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Jihad, Terrorism and Suicide Bombing: The Classical Islamic Perspective - Page 15

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Article Index
Jihad, Terrorism and Suicide Bombing: The Classical Islamic Perspective
The Meaning of Jihad
Ibn Qayyim’s Fourteen Categories of Jihad
Jihad in History and Law
The Jihad of Education
Establishment of the Islamic Nation/State
First Legislation of Combative Jihad
Religious Freedom of Non-Muslims
Forced Conversion?
Conditions for Combative Jihad
Is Islam by Nature Hostile to non-Muslims?
Does Islam Call for Ongoing War against Non-Muslims?
Who is Involved in Combat?
Jihad Between Muslims
Conduct of Combat
Prohibition of Suicide
False Rulings Supporting Suicide Attacks
Rebellion Against Rulers
The Inner Jihad
Dhikr: the Remembrance of Allah
Conclusion and Policy Recommendations
All Pages

Conduct of Combat

Prohibition of Killing Non-combatants

Islam prohibits utterly the killing of those who are not actual military personnel.

حدثنا ‏ ‏عثمان بن أبي شيبة ‏ ‏حدثنا ‏ ‏يحيى بن آدم ‏ ‏وعبيد الله بن موسى ‏ ‏عن ‏ ‏حسن بن صالح ‏ ‏عن ‏ ‏خالد بن الفزر ‏ ‏حدثني ‏ ‏أنس بن مالك ‏أن رسول الله ‏ ‏صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ ‏قال ‏ ‏انطلقوا باسم الله وبالله وعلى ملة رسول الله ولا تقتلوا شيخا فانيا ولا طفلا ولا صغيرا ولا امرأة ولا ‏‏ تغلوا ‏‏ وضموا ‏‏ غنائمكم وأصلحوا وأحسنوا إن الله يحب المحسنين {وَأَحْسِنُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ}

The Prophet sent the following message to his military leaders who were setting forth in the way of Jihād to stop hostile advances and defend Muslim territories:

Advance in the name of Allah, with Allah, on the pattern of the Messenger of Allah . That means do not to kill the elderly, infants or children and women. Do not exceed the proper bounds. Gather your spoils and make peace

وَأَحْسِنُوَاْ إِنَّ اللّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُحْسِنِينَ

“and do good. Lo! Allah loveth those who do good.”

حدثنا ‏ ‏أبو الوليد الطيالسي ‏ ‏حدثنا ‏ ‏عمر بن المرقع بن صيفي بن رباح ‏ ‏قال ‏رباح بن ربيع ‏ ‏قال ‏ ‏كنا مع رسول الله ‏ ‏صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ ‏في غزوة فرأى الناس مجتمعين على شيء فبعث رجلا فقال انظر علام اجتمع هؤلاء فجاء فقال على امرأة قتيل فقال ما كانت هذه لتقاتل قال وعلى المقدمة ‏ ‏خالد بن الوليد ‏ ‏فبعث رجلا فقال قل ‏ ‏لخالد ‏ ‏لا يقتلن امرأة ولا ‏ ‏عسيفا

The Prophet passed by a woman who was killed and said, “She was not engaged in fighting.” The Prophet then sent to the Muslim leader Khālid ibn al-Walīd the following message, “The Prophet orders you not to kill women or servants.”

This was to show the reason in the prohibition of killing her was due to the fact she was not with the fighters. The inference here is “the reason we fight them, is because they fight us, not on the simple principle that they are disbelievers.” This is clear evidence the woman was not a fighter and the Prophet prohibited her killing. From the strong expression the Prophet made, going so far as to send a letter to his topmost military commander, we see how concerned he was to prevent any such incidents, and to insure that every single Muslim warrior was aware of the rules of combat.

The question arises here: when someone explodes a bomb or commits a suicide attack in a public place, how many innocent women, children and elderly people are killed? If for one woman’s death, the Prophet scolded his top general, Khālid ibn al-Walīd, what then about killing twenty, thirty or even hundreds of non-combatants, some of whom may even be Muslim?

Just as the Messenger of Allah forbade the killing of women and the young he forbade killing priests.
The first caliph Sayyidina Abū Bakr aš-Šiddīq’s commandment to the leader of the first Islamic military expedition after the Prophet was:

...No hermit should be molested...Only those should be killed who take up arms against you.

So we see from these various narrations of the Prophet ―and there are many more like them―that the Prophet prohibited the Muslims to fight anyone, Muslim or non-Muslim, even if they are unbelievers, if they are not transgressors against the security of the nation.

This shows that terrorist acts, in particular suicide attacks which kill indiscriminately, are utterly unacceptable forms of combat, even during valid combat authorized for defense of the nation.

Prohibition of Burning the Enemy

‏‏أن رسول الله ‏ ‏صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ ‏أمره على ‏ ‏سرية ‏ ‏قال فخرجت فيها وقال إن وجدتم فلانا فأحرقوه بالنار فوليت فناداني فرجعت إليه فقال ‏ ‏إن وجدتم فلانا فاقتلوه ولا تحرقوه فإنه لا يعذب بالنار إلا رب النار

It is prohibited to burn the enemy with fire because the Messenger said, “Kill [the enemy] but do not burn him. For no one punishes with fire except the Lord of the Fire.”

This hadith illustrates the Prophet’s emphasis on mercy and avoidance of harm when he established such laws of conduct on the battlefield. In modern times only were such rules of warfare established, as the Geneva Convention, in which it is impermissible to kill or torture prisoners of war. Similarly, we see that 1400 years ago, the Prophet established details rules of warfare in which even using fire in combat was prohibited, something which modern legislators of warfare have been loathe to adopt.

According to this hadith, weapons of fire are not approved by Allah. Allah prohibited burning, yet the majority of attacks by Islamic groups today involve bombs and explosions, such as the attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11, where 3,000 people were incinerated.

Prohibition of Mutilating the Dead

‏ ‏كان نبي الله ‏ ‏صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏‏ يحثنا على الصدقة وينهانا عن ‏‏ المثلة ‏ ‏فأتيت ‏ ‏عمران بن حصين ‏ ‏فسألته فقال كان رسول الله ‏ ‏صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏‏ يحثنا على الصدقة وينهانا عن ‏‏ المثلة ‏.

Imrān bin Ħušayn said the Messenger of Allah encouraged us to give charity and forbade us from mutilation.

Prohibition of Despoiling

Abū Bakr aš-Šiddīq commanded the leader of the first Islamic military expedition after the Prophet saying:
...No fruit-bearing trees are to be cut down and no crops should be set on fire. No animal should be killed except those slaughtered for eating...Only those should be killed who take up arms against you.

Suicide Attacks

One of Islam’s fundamental principles is the sanctity of life. Islam prohibits killing those who are not combatants, except those involved in a direct battle face-to-face between warriors. There is simply no room for maneuver in Islam to justify the killing of innocents, even as a form of mass retribution, which many radicals today use as justification for their large-scale attacks on civilians. For Islam prohibits blood feud and specifies retribution only towards the one who committed a crime.
Allah says:

وَلاَ تَقْتُلُواْ النَّفْسَ الَّتِي حَرَّمَ اللّهُ إِلاَّ بِالْحَقِّ

Slay not the life which Allah has made sacrosanct unless it be in a just cause.

وَمَن يَقْتُلْ مُؤْمِنًا مُّتَعَمِّدًا فَجَزَآؤُهُ جَهَنَّمُ خَالِدًا فِيهَا وَغَضِبَ اللّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَلَعَنَهُ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُ عَذَابًا عَظِيمًا

And whoever kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell to abide therein, and the Wrath and the Curse of Allah are upon him, and a great punishment is prepared for him,

Since no one can say for sure “this person is not a believer” it becomes forbidden to kill any human being without just cause.
Suicide itself is specifically prohibited in:

وَلاَ تَقْتُلُواْ أَنفُسَكُمْ إِنَّ اللّهَ كَانَ بِكُمْ رَحِيمًا

Kill yourselves not, for Allah is truly merciful to you.

and:

وَلاَ تُلْقُواْ بِأَيْدِيكُمْ إِلَى التَّهْلُكَةِ وَأَحْسِنُوَاْ

Throw not yourselves into the mouth of danger.

Thus we see the general principle enunciated here that killing oneself is forbidden. The Qur’ān did not leave anything without an explanation. This is a general principle that no one is permitted to kill another or to kill himself.

Killing Non-combatants

The one who attacks the enemy in repelling his aggression, fighting under the authorized leader of the Muslims, and fights and is killed becomes a martyr (shahīd). But to attack a public location where the ones killed are killed randomly without knowing if they are combatants or not, is forbidden.
Today’s militant radical Islamists cite a ruling by the Shafi‘ī scholar al-Mawardī in which he stated that when involved in combative Jihād, if the enemy has mixed non-combatants among warriors either by chance or intentionally as “human shields” then Muslim archers are allowed to fire on the enemy, despite the fact that due to the randomness of shooting, non-combatants might die. Spinning off this, they argue that this ruling justifies bomb attacks against civilian areas.

This is nothing but a twisting of the law to suit their purposes. This ruling is very specific in that it allows such attacks on the assumption that it is the combatants that are targeted by the archers, not the civilians, who only happen to be present or, in the worst case, have been placed as “human shields.” The assumption of the jurist is also that the Muslims and the enemy are engaged in face-to-face fighting, between combatants. However, the attacks carried out by such militants in fact do not target combatants: rather they are typically placed in public locations more frequented by civilians, including innocent women, children and non-military persons.

In Islamic law, one cannot build a case on doubtful assumptions, such as “those people are likely all engaged in fighting Muslims.” Such an argument is false and the result is the killing of innocent without justification.