Islam and Ethics of War and Peace
Abu Sulayman, 'AbdulHamid. The Islamic Theory of International Relations: DirectionsforJslamic Methodology and Thought, Herndon, VA: The International Institute of Islamic Thought, 1408AH/1987
Arnold, T. W. The Preaching of Islam. London: Constable and Company, 1332 AH/19l3 AC. Hamidullah, Muhammad. Muslim Conduct of State. 7th ed. Lahore: Muhammad Ashraf,
Haykal, Muhammad H. The life of Muhammad, translated by Isma'il al Faruqi. 8th ed. North American Trust Publications, 1396 AH/l976
al Ghunaimi, Mohammad Talaat. The Muslim Conception of International Law and the Western Approach. Netherlands: Martinus Nijhoff/The Hague, 1398 AH/I978 AC
Johnson, James Turner, and John Kelsay, eds. Cross, Crescent, and Sword: The Justification and Limitation of War in Western and Islamic Tradition. New York: Greenwood Press,
Ibn Rushd, "Chapter on Jihad," in Bidayah al Mujtahid wa Nihayah alMuqtasid. Translated by Rudolph Peters in Jihad in Mediaeval and Modern Islam. Belgium: E. J. Brill, 1397 AH/1977 AC.
18 of 19 06/04/2020 20:02
Islam and Ethics of War and Peace - Part Two http://www.war-no-more.co.uk/items/islam-and-ethics-of-war-and...
Kelsay, John, and James Turner Johnson, eds. Just War and Jihad: Historical and Theoretical Perspectives on War and Peace in Western and Islamic Tradition. New York: Greenwood Press, 1991.
Khadduri, Majid. War and Peace in the Law of Islam. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1955. and -----, The Islamic Law of Nations: Shaybani's Siyar. Baltimore, Maryland: The Johns Hopkins Press, 38AH/1966AC.
Kolocotronis Jamila, Islamic Jihad : An historical Perspective, American Trust Publications, 1990
Mawdudi, Abul Ala. Al-Jihad fil Islam (Urdu) Darul Musanifeen Azam Gragh (UP-India) 1930
Peters, Rudolph. Islam and Colonialism: The Doctrine of Jihad in Modern History. The Hague: Mouton, 1979. and Jihad in Classical and Modern Islam. Princeton: Markus Wiener,
Reuven Firestone, Jihad : The Origin of Holy War in Islam Oxford University press, 1999
Imam Dr Abdul Jalil Sajid
18th May 2002
"Dr Sajid is an Islamic scholar and a political scientist. He combines the devout knowledge and practice of his religious faith with an active social and political role in his own faith community and society at large. His roles as a member of the Central Working Committee of
Great Britain and Vice Chair of the UK Chapter of the World Conference of Religions for Peace offer ample opportunity for the exercise of his expertise."
Islam and Ethics of War and Peace
The evil attacks on the United States on 11th September, 2001, apparently by a religiously inspired people, brought worldwide discussion on Islam, the question of Jihad and war, and led a few misinformed and misguided individuals to confuse the Islamic concept of Jihad (struggle against oppression, temptation, evil, and to bring peace and justice) with the medieval concept of "holy war". The equation of the two is erroneous and misleading. Holy wars were fought in Medieval Europe in the name of God against infidels, because the latter were perceived to stand against God. Jihad, on the other hand, is fought to repel aggression and lift the oppression of a brutal force, and is never directed at the other's faith. The fact that both are based on religious motivation does not make them equal. I, therefore, do hope that this paper will contribute to a more meaningful discussion of the notion of Jihad, the conception of war (Qital) and peace (Salam) in Islamic tradition. I also hope to be able to illustrate that Islamic worldview and values stand at the side of world peace and global justice, and against aggression and brutality.
Islam and Muslims
Let me begin from the very outset to clarify Islam from Muslim. Most people treat Islam and Muslims as synonymous and mutually interchangeable terms, often saying Islam where they ought to say Muslims and vice versa. In my opinion the word "Islam" should be used exclusively for the "Divine way of Life" based upon its divine sources: The Book known as Qur'an, "the word of God" and Sunnah, "the proven practices of the Prophet" (peace and blessing of God be upon him). "Muslims" as human beings are free to abide or deviate from Divine Guidance, as they feel fit according to their own conscience. Islam never claimed to be a new faith. It is the same faith, which God ordained with the creation of the first man sent to earth. Islam confirms almost all Biblical and Hebrew Prophets as the Prophets of Islam and their messages as the messages of Islam as long it is confirmed in the Qur'an the Book of Islam. The moral and ethical code of Islam is similar to Judaism and Christianity. The only difference is in theology, concepts and practices in method of worship of the One and the Only One God and methodology how the morality and ethics should govern all spheres and aspects of our human life.
The main sources of Shariah (Islamic law) are the Qur'an (The Book - word of God) and the Sunnah (the proven practices of the Prophet of Islam), the two chief sources of Islamic jurisprudence. Ijtihad in fact is a rational elaboration of laws either based on the sources or stipulated through human reasoning and self-exertion. Ijma (Ijtihad jamai) or Qias (Ijtihad faradi) etc. are all inter-related, not only under the main heading of Ijtihad but also with the interpretation of the Qur'an and Sunnah.
Political Theory of ISLAM: Din, Dunya and Dawla
The general theory of an Islamic State begins with a consideration of application of Islamic Shariah in daily life. According to Islamic teachings, the Creator not only laid down laws governing the natural universe but rules for human conduct in all aspects of life. Unlike natural order, which follows its predetermined laws, mankind has the freedom to rebel and follow its own "man-made" laws, which is, however, a form of unbelief (shirk). Non-submission to the will of Allah is not only an act of ingratitude (kufr) for divine mercies, but also a choice for evil and misery in this world and punishment in the life hereafter. In Islam, all aspects of natural life have been God-willed, therefore, the ultimate purpose of all creation are the compliance of the created with the will of the creator.
Islamic way of life can be summarised in three words 1) Din (religion), 2) Dunya (Community), 3) Dawla (State). Islamic Shariah covers all of theses three aspects. From Islamic point of view, life is a unity. It cannot be divided into watertight compartments. Islamic Shariah gives directions to all aspects of life in its entirety. Islamic Shariah is a complete scheme of life and an all-embracing social order where nothing is superfluous and nothing lacking. Therefore there is no separation between state and church. Secularism, in Muslims view, destroys the transcendence of all moral values. In Qur'anic words "those who forget God eventually forget themselves" (59:19) and their individual and corporate personalities disintegrate.
Muslims are required to observe religious rules in the community and establish Islamic State to achieve man's righteousness. It is the duty of every Muslim to cooperate with others for seeking common good. It is the duty of Islamic state to establish a just social order based on principles of harmony, respect, freedom and dignity where all human beings are accepted with all of their differences. Diversity is not only recognised but also appreciated in Islamic Society. Muslims can discharge this responsibility collectively with establishing an Islamic State with power to command (amr) and prohibit (nahy). Thus Islamic State is an indispensable condition of Islamic life in the true sense of the word "Islam".
Sanctity of life
One of the distinctive features of the present world is the overwhelming presence of violence in our societies. The nature of indiscriminate and senseless violence is considered one of the prime threats to the world peace and security. I must make it clear that Islam upholds sanctity of human life, as the Qur'an declares that killing one innocent human being is like killing the entire human race (Qur'an 5:32, 6:151, 17:33), like all other faith traditions. Islam considers all life forms as sacred. The first and foremost basic right of a human being given by God is the right to live in peace and security. However, taking a criminal's life by the state in order to administer justice is allowed in Islam as it upholds the rule of law, and helps maintains peace and security of the society. Only a proper and competent court can decide whether an individual has forfeited his right to life by disregarding the right to life and peace of other human beings. The accused must be given full facilities under the law 'the right of defence'. Extra judicial killings are strictly prohibited in Islam.
So what about suicide bombing, is this approved in Islam? Suicide bombing and killing one's own self is undoubtedly forbidden in Islam (Qu'ran 4:29), as it is an abuse of the Divine gift of Life. According to Islamic Law those who commit or try to commit suicide are committing a major sin and will be sent to the fire of hell. Even patients who are in severe pain are prohibited to wish death. Holy Prophet said: "Do not harm yourself or injure others"; "Do not wish death even on the death bed" (Bukhari & Muslim).
The Qur'an says clearly: "You shall spend in the cause of God; do not throw yourselves with your own hands into destruction. You shall be charitable; God loves the charitable". (Qur'an 2:195)."O you who believe do not consume each other's properties illicitly - only mutually acceptable transactions are permitted. You shall not kill yourselves. God is Merciful towards you". (Qur'an: 4:29)"Anyone who commits these transgressions, maliciously and deliberately, we will condemn him to Hell. This is easy for God to do". (Qur'an 4:30)Suicide is a state of disbelief and loss of faith that is condemned by God in the Qur'an. God commands the believers never to despair or lose hope and instead work for a brighter future. "... None despairs of God's grace except the disbelieving people." (Qur'an 12:87)
The warning in the Qur'an even extends to the surprise that will face those who in despair of God's mercy commit these acts;
"The day will come when each soul will find all the good works it had done brought forth. As for the evil works, they will wish that they were far, far removed. God alerts you that you shall reverence Him alone". (Qur'an 3:30). "God advocates justice, charity, and regarding the relatives. And He forbids evil, vice, and transgression. He enlightens you, that you may take heed. (Qur'an16:90)
"O people, we created you from the same male and female, and rendered you distinct peoples and tribes, that you may recognise one another. The best among you in the sight of God is the most righteous."(Qur'an 49:13)
The Qur'an does not call on young volunteers to strap explosives to their bodies and set them off in crowded public areas. The Qur'an does not promise Heaven (Paradise) as these suicide bombers were taught, but rather warn of condemnation to Hell. No promises of paradise or of virgin wives for those suicide bombers can be found in the Qur'an. That much is clear. Suicide bombers are waging a distinctly modern type of warfare not sanctioned in any faith. Many Muslim clerics and scholars have criticized the theology of suicide bombers, and the practice is very controversial within Islam.
In the past year alone, the supreme religious leader and Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh
Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah al Sheikh, said: "He feared that using explosives in this manner is a form of suicide, and therefore condemned". Sheikh Al-Azhar Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, said: "Bombers who detonate explosives among civilians are not fighting a true war and cannot be considered martyrs". These voices are not often heard because the Muslim community is united in the moral caused of the Palestinian and Kashmir people. Let me clarify the Islamic position:
"Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, and that He will indeed reckon your deeds." (From the last sermon of Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him).
"Hijacking Planes, terrorizing innocent people and shedding blood constitute a form of injustice that can not be tolerated by Islam, which views them as gross crimes and sinful acts."
Shaykh Abdul Aziz al-Al-shaikh, Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia and Chairman of the Senior Ulama, on September 15th, 2001
"The terrorists acts, from the perspective of Islamic law, constitute the crime of hirabah (waging war against society)."
September 27, 2001 - Fatwa, signed by Many scholars such as:
"Neither the law of Islam nor its ethical system justify such a crime."
Dr Zaki Badawi, Principal of the Muslim College in London. Cited in Arab News, September 28, 2001.
"It is wrong to kill innocent people. It is also wrong to praise those who kill innocent people." Mufti Nizamuddin Shamzai, Pakistan. (Cited in the New York Times, September 28, 2001.)
From what has already been stated above, it is clear that suicide or indiscriminate killing is not from Islam. However, unfortunately some Muslims have taken suicide bombing as being a virtuous act by which one receives reward. This could not be further from the truth. The Prophet said:" Those who go to extremes are destroyed".
Even in the rules of Islamic warfare, we find no sanction for such an act from the behaviour and words of the Prophet Muhammed and his companions. Unfortunately, today (some misguided) Muslims believe that such acts are paving the way for an Islamic revival and a return to the rule of Islam's glorious law. However, they fail to bear in mind that the Prophet said:" Do not be delighted by the action of anyone, until you see how he ends up". More Muslims killed and persecuted. How can we be delighted with such an end? What really hammers the final nail in the coffin of this act, is that it is suicide- something, which is clearly forbidden in Islam.
The Messenger of Allah said: "He who kills himself, Allah will torment him with that in the fire of Hell" Some are under the misconception that by killing oneself for an Islamic cause, one commits an act, which deserves Paradise. Once when a man killed himself, the Prophet (saws) said: "He is a dweller of the Fire". The taking of ones life, which God has given as a trust, is a great sin. Likewise the taking of other lives (which is so often the case with suicide bombing) is also forbidden, as human life is indeed precious". If anyone killed a person, ....it would be as if he killed the whole of mankind. And (likewise) if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the whole of mankind" (Qur'an 5:32) Thus, all other types of extremities such as hostage taking, hijacking and planting bombs in public places, are clearly forbidden in Islam.
Islam's call for Peace
Islam is a religion of peace. This fact is borne by both Islamic teachings and the very name of "Islam." The term Islam essentially means to submit and surrender one's will to a higher truth and a transcendental law, so that one can lead a meaningful life informed by the divine purpose of creation, and where the dignity and freedom of all human beings can be equally protected. Islamic teachings assert the basic freedom and equality of all peoples. Islam stresses the importance of mutual help and respect, and directs Muslims to extend friendship and good will to all, regardless of their religious, ethnic, gender, cultural, linguistic or racial background.
Islam, in fact, makes of peace at every greeting, which Muslims exchange whenever they meet by saying, "Peace be unto you" (Assalamu 'Alaykum). The Muslim also utters this statement at the end of every ritual prayer. From its inception, the Qur'an emphasized peace as an intrinsic Islamic value. In fact, the terms "Islam" and "Peace" have the same root, salaam.
Furthermore, God has chosen the word peace (salaam) as the Muslim's greeting to reminds believers as one of God attributes.
Islam, on the other hand, permits its followers to resort to armed struggle (Qital) to repel aggression, and indeed urge them to fight oppression, and injustice. But for some Jihad or Qital is nothing less or more than a "holy war", i.e. a war to enforce one's religious beliefs on others. Most Muslims would reject the equation of Jihad with holy war. There are still small and vocal groups of Muslims who conceive Jihad as a divine license to use violence to impose their will on anyone they could brand as an infidel, including fellow Muslims who may not fit their self-proclaimed categorisation of right and wrong.
Peace in Islam does not mean the absence of war, but the absence of oppression, corruption, injustice and tyranny. Islam considers that real peace can only be attained when justice prevails. Islam therefore justifies war against regimes that prevent people from choosing their ideals and practicing their beliefs. It does not, however, justify war against non-Muslim entities. The Islamic society should thus maintain peace with those who show goodwill to Muslims. In international law, there is a set of well-established rules concerning the obligations of nations towards each other in times of war and peace. The first of these is that a country should base its relations with other countries on terms of peace so that it may exchange benefit and cooperate with others in order to promote humanity to utmost perfection. Peaceful ties like these, they say, should not be broken except in extreme urgencies that necessitate war, provided that all peaceful steps have failed in terminating the cause of dispute.
This is what Islam has always been working for, and the relations of Muslims with others are primarily based on peace. Muslims refuse to fight merely because others do not embrace a faith, nor Islam allow Muslims to fight against those who disagree with them on any religious basis. Islam urges its followers to treat such people kindly: "God does not enjoin you from befriending those who do not fight you because of religion, and do not evict you from your homes. You may befriend them and be equitable towards them. God loves those you are just and equitable." (Qur'an: 60:8).
In another place, God says: ...Therefore, if they leave you alone, refrain from fighting you, and offer you peace, then God gives you no excuse in fighting them". (Qur'an 4:90. Muslims are told, " If they resort to peace, so shall you, and put your trust in God" (Qur'an 8:61). Instructions like these pave the way for the establishment of peace, and helps to set down principles that call for the abolishment of war.
Reviewing the early Muslim era and reflecting on the experience of the early Muslim generations, one can clearly see that peace was always the original position of Muslims, and that war was either a punitive measure to annihilate tyranny and oppression, or a defensive measure to stop aggression. From the very beginning, Prophet Muhammad was instructed to use a friendly and polite approach to call people to Islam. Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious. (Qur'an 16:125)
Despite the violent opposition of the Quraysh, the Prophet proceeded to summon people peacefully to Islam, and the Muslims were further commanded, for prudential reasons, not to respond to the violence of the Quraysh. Muslim pacifism during the Makkan period was a political tool to influence change and to protect Muslims from mass destruction. After the immigration to Madinah, the Muslims were permitted to fight against those who declared war against them.
The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, was the peacemaker of his time. He endured torture, hunger and the killing of his loved ones by his enemies, but he remained a merciful person. In his bloodless conquest of Makkah he forgave his archenemies. In his 23 years of struggle for Islam, the total number of people who lost their lives from all sides was less than 700 in wars that were imposed upon him. Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance. There is an abundance of Quranic and historical evidence to show that it does not approve of coercion. Throughout the thirteen years of his mission in Makkah, the Prophet disallowed the use of force by his followers even though non-believers persecuted them.
Peaceful coexistence: An early example
The relationship between Abyssinia and the early Islamic state is an excellent case study for rebutting the classical conception of the two territories (Dar al Islam and Dar al harb), which calls for a permanent war against non-Muslim political communities. Malik ibn Anas, the founder of the Maliki school of law, advised that the Muslims should not conquer Abyssinia predicating his opinion on a Hadith of the Prophet: "Leave the Abyssinians in peace so long as they leave you in peace." He acknowledged that he was not sure of the authenticity of the statement, but said: "People still avoid attacking them."
Abyssinia had maintained its Christian identity long after Islam was established in Arabia and North Africa. Few Muslim families could be found in the fourth Hijri century. From the beginning, Abyssinians showed their good will to the early Muslims who, escaping the persecution of Quraysh, had sought refuge in Abyssinia. The Muslims were welcomed by the Abyssinians and were further protected from their persecutors who sent a delegation to bring the Muslim escapees back home. Good relations between Abyssinia and the Muslims of Arabia continued, the former being the only nation to acknowledge Islam at that time.
The peaceful relationship between Abyssinia and the Islamic state is very significant for rebutting the concept of the two territorial division of the world, and its corollary conception of a permanent state of war, which does not permit the recognition of any non-Muslim state as a sovereign entity. Some Muslim sources claim that al Najashi, the king of Abyssinia during the time of the Prophet, had embraced Islam after receiving the invitation of the Prophet. Ibn al Athir, for instance, wrote in this regard: "When al Najashi received the letter of the Prophet, he believed in him, following his (instructions), and embraced Islam in the presence of Ja'far ibn Abu-Talib. The story about al Najashi's accepting Islam did not affect the status of Abyssinia as a territory in which Islam did not rule.
The campaign of Dawmah al Jandal, the first campaign against the northern Christian tribes, which were Byzantine protectorates, was a punitive expedition to avenge the attacks on the Muslim caravans to al Sham (Syria), such as Qada'ah and Banu Kalb. Likewise, the campaign of Mu'tah was also a punitive expedition to avenge several grave violations against the Muslim messengers and missionaries who were killed by Arab Christians. For example, the Prophet sent al Harith ibn 'Umayr to the governor of Busrah. Upon reaching Mu'tah, Harith met with Sharhabil Amir ibn al Ghassani, who asked him"! "Are you a messenger of Muhammad? Al Harith answered: Yes. Then Sharhabil ordered his men to kill him, and he was executed."
The Prophet also sent "five men to Banu Sulayman who were cold-bloodedly murdered by their hosts. Only their leader managed to escape, and he did so purely accidentally. He also sent fifteen men to Dhat al Talh on the outskirts of al Sham (Syria). They, too, were put to death in cold-blood." It was also reported that the northern Christian tribes killed those among them who had professed Islam, leaving the Muslims therefore no choice but to fight them for their aggression and tyranny. These incidents, and others, triggered the campaigns of Mu'tah and al Hudaybiah, and led eventually to the conquest of al Sham and al 'Iraq.
Jews of Madinah
The original position of Muslims concerning the Jews of Madinah was also based on the principle of peaceful coexistence. A few months after the Prophet arrived in Madinah, he concluded a covenant of friendship, alliance, and cooperation between the Muhajirun and the Ansar on one side and the Jews and others on the other side. The covenant not only recognised the freedom of religion of the Jews and assured their security, but also provided them with complete autonomy, bound with certain duties and obligations, mutually applicable on both Jews and Muslims, as the following excerpt of the document reads: . ..
"As the Jews fight on the side of the Muslims, they shall spend of their wealth on equal par with the Muslims. The Jews have their religion and the Muslims theirs. Both enjoy the security of their own populace and clients except the unjust and the criminal among them. The unjust or the criminal destroys only himself and his family."
The friendly relationship between the Jews of Madinah and the Muslims continued until 'Abdullah ibn Salam, a rabbi and a prominent Jewish leader, embraced Islam. This incident, evidently, sparked grave panic among Jewish leaders, who became apprehensive about the Muslim presence in Madinah and feared that Islam would penetrate their ranks and files. It was at this stage that Jews began their campaign against Muslims; first through a war of words, aimed at refuting the Qur'anic teaching and inducing a state of suspicion about the Prophet and his message, and later through conspiring with the enemies of Islam.
The first confrontation between Jews and Muslims took place after the Battle of Badr when some Jews of Banu Qaynuqa' violated the right of a Muslim woman by forcefully exposing her nakedness. This incident developed into fighting between a Muslim passer-by and the Jewish assailants in which a Jew and the passer-by were killed. Consequently, general fighting between the clan of the murdered Muslim and Banu Qaynuga' erupted. When the Prophet was informed of the confrontation, he sent word to Banu Qaynuqa; asking them to stop the attacks and keep the covenant of mutual peace and security. Banu Qaynuqa' responded by ridiculing the Prophet's request, leaving the Muslims no option but to fight. Likewise, the campaign against Banu al Nadir was triggered by their misconduct.
Justification of WAR in Islam
Like Christianity, Islam permits fighting in self-defence, in defence of religion, or on the part of those who have been expelled forcibly from their homes. It lays down strict rules of combat that include prohibitions against harming civilians and against destroying crops, trees and livestock. For Muslims, injustice would be triumphant in the world if good people were not prepared to risk their lives in a righteous cause. Christianity made a complete prohibition of war. In the Gospel of Matthew, Christ says: "I tell you: Do not resist the wicked, and if one slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other." Similarly, those in favour of absolute prohibition of war rely on the words of Christ to Peter: "Return your sword to its sheath, for all those who grab the sword, shall by the sword be slain."
Some Christians sacrificed their lives in the cause of prohibiting war; rather say the prohibition of the military professions itself. Other Christians made tremendous efforts to reconcile Biblical teachings and the necessities of the society, and their efforts resulted in a differentiation between permissible war and prohibited war. A war is fair and just, according to them, when the prince declares it or ruler, provided his motive is truthful without greed or cruelty. In the fourth century, which is after having established a State under the leadership of Constantine, the Roman Emperor had to use force in order to uproot paganism from the Roman Empire. This was declared as the "just war".
For Muslims the Qur'an declared: "Fight in the cause of God against those who fight you, but do not transgress limits. God does not love transgressors." (Qur'an 2:190) "And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for God. But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against wrongdoers." (Qur'an 2:193) "If they seek peace, then you seek peace. And trust in God for He is the One that hears and knows all things." (Qur'an 8:61)
War is therefore the last resort, and is subject to the rigorous conditions laid down by the sacred law of Shariah. The often misunderstood and overused term 'Jihad' literally means "struggle" and not "holy war" (a term not found anywhere in the Qur'an or Hadith or in anywhere in the Shariah law). Jihad, as an Islamic concept, can be on a personal level--inner struggle against evil within oneself; struggle for decency and goodness on the social level; and struggle on the battlefield, if and when necessary.
ISLAM and the International Law concerning war
Islam permits war but keeps it within the strict rules and limits. Islam has set down certain rules, the most merciful and considerate to people, and required Muslims to observe them. Such rules go in line with the principles of international law in many ways. The principle of international law lacks divine authority that ensures putting them into practical effect. The Muslim rules, though they aim at justice and mercy, have the faith of Muslims as an authority to ensure them being carried out.
A International law determines that the citizens who are not regular members of an army are not considered as fighters, and hence should not be inflicted with harm; only regular soldiers (or armed men engaged in a war) are considered as fighters. For the Qur'an says: "Permission to fight in the cause of God against those who attack you, but do not aggress as God does not like aggressors". (Qur'an: 2:190) It is an act of transgression to when believers fight those who do not fight them, people like their enemy's children and wives, as well as their sick, old and clergy.
B International law forbids killing the wounded, torturing the enemy, destroying them by treachery or deception, or using bombs, missiles or weapons which add to their torture. It also prohibits the poisoning of wells, rivers and foods; it recommends that the corpses of the dead be respected, and prohibits any severity or mayhem be inflicted on them, regardless of the nationality of dead people. Islam applies the same principles, for when the Prophet appointed an army or troop leader he instructed him to follow the Qur'anic laws closely, not to be the aggressor or transgress the limits.
C International law prescribes a number of principles regarding the proper treatment of captives. They should not be killed, injured, ill treated or humiliated if they surrender or if they are deprived of their freedom. Islam also urges the polite treatment of captives in general, and God commends the righteous who treat such people hospitably, saying: "They donate their favourite food to the poor, the orphan, and the captive by saying that we feed you for the sake of God; we expect no reward from you, nor thanks". (Qur'an: 76:8-9)
Jihad in Islam
Jihad is one of the most misunderstood of Islamic terms used today, and many Muslims are as confused by it as non-Muslims. Few words carry as much power to install fear or hatred. That's because the news media have widely interpreted Jihad to mean "holy war," linking it with extremism and terrorism in the public consciousness.
The concept of Jihad has nothing to do with aggressive warfare or "Holy war". The word Jihad finds its origin in the verb jahada, which means to struggle one's utmost effort to remain Muslim and to exert to establish peace and justice. The word Jihad has a few different connotations, since struggle can occur on several levels. Muslims understand these levels based not only on the words of Allah in the Qur'an, but also on the authentic statements of the Prophet Muhammad as recorded in our oral traditions, preserved as ahadith. Jihad refers to any effort, mental, moral or physical, made to make God's Word supreme. It covers a wide range of activities, from fighting inside oneself against one's own evil promptings to being engaged in war for the cause of Islam.
Here are the levels of Jihad:
Jihad is an all-round struggle and makes it obligatory for a Muslim to exercise all his powers, be these in the form of intellectual and physical capacities, or his gift of speech or his moral strength, courage and steadfastness in the face of hardship, or his worldly riches. We reproduce below a few of them in order to explain the true nature and significance of Jihad in Islam: - "The believers are only those who have believed in Allah and His Apostle and thereafter doubted not, and struggled hard with their riches and their persons in the cause of Allah. Those! They are the truthful". (Qur'an 49:15) "And strive hard for Allah, as is due unto Him hard striving. He has chosen you, and has imposed no hardship on you in the (matter of) religion, the faith of your father Ibrahim". (Qur'an 22 : 78)
These verses sum up the spirit of Jihad in Islam. It is a striving in the way of Allah, and has far wider scope than mere fighting. The Prophet of Islam, once when explaining the true qualities of a mujahid (the one who strives in the path of Allah), significantly remarked: - "The mujahid is one who tries to struggle against his self, i.e., evil self." Ibn Qayyim in his explanation of this aspect of Jihad has observed: "The Jihad (struggle/striving) against the evil tendencies, which have dominated his mind and heart, is more important than fighting against the enemies in the outside world. It is in fact the basis on which the struggle in the path of God can be successfully launched." Since Jihad is an all-round struggle, a struggle directed to so many channels, it necessitates the employment of different methods for its wide and varied responsibilities.
According to Imam Raghib, a Muslim is required to fight against three foes:
Ibn Rushd in his famous Bidayahtul Mujtahid maintains that the believer may fulfil this struggle in four ways: with his heart, by his tongue, by his hands, and by the sword. The first of these implies that a Muslim should develop his sensitivities to the point of excellence, so much so that nothing, which is evil, should find its way either into his heart or into his mind. He should have a deep-rooted aversion to evil and a strong desire to fight it tooth and nail, whether it is found in his own self or in the world outside. Then comes the function of the power of expression, which has a vital role to play in the establishment of a sound and just social order, free from all kinds of exploitation. This power has a double responsibility in the sense that it has to clothe in noble words the noble ideals and sentiments, which surge up in the mind and heart of man, and then by dint of his eloquence, imprint their superiority in the minds of other people. Moreover, this gift of expression is to be used for protesting against evils in human life. The Qur'an shows the way, how the power of expression is to be used for inviting people to the path of Allah: -
Invite (all) to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious; for your Lord knows best who have strayed from His Path and who receive guidance. (Qur'an16: 125) In his characteristic style, the Prophet of Islam has explained that Jihad consists not only of using the sword, but that even when a Muslim uses his tongue for protesting against the atrocities of tyrants, he is waging Jihad. He once said: -
"Whoever amongst you sees something abominable, he should endeavour to change it with his hand, in case he has the power to do it; but if he lacks the requisite power he should then use his tongue, and if he is powerless in this also, he must then hate it from the heart of his heart, and this in fact is the weakest (state) of the faith."
Then in another tradition, which is narrated on the authority of Abu Sai'd al-Khudri, the Prophet significantly remarked:
"The best of Jihad is the uttering of the word of truth in the face of a tyrannical ruler."
This would make it abundantly clear that Jihad in Islam is not necessarily an act of violence. It is in fact an all-round struggle in the path of Allah.
Qital fi sabil-Allah (fighting for sake of Allah)
Qital (fighting and waging war), a word often used in the Qur'an, is the highest form of Jihad. It is not an act of aggression for the sake of material interests or a wanton display of national or tribal power, but it is a sacred duty assigned to every Muslim in the interests of humanity so that there should be peace and justice in the world. The word Jihad is often confused with the word qital (fighting) and these are used in one and the same sense, whereas the Qur'an has made a clear distinction between qital and Jihad fi Sabil Allah (fighting for the sake of God). The Qur'an has also clearly pointed out that Jihad denotes two kinds of strivings; striving with the help of God-given faculties, both mental and physical, and striving with the help of resources which one has at one's command.
In this all-round struggle, however, which covers all aspects of life, Islam has assigned a special place to qital (fighting) as well. Circumstances do arise in which the use of arms becomes a dire moral necessity and even a slight show of weakness on such occasions can lead to disastrous results. The Holy Qur'an stresses the need for rising to such occasions and has exhorted Muslims to face the dangers that might thus beset them bravely and manfully. Thus the use of force is not only permitted in Islam, but its need has been duly stressed in the Qur'an and the Sunnah. But it should be made clear that even qital in Islam is not an act of mad brutality. "It represents in Muslim law what is known among western jurists as 'just way'." In order to understand the true nature of qital in Islam, we must first analyse the different motives, which incite people to fight:
1) The desire for material benefits is the principal impulse for warlike aggression: "Territory, with the attendant booty of various kinds, has been the usual stake in war, coveted alike by peoples and by dynasties."
2) "The fear of injury as well as the resentment due to actual injury has unfailingly prompted defensive war when resistance was possible and often when it might well be deemed hopeless. The interests which nations have usually been prepared to defend at all costs are, in addition to their territory, their jurisdiction and their honour."
3) The desire for power and glory has been the dominant motive of the great conquerors and their armies. It is a fact that ambitious men have again and again resorted to the use of force as means of appropriating territory and increasing their own wealth and that of the people whom they represent. However there is no denying the fact that nations as well as individuals find satisfaction in the exercise of power as an end in it. This desire manifests itself in the attempt of a nation or class to acquire dominion over others.
4) "The passions of hatred and revenge have also furnished a relatively independent motive. A nation can take up an attitude that is still on a lower plane than brutal selfishness; it can become inspired by a hatred of the diabolic kind, which makes it disregard even the counsels of self-interest for the satisfaction of inflicting deadly injury on a loathed enemy. The spirit of hatred has sometimes even been engendered by centuries of conflict or oppression."
Qital in Islam has no evil design behind it. Islam has the greatest respect not only for the lives of human beings but even for those of animals and plants. It is only for the achievement of some nobler ends and those too, through noble means, that a Muslim has been exhorted to lay hands upon them. There are many verses in the Qur'an, which speak eloquently of the sanctity of life: - And there is not an animal on the earth, not a bird that flieth with its two wings, but are communities like you. Nothing have we omitted from the Book; then they (all) shall be gathered to their Lord in the end. ( Qur'an 6:38).
It must be said that the meaning of Jihad, as a 'holy war', is something that is totally foreign and not only from Islam. By simply looking into the sources of Islam, one is able to know that the true meaning of Jihad is to strive/make effort in the way of Allah. Thus striving in the way of Allah can be both peaceful and physical. The Prophet Muhammed (Peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) said: "The best Jihad is (by) the one who strives against his own self for sake of Allah, The Mighty and Majestic"
By controlling and fighting against ones desires, the Muslims can then also physically exert themselves in the path of Allah. It is this physical or combative Jihad, which receives so much criticism. Because of the sheer ignorance of this type of Jihad Islam is regarded as terror, and Muslims are regarded as terrorists. However, the very purpose of this physical jihad is to raise the word of Allah uppermost. By doing this, it liberates and emancipates all those who are crying out for freedom all over the world. If the likes of the pacifists of this world had their way, then the world would indeed be full of anarchy and mischief.
Jihad is something, which is commanded by God upon the Muslims. Through this command the oppressed and weak are rescued from the tyranny of the world:
"And what is the matter with you that you do not fight in the cause of Allah and for those weak, ill treated and oppressed among men, women and children whose only cry is; 'Our Lord, rescue us from this town whose people are oppressors and raise for us from you one who will protect us...." (The Qur'an 4:75)
Anyone who knows the early history of Islam will know that all those nations and empires, which came under the fold of Islam, were indeed previously oppressed. When the companions of the Prophet Muhammed went out for the Jihad against the Egyptians, the Persians and the Romans, we find that the people did not resist against them at all. Rather, they welcomed Muslims as the liberator from oppressed people, liberation from centuries of tyranny. In fact, with the Byzantine Egyptians and the people of Spain, the Muslims were even beckoned to come and liberate these lands from the oppression of their kings.
By looking at the rules and regulations of this combative Jihad it will be clear to any sincere person that this is indeed the religion of truth. When fighting an unjust enemy, no matter how unjust they are, it is forbidden by Islam that their retreating forces are mutilated, tortured or slaughtered. The treacherous violation of treaties and carrying out assassinations after a cease-fire, are also prohibited. Allah says in the Qur'an: "And fight in the way of Allah those who fight you. But do not transgress the limits. Truly Allah loves not the transgressors" (Qur'an 2:190)
Not transgressing the limits means not to kill women and children, for the Messenger of Allah (saws) "forbade the killing of women and children". Not transgressing the limits means that the elderly, the sick, monks, worshippers and hired labourers are not attacked. Not transgressing the limits means not killing animals wantonly, burning crops and vegetation, polluting waters and destroying homes, monasteries, churches and synagogues:" Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion, nor drove you out of your homes. Indeed, Allah loves those who deal with equity" (Qur'an 60:8)
After reading such passages from the Qur'an and knowing about what Islam commands and prohibits in Jihad, the rules of warfare are given a new meaning; a meaning of justice. How sad it is then, that whilst Islam is condemned for striking terror into the hearts of the people, the likes of the Serbs, the Indian army in Kashmir and the Israeli soldiers in Palestine are left untarnished for the atrocities they have committed in the name of warfare.
The Qur'an on war, peace and justice
The aim of war according to the Qur'an is not to propagate or spread Islam, nor is it to expand the territory of the Islamic State or dominate, politically or militarily, non-Muslim regions. Rather, the aim of war is to establish and assure justice, and to annihilate oppression and abolish tyranny. It is true that the right to communicate the message of Islam is protected under Islamic law, and the Islamic society must, therefore, respect and defend this right. But the obligation to protect the right of Muslims, and for this matter all religious communities, to promote their belief and values should be carried out through peaceful means and in a friendly manner. The assurance of justice and destruction of tyranny are therefore the underlying objectives of war. However, since the terms "justice" and "tyranny" cover wide ground and permit broad interpretation, they need to be translated into more concrete forms. We can distinguish five situations where the violation of the principle of justice and the excessive misconduct of tyranny call the Islamic society to war and justify its use of violence against the political entity that is implicated in such practices.
1 War against oppression
It is incumbent upon Muslims to challenge any political authority that either uses its free exchange of ideas, or prevents people to freely professing or practice the religion they chose to embrace.
"And fight them until there is no more persecution and religion is only for Allah"
"And why should ye not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are 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)
It should be made clear here that oppressiveness of a particular regime is not to be determined by comparing the values and conduct of that regime with Islamic norms and standards, but rather by its toleration of the Muslim interaction with its subjects and the communication of Islam to the general public. Corruption and mismanagement should not be considered, therefore, the criteria that classify a particular regime as oppressive, deserving, thus, to be fought, because, it may be recalled, Muslims are commanded to invite mankind to Islam through friendly and peaceful means and effect social and political change using the peaceful methods of education and moral reformation. Only when their peaceful efforts are frustrated and met with violence, are they justified to use violence to subdue the aggressive party. As it was shown above, the Prophet did not resort to war against the Pagan Arabs until they persecuted the Muslims and violated their lives and properties; nor did he fight the Jews of Madinah until they betrayed the Muslims and conspired with their enemies. Similarly, the Prophet declared war against Byzantium and its Arab allies only when they killed the messengers and missionaries who were sent to peacefully summon people to Islam and introduce to them the new revelation of God.
2 War in defence of Muslims
When wrong is inflicted on a Muslim individual by a member, or members, of another community, whether this wrong is done to his person, by assaulting or murdering him, or to his property by robbing or unjustly confiscating it, the Islamic state is obligated to make sure the individual, or his family, is compensated for his suffering, and that his rights are upheld. Because it is beyond the scope of this paper to discuss the legal procedure of this matter, it suffices to say that the Islamic state should ensure that justice has been done to the wronged Muslim, even if that takes a declaration of war against the political community that tolerates such an aggression, provided that the authority of the political community has refused to amend the wrong inflicted on the Muslim individual after it has been formally notified and given reasonable time to respond. " . . . Whoever then acts aggressively against you, inflict injury on him according to the injury he has inflicted on you and be careful (of your duty) to Allah and know that Allah is with those who guard (against evil)". ( Qur'an 2:194).
Upon examining closely the Qur'anic passages in which God permitted Muslims to fight, we find them to clarify that war should be a means to drive away aggression and tyranny. God says: "Permission is granted to those who are being persecuted, since injustice has befallen them, and God is certainly able to support them. They were evicted from their homes unjustly, for no reason other than saying "our Lord is God." If it were not for God's supporting of some people against others, monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques - where the name of God is commemorated frequently - would have been destroyed. As for victorious Believers, God says, "They are those who, if we appointed them as rulers on earth, they would establish the system of obligatory regular prayers (Salah) and the obligatory charity (Zakat), and would advocate righteousness and forbid evil, God is the ultimate authority". (Qur'an, 22:39-41).
Military victory should not lead to expansion or dominance as the case is with colonial regimes, nor should it lead to control over sources of wealth, or to arrogance in the land to raise a race above another. Victorious believers had better "establish regular prayers" to attain spiritual exaltation by worshipping God, and to purify their spirits. They "establish the obligatory charity" and thus establish social justice by supporting the right of the needy to live a decent life. They "advocate righteousness " by spreading benevolence and right among people, and " forbid evil" by fighting against evil and corruption and uprooting them from society. The Prophet fought only to drive away aggression, after having received his divine orders: "You may fight in the cause of God against those who attack you, but do not accede the limit as God does not like aggressors" (Qur'an 2:190).
3 War against foreign aggression
The clear-cut case of foreign aggression is a military attack on the Islamic state or its allies. The Muslims, however, are not obliged to wait until the enemies launch their attack, to respond. Rather, the Islamic state can initiate war and carry out a pre-emptive strike if the Muslim authorities become convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that the enemy is mobilizing its forces and is about to carry out an offensive, or if a state of war already exists between the Islamic state and its adversaries.
If aggression is committed against another political entity with which the Islamic state has entered into mutual alliance, or has signed a treaty that stipulates protection, the Islamic state is also obliged to fulfil its commitment to its ally and provide the military support needed. The conquest of Makkah was precipitated by Quraysh's attack on Khuza'ah, which was an ally of the Islamic city-state of Madinah, thereby violating a provision of the Treaty of al Hudaybiyah that prohibited such an act. Polytheists used different methods to inflict harm on Muslims. Finally they decided to kill the Prophet. When the latter learned of the intention, he immigrated to Medina and was warmly welcomed by its people who pledged allegiance to him in the cause of Islam. The atheists were not content with trying to kill the Prophet, but also provoked non-Muslim tribes against him in order to put an end to his Message. When the case reached this stage, God gave permission to Mohammed to fight.
4 Fighting for the cause of Justice and Truth
The Muslims are commanded to establish justice and peace on earth. This requires Muslims to stand in the face of injustice and oppression, wherever they may be, and eradicate their causes, and not to take hold of the earth, or enslave people or dominate their welfare, but establish the Word of God on earth, without doubtful intentions. In Islam, this is called the "strife in the cause of God" and the "Fight in the cause of God." (Qur'an 2:244 and 22:78). The cause of God is the cause of justice. Every fight in the cause and support of freedom in religion is a fight in the cause of God; and every fight to drive away oppression and support the oppressed against the oppressor, or to support right and justice, is a fight in the cause of God. Every effort done to attain or protect justice is also done in the cause of God.
The Qur'an demands believers to fight in the cause of God, without any worldly intentions. The following verses, sent down to the Prophet in Medina, clarify the aims of war: Those who readily fight in the case of God are those who forsake this world in favour of the hereafter. Whoever fights in the cause of God, then gets killed, or attains victory, we shall surely grant him a great recompense. Why should you not fight in the cause of God when weak men, women, and children are imploring: "Our Lord, protect and save us from this community whose people are oppressive, and be You our Lord and Master". (Qur'an: 4:74-75). A hint is made here that, in Islam, war is not for oppressing or enslaving people; it is waged for the cause of God and weak people, like those in Makkah who were persecuted and oppressed by the Makkan atheists. It is the duty of every believer to support people like these and relieve them from oppression, people who no longer have any supporter and thus turn to God for refuge. Then God says: Those who believe are fighting for the cause of God , while those who disbelieve are fighting for the cause of tyranny. Therefore, you shall fight the devil's allies; the devil's power is nil. (Qur'an 4:76)
Evil means transgression of limits. Thus when one transgresses limits and behaves arrogantly in the land, enslaves others and deprives them of their rights or of having a share in the riches of the earth, he is said to be fighting "in the cause of Evil" which God criticizes severely and considers as the motto of atheists. The aim of fighting in the cause of God is to spread Divine Law (which calls for justice and freedom of religion) in the world without there being any selfish intent or arrogance in the land, as God wants the case to be: "We reserve the abode of hereafter for those who do not seek exaltation on earth, nor corruption. The ultimate victory belongs to righteous" (Qur'an: 28:83).
To this effect, Mohammed sent his delegates to eight neighbouring rulers with messages calling them to embrace Islam. The appeal was rejected. Some of them even killed the Prophet's delegates, and some tore the message and threatened the delegates who had brought it. The rulers of the time were a clear obstacle in front of the individuals' freedom and their right to live in justice and to choose their religion freely. Islam was the civilised step in the development of humankind. Islam declared war against an obsolete form of tyrannical governing. If Islam used force, then only to enforce justice that resulted in fascinating civilizations in every area where Islam entered.
5 War of law enforcement
When a proportion of the population residing within the boundaries of the Islamic state breaks the rule of law, or threaten the territorial integrity of the Islamic state, the Muslim authorities are justified in using armed force to subdue the rebellion. It should be emphasised, however, that what is at issue here is not just opposition to a particular public policy, but an insurrection that attempts to achieve its goals through military tactics, threatening thereby the lives and property of other members of the society. Three types of dissension, however, should be differentiated, two of which are merely causes of rebellion, which can be forcefully subdued, while the third is a case of legitimate political opposition that should be dealt with in a peaceful manner.
The principles of peace and its Strategy
If war is justified in the situations described above, a question arises as to whether Muslims are obligated to fight in these situations, no matter what the circumstances are, or whether it is simply a matter of permissibility or choices, and hence up to the Muslim community to exercise its right to declare war in such situations? To answer this question we need to differentiate between the principle of Jihad as a permanent obligation incumbent upon Muslims, and the method of Jihad which is to be determined after assessing the prevailing conditions of the moment, and selecting the most appropriate method of Jihad to effectively deal with these conditions. In other words, while the Muslim Ummah is obliged to uphold the principle of Jihad and satisfy its requirements, the method of honouring this principle is a question of strategy. Eliminating oppression and protecting human life, defending Muslim sovereignty and upholding the Islamic law, are objectives of the Islamic Ummah. The principle of Jihad obligates the Muslims to maintain and achieve these objectives. The best way to achieve these objectives, and most appropriate method of upholding the principle of Jihad is, however, a question of leadership and strategy.
Throughout the Makkan period, the Muslims maintained a pacifist approach in dealing with their adversaries, despite the physical abuse and mental anguishes inflicted upon them by Quraysh. For pacifism was then the best method to effectively achieve Muslim objectives. Some might argue that Muslims did not resort to violence during the Makkan period because they were not permitted to fight at that time- an argument easily overturned when we realise that the absence of the principle of self-defence during the Makkan period was a temporary suspension of the principle's application, rather than its nullification or rejection. Certainly, the Qur'an unequivocally states that the principle of self-defence and military deference is an essential element of social life and a fundamental principle around which human civilization has evolved
". . . . and had it not been (the Will of) Allah that one set of people is repelled by another, certainly the earth would have been in a state of disorder". (Qur'an 2:251)
". . . and had it not been (the Will of) Allah that one set of people is repelled by another, certainly there would have been pulled down monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of Allah is commemorated in abundant measure." ( Qur'an 22:40)
Thus, it is up to the Muslim leadership to assess the situation and weigh the circumstances as well as the capacity of the Muslim community before deciding the appropriate type of jihad. At one stage, Muslims may find that Jihad, through persuasion or peaceful resistance, is the best and most effective method to achieve just peace, as was the case during the Makkan period. At another stage, fortification and defensive tactics may be the best way to achieve these objectives. The selection of the method of Jihad, however, is not an arbitrary decision, but one that takes into account the general conditions of both the Muslim community and its adversaries, including the military balance between the Muslims and their enemies and the morale of the Muslim army.
The Qur'an circumscribed the Muslim ability to militarily confront its adversaries by two ratios (ten-to-one and two-to-one) that sets the upper and lower limits of the Muslim forces in terms of their manpower. "O Prophet, rouse the believers to the fight. If there are twenty amongst you, patient and persevering, they will vanquish two hundred: if a hundred, they will vanquish a thousand of the unbelievers: for these are people without understanding". (Qur'an 8:65) "For the present, Allah hath lightened your (task), for He knows that there is a weak spot in you: but (even though), if there are a hundred of you, patient and persevering, they will vanquish two hundred, and if a thousand, they will vanquish two thousand, with the leave of Allah: for Allah is with those who patiently persevere" (Qur'an 8:66)
These verses vividly state that given favourable conditions and high morale, Muslims could, by virtue of their faith, win against odds of ten to one. But when their organisation and equipment are weak, and their morale falls short of the optimal situation, they are obligated to tackle no more than odds of two to one.
Let us examine some verses of the Quran, which unfortunately has led many to misunderstand the Islamic conduct of war. One cannot understand Qur'anic verses without knowing their reference to context and period of revelation and circumstances when the verses were revealed. Below is a clear explanation that can help clarify misconceptions. When it comes to the Islamic conduct of war, some of the verses of the Qur'an that have often been quoted to "prove" Islam promotes violence and bloodshed are found in Chapter/Surah 2 verses 190-194:
"Fight against those who fight against you in the way of Allah, but do not transgress, for Allah does not love transgressors. Kill them whenever you confront them and drive them out from where they drove you out. (For though killing is sinful) wrongful persecution is even worse than killing. Do not fight against them near the Holy Mosque unless they fight against you; but if they fight against you kill them, for that is the reward of such unbelievers. Then if they desist, know well that Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Compassionate. Keep on fighting against them until mischief ends and the way prescribed by Allah prevails. But if they desist, then know that hostility is only against the wrong doers. The sacred month for the sacred month; sanctities should be respected alike (by all concerned). Thus, if someone has attacked you, attack him just as he attacked you, and fear Allah and remain conscious that he with those who guard against violating the bounds sets Allah." (Qur'an 2:190-194).
The historic context and nature of the Qur'an
The Qur'an comprises of revelations from God to Prophet Muhammad over a period of twenty-three years (610 C.E. - 632 C.E.). The first 13 years of the prophet-hood of Muhammad were at his hometown of Makkah, where he and his fellow Muslims were severely persecuted by the pagans of Makkah. During that time, Muslims were not ordered to fight back, but bear the persecutions. Finally, God ordered the Prophet and his fellow Muslims to immigrate to the city of Madinah, about 400 kilometres away.
This emigration, known as the Hijrah, marked the beginning of an Islamic society in Madinah, in which the Prophet became the head of the state. It was not long before the polytheists of Makkah marched towards Madinah to wage war against Muslims and destroy the Islamic state of Madinah. This battle is known as the Battle of Badr. The verses 2.190-2.194, above were perhaps the first injunctions from God to Muslims to prepare themselves for fighting. It was obviously a war in the defence of their homeland and their Faith. In verse 2.190, God instructs Muslims to fight back, but not to transgress, and remain just even during the battle. "They are told that material interests should not be the motivation for their fighting, that they should not take up arms against those were not in opposition to the true faith, that they should not resort to unscrupulous methods or to the indiscriminate killing and pillage which characterized the other wars. The excesses alluded to in this verse are acts such as taking up arms against women and children, the old and the injured, mutilation of the dead bodies of the enemy, uncalled for devastation through the destruction of fields and livestock, and other similar acts of injustice and brutality. The Prophet prohibited all these acts. The real intent of the verse is to stress that force should be used only when its use is unavoidable, and only to the extent that is absolutely necessary."
God, in whom the believers have faith, is forgiving and ready to pardon even the worst criminals and sinners after they have renounced their arrogant defiance towards Him, It is suggested that this attribute of God should be reflected in the behaviour of the believers as well. Hence, whenever the believers have to resort to armed conflict, they should do so not for the sake of quenching their thirst for vengeance but in the just cause of their defence. Their conflict with any group should last only as long as that group is fighting them. As soon as it gives up this fight the hostility should cease.
It should be emphasised that so many revelations in the Holy Qur'an came down to provide guidance to Prophet Muhammad and the Muslims based on what they were confronting at that time. Therefore, it is important to understand and know the historic context of the revelations for a proper understanding of these verses.
In accordance with Qur'anic verse 256 of Chapter 2, the acceptance of Islam by any individual must be based on that individual's free choice. Any attempt to force a non-Muslim to accept the faith of Islam is a grievous sin. Furthermore, the Muslim community (Ummah) has no right whatsoever to undermine either the social structure or the religious and cultural freedom of the non-Muslims living in its midst, or to deprive them of their civic rights. After the establishment of the Islamic community in Madinah, Islam continued to forbid its followers from initiating any aggression against others. Although Islam recognises the periodic necessity of war subject to the constraints of Shari'ah, which permits war only inasmuch as it is just, Qur'anic verse 190 of Chapter 2 clearly states: "Fight in God's way against those who fight against you. But do not commit aggression. Truly, God loves not the aggressors." In accordance with these teachings, contemporary mainstream Islamic groups clearly dissociate themselves from violence, condemning it and considering those who perpetrate it to have no proper understanding of teachings and objectives of Islam.
Avoid War and cycle of wars at all costs
In a war or war-like situation the effort to avert bloodshed and find out ways and means to promote negotiated settlement is far more important. The Prophet (PBUH) always tried all possibilities of negotiated settlement and resorted to war in self-defence only if all efforts to find a negotiated settlement failed. The best example of this is what is known in the history of Islam as sulh-i-Hudaibiyah (Peace agreement made at Hudaibiyah). This is a major contribution by the Prophet of Islam in promoting a negotiated settlement and averting needless bloodshed. He even accepted terms, which were not apparently favourable to Muslims. The terms of peace appeared to be even humiliating to his senior companions. The Prophet accepted these terms to avoid human slaughter and in the interest of peace.
Sulh-Hudaibiyuyah is of fundamental significance in the interest of peace. Peace is the real objective and war only a necessary evil in certain unavoidable situations. Also it is a wrong assumption that it is duty of the Muslims to fight against all non-believers or kafirs (infidels). The Qur'an itself mentions about treaties with unbelievers and according to the Qur'an and hadith it is the duty of all Muslims to honour all treaties and alliances with non-believers. The Muslims must respect all such alliances until non-Muslims dis-honour these.
Respecting Individual Freedom of Belief
The war is not the instrument of the Islamic state to propagate Islam and extend its territory. The question one needs an answer now: "Does Islam recognise individual freedom of conscience i.e., are people free to accept or reject Islam?" The answer to this question is an emphatic yes. The principle of the freedom of belief has been unequivocally established in two Qur'anic verses: If it had been the Lord's will, all those who are on earth would have believed will you then compel mankind, against their will, to believe? (Qur'an 10:99) Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from error. (Qur'an 2:256)
The first verse (10:99) was revealed in Makkah before Hijrah, while the second was revealed in Madinah after Hijrah. As al Qurtubi mentioned in his Qur'anic commentary, and some commentators claim that the second verse (2:256) has been abrogated by the verses of Surah Bara'ah, which permitted the Muslims to fight the "People of the Book", while others ascertain that it has not been abrogated. Al Qurtubi quotes Abu Ja'far's interpretation of this verse: "The meaning of 'let there be no compulsion in religion' is that no one is to be forced to accept Islam. The al has been added to the world din so that their combination al din would indicate Islam."
As this principle appeared in Qur'an, this cannot be abrogated by the hadith: "I have been commanded to fight people until they say: 'There is no god but Allah' for as it was indicated above, the hadith embodies a particular rule (hukm khass) which is applicable only to the Pagan Arabs. Even if we were to hypothetically treat the hadith as a general rule, it could not be used to abrogate a Qur'anic verse. For while the previous hadith is an exclusively narrated hadith (hadith ahad) and therefore uncertain (zanni al dalalah), the verse, like all other Qur'anic verses, is extensively narrated (mutawatir) and, therefore, certain (qat'i al dalalah).
The claim of abrogation is clearly flawed; for both verses embody firm rule (muhkam). The first verse points out in unequivocal fashion that it had not been God's that mankind should be forced to believe; and the second verse provides more explanation as to why people should not be compelled to accept Islam by indicating that "Truth stands out clear from error." Because God's will is not subject to change, and because truth stands always clear from error, the two verses are not, therefore, subject to abrogation.
Qur'an and Hadith on Religious Persecution No compulsion in religion
This part has two sections. The first is a brief explanation of Qur'anic verses that are often mistaken as instructions to persecute Non-Muslims. The second section features verses from the Qur'an and Hadith that vehemently insist on religious tolerance and the idea of "no compulsion in religion." God willing, Non-Muslims as well as our Muslim brothers and sisters who resort to violence, will take these verses into consideration. Anti-Islamic people often use the following verses to justify the stereotype that Islam is a religion of violence and intolerance, which was spread by the sword. The explanations here were aided by Abdullah Yusuf Ali's commentary on the Holy Qur'an.
8:12 "Remember thy lord has inspired the angels with the message. Give firmness to the believers and instil terror into the hearts of the unbelievers. Smite them above their necks and smite the fingertips of them."
This verse is about a BATTLE - the Battle of Badr - not just some daily affair. A battle takes two sides to occur. Are you under the impression that while these 'horrid' Muslims were fighting, the enemies were simply standing there like good little peaceful men?
9:5 "When the sacred months have passed, kill the idolaters wherever you find them."
This verse is interesting. Non-Muslims almost invariably quote verse 5 but leave out verse 4 and 6. Why? Because verse 4 says, "But the treaties are not dissolved with those pagans with whom you have entered into alliance and who have you subsequently failed you in aught, nor aided anyone against you. So fulfil your engagements with them to the end of their term: for God loves the righteous". And verse 6 says, "If one among pagan ask from asylum, grant to him so that he may hear the Word of God; and then escort him to where he can be secure and safe."
47:4 "When you encounter the unbelievers, Strike off their heads. Until you have made a wide slaughter among them tie up the remaining captives."
This verse was revealed during the first year of Hijrah when the Muslims were under *threat of extinction* by invasion from Makkah.
So basically this is what has been done so far:
1 The background to each verse was shown.
One cannot take a verse revealed for a battle and insist it is if for the daily affairs of Muslims or commands for peaceful times.
2 It was shown how Non-Muslims who wish to attack Islam conveniently leave out verses before and after their quoted verse. Above, I have shown only one of the many examples. Second Section.
This long list of verses from the Qur'an and the Traditions of Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him) show that Islam at its core and at its source is a religion of peace. Terrorists who persecute innocent people because of their faith are not welcome - their use of Islam as a political excuse, does not make it Islamic what they portray it to be.
11:28: He (Noah) said "O my people! Think over it! If I act upon a clear direction from my Lord who has bestowed on me from Himself the Merciful talent of seeing the right way, a way that you cannot see for yourself, does it follow that we can force you to take the right path when you definitely decline to take it?"
17:53, 54: "And tell my servants that they should speak in a most kindly manner (unto those who do not share their beliefs). Verily, Satan is always ready to stir up discord between men; for verily; Satan is mans open foe.... Hence, We have not sent you (Unto men O Prophet) with power to determine their Faith".
21:107 to 109: (O Prophet?) "We have not sent you except to be a mercy to all mankind:" Declare, "Verily, what is revealed to me is this, your God is the only One God, so is it not up to you to bow down to Him?' But if they turn away then say, "I have delivered the Truth in a manner clear to one and all, and I know not whether the promised hour (of Judgment) is near or far."
22:67: "To every people have, We appointed ceremonial rites (of prayer) which they observe; therefore, let them not wrangle over this matter with you, but bid them to turn to your Lord (since that is the main objective of religion). You indeed are rightly guided. But if they still dispute you in this matter, (then say,) `God best knows (the value of) what you do."
88:21, 22; also see 24:54: "And so, (O Prophet!) Exhort them your task is only to exhort; you cannot compel them to believe".
48:28: "He it is Who has sent forth His Messenger with the (task of spreading) Guidance and the Religion of Truth, to the end that tie make it prevail over every (false) religion, and none can bear witness to the Truth as God does".
36:16, 17: (Three Messengers to their people) Said (the Messengers), "Our Sustainers knows that we have indeed been sent unto you, but we are not bound to more than clearly deliver the Message entrusted to us."
39:41: "Assuredly, We have sent down the Book to you in right form for the good of man. Whoso guided himself by it does so to his own advantage, and whoso turns away from it does so at his own loss. You certainly are not their keeper"
42:6, 48: And whoso takes for patrons others besides God, over them does God keep a watch. Mark, you are not a keeper over them. But if they turn aside from you (do not get disheartened), for we have not sent you to be a keeper over them; your task is but to preach...."
64:12: Obey God then obey the Messenger, but if you turn away (no blame shall attach to our Messenger), for the duty of Messenger is just to deliver the message.
67:25, 26 And they ask, "When shall the promise be fulfilled if you speak the Truth?" Say, "The knowledge of it is verily with God alone, and verily I am but a plain Warner."
60:8-9 Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them. Allah only forbids you, with regard to those who fight you for (your) Faith, and drive you out of your homes, and support (others) in driving you out, from turning to them (for friendship and protection). It is such as turn to them (in these circumstances) that do wrong.
The following are teachings of the Prophet on how you and I should treat our Non-Muslim friends and neighbours on a day-to-day basis as well as how a government should treat a Non-Muslim citizen of a Muslim state.
"He who believes in God and the Last Day should honour his guest, should not harm his neighbour, should speak good or keep quiet." (Bukhari, Muslim)
"Whoever hurts a Non-Muslim citizen of a Muslim state hurts me, and he who hurts me annoys God." (Bukhari)
"Indeed the religion is man's treatment of other fellow-being" (Bukhari)
"The best among you is who do good deed in serving other people and they get benefits from him" (Ahmed & Tabrani)
"He who hurts a Non-Muslim citizen of a Muslim state, I am his adversary, and I shall be his adversary on the Day of a Judgement." (Bukhari)
"Beware on the Day of Judgement; I shall myself be complainant against him who wrongs a Non-Muslim or lays on him a responsibility greater than he can bear or deprives him of anything that belongs to him." (Bukhari and Muslim)
"Anyone who kills a Non-Muslim who had become our ally will not smell the fragrance of Paradise." (Bukhari)
"None of you truly believes until he wishes for others what he wishes for himself ... Treat other the way you wanted to be treated" (Bukhari-Muslim)
WAR for Peace and Social Justice
Those who work for social justice are as good as mujahidin i.e. warriors in the way of Allah. Thus we find in Sahih al-Bukhari: The Prophet (PBU) said, "The one who looks after and works for a widow and for a poor person, is like a warrior fighting for Allah's cause or like a person who fasts during the day and prays all the night." Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet said as above.
Thus anyone striving for social justice and working for ameliorating the plight of the poor is like a warrior in the way of Allah. Thus those who spend their own money or collect from others and spend for the poor in the way Allah is no less than a mujahid. According to the Qur'an Zakat money is to be spent on poor, widows, needy, paying off the debt of indebted and for liberation of slaves. These are all weaker sections of society. It is thus a great merit to help these poorer and weaker sections and to work for them is as meritorious as waging Jihad in the way of Allah.
One must remember that much of the conflict in the world is because of poverty, hunger and unemployment. If these problems are solved much of the conflict will be resolved. One should wage war against poverty in all possible ways - by increasing production, by ringing about redistribution of economic resources and by not allowing wealth to be circulated only among the rich. (Qur'an 59:7) Even when first permission was given to fight in the Qur'anic verse 4:77 it was basically to defend the rights of weak from among the old men, women and children.
We have examined in some detail the basic rules of war that Islam has conferred on man. Let us now find out what rights and obligations Islam recognizes for an enemy.
The Rights of the Non Combatants
Islam has first drawn a clear line of distinction between the combatants and the non-combatants of the enemy country. As far as the non-combatant population is concerned such as women, children, the old and the infirm, etc., the instructions of the Prophet are as follows:
During a war, the Prophet saw the corpse of a woman lying on the ground and observed: "She was not fighting. How then she came to be killed?" From this statement of the Prophet the exegetics and jurists have drawn the principle that those who are non-combatants should not be killed during or after the war.
Among the principles of Islam, which reveal tolerance toward the enemy in the time of war, is that it allows individuals and groups of the enemy who actively fight against Islam, to get in touch with Muslims and to reside in Muslim lands under the protection of the Islamic law, which is known as the "Law of Protection" Islam ensures the protection of such people and requires Muslims to protect them with all they can afford as long as they are in Muslim territories. It even offers them certain privileges and releases them from certain obligations, which Muslims have to observe. The purpose of this Law of Protection is to give these people a chance to learn the truth about Islam. In this way, Muslims could effectively spread the message of their faith.
The origin of this rule is in Qur'an: "If one of the idol worshipers sought safe passage with you shall grant him safe passage, so that he can hear the word of God, then send him back to his place of security. That is because they are people who do not know" (Qur'an: 9:6). One may add with a scholar "if they accept the Word, they become Muslims and brethren on faith, and no further question arises. If they do not see their way to accept Islam, they will require double protection: (1) from the Islamic forces openly fighting against their people, and (2) from their own people, as they detached themselves from them. Both kinds of protection should be ensured for them, and they should be safely escorted to a place where they can be safe."
Islam deals with this point at length and permits the Muslim individuals to settle a covenant with non-Muslims. In this measure of protection and guarantee Islam does not make specific demands regarding such measures, except that ensures safety and protection of Muslim.
The Rights of the Combatants
Now let us see what rights Islam has conferred on the combatants.
1 Torture with fire
Prophet of Islam said that: "Punishment by fire is except the Master of the Fire" (Abu Dawud). It is deduced from this saying is that no one should not be burnt alive.
2 Protection of the wounded
"Do not attack a wounded person"- said the Prophet. This means that the wounded soldiers, who are not fit to fight, nor actually fighting, should not be attacked.
3 The prisoner of War should not be slain
"No prisoner should be put to the sword"- a very clear and unequivocal instruction given by the Prophet.
4 No one should be tied to be killed
"The Prophet has prohibited the killing of anyone who is tied or is in captivity."
5 No looting and destruction in the enemy' country
The Prophet has also instructed Muslims that if they should enter the enemy's territory, they should not indulge in pillage or plunder nor destroy the residential areas, nor touch the property of anyone except those who are fighting with them. It has been narrated in the hadith: "The Prophet has prohibited the believers from loot and plunder" (al-Bukhari; Abu Dawud). His injunction is: "The loot is no more lawful than the carrion" (Abu Dawud). Abu Bakr al-Siddiq used to instruct the soldiers while sending them to war, "Do not destroy the villages and towns, do not spoil the cultivated fields and gardens, and do not slaughter the cattle." The booty of war, which is acquired from the battleground, is altogether different from this. It consists of the wealth, provisions and equipment captured only from the camps and military headquarters of the combatant armies.
6 Sanctity of property
The Muslims have also been prohibited from taking anything from the general public of a conquered country without paying for it. If in a war the Muslim army occupies an area of the enemy country, and is encamped there, it does not have the right to use the things belonging to the people without their consent. If they need anything, they should purchase it from the local population or should obtain permission from the owners. Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, while instructing the Muslim armies being despatched to the battlefront would go to the extent of saying that Muslim soldiers should not even use the milk of the milky cattle without the permission of their owners.
7 Sanctity of a dead body
Islam has categorically prohibited its followers from disgracing or mutilating the corpses of their enemies as was practised in Arabia before the advent of Islam. It has been said in the hadith: "The Prophet has prohibited us from mutilating the corpses of the enemies" (al- Bukhari; Abu Dawud).
8 Return of Corpses of the Enemy
In the Battle of Ahzab a very renowned warrior of the enemy was killed and his body fell down in the trench, which the Muslims had dug for the defence of Medina. The unbelievers presented ten thousand dinars to the Prophet and requested that the dead body of their fallen warrior may be handed over to them. The Prophet replied, "I do not sell dead bodies. You can take away the corpse of your fallen comrade".
9 Prohibition of Breach of Treaties
Islam has strictly prohibited treachery. One of the instructions that the Prophet used to give to the Muslim warriors while sending them to the battlefront was: "Do not be guilty of breach of treaties and faith." This order has been repeated in the Qur'an and the hadith again and again, that if the enemy acts treacherously let him do so, you should never go back on your promise. There is a famous incident in the peace treaty of Hudaybiyyah, when after the settlement of the terms of the treaty, Abu Jandal came, fettered and bloodstained, rushing to the Muslim camp and crying for help. The Prophet told him "Since the terms of the treaty have been settled, we are not in a position to help you out. You should go back with your father. God will provide you with some other opportunity to escape this persecution." The entire Muslim army was deeply touched and grieved at the sad plight of Abu Jandal and many of them were moved to tears. But when the Prophet declared that "We cannot break the agreement", not even a single person came forward to help the unfortunate prisoner, so the unbelievers forcibly dragged him back to Makkah. This is an unparalleled example of the observance of the terms of agreement by the Muslims, and Islamic history can show many examples of a similar nature.
Treaties have always been an important means to strengthen relations and settle disputes peacefully. They are based on mutual confidence between parties, without which peace collapses. Islam reserves special respect to treaties and give all possible guarantees, so that Muslims may rise with such treaties above personal desires and passions. This is why, in many Qur'anic verses, Islam requires Muslims to abide by their covenants: "You shall fulfil your covenants, for a covenant is great responsibility". (Qur'an 17:34) In describing the qualities of truthful believers, God says that: When it comes to deposits entrusted to them, as well as any agreements/covenants they make, they are trustworthy (Qur'an: 23: 8). In the view of Qur'an, refusal to keep up trusts is like rejecting the virtues of humanity "The worst creatures in the sight of God are those who disbelieve; You reach agreements with them, but they violate their agreements every time; they are not righteous" (Qur'an: 8:55-56). "By honouring covenants with others, Islam does not mean to gain colonial authority or make stratagems to cheat people so as to attain strength over other nations -- but to establish peace". (Qur'an 16:91-92).
The Quran charges Muslims to keep up their covenants, even if it might prevent them from rushing to the support of their brethren who live in a non-Muslim State with whom they have a treaty, though the Qur'an considers that Muslims, in spite of their different races and nationalities, constitute one Nation, and that every aggression inflicted on one Muslim community is an aggression against the Muslim Ummah as a whole. God says: " However, if they need your help, as brethren in faith, you shall help them, expect against people with whom you have signed a peace treaty". (Qur'an 8:72. However, if such people violate the terms of the treaty, the Muslims are allowed to fight them: "If they violate their oaths after pledging to keep their covenants, and attack you, you may fight the leaders of mischief mongers - you are no longer bound by your covenant with them - they may refrain" (Qur'an 9:12.
10 Rules about Declaration of war
It has been laid down in the Qur'an: "If you apprehend breach of treaty from a people, then openly throw the treaty at their faces" (Qur'an 8:58). In this verse, Muslims have been prohibited from opening hostilities against their enemies without properly declaring war against them, unless of course, the adversary has already started aggression against them.
Otherwise the Qur'an has clearly given the injunction to Muslims that they should intimate to their enemies that no treaty exists between them, and they are at war with them. The present day 'international law' has also laid down that hostilities should not be started without declaration of war.
Forgiveness: A different outlook and a new start
In Islamic history one may find an outlook of a different nature. When the Romans conquered any country, the first thing they would do is mass massacre. When the Muslims entered any country, they would give guarantees of life, property and honour to all the non-belligerents. Even in war a Muslims are not allowed to kill an old person, a woman, and a child, those who are crippled or disabled. Not only that, even trees are not to be cut and crops are not to be burnt. The entire Islamic history does not know of the concept of mass killing or massacre of enemies. One cannot find one single example of any Inquisition or ethnic cleansing on the name of Islam.
I draw your attention to look to the actions of the Holy Prophet of Islam when he entered Makkah as victor. Everyone was offered complete amnesty. When Caliph Umar entered Jerusalem he was not even prepared to pray in a Church for fear that those who came after him may treat the place as a mosque and take it away from the Christians. But when the Crusaders there took the city of Jerusalem was total massacre of the population. What happened in Spain? Not a single Muslim or Jew was left unexecuted or un-exiled. It was the same in Sicily where all the mosques were demolished. Even in the last century the same practice was adopted in Bosnia, Kosovo and Chechnya and many other parts of the world.
Ends cannot justify means
Another point is that Islam is very unique and firm in asserting that the ends cannot justify the means. This means that to achieve even good ends you could resort to evil means. The principle that Islam has enunciated is that "Good and bad are not equal. Replace evil by good". (Qur'an 41:34)
If you fight falsehood with falsehood it is falsehood that prevails. If you replace vice with vice, it is vice which triumphs. If you change evil by evil, it is evil which is victorious. Islam says that evil is to be eliminated by good. If you pursue this technique then only you would be able to fill the earth with goodness, and justice, and peace and fellow feeling. As far as the wrong (munkar) is concerned, you are permitted to eliminate it. But as far as the truth and virtue (ma'ruf) is concerned, it is not to be enforced by power.
Global Ethics and Interfaith Dialogue
I am reminded the words of Professor Hans Kung "No peace among nations without peace among the religions and no peace among the religions without dialogue between the religions". I add "No peace without Justice and no Justice without forgiveness and compassion". Dialogue and agreement must be conscientiously applied and maintained, so to create bonds of love, care, trust and confidence. Its prerequisite is proper education and learning from one another.
We must speak and act truthfully with compassion. We must treat others as we wish others to treat us. Every human being must be treated, fairly, humanly and with dignity without any fear or discrimination.
I admire the work of Prince Hassan El Talal over the years for promoting better understanding between different faiths and advocating dialogue for resolving conflicts. His short book "Continuity, innovation and Change" is must read for every Muslim. I not only share his vision but also say that he represents true Islamic scholarship in the current debate on the issue of World peace. The building of peace requires an attitude of sanctity and reverence of life, freedom and justice, the eradication of poverty, dissolution of all forms of discrimination and the protection of the environment for personal and future generations. The ideals of peace include fundamental and global directives such as:
I confirm that Islam is faith of moderation and girder of unity for all mankind and blessing for mankind because Muslim model communities where:
The world will not change for the better unless the conscience of individuals is changed first. Remember, Remember, Remember. Evil is not in the body. Evil is in the mind, Therefore harm no body. Just change the mind.
Lord You said and your word is true! Love is stronger than hate. O God Almighty You are peace and from You peace comes. Bestow upon all of us Your peace and make our final destiny in your eternal abode of peace. Let there be respect for the earth, peace for is people, love in our lives, and delight in the good, forgiveness for our past wrongs and from now on a new start.
This is a brief sketch of those rights, which fifteen hundred years ago Islam gave to mankind, to those who were at war with each other. The world has not been able to produce juster and more equitable laws of Islam that were given 1500 years ago. On the other hand it hurts one's feelings that Muslims are in possession of such a splendid and comprehensive system of ethics of War and peace and yet they look to guidance to those leaders who could not have dreamed of attaining those heights of truth and justice. Even more painful than this is the realisation that throughout the world the rulers who claim to be Muslims have made disobedience to their God and the Prophet as the basis and foundation of their own government. May God have mercy on them and give them the true guidance. May God guide us all and show us the right path of true and everlasting peace in this world in our lifetime. Amen.
IMAM Dr Abduljalil Sajid JP
Muslim Council for Religious and Racial Harmony The Brighton Islamic Mission