allah, He will never let their deeds be lost.” – (Al Qur’an 47:4)

 

Muslims must only wage war according to the principles of Allah’s justice.

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. “Those who believe fight in the way of Allah, and those who disbelieve fight in the way of the Shaitan.” – (Al Qur’an 4:76)

Islam allows war in self-defence (Qur’an 22:39), to defend Islam (rather than to spread it), to protect those who have been removed from their homes by force because they are Muslims (Qur’an 22:40), and to protect the innocent who are being oppressed (Qur’an 4:75).

 

But some Muslim thinkers in the past, and some more radical Muslim thinkers today, take a different view. They say that other verses in the Qur’an, the so-called ‘sword verses’, have “abrogated” (revoked or anulled) the verses that permit warfare only in defence. They used these ‘sword verses’ to justify war against unbelievers as a tool of spreading Islam (Qur’an 9:5, 9:29).

 

Others take this further and regard non-Muslims, and Muslims who don’t conform rigorously to the Islamic code, as non-believers and thus as “enemies of God” against whom it is legitimate to use violence.

But the idea of a total and unrestricted conflict is completely unIslamic.

 

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. “Fight in the cause of God against those who fight you, but do not transgress limits. God does not love transgressors.” – (Al Qur’an 2:190)

 

Islam is in favour of peace and against violence. Murdering the innocent leads to punishment in Hell: In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. “If anyone killed a person – unless it was for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he killed the whole people.” – (Al Qur’an 5:32)

The aims of war

The Qur’an emphasises that war should be fought only for noble motives without seeking any earthly reward: In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. “Those who readily fight in the cause of God are those who forsake this world in favor of the Hereafter. Whoever fights in the cause of God, then gets killed, or attains victory, we will surely grant him a great recompense.”  (Al Qur’an 4:74)

 

 

The conduct of war

 

Islam bans the killing of non-combatants (Qur’an 2:190, above), or of a combatant who has been captured. Muslims are forbidden from attacking wounded soldiers (unless the wounded person is still fighting).

The Prophet’s view of non-combatants is shown by a hadith in which Muhammad sees a woman killed in the battlefield and condemns the action.

 

When an enemy is defeated he should be made prisoner rather than be killed:

In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. “So when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, then smite the necks until when you have overcome them, then make (them) prisoners, and afterwards either set them free as a favor or let them ransom (themselves) until the war terminates.” – (Al Qur’an 47:4)

 

Abu Bakr (the First Caliph) gave these rules to an army he was sending to battle:

– Do not commit treachery or deviate from the right path.

 

– You must not mutilate dead bodies.

 

– Neither kill a child, nor a woman, nor an aged man.

 

– Bring no harm to the trees, nor burn them with fire, especially those which are fruitful.

– Slay not any of the enemy’s flock, save for your food.

– You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic services; leave them alone. (Abu Bakr)

 

 

A noble example of ideal Muslim conduct of war:

 

A noble example of ideal Muslim conduct of war is the capture of Jerusalem by Saladin in 1187. Although a number of holy Muslim places had been violated by Christians, Saladin prohibited acts of vengeance, and his army was so disciplined that there were no deaths or violence after the city surrendered. The residents were taken prisoner, but their ransom was set at a token amount. (HSH)

 

 

Bibliotheque:

 

1. Al Qur’an

2. http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_are_the_ethics_of_war_in_Islam

3. http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/islamethics/war.shtml

4. http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/islam/beliefs/jihad_1.shtml

5. Saheeh International

6. http://www.islam-guide.com/ch3-16.htm

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