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Islam on Rules of Warfare

Islam does not teach aggression as did Judaism through the law of retaliation. Nor does it, like present-day degraded Christianity, preach a contradiction. It does not ask us to turn the other cheek and at the same time to sell our clothes to buy a sword. 

The teaching of Islam fits into the natural instincts of man, and promotes peace in the only possible way. Indeed, Islam preaches the middle way, neither too extreme, nor too lenient, but justice should be justly done according to the situation prevailing, but like Allah advises in the Holy Quran, forgiveness and patience are best especially in respect to killings and aggression.

All in all, Islam forbids aggression, but it urges us to fight if failure to fight jeopardises peace and promotes war. If failure to fight means the extirpation of free belief and of the search of truth, it is our duty to fight. This is the teaching on which peace can ultimately be built, and this is the teaching on which the Holy Prophet of Islam, Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) based his own policies and his practice.


Allah says in the Holy Quran:

“Permission (to fight) is given to those upon whom war is made 
because they are oppressed, and most surely Allah is well able to assist them; 
Those who have been driven from their homes unjustly only because they said: Our Lord is Allah -
For had it not been for Allah's repelling some men by means of others, 
cloisters and churches and oratories and mosques, 
wherein the name of Allah is oft mentioned, would assuredly have been pulled down. 
And Allah will surely support those who support Him. 
Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might. 
Those who, if We give them power in the land, establish worship (Salat) 
and pay the poor-due (Zakat) and enjoin kindness and forbid iniquity. 
And to Allah belong the outcome of all matters.” (22: 40-42).

The verses which I have put before you make it clear that permission to fight is given to the victims of aggression. God Almighty (Allah) is well able to help the victims, that is, those who have been driven out of their homes because of their beliefs/ faith. The permission is wise because, if Allah were not to repel the cruel with the help of the righteous, there would be no freedom of faith and worship in the world. Allah must help those who help to establish freedom of worship. It follows that fighting is permitted when a people have long suffered from vicious, deliberate and violent aggression, when the aggressor seeks to interfere with the religion of his victim or attack him for no real cause except for his own satanic pleasure.

The duty of the victim, if and when he attains to power, is to establish religious freedom and to protect all religions and all religious places. His power is to be used not for his own glorification, but for the care of the poor, the progress of the country and the general promotion of peace. This teaching is clear and precise. It exonerates the blames which hover over Islam, its Holy Prophet and the Muslims to proclaim loud and clear that the wars which the Muslims did, as it is apparent from the lives of the early Muslims, were only because they were constrained to do so. Aggressive wars were and will always be forbidden by Islam. Muslims are promised political power, but are warned that this power must be used not to fuel their own grandeur and importance, but for the betterment of the poor and the promotion of peace and progress.

The Holy Quran commands the victims of aggression as such:

“And fight in the way of Allah the ones who fight you, but do not transgress; 
surely Allah does not love the transgressors. 
And kill them wherever you catch them, and drive them out from where they drove you out; 
for persecution is worse than killing. 
And do not fight them at the Sacred Mosque, unless they (first) fight you there; 
but if they fight you, kill them. Such is the reward of those who suppress faith. 
But if they desist, then surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. 
And fight them until there is no more persecution, and religion is for Allah. 
But if they desist, then let there be no hostility except against the aggressors.” (2: 191-194).

Fighting is to be for the sake of Allah, not for our own sake or out of anger or aggrandisement, and even fighting is to be free from excesses, for excesses are displeasing to Allah. Fighting is between parties of combatants. Assaults on individuals are forbidden. Aggression against a religion is to be met by active resistance, for such aggression is worse than bloodshed. Muslims are not to fight near the Sacred Mosque, unless an attack is first made by the enemy. Fighting near the Sacred Mosque interferes with the public right of pilgrimage. But if the enemy attacks, Muslims are free to reply, this being the just reward of aggression. But if the enemy desists, Muslims must desist also, and forgive and forget the past. Fighting is to continue so long as religious persecution lasts and religious freedom is not established. Religion is for Allah. The use of force or pressure in religion is wrong. If the infidels desist from it and make religion free, Muslims are to desist from fighting the infidels. Arms are to be taken up against those who commit excesses. When excesses cease, fighting must cease also.

I have but quoted just few verses from the Holy Quran to give you an idea on the teaching of Islam on the subject of war and peace. They altogether tell us in what circumstances, according to Islam, is it right to go to war and what limits which the Muslims have to observe when they are in war time.

The Islamic teachings, however, does not consist only of precepts laid down in the Quran. It also includes the precepts and example (Sunnah) of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). What he did or what he taught in concrete situations is also an essential part of the teaching of Islam. I reiterate what I told you last Friday in my sermon and thereby put before you some few sayings of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) on the subject of war and peace.

1.      Muslims are forbidden altogether to mutilate the dead. (Muslim).
2.      Muslims are forbidden to resort to cheating. (Muslim).
3.      Children are not to be killed, nor women. (Muslim).
4.      The old and decrepit and women and children are not to be killed. The possibility of peace should always be kept in view. (Abu Dawud).
5.      When Muslims enter enemy territory, they should not strike terror into the general population. They should permit no ill-treatment of common people. (Muslim).
6.      When a Muslim takes charge of a prisoner of war, the latter is to be fed and clothed in the same way as the Muslim himself. (Bukhari).
7.      Public buildings and fruit-bearing trees (and food crops) are not to be damaged (Mu’atta of Imam Malik).

If we analyse each and every forbiddance and condition which Islam has put forward before going to war, we shall realise that the Muslims are advised never to make war in the first place, but if they are forced into combat, they should do so with equity and justice and only fight the aggressors and oppressors and not the rest of the people, be them women, children and old people and Muslims also should always respect the environment. But nowadays what do we see? Muslims are being targeted everywhere in both armed and unarmed circumstances. The Islamic symbols are being questioned and Muslims are being oppressed in their own homelands. They are being bombarded while they are unarmed and do not have the means to retaliate.

This picture reminds us of our brothers, sisters and children of Palestine, Syria, Iraq and Iran as well as Muslims in the other countries. While there are a small group of fanatic Muslims who use the teachings of Islam in the wrong way, but it is the majority of the Muslims in these countries who happen to bear the consequences of the unjust. And nobody is really helping them as commanded by Allah, but indeed, through our prayers my dear brothers, sisters and children, Allah shall come to their aid. We do not have physical armaments to help our Muslim brothers and sisters, but we have our hearts and hands in prayer, we have our sacrifices, be it financial or otherwise to help them. 

If we are helpless, then bear in mind that Allah is never helpless. He is the All Powerful and can at any time change a certain situation, but Muslims must call upon Allah and never despair in His help, they must never lose hope in the mercy of Allah. Only then shall the divine mechanism be started to enable a new breath of change in the world, especially wherever Muslims are being oppressed either by the people of the other religious faiths or even by so-called Muslims who say that they follow the Quran and Sunnah.


May Allah enable us to help our Muslim brethrens in whatever way we can. Our greatest arm is our faith in Allah and the prayers we direct towards Him. Allah hears and responds to a true and sincere call. So we need to obey Allah in all His commandments He had laid down before us so that in return the door to His mercy be forever opened for us. Bear in mind, if we are made to suffer on this earth, it is but a temporary suffering, for all Muslims are righteous and pious shall get an eternal abode of peace, but as for those who declare them Muslims but their acts and intention speak otherwise, then they are the most unfortunate, for they let go of their Islam and embrace evils in the name of Islam. The wrath of Allah shall seize them and their abode shall be the fire. May Allah have mercy on all true Muslims and preserve us and our identity and spirituality as such (as TRUE Muslims) in both the worlds. Ameen.

---Friday Sermon of 26 August 2016 ~ (22 Dhul Qaddah 1437 AH) delivered by Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Saheb (atba) of Mauritius. 

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