Peace and War: Islamic Perspective
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Islam, as a divine religion, conveys the same message of peace, justice, mercy and tolerance that other religions have come with.
The core message of prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is to spread on earth mercy for humanity.
God says in the holy Qur`an:
We sent you not but as a mercy for the Al-Almin (Al-Anbiya`, 21:107).
The term Al-Alamin in the verse refers, as the Muslim scholars maintain, to the whole world, which means that Islam is a universal religion encompasses all races, ethnicities, nationalities, continents, white or colored, African, American, Semitic, Aryan or Mongolian.
The prophet (PBUH) says emphasizing this fact: All men are from Adam and Adam from earth
No white shall be superior to a black or an Arab to anon- Arab.
God tells all the peoples in the holy Qur`an:
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. Verily, the most honorable of you with God is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa( i.e. he is on of the pious verily, God is All-knowing, well-Acquainted (with all things)(Al-Hujurat, 49:13).
Islam Calls for Dialogue and Peaceful Coexistence
Islam is founded upon the acceptance of differences and recognition of plurality and diversity as echoed in these verses:
“If thy Lord had so willed, He could have made mankind one people” (Hud, 11:119).
“If it had been thy Lord’s will, they would all have believed,- all who are on earth! Will thou then compel mankind, against their will, to believe?” (Yunus, 10:99).
Islam clearly invites people to hold a fruitful dialogue that aims at exchanging opinions, sharing ideas and giving compelling arguments that can settle problems
God says in the holy Qur‘an: “Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious” (An-Nahl, 16:25).
No compulsion in Islam
In this context, we can realize that Islam respect the right of people for freedom of religion and different views.
God says in the holy Qur‘an: There is no compulsion in religion. Verily the right path has become distinct from the wrong path. Whoever disbelieves Taghut ”the forces of evil and believes in God, the he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. And God is All-Hearer, All-Knower. (Al-Baqarah,2:256)
Then if they turn away from you, your duty (O Prophet Muhammad) is only to convey (the Message) in clear way.( An-Nahl,16:82)
Had God so willed, they would not have taken others besides him in worship. And we have not made you a watcher over them, nor are you a Wakil (disposer of affairs, guardian, trustee) over them(Al-An`am,6:107)
Your lord knows you best; if he wills, He will have mercy on you, or if he wills, he will punish you. And We have not sent you (O Muhammad) as guardian over them.(Al-Isra`,17:54).
The Prophet’s teachings promote co-living, tolerance, justice and good conduct.
The Prophet (PBUH) lays the foundations on how we should deal with non-Muslim friends and neighbors as well as how Muslim leaders and governments should treat a Non-Muslim citizen of a Muslim state.
The Prophet says: Whoever hurts a Non-Muslim citizen of a Muslim state hurts me, and he who hurts me annoys God.
Whoever believes in God and the Last Day should honor his guest, should not harm his neighbor, should speak good or keep quiet.
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 Judgment.
Anyone who kills a Non-Muslim who had become our ally will not smell the fragrance of Paradise.
Beware on the Day of Judgment; I shall my self be complainant against him who wrongs a Non-Muslim citizen of a Muslim state or lays on him a responsibility greater than he can bear or deprives him of anything that belongs to him.
In an explicit invitation from the Prophet to co-living and tolerance the prophet says: the believer who co-lives and mixes with people and tolerates or bears their wrongs with patience is better than he who does not mix with them and does not bear their wrongs with patience
In the following situation, the Prophet (PBUH) teaches us a golden rule to be objective and judge people according to their deeds regardless of what they believe in. In the early days of Islam, Muslims severely experienced many kinds of torture and injustice by Qurish in Makkah, the prophet (PBUH) allowed Muslims to migrate from Makkah and recommended for some of them Abyssinia as a country to migrate to, explaining the reason behind choosing to his followers that Abyssinia was ruled then by a just Christian rule amed El Nagashi’ , in his description for him the Prophet (PBUH) said he is a just ruler that no one can may suffer injustice under his rule’.
The situation reflects how Islam and the Prophet (PBUH) judge those of other faith. The Prophet gives an example fo ot only Muslims but all humanity how to deal with the others on the basis of their conduct and deed even if they don’t believe in what you believe in.
The prophet himself stressed that the main purpose behind his mission is to improve the conduct and ethics of mankind, the fact that he emphasized in many sayings. The prophet (PBUH) says:

Surely, I have been sent forth only to perfect righteous morals
The best in faith of the faithful are those that are best in conduct. Indeed conduct can attain the status of prayer and fasting”
War in the Light of Qur`an and Sunnah
The principles of Islam lay down tough restrictions on war and don’t permit it except in some cases. Qur`an makes it clear it is permissible for people to fight back against those who attacked them.

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).
Islam also makes it clear that Muslims have to deal justly and kindly and co-live peacefully with non Muslims as long as they don’t attack or bring harm for us.
God says: God 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. Verily, god loves those who deal with equity(Al-Mumtahanah, 60:8)
Qur’an clearly stated that when the other party refrains from aggression, then it is not permissible to attack them. God says:
But if they cease, God is All-Forgiving, All-Merciful. Fight them until there is no more injustice or oppression and justice and faith in God prevail. But if they cease, let there be no hostility except to the oppressive” (Al-Baqarah, 2:192-3)
It is incumbent upon Muslims to fight against oppression and aggression and challenge the authority that use violence to prevent people from practicing the religion they choose freely.
God says: Permission is given (to fight) to those whom war has been waged against them, because they were wronged – and verily God is Most Powerful for their aid – (They are) those who have been expelled from their lands and their homes unjustly – (fo o cause) except that they say, ‘Our Lord is God’. If God did not check one set of people by means of another, many monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of God is praised would have been destroyed?” (Al-Hajj, 22:39-40)
This means that permission for fighting is granted only for those who are being prosecuted since injustice has be fallen on them. It also means that Muslims should defend and protect non-Muslims who live in their countries under their rule and their places for worship, since every one has the right to worship god according to his/her beliefs.

The Rights of the Combatants

In case that war has become inevitable, the teachings of Islam lay down the way to deal with the combatants and non-combatants as follows.
1- Protection of the wounded
The Prophet (PBUH) prevents attacking the wounded soldier, he says:Don not attack a wounded person. This means that it is not allowed for Muslims in the battlefield to attack a wounded soldier who is not able to fight.
2- Prohibiting the killing of war prisoners
The Prophet (PBUH) prohibited the killing of any one who is tied or is in captivity.
3- No looting or Destruction in the Country of the Enemy
The Prophet (PBUH) taught Muslims when they enter the territory of an enemy not to destroy or touch any property of any one and not to indulge ever in plunder or pillage. The Prophet (PBUH) prohibited the believers from loot and plunder.
4- The Prisoner of War Should not be Slain
The prophet (PBUH) made this principle clear by saying that No prisoner should be put to the sword.
5- Respect of a Dead Body
The Prophet (PBUH) prohibited mutilating the corpses of the enemy as it was common in Arab peninsula before the advent of the prophet (PBUH). The prophet (PBUH) gave us the best example ever when he ordered Muslims to be self restraint and not to do the same treatment of disbelievers to the corpses of Muslims in the battle of Ahud such as cutting off noses and ears, threading them together to put round thei ecks and taking their liver out and chewing them as Hind the daughter of Abu Sufian did with’ Hamza the uncle of the prophet.
6- Returning the Corpses of the Enemy
The best example ever in the history for tolerance and noble treatment with enemies is given by the great Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in the battle of Alahzb. In this battle, a very distinguished figure of the disbelievers was killed and his body fell down in the trench dug by Muslims around Madinah. The disbelievers came to the prophet proposing an amount of money in return for taking back the dead body of their comrade. The prophet replied I don’t sell dead bodies. You can take away the corpse of your fallen comrade.’
Jihad in Islam
The Islamic definition for jihad is doing ones utmost effort for the sake of God.
ihad in Islam is of so many meanings for example, making good relations with those you disagree with, raising children, stopping from committing a sin, increasing sincerity to God, doing well at your work and defending your country from occupiers and aggressors. It has a lot of meanings all revolving around the meaning of struggling on our part for good to overcome evil.
In this regard, Islam sees that jihad is a good thing and every one has his own concept of jihad.
It is worth mentioning that the first verse that permitted jihad made it conditional to fight injustice.
God says:
“Permission to fight (against disbelievers) is given to those(believers) who are fought against, they have been wronged; and surely, Allah is able to give them (believers) victory-(Al-Hajj, 22-40)
This verse shows Islam’s view of sanctity of life. God says ….And kill not anyone whom God has forbidden, except for a just cause (according to Islamic law) This he has commanded you that you may understand’ (Al-An`am,6:151).
The Prophet (PBUH) explained for us the meaning of except for a just cause as it mentioned in the previous verse as follows;
1- In defense of oneself, family or property,
2-As a punishment for murderers;
3- As a punishment for rape; and
4- In war that Islamic government are forced to engage.
As we mentioned before, it is forbidden to fight non- Muslims who live under the Muslims protection and have covenants with them, these covenants take today many forms like visas and passports.
God says in the holy Qur`an:
And if anyone of the Mushrikun (polytheists, idolaters, pagans, grant him protection so that he may hear the word of God (the Qur‘an), and then escort him to where he can be secure, that is because they are me who know not'(At-Taubah, 9:6)
The Prophet(PBUH) said:
Any one who kills a non-Muslim under legal agreement with the Muslims will not smell the fragrance of paradise
Moreover, when the fight is permissible, there are some kinds of people whose killing is prohibited in battlefield such as the elderly, women, children, mentally changed, monk or priest or the sick that are not involved in the battle. Also peasants and ambassadors are not allowed to be killed as the prophet (PBUH) ordered.
Gods` messenger (PBUH) used to say the following words to his troops before sending them to war:
” Go forward in the name of God. Do not kill an elderly person, a child, or a woman and do not be unjust.
In the light of this, we can see how far Islam is from terrorism. It is clear from what preceded that Muslims are not allowed to target civilians even in wars. The treatment of Muslims with the others in the time of war was the best example for that principle. Abu Bakr, the first caliph of Muslims, said to the commander of the Muslim army sent by him to fight the tyranny and aggression of Roman legions: you are going to find a group of people who have devoted themselves to the worship of God (i.e. monks and priests), so leave them to what they are doing.
When Umar ibn Alkhttab, the second caliph, entered Jerusalem upon the agreement with the Romans, he did not dictate harsh terms to its people, instead he brought a treaty that guaranteed the people of Jerusalem, who were predominantly Christian, safety and freedom from aggression and tyranny and he also granted them the safety of their churches and their crosses and guaranteed that their churches will not be shutdown or destroyed and they will not be compelled to abandon their faith nor shall any one of them to be abused.
In this context, it is worth mentioning that there is a sea of differences between terrorism and jihad among which:
-Terrorism advocates aggression, whereas jihad is the opposite of aggression.
-Terrorism is founded upon falsehood, whereas jihad is based on righteousness.
-Terrorism is condemned, whereas jihad is rewarded.
his brings us to the mistranslation of the word Jihad as a holy war. Holy war means simply fighting others and killing them just because they don not share you the same belief. And as we mentioned above through the Qur`anic verses and the prophet s sayings, this is totally forbidden.


The Division of the World in Islam

Muslim scholars classified each country according to the number of Muslims who live in it. That is because the Islamic law can not be applied except to those countries in which Muslims are the majority and have control over power. They gave an Arabic term for this kind of division called Dar which refers to a specific place.
Kinds of Divisions
1- Dar Al- Islam (literally the house of Islam).
It is that kind of country whose the majority of population is often Muslims and that in which Islam law is the first source of jurisdiction. According to Imam (great Muslim scholar)Abu hanifaa there are tow conditions for Dar Al-Islam.
a) Muslims must be able to enjoy peace and security and practice their worship freely.
b) It has common frontiers with some Muslim countries.
It is that kind of country whose majority are not often from Muslims and that country in which Islamic law is not the first source of jurisdiction. It has two kinds:
2- Dar Harb:( house of war)
It is that kind of non-Muslim country that has no treaties, covenants or peace agreements with Muslims and is ruled by dictatorship that does not allow freedom of religion.
3- Dar AL ‘HD:( House of truce).
It is that kind of non- Muslim country that has a peace agreement, treaty, or covenant with Muslims. By the virtue of such peace a agreements, Muslims are not allowed to attack this country or even bring about harm for it. In the same time, people of this country feel totally free to practice religious rituals even it goes against the Islamic principles. Noteworthy, the Muslim countries have covenants with all world countries, through the umbrella of United Nations. So, these all countries are dealt with as countries of Dar Al`ahd, namely, committing to the terms and conditions of UN Charter. In the same way, these countries deal with Muslim countries in the same way.
4- Dar al-amn
This term proposed by western Muslim philosophers to describe the status of Muslims either in the west or other countries that don’t believe in Islam, but allow freedom of religion.
As we have mentioned above, Islam is not the religion that encourages terrorism or orders its followers to commit violence, instead it promotes justice, love and call for mercy to all mankind.
However, Muslims can go for war in some certain situations such as defending their country or fighting back those who attacked them. Also, we made it clear that jihad (not a holy war) has a variety of meanings all of which in fact have a noble purpose aim at improving ones self for the sake of the religion.

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