How do you compare the attitudes toward war in Islam, in other religions and
One can criticize Islam because it recognizes war and even commands it. This criticism is unjust, for first of all it is not
Islam that introduced war into the human history. Islam allows war in order
to put an end to the domination of injustice and tyranny, to rescue the
oppressed and to establish a tolerant social-political environment.
Since Christianity brought no explicit rules for the conduct of war, wars in Christian
have been much bloodier and ruthless. It can also be said that, apart
from the Crusades, Christianity was misused to provide a cover and means for the
colonization of two thirds of the world by the Western powers in previous
centuries. The criticism is wholly inappropriate when voiced by the Jews,
for their history, is also full of wars, as the Old Testament is explicit in
ordering War, and unfortunately one can find quotations similar to the
following "And we utterly destroyed them, as we did to Sihon king of Heshbon,
utterly destroying every city: men, women, and children� (Deuteronomy,
3:6) The crimes that have been committed for years by modern
Israel are also known to everybody in the world.
As for other religions such as those in south, east and south-eastern
Asia, they lack rules to govern the collective life, and so more comparable
to esoteric philosophies, and yet their followers
have not refrained from waging war.
The modern secular world has caused more bloodshed and destruction in the
past hundred years than during the whole of human history before. Islam has
never had the least part in tens of millions of deaths in the revolutions in Soviet Union and China;
and in the massacres in Afghanistan and Chechnya and
in the brutal suppression of freedom movements in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.
secular powers of the world which caused the death of more than 60 million people, mainly
civilians, and forced countless millions more to remain homeless, widowed
and orphaned, during and after the two world wars. It was not Muslim
countries who made nuclear and other weapons
of mass destruction and used them to intimidate poor and weak nations.
Islam and war, and why Islam allows war?
Islam, which declares, �Peace is what is the best,� aims at establishing
peace throughout the world. However, war is a reality of human history. It
is a manifestation in the social life of humankind of the inner condition of
those who have not been able to attain excellence in mind, heart (spirit)
and conduct. Or it is a manifestation of the war between the spirit
and the carnal soul, or between Satan and the perfectibility of human nature. What is
important and necessary therefore is, rather than turning away from the reality in a
vainly idealistic manner, to establish rules to make war just, in respect of
both its motives and purposes, and its means and conduct, so that the harm
of it is contained, and the
good in it may benefit the people in general. War may then be, not something
in itself desirable, but capable of serving (rather than perverting) a
desirable end - like disciplining and training the body to improve its
strength or skill, or doing a necessary operation to save someone's health,
or administering upon a criminal the due punishment for the sake of
deterrence and the health of the moral environment. Precisely such
disciplining of the means and ends of war is what Islam has done.
Quran does not order war, but allows it on condition that it should be in
God�s cause and for defensive purposes. It also enjoins that the limits
set by God must not be exceeded. Those limits are related to both the
intention and the practice. For example, Islam does not permit war for
motives such as conquest or plunder, or to quench a lust for
revenge, or for the sake of some material advantage or satisfy racist
persuasions. Islam does not seek to compel anyone to change their faith. On
the contrary, it seeks an environment where all are free to accept faith
freely. Islam has also set
limitations on the conduct of relations before, during and after conflict;
- Do not betray any agreements you have entered into
- Do not plunder
- Do not commit injustices or use torture
- Do not touch the children, the womenfolk, the elderly, or other
non-combatants of the enemy
- Do not destroy fruit-trees and tilled lands
- Do not kill livestock
- Treat with respect the religious persons who live in hermitages or convents and
spare their edifices (Ibn al-Athir, al-Kami fi al-Tarikh, Vol.3, p.227)
When considered together with other relevant verses of the Qur`an, the
verses 1-6 in surah 9 present principles concerned with the Islamic
view of war. In summary:
- Even in warfare, Islam is ready to make peace and treaty with the
- A Muslim government remains faithful to any treaty it has made until
the end of its term.
- If the opposing side betrays the agreement, The Muslim government
must publicly and officially declare to the other side that the agreement is no
longer valid. Even though it can declare war as soon as the agreement
loses its validity, it should grant them a respite to make a new
- If the opposing side continues their hostilities and do not change
their attitude even after the end of the term granted, this means
that a state of war has begun.
- In order to force the enemy to cease hostilities or to defeat them in
war, the Muslims must be powerful and remain steadfast. However,
the Muslims must always observe the rules of war mentioned above.
- When the enemy side is inclined toward peace and making a treaty, the Muslims should
also be inclined this way. They should also give asylum to those who seek it
and, without harming in any way the wealth or persons of the asylum
seekers, covey them to their place of safety.
These were the rules of war openly commanded
by the Qur�an and practiced by the Muslims during history.
aims at universal peace and, as a reality of human history, ensuring peace sometimes requires fighting. As declared in the
Qur�an (Though killing is something you feel
aversion to) disorder (rooted in rebellion against God and recognizing no laws) is worse than killing (2:191); and disorder (coming from rebellion to God and
recognizing no laws) is even more grave and more sinful than killing (2:217),
the conditions that give rise to war and disorder are more grievous than
killing itself and therefore war, although not inherently a good thing, is permissible
if it will remove these conditions.