Islamic Morality in War

This is one of the aspects of humanitarianism of our civilization. And from this aspect too the Islamic civilization is singular. Under conditions of peace and security every nation can manifest courtesy, gentleness, kindness to the weak and the infirm and tolerant attitude towards the relatives and the neighbours when it is doing existence as a weak nation bereft of all power and authority….. But under condi­tions of war to be just to people, to be gentle and tolerant towards the vanquished nations, is not given to every nation nor every military general necessarily has these traits. The sight of blood makes man's blood boil, and the inimical attitude of a nation creates malice and rouses rage in him. The intoxicating effect of conquest goes to the conqueror's head, and under these conditions he is at times guilty of the manifestation of the worst hard-heartedness and revenge. This is the history of nations, be they ancient people or the modern….rather it is the history of the whole world since Cain shed the blood of his brother Abel. The Quran says:
Behold! they each presented a sacrifice (to God):
It was accepted from one, but not from the other.
Said the latter: "Be sure I will slay thee". "Surefy", said the former, "God
doth accept of the sacrifice of those who are righteous.
(Al Qur’an V: 27)
On this occasion (of Power and glory and war) history has placed the crown of life eternal on the heads of the leaders of civilization, whether they be soldiers, or citizens, and conquerors or the rulers, since out of all civilizations ours is the only one whose great men even under the most difficult war times, manifested the highest form of humanity based on justice and affection, particularly in situations where the circumstances rouse man to blood-shed, oppression and revenge. God is our witness that if these morals of the Muslims under conditions of war had not been proved as undeniable historical events, I, for one, would have regarded it a tale of something non-existent on this planet.

The Blessings of the Islamic Civilization
When Islam came to the world in its most perfect form and the last authentic version, people here were doing existence like wild animals in a jungle. The mighty remorselessly murdered the weak and the armed man unhesitatingly robbed the unarmed of his belongings. Fighting was something usual in the lives of all faiths and the religious laws, nations and tribes, which was not limited by any conditions nor confined to any limits. No distinction existed between the permissible and the unlawful and oppressive war. Whichever nation found itself powerful enough to snatch another nation's land, enslave its men and women and compel it to abandon its creed and thought, unhesitatingly and without any feeling of guilt did accomplish it. But our civilization could not put up with the idea that this tyrannical practice should con­tinue in the world, which had lowered mankind to the level of beasts literally. Rather, it proclaimed to the world that in the matter of mutual relations between nations the real issue is recognition and co­operation (and not hatred and war against one another). The Quran said: O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female,
and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other
(not that ye may despise each other). Verify the most honoured of you in
the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you.
(Al Quran: XLIX: 13)
On this basis a state of peace and security is the natural form of relationship between one nation and another. God says:
O ye who believe! Enter into Islam wholeheartedly; (Al Quran II: 208)

A Few Instruction About War
The instructions given by Islam in connection with war are not to be found in the history of any other civilization. For example Abu Bakr the first caliph of the Prophet issued the following instructions to the army led by Usamah :
“Do not mutilate and disfigure your enemies after you have killed them. Do not kill the children and old men who cannot fight. Have nothing to do with women (do not kill them. Tr.). Do not destroy the groves (date, palm and others). Do not resort to arson. Do not cut down a tree yielding fruit (for fuel. Tr.). And slaughter only as many animals as you actually need for your food. (Do not kill animals and waste their meat that can serve as food for you or for others later on Tr.). You will come upon people who have devoted themselves to churches and monasteries. Leave them alone and let them pursue the mission for which they have renounced the world."
That makes evident enough the features of the war waged in the cause of God and not for mischief, tumult and oppression. And that it adheres to the principles and elements which are a blessing to humanity and the war culminates either in victory or treaty. In case of treaty its terms are strictly adhered to which are religiously binding since (like all agreements, Tr.) it is a covenant with God.
Fulfil the covenant of God when you have entered into it,
and break not your oaths after you have confirmed them,
indeed you have made God your surety;
(Al Quran XVI: 91)
And if they gain victory, it is the victory of a party that has strived for seeking the countenance of God alone, and its individuals become martyrs in the way of God. Such a party takes only those steps after victory which make the roots of the order of truth firmer in the land, and puts an end to all kinds of tumult and oppression among the people.
(They are) those who, if We establish them in the land,
establish regular prayer and give regular charity (Zakat),
enjoin the right and forbid wrong: With God rests the end
(and decision) of (all) affairs.
(Al Quran XXII: 41)
These are the limits prescribed by the Islamic civilization for the activities of its conqueror....lofty spiritualism, social justice, co­operation in deeds of righteousness and general welfare and ceaseless struggle against evil and mischief. These are the principles and ele­ments of war of our civilization, and these our moral principles relating to wars which can be summed up in three words: "Justice, Mercy and fulfilment of agreements."

And All this is not Mere Show
To my mind, what we have said so far is not enough for the deposition of the peace loving policy of our civilization during the war, since presentation of principles and their general proclamation is not enough for proof of the eminence and the philanthropy of a nation. Since long we have been witnessing many nations that came forward before the world with very lofty and sublime objectives, but their be­haviour towards other nations was extremely disgraceful, cruel and far from human principles of mercy and justice. The game played by the colonial powers in our own country is no secret, nor the history of their shameful and cruel deeds is far removed in time. Therefore it becomes indispensable to have a close look at the practical demonstrations of these principles during the period of the zenith of our civilization. This is the point where disgrace is the portion of some nations and others are honoured. Here the Islamic millat becomes distinguished from all other millats. And in the matter of philanthropy neither any nation comes close to it nor any civilization can touch it.

Evidences from the Period of the Prophet
We shall first of all present some events from the life of the Prophet, since he is (under injunctions from God, Tr.) the originator of our civilization, its founder and responsible for the formulation of its rules and regulations. And it was he who was competent to correctly interpret the aims and objects of the Islamic civilization. The history of the prophets and the reformers bears out the fact that no other prophet had to face such torments and hardships in the way of his call to the truth in quantity or quality as confronted and patiently gone through by the Prophet. His Meccan life, spread over thirteen long years of suffering is before us all. During this whole period, both he and his party of believers had to face the malice, enmity, torments and reproach and revilement of the opponents, so much so that attempts were made on his own life and those of his companions. After that even a cursory glance at his ten years of life at Madinah, reveals that this entire period is occupied by untiring struggle and constant Jehad and Maghazi (religious wars in which the Prophet took part in person). He could not discard completely the armour until, a short while before his passing away, the entire Arabian Peninsula had been dominated by him. It has been generally observed that one who has constantly been a prey to enmities, oppression and tyranny and conspiracies, becomes revengeful and when he enters the battlefield and lifts the sword and comes to grips with the enemy, his nature becomes ferocious and cruel. But look at the moral behaviour of the Prophet in all those wars that were actually forced on him, and how he practically demonstrated the principles of war of the Islamic civilization proclaimed by him.
During the battle of Uhad, when, due to violation of the instruc­tions of the Prophet, the believers were confronted with a set-back and the enemies surrounded him and to put an end to his life they fell upon him from all sides and he was wounded, and one of his teeth was lost, his face was injured and one of the rings of his helmet got em­bedded in his cheek, his companions imperilled their own lives to defend him against the enemies and rescued him from their circle. At this juncture some of his companions requested him to curse the enemies. He said in reply, "God did not send me to reproach (and curse) people but as a mercy to them and as one calling them to the truth." This is that love of truth that at times compels a Believer to take up arms against the opponents, but he does not wage wars to quench the thirst for blood. Rather, in the battle field itself and under such dire circumstances, the words uttered by the Prophet bear tes­timony to the fact that blood-shed and conquests are not the aim of war but an intense desire to lead humanity to the right path (of guidance).
And it was in the battle of Uhad that the prime martyr Hamzah met his martyrdom. Hamzah was the Prophet's uncle and one of the most outstanding horsemen of Arabia. He was murdered by a slave, Wahshi by name. And this murder was not accidental but pre-planned and at the behest of Hind, the wife of Abu-Sufyan. And when he fell a martyr in the battle-field, Hind searched his dead body out and taking out his heart and liver, tried to chew them, thus establishing a world record of malice and hard-heartedness. Strange as it may appear, the change of circumstances brought both Hind and Wahshi to the fold of Islam and they appeared before the Prophet, who not only gave them asylum under the canopy of Islam, but prayed to God for the forgive­ness of Hind. To Wahshi he said only this, "It would be better for you to live far away from us (to keep out of our sight so as not to remind us of the murder of Hamzah, Tr.). This is the treatment that 'the Prophet (a Mercy for mankind, Q.XXI: 107 Tr.) meted out to his uncle's murderer and also the one who chewed his liver and heart.
In one of the battles, the Prophet found a woman who had been killed. He was very angry and strictly warning the fighters in the way of God said to them. "Did I not prohibit killing of women in battle? She was not fighting against you?" This is the Prophet of God (Peace and Blessings of God on him) who is giving a lesson of humanity even in the battle field, thus making a practical demonstration of his instructions (teachings) relating to war, when he himself is the Supreme com­mander of the Islamic army and personally participates in the battles.
He conquers Makkah, and enters the city in pomp and glory at the head often thousand venturesome companions, And the scene is totally different from the usual. The malicious and spiteful enemies of twenty one years standing, the Quraish of Makkah, who had crossed all limits in tormenting him and his companions, were standing before him vanquished, humiliated and with bowed heads, waiting for his decision against themselves. Looking at them in this plight, he put to them just one question, "O ye people of Quraish! What do you think I am going to do with you?" They said in reply to his query, "We expect extremely benevolent treatment from you. You are a noble brother and the son of a noble brother." To this he replied, "I will say the same to you that Joseph had said to his brothers that "This day let no reproach be (cast) on you; God will forgive you, and he is the Most Merciful of those who show Mercy!' Go, ye are all free (from blame and punishment)". This is the person, the Chief of the created beings, the holy Prophet, who taught all goodness to mankind, and not a blood-thirsty general who wages wars for self-aggrandisement and authority and becomes intoxicated with his military successes.

The Rightly Guided Caliphs Also Followed in his Footsteps
After the Prophet the attitude and behaviour of his caliphs and companions was the same in all their wars and victories. "They lighted their lamps borrowing heat and light from this lamp spreading light," (Al Quran XXXIII: 46), followed the same course that he had taken and kept on demonstrating practically the principles and elements of the Islamic civilization, under the most difficult conditions and at the most critical stages, they kept themselves under control and even after the greatest victories they did not forget their principles.

The Governor had to Change his Decision
Some miscreants of Lebanon rose in revolt against the governor Ali bin-e-Abdultah bin-e-Abbas. He fought against them and defeated them. He deemed it in the fitness of things not to allow the rebels another chance to join forces and rise in tumult and insurrection against him, and decided to disperse them, and de-port some of them. This was the minimum punishment that in our own times also the rulers of even the most 'civilized' countries resort to and execute also. But a contemporary, Imam Auza'i, a great learned man, held in great esteem, wrote to him that his action would go against the Islamic Shari'ah. To punish other Zimmis1 along with those that took part in rebellion and their deportation could not be permitted. Only those whose guilt was proved could be punished. In the letter he had written to the governor of Lebanon, this particular part is noteworthy :
"It has come to my knowledge that you have executed some Zim­mis (Zimmis : Literally those living under protection; As a technical term of the Islamic Shari'ah, the unbelievers who did not embrace Islam but were will­ing to live under the protection of the Islamic state and were thus tacitly willing to submit to its ideals being enforced in the Islamic state, saving only their per­sonal liberty of conscience as regarded themselves. Jizyah or a kind of poll-tax was levied from them. There was no amount fixed for it, and in any case it was symbolical….an acknowledgment that those whose religion was tolerated, would, in turn, not interfere with the preaching and progress of Islam- The tax varied in amount and there were exemptions for the poor, for females and children (according to Abu Hanifah) for slaves and for monks and hermits. Being a tax on able bodied Zimmi males of military age, it was, in a sense, a commutation for military service, when the Believers fought in the way of Allah and could be called to arms at a very short notice, and also paid Zakai regularly. (Tr.)) of the Lebanon mountains and others you have deported. Some of the exiled are those who did not co-operate with the rebels. Let me know under which principle you are punishing the people in general for the sins of a particular person or a group. You are turning them out of their homes and sending them away from their properties, whereas God had ordained :
No bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another. (Al Quran XVI: 15)
This is the best stand and worth pursuing. And also the following injunction of the Prophet must always be kept in view : "Whoever oppressed a person living under guarantee of protec­tion by the Islamic state (Zimmi) or burdened him with a burden beyond his capacity, I shall uphold his cause on the Day of Reckoning.
And the governor had no option but to repatriate the deported people to their homes and hearths honourably.

And this is the Behaviour of the Britishers and the French
I have no intention of commenting on the incident itself. However, it would suffice for the purpose of this book to remind people of the behaviour of the French with us during our struggle for freedom, when they were usurpingly occupying our country. And presently they are meting out the same treatment to the Arab people of North Africa. They have murdered millions of people and razed so many cities and towns to the ground that they present an appearance of wilderness where it seems no body ever lived. Also the barbaric treatment of the Britishers with the Arabs during their struggle for freedom of Palestine is very much before us. I believe, to have an idea of the merciful treatment of our civilization during the wars and after the victories it would be enough to point out this practice of the most civilized nations of the modern age.

Is there any Parallel in any Civilization ?
When 'Umar bin-e-Abd-al-Aziz came to the office of caliphate, a delegation of men from Samarqand saw him and represented that the general of the Islamic armies, Qutaibah, had unjustifiably stationed his army men in the town in their midst. Umar bin-e-Abd-al-Aziz wrote to the governor of Samarqand that he should appoint a tribunal to judge and settle the dispute between Qutaibah and the people of Samarqand. If the judgement of the tribunal goes against the army chief and his men are asked to vacate they must do so at once. The governor ap­pointed Jami' bin-e-Hadhir Albaji as judge for enquiry. After the en­quiry was over, he, though himself a Muslim, passed the judgement that the Muslim army must vacate the town. He also remarked that the commander of the Muslim forces ought to have served an ultimatum of war to the city, and according to the Islamic Law relating to war, he ought to have cancelled all the treaties with them so that the people of Samarqand could get time to prepare for the war. "Sudden attack on them without warning was unlawful."
When the people of Samarqand witnessed this state of affairs, they were convinced that this was an unparalleld case in the history of mankind the state keeping its Commander-in-Chief and the armies under such strict discipline and control, bound by lofty moral prin­ciples. And consequently they decided that fighting against such a people would be futile. Rather, they came to regard it as mercy and a blessing from God. Therefore they agreed to live with the Islamic army in Samarqand.
Just imagine. An army conquers a city, and enters it. The in­habitants of that city complain to the victorious government and the judges of that government decide the case against the victorious army, and order its externment, saying that they could not live there without the consent of the people of that city. Can either the ancient or modern history of mankind point out any war in which the fighting men kept themselves so strictly bound by the moral code, and followed such lofty principles of truth and justice, as demonstrated by the sons of our civilization? In so far as my own knowledge is concerned, not one among the nations of the world can be pointed out which demonstrated such lofty morals.

And here is Regard for Agreement and Nobility
Our victorious armies conquer Damascus, Hams and the remain­ing towns of Syria and according to the terms of the treaty they realize some amount of tax for the protection of the life and property of the citizens and the defence of the country. But later the Muslim leaders received news that Heraclitus had brought a big army which he was anxious to bring against the Muslims. Therefore they decided to bring together their own scattered armies in various conquered towns to concentrate at one point to face the hordes of Heraclitus with joint ef­fort. So in keeping with this decision our armies started leaving the towns of Hams, Damascus and other towns. Khalid in Hams, Abu 'Ubaidah in Damascus and other generals in other towns addressed the citizens thus:
"The money or monies we had realized from you were meant for the protection of your lives and properties, and also to defend your lands from outside aggressison. But we are sorry to inform you that we are parting with you and since we would not be able to protect and defend you, we are returning the amounts of taxes collected from you."
To this the citizens said in reply : "God be with you and bring you back victorious. Your gover­nance and your justice and equity have enamoured us, since the Romans in spite of being our co-religionists, we have bitter experience of their oppression and tyranny. By God! If they had been in your posi­tion they would not have returned a copper out of the taxes collected from us. Rather, they would have taken away everything they could from here belonging to us."
Even in our so-called civilized period it is like that. If an army has to vacate a station, it does not leave there anything that the enemy could utilize to advantage. But is there a single example of the practice of the victorious armies of our civilization, in the entire history of mankind. By God! If I had no faith in lofty values, and did not believe in their success or like the politicians of the modern age, considered it necessary to keep morals and principles dominated by the political in­terests, I would have said that the leaders of our armies stuck to lofty values and love of principles due to their unawareness and simplicity. But it is a fact that they were really true Believers and did not like to say things they could not put into practice.