Principles of International Relations in Islam
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Contemporary Vision:
The basic rule of relations between the Islamic nation and othe ations is peace and brotherhood. As God says: But if they incline to peace, you (also) incline to it, and (put your) trust in God (Al-Anfal, 8:61) – while, on the other side, war is an exception of that rule as God says Permission to fight (against disbelievers) is given to those (believers) who are fought against, because they have been wronged; and surely, God is Able to give them victory (Al-Hajj, 22:39). War shall be a just and fair one that aims at religion propagation, so it is launched against those preventing such sacred mission and not to compel people to embrace Islam as God says: There is no compulsion in religion (Al-Baqarah, 2). In the meantime, war aims at defending the Islamic nation and guarding its doctrine. That is to say, the basic rule in Islamic international relations is peace while war is permitted only to put an end to injustice. The highest level of injustice is standing against propagation of the right mission for God and Islam. Another grade of injustice is aggression against Muslims and spoliation of their rights including the right to worship God and perform Islam rites or spoliation of their properties and money.
International relations in Islam depend on some principles, including the following as the most important ones:

1- Promoting man’s grade for being a man. God says: And indeed We have honored the children of Adam, and We have carried them on land and sea, and have provided them with Al-Tayyibat (lawful good things) and have preferred them to those whom We have created with a marked preferment (Al-Isra’, 17:70). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) Stood up when a funeral of a Jew passed beside him, that is why a companion inquired saying (It is a funeral of a Jew) but the prophet (PBUH) replied him saying (Isn’t it a soul?).
2- Equality among people regardless of their race or color. As God says: It is He Who has created you from a single person (Adam), and (then) He has created from him his wife ]Hawwa’ (Eve)[, in order that he might enjoy the pleasure of living with her (Al-A’raf, 7:189), God also says: O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam) and from him (Adam) He created his wife ]Hawwa’ (Eve)[, and from them both He created many men and women (An-Nisa’, 3:1). Verily, the diversification of people into nations and tribes is not aimed to fight one another but to know each other as God says: O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another (Al-Hujurat, 49:13). Put this principle in comparison with the western civilization that has adopted Evolution Theory which states that some human races surpass others, the matter given justification for colonization and given justification for some man to colonize the world so as to develop and accelerate evolution process of other human races.
3- Tolerance: Islam called for tolerance as God says: Repel (the evil) with one which is better (i.e. God orders the faithful believers to be patient at the time of anger, and to excuse those who treat them badly) then verily he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend (Fussilat, 41:34). Tolerance means to accept joint and peaceful co-existence while maintaining Muslims’ right to propagate their sacred mission and clarify right from wrong, since acknowledgment of other religions right to exist doesn’t mean that you shall not clarify right from wrong. Finally, faith is an individual responsibility.
4- Freedom: God says There is no compulsion in religion. Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong Path (Al-Baqarah, 2:256). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) prevented a companion to compel his sons to embrace Islam and when an old woman came to Omar Ibn El-Khattab – God May Be Pleased with Him – he invited her to embrace Islam but she refused. After that Omar feared that he may have compelled her to embrace Islam, so he prayed for God ((O my Lord! I didn’t compel her)). There are some provisions related to freedom of doctrine, for example; there shall be no pressures that prevent man from embracing Islam or that oblige him to leave Islam and choose another religion typically as what is followed by some fanatic Christian missionaries, in Africa and Asia, who exploit bad conditions such as need, poverty and illness. As for any Muslim it is not allowed to leave Islam, the right religion, after he knew it. In case, apostasy is for political motivations including revolution against Islamic regime which is the constitutional regime of the country, such apostate is sentenced to death in Islamic law, typically as many social and political regimes in many non-Islamic laws and legislations that sentence to death any one who wants to commit a revolution against such regime. However, in case such apostasy is personal while the apostate maintained it secret and didn’t try to call others to reject Islamic regime, Muslim scholars showed different opinions regarding such apostate that vary between capital death and censure.
5- International Cooperation: Immediately, after he reached Al-Madinah, prophet Muhammad (PBUH) hold Al-Madinah Covenant between Al-Muhajereen (Immigrants) and Al-Ansar (Supporters) from one hand and between both of them and the Jews from the other hand. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), also, cooperated with non-Muslim Arab tribes in order to achieve common goals. He also said regarding Al-Fudul Alliance Treaty that had been held before Islam: ((At Abdullah Ibn Jada’n’s House, I have witnessed a treaty that is more favorable to me than the red camels and if I have been called for it in Islam I’ll agree)). In this covenant, Arab tribes agreed to hand wronged people and to succo eedy.
6- Cultural Exchange: To summarize this principle we have to return back to Ibn Khaldun who classified sciences into two kinds. The first kind being the natural science which man can realize through his mental and intellectual capacities so he can reach its subjects, issues, proofs and teaching methods. Finally, being a man characterized with mind, he can verify right from wrong. The second kind of sciences being the traditional sciences that are derived from sharia’ so there is no room for thinking or opinion except for joining branches to fundamentals. No doubt that, Muslims are allowed to exchange cultures with all cultures and civilizations in the first kind of sciences as it is narrated that, prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: ((Wisdom is the believer’s long desired aim, wherever he finds it, he should abide by it)).
7- Strict Commitment to Covenants and Treaties: God says And fulfill the covenant of God (Bai’ah: pledge for Islam) when you have covenanted, and break not the oaths after you have confirmed them – and indeed you have appointed God your surety. (An-Nahl: 16:91). Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had strictly fulfilled all provisions of covenants, for example; he refused to accept those coming from Makkah to Madinah to embrace Islam in fulfillment of conciliation provisions, in turn those people found no way except dwelling in mountains to brigand Quraish camel caravans.
8- Reciprocity: God says: And fight in the way of God those who fight you, but transgress not the limits. Truly, God likes not the transgressors (Al-Baqarah, 2:190), God also says And if you punish (your enemy, O you believers in the Oneness of God), then punish them with the like of that with which you were afflicted. But if you endure patiently , verily, it is better for As-Sabrin (the patient) (An-Nahl: 16:126).
This principle is applied to slavery abolition since victorious nations used to take all fighters of the defeated ones as slaves and their women as captives. However, as long as all nations agreed to abolish slavery, Muslims had to keep pace with human development trend as slavery abolition agrees with big objectives of Sharia’ (Islamic Law). During the latest war in Bosnia, Serbians raped so many Bosnian Muslim women, that is why some strugglers suggested to deal with Serbian Women as war captives. However, some Muslim scholars refused such matter so as not to consider Muslims convicted as Serbians from the side of the international public opinion.

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