Islamic Morality in War

Cont'd from previous issue

Allamah Ibn-e-Taimiyah Came Forward for the Liberation of the Jews and the Christians
When the Tartars made a sudden assault on Syria and took countless men from Muslims, Jews and Christians as prisoners, Sheikh-al-Islam Ibn-e-Taimiyah talked to the Tartar Chief about the release of the prisoners. The Chief gave his assent for the release of the Muslim prisoners but refused to do so in case of the Jews and the Christians, But Sheikh-al-Islam did not agree and insisted on the release of the Jews and the Christians, who, he told him, were the Zimmis of the Islamic state and were bound to them, They could not let even one individual remain in captivity whether he belonged to their own community or from those living with them under a covenant.

Barbarity of the Christian 'Heroes'
Contrary to this, who does not know what the Christian 'heroes' have been doing during the crusades. During the middle ages when these wars were thrust on us, we fulfilled our contracts and they never let a chance of treachery slip by. We habitually overlooked their mischief but they always took revenge. We were careful to save human life as much as possible but they shed so much blood that it ran into knee-deep pools. But these merciless brutes prided in their shameful deeds, rejoiced and gloated over them.
When these heroes of the crusades in their second onslaught reached Ma'rah-al-No'man, the inmates were compelled to lay down arms. But before surrendering the town to the enemy they made the responsible leaders of the invaders guarantee the safety of their lives and property. But what actually happened ? Those ferocious wild beasts on entering the city perpetrated such crimes of cruelty, oppression and tyranny whose dreadfulness would make the children old.
Some English historians who participated in this war have stated that the number of those slain was a hundred thousand souls, young and old, men and women.
After this the enemy advanced towards Bait-al-Maqdis and besieged the civilian population. Fully convinced that they would be vanquished, they took a pledge from the supreme commander of the invading armies, Tankard, for the protection of their lives and properties. He gave the citizens a white banner to be hoisted over the Aqsa Mosque and advised them to enter that haven for their safety. And they were assured of safety of everything, in every way and then the invaders entered the town. But Ah! What a horrible shambles this sacred city was converted into! Ah, what horrid crimes were perpetrated!
The citizens of Bait-al-Maqdis took refuge in the Aqsa mosque, on which the banner given to them by Tankard was hoisted according to his instructions. This sacred mosque was packed to capacity with old men, women and children. And then came the holocaust. Those who had plighted their word to protect their lives and properties and given them the banner of peace, entered the holy mosque and slaughtered all those frail and defenceless old men, children and women like goats and sheep. The place of worship was filled with human blood and touched the knees of the butchers. Thus slaughtering the citizens, they according to their own mode of thinking, sanctified the city, washed as it was with blood. The public highways and streets were littered with human skulls. Everywhere amputated limbs and other organs and deformed bodies were lying with no one to mourn or bury them. Men of our armies have stated that in the Aqsa mosque alone, seventy thousand people were slaughtered, among whom, apart from women and children, there was a large number of learned men and devout persons. The English historians too have not denied these shameful deeds of their co-religionists. Rather, they state these feats of theirs with great pride.

Kind-Hearted ness of Salahuddin Ayyubi
Ninety years after this dreadful slaughter and bloodshed, Salahuddin Ayyubi conquered Bait-al-Maqdis. Shall I tell you what he did with the inhabitants of this sanctum? About a hundred thousand western people lived there. The conqueror guaranteed security of life and property to them, and taking a small amount not from every one but only from those who could easily pay it, and allowed them to leave the town. They were also given respite for forty days for preparation before departure. In this way eighty-four thousand persons left the town in perfect safety, who went to 'Akka and other towns to their friends, relatives and co-religionists. A large number of them were ex­empted from payment of ransom,, and his (Salahuddin's) brother Malik Adil paid the ransom for two thousand persons from his own pocket. And the treatment meted out to the women, far from expecting it from a conqueror of today, it would be unimaginable to him. And when the Christian patriarch wanted to leave the place, the Sultan permitted him to do so. He had much wealth amassed through Churches, synagogues, Sakhrah, Aqsa, and from ceremonies on the occasion of Easter whose count is known to God alone. Some counsellors advised Salahuddin to confiscate his wealth, but the Sultan told them that he could not go back upon his plighted word. He realized the same amount of ransom from him also as the had realized from an ordinary person. But what caused a fourfold increase in his honour and glory on the occasion of the conquest of Bait-al-Maqdis, was his mode of action in the process of evacuation of the Christians of the sanctum. He provided guards for the safe transit of the evacuees. The escorts had instructions to take them to the Christian habitations of Saur and Saida to their co-religionists in perfect safety. And all this in face of the entire Christian world standing in arms against the Muslims. Can any one be sure of his being awake (and not dreaming) when hearing all this? But this is not the whole story. Let us tell you the rest of it. There were several women who had paid ransom, came to the Sultan and stated that their husbands, fathers and sons had either been killed in the battle or were in captivity. They had no one to look after them, nor was there any place where they could seek shelter. They were weeping and wailing. Seeing them tearful, the tender-hearted Sultan burst into tears himself. He ordered that after enquiry whoever of the husbands or sons or fathers of these women were in captivity should be released. And those whose guardians had been killed were given liberal compensation. These women wherever they went praised the Sultan loudly. And when after scrutiny the prisoners were released, they were also permitted to go to Saur, 'Akka and other places to their co-religionists.
Let us hear also what treatment was meted out to the Christian evacuees from Bait-al-Maqdis to their brethren in nearby towns. Some of them went to Antioch but the Amir (Administrator) of that city refused entry to them. And they went about wandering in search of shelter and support, and finally it was Muslims who offered them refuge. One contingent went to Tripoli (Lebanon) which was ruled by the Latin peoples. But even they did not allow them entry, and drove them away from their premises after robbing them of all their worldly goods they had been allowed to take with them by the Muslims.
Salahuddin's benevolent treatment of the western Christians during the crusades prima facie appears a tale. If the western writers had not been amazed at the noble nature and lofty morals of this great hero of Islam, the world would have certainly found room to accuse our historians of exaggeration. The westerners themselves make men­tion of the event that when Salahuddin learnt of the illness of Richard, the greatest and the most valiant general of the crusaders, he sent his personal physician for his treatment and sent him also such fruits that were not easily available at that time of the year and he could not procure them. This happened while hostilities were on in full fury, and the armies of both the parties were engaged in a life and death struggle. The western writers also state that a woman approached the camp of Salahuddin, and wailing and weeping she complained to him that her child had been snatched away from her by two Abyssinian sol­diers. Salahuddin himself was moved to tears by the pitiable condition of the woman, and then and there appointed a military officer for enquiry who searched out the woman's child and restored it to her. And she was escorted to her camp at his bidding. Dare any one say even in face of all this evidence that the morality of our civilization relating to the fighting forces and wars is not humane.

The Generous Behaviour of Sultan Muhammad II
When Sultan Muhammad II conquered Constantinople he en­tered the cathedral of St. Sophia where all the priests had gathered to seek refuge, met them very courtelously and assured them that he would support every reasonable request from them and they had no reason to be frightened. Those who had sought shelter there out of fear, should rest assured and return to their homes with an easy con­science. Later Muhammad II attended to the various problems of the Christians and solved them. He gave them assurance that they could follow their personal laws, religious obligations, and the customs and usages of their particular churches. Not only that; he authorised the priests to freely elect their patriarch (Bishop). And they elected Jenadeus. On this occasion the Sultan also ordered celebrations with great pomp and show which were usually made during the Byzantine rule. He said to the patriarch that in his capacity of a patriarch he was his friend at all times and at all places, and he should derive full benefit of all those rights and privileges his predecessors had enjoyed. After that the Sultan offered him a beautiful steed as a gift and detailed one of his body guards for his protection, and high-ranking government officials escorted him to his palace that the Sultan had got built for him. Then the Sultan proclaimed that he had sanctioned the laws of the or­thodox church and the patriarch would protect them. All the goods of archaeological interest and abandoned articles, picked up by the people on the occasion of the conquest, he purchased from them and restored to the churches and other concerned institutions.
Sultan Muhammad, the conqueror meted out this treatment to the Christians even when there was no treaty arrived at between him and the Christians at the time of the conquest of Constantinople which he might have been obliged to fulfil. This privilege and support was kindly offered by him purely on grounds of his generosity and benevolent nature. It was due to this kind treatment of his that the people of Constantinople felt that under the new Islamic regime they were living in greater peace and religious freedom than under their former Byzantine rulers.

The Benevolent Treatment of the Uthmani Rulers
Similarly, the Uthmani rulers continued with kind treatment of their Christian subjects in the conquered neighbouring lands, for example in the Bulgarian and the Greek states, when such treatment was not meted out to them anywhere in Europe itself, so much so that in Hungary and Transalfania the followers of Cliffon and the Unitarian Christians of Transalfania, instead of submitting themselves to the tyrannic rule of the extremely bigoted sect of Christians of the house of Habsburg,2 they prefered to live under the Turkish authority and rule for a long time. The Protestant sects of Silesia longed to attain religious freedom under the Muslim rule.

The Treatment of the European Christians of their Own Brethren
At the time when this kind and noble treatment was meted out to the Christians under the Turkish rule, religious prejudices were at their height. The prejudiced rulers were oppressing the sects other than their own. And the other religious sects too were at war with one another, blood was being freely shed and there was no security of life. During the seventh century, the patriarch of Antioch, Maccarios, writing about the tyrannies of the Roman Catholic sects of Poland per­petrated against the orthodox sects, says:
"We mourn bitterly the loss of those thousands of martyrs who have been murdered by the cruel Roman Catholic infidels and enemies of the faith during the last forty or fifty years and whose num­ber approaches seventy thousand. O ye traitors! And O ye unholy sinners! O ye hard-hearted creatures! I ask you what was the fault of the nuns worshipping in the churches. Why did you put them to the sword? And how were the general run of women sinning? For what crime were the children, virgins and very young girls taken? Why did you put them to the sword? Why should I not call them the accursed and damned souls of Poland when they have proved themselves more debased and cruel than the mischief-making idolaters perpetrating cruelty on the Christians. In oppressing the Christians they were labouring under the erroneous notion that they would be able to efface the orthodox church altogether. God in His infinite Mercy preserve the Turkish government for all time to come, who realize their dues (Jizyah), and have no ill will against other religions-whether they are Christians, Nazerenes, Jews or Samaritans. But the Polish damned ones did not stop at realization of taxes, inspite of the fact that the Christians were willingly prepared to serve them, but they handed over the Christians to the cruel Jews who are enemies of the Christians at heart, and did not permit the Christians to build even one church, nor left alive any priest among them who could teach them their faith."

The Fanaticism and Beastliness of the Christians themselves Against the Christians
So much about the generous treatment meted out by Sultan Muhammad, the conqueror, to the Christians attached to the Cathedral of St. Sophia, and how benevolently he granted rights to the Christians of Constantinople. Now let us also hear what the European
Christians did to their own brethren, the orthodox Christians when they conquered Constantinople in 1204 A.D. And instead of my tell­ing you about it in my own words, I would like to quote the statement of Pope Innocent III (which should be more convincing, Tr.}. He says:
"The duty of the followers of Jesus and the supporters of his faith was to turn the edges of their swords towards the greatest enemy of Christianity (Islam). But it is a pity they shed the blood of the Chris­tians themselves, which was religiously forbidden to them. They did not care at all for it, and shed much blood. They neither respected the faith, nor discriminated between the sexes nor had they any regard for age, or youth in this bloodshed. They committed fornication and adul­tery in broad daylight. The nuns, mothers of children and virgins found themselves equally helpless before these lustful creatures and the sensual beasts of this army, so to say, devoured (ravished) them. These robbers and plunderers did not stop at robbing the king and other aristocrats of their riches, but ravaged and plundered the lands and other properties of the Churches. They desecrated the churches also, robbing them of the sacred portraits, crosses and holy relics."
And the well-known historian Chad-Dale writes:
"This army, intoxicated with power, entered the Cathedral of St. Sophia, destroyed the holy books and trampled under foot the portraits of the martyrs. A corrupt woman was occupying their chair of the patriarch, and she started singing loudly. All traces of religious knowledge were effaced from the city, and the gold and silver statues were destroyed to provide material for their gold and silver coins."
And the monks who were eye-witnesses to these painful scenes have put up their evidence thus:
"The fact is that the followers of Muhammad (Sal'am, Tr.) had never meted out the treatment to this city which it met at the hands of the monks, the votaries of Christ."
Yes. Certainly the Muslim did not do any such thing when they conquered this town (Constantinople), as evidenced by the behaviour of Sultan Muhammad Fateh. And the Muslim, so long as they were believers, could not manifest narrow-mindedness and even approach such shameful deeds of religious bigotry, as were perpetrated by the Roman Catholic followers of Christ against other followers of his, sub­scribing to the orthodox Catholic faith.

An Incident out of the Tale of Woes of Andalusia
I would not like to take up in detail the story of the Muslim Con­querors of Andalusia and their generous treatment of the minorities of that country, affectionate behaviour and extreme regard for their feel­ings, nor would compare it with the treatment the Muslims met at the hands of the Spaniards, when they took over the last surviving Muslim state of Granada. And they did all that in face of the treaty with Mus­lims comprising about sixty provisions, regarding the protection of their faith, their mosques their honour and dignity and their properties and so many other things. But they did not fulfil any of their pledges, nor met any responsibility in tliis behalf. Rather, they did not desist even from murder of innocent people and taking possession of their properties. Again, within thirty years of the fall of Granada, Europe declared in 1534 A. D. that all the mosques be converted into Churches. So we find that within four years of this declaration the Muslims were totally wiped out of Spain."This is how the Christians "made good their plighted word" and that was our fulfilment of pledges!

It is the Urge of their (evil) Nature
The stinging of a scorpion is nothing astonishing. It is in its na­ture. What amazes one is the fact they behaved in this cruel manner and were guilty of the breach of contract with their own co-religionists. And these oppressions and cruelties were no less than those per­petrated against the Muslims. Wherever they went as conquerors, they made demonstrations of the same hard-heartedness and oppression and tyranny. It may be East or West, they always appeared in their true colours as cunning and cruel wolves, no matter whether their prey was some weak Muslim or a Christian. Their writers themselves lament their national character.
The Priest Ododvalley, a courtier of Louis VII, in favour with him, and having participated in the second crusade with the king, writes in his observations:
"When the Christians were going to Bait-al-Maqdis through Asia Minor, they suffered a great defeat at the hands of the Turks in the mountainous region of Frigia. That was in 1148 A.D. With great dif­ficulty they got to a coastal town of Italy. Here, those who could meet the heavy demands of the Greeks (they made to take the armies across the sea) reached Antioch by sea route. But they left behind their sick, wounded and ordinary people at the mercy of their perfidious Greek allies. Louis paid them (the Greeks) five hundred marks for their protection and the treatment of the disabled and the sick, so that they might be able to join their companions. But hardly had the army left Italy when the Greeks informed the Turks of the presence of these un-armed crusaders, and quietly waited to watch the fun of these wretched people facing starvation, disease and above all the spears of the enemy. This death and destruction came upon them when they were proceeding towards their cantonment. Four thousand individuals out of this unarmed and disabled multitude in desperation tried to es­cape this tragic end. The Turkish army that had returned to the can­tonment, turned round with the idea of taking their victory to a con­clusive end. They routed and ruined this army. Those who escaped this calamity were despairing of thier lives. But the Muslims were greatly moved by their pitiable plight, and instead of enmity their hearts were now filled with affection for them. They nursed the sick and helped the hungry and the destitute who were at the verge of death and destruc­tion. The Muslim extended their generosity to the extent of purchasing the cash in French currency from the Greeks, who hau snatched it from them, and gave it to these wretched travellers. There was a world of difference between the cruel and beastly behaviour of their own Greek Christian brethren with these travellers and the just and merciful treatment of the heathens (Muslims).
The Greeks played a dirty joke on them, beat them and whatever Louis had left for their maintenance, they robbed them of it all. This resulted in some of them entering the fold of the faith of their saviours willingly, as attested by one of our historians of yore. "Their own cruel brothers oppressed them but the pagans (Muslims) offered them security and shelter and most benevo lent treatment." "We learn that more than three thousand of those returning alive joined the Turks. Alas ! This kindness and mercy were more disagreeable than treachery. They certainly gave them bread but snatched from them their faith and beliefs although it is ture that they did not compel any one to abandon his faith, but confined their efforts to service and benevolence to them."

Look at them in the Modern Perspective of Brilliance
The evidence is not far to seek. The impressions and record of the cruelties of the western nations in the two world wars and their morals and deeds in the Islamic Middle East serve clear evidence that in governance and in the battlefield their conduct has been extremely tyrannical and a model of barbarism. Their hypocritical policy is now no more any secret that in international meets they let loose loud propaganda of their civilization and culture, philanthropy and love and affection. But in their wars, in their dominions and colonies they openly demonstrate their barbarism and blood-thirstiness. Some people put up the excuse for this mode of action of the western nations that during the middle ages they were not so civilized and cultured that any other behaviour could be expected of them. But a very pertinent question is that now that they are civilized, rather, they claim to hold the monopoly of civilization and benefiting the whole world with sciences and arts and the new inventions, are they any better? The real position is not that. According to our way of measuring them, the problem really is what is their true temperament which overwhelms every effort of theirs at affectation and hypocrisy. The fact of the mat­ter is that the western nations still have those traits and habits of the days of their barbarity and idolatry in their entirety. During the middle ages these traits and habits took the shape of religious prejudice. So religion had to bear the brunt of their barbarity. And today the same cruel and barbaric habits are at work under the garb of civilization. So peace and security and civilization have to bear the bur­den of their hard-heartedness and inhumanity. In fact in every period these nations have been mischief-makers, cruel, blood-thirsty, lovers of power and authority and bigoted and barbaric. How then dare they tell tales of our hard-heartedness under Islamic victories, (quite apart from the fact that it is a bundle of blatant lies) and present their despicable colonialism as a mercy and kindness. And where it comes to the bare facts, ours and their position according to some poet is this:
"When we were in power, forgiveness was our well known habit, but when you came to rule you shed rivers of (much) blood." (F.N. l2)
"This difference, between the two of us is not at all amazing since whatever are the contents of a vessel spill out of it. (F.N.13)