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Islamic Teachings on Non-violence in Combat

I would add: It is evident from the above quote that the Muslims did not have a sense of vengeance against their oppressors, as taught by the Messenger of Allah (S). This was the kind of behaviour and attitude the Messenger of Allah (S) had sho wn towards his enemies whether during war times or any other times. For the benefit of the reader some of the reports are presented here.

In a tradition it is reported that Imam Saadiq (A) said :

"Before dispatching a squadron, the Messenger of Allah (S) used to call everyone involved to a meeting and brief them about their duties and responsibilities saying: "Advance in the name of Allah, by the name of Allah, in the cause of Allah and in accordance with the religion of the Messenger of Allah (S).

... Do not handcuff or tie up (the prisoners), Do not mutilate, Do not use trea cherous means (with the enemy), Do not kill the old, Nor the young, Nor the women, Do not cut down the trees;

unless you are forced to do so. If any of the Muslims, whether high ranking or otherwise, give temporary refuge to any of the infidels to hear the message of Allah (to accept Islam), (let him do so). If he follows you, (i.e. accepted Islam) then he is your brother in religion, and if he refuses, secure his safety, and seek help from Allah.""

In another tradition, Imam Saadiq (A) is also quoted as saying:

"Before their mission the Messenger of Allah (S) used to order the squadron leader in particular, and the whole company in general, to fear Allah. The Messenger of Allah (S) then used to say to them: "Advance in the name of Allah and in the way of Allah.

Fight any system who denies Allah, Do not use treacherous means (with the enemy), do not handcuff or tie up (the prisoners), do not mutilate, do not kill the young, nor he who has sought refuge to the peak of the mountain, do not burn the palm trees, nor flood them, do not cut down fruit-bearing trees, do not burn the crops, you may even need them, do not kill the animals except those you need to eat.

Then when you meet the enemies of the Muslims invite them to one of three. If they respond (positively) to these, accept (their response) and stay your hands from them.

1. Invite them to Islam, and if they enter Islam accept it from them and stay your hands.

2. Invite

them to emigrate (to Islamic cities 73) after they have accepted Islam. If they do, accept it from them and refrain from any measures against them, and if they refuse to emigrate to such centres, they will be treated like any other Bedouin faithful; they will not qualify for Fay' and Qassma 74 rewards unless they emigrate in the cause of Allah.

3. If they refuse these two

options, invite them to pay tribute submissively 75. If they agreed to pay tribute, accept it from them, and if they refuse, then seek assistance from Allah the Almighty against them." While addressing the people in (preparation for the battle of) Siffeen, Amir-ul-Mu'mineen (A) said,

"Allah the Almighty has shown you a trade which delivers you from painful punishment and guides to the good; (That is) belief in Allah and struggle in the cause of Allah. He has made his reward the forgiveness of sin and beautiful dwellings in the heavens. The Almighty said: "Allah loves those who fight in His cause arrayed in battle, as though they were a compact structure." So make your arrays like compact structures.

Amir-ul-Mu'min een (A) continued until he said: "Do not mutilate the dead, and if you overwhelm the enemy do not violate their properties (i.e. respect their privacy), Do not enter a house, do not take anything from their property (belongings) except what you find in their barracks.

Do not agitate any woman, even if they swear at you or insult your leaders or your reverend people. For they lack the maximum physical, psychological or mental strength. We used to be instructed to refrain (from causing harm to them) even when they were idolaters. Even (at that time) if a man hit a woman he would have been rebuked and ridiculed by others (and branded as coward for using force against the weaker sex) as well as his sons.

After the battle of the 'Camel' was started and headed by A'ishah against Amir-ul-Mu'mineen Imam Ali (A), during which A'ishah and her army were defeated, Imam Ali (A) announced:

"Do not kill the injured, Do no t p ursue those fleeing , Who ever puts down his weapon is safe (from being attacked)."

Imam Ali (A) then rode on the mule o f the Messenger of Allah (S) and called a number of individuals by name. Some 60 elders, all of whom were from the Hamdaan tribe, gathered around him wearing their protective helms, swords and shields. They followed Imam Ali (A) until he reached a big house. He asked for the door to be opened. Once inside Amir-ul- Mu'mineen saw women wailing and weeping.

When they saw Imam Ali (A) they all shouted with one voice:

He is the killer of our beloveds. Imam Ali did not say anything to them. He only asked for A'ishah's apartment. When Imam Ali entered her room, their conversation could be heard. A'ishah was apologising to Imam Ali (A). As Imam Ali (A) left the room he saw a woman who he recognised and said to her: If I were the killer of the loved o nes I would have killed those in this room, and in this room, and in this room, pointing to three different rooms.

The woman, Safeyyah, went to the wailing women to convey what Imam Ali had said. Then they all ceased wailing.

Al-Asbagh, the narrator of this report, said: In one of the three rooms was A'eshah and her entourage, in the second was Marwaan ibn al-Hakam and the youths of Quraysh, and the in the third Abdullah ibn al-Zubair and his relatives resided. Al- Asbagh was asked; "Why did you not arrest them?

Were they not the cause of this conspiracy and the war? Why did you leave them free?" Al-Asbagh replied: "We had reached for our swords, with our eyes focused on him (Imam Ali), a waiting his command . . . but he did not issue any order except a general amnesty."

There are countless cases like this, but we only mentioned the above few cases to hint at this point that it is imperative for the Islamic government, and the Islamic movement before that, to adhere to non-violence, even when in power.


73. This is so that they will have access to the sources of learning in those cities to educate themselves to an acceptable level. In rural and remote locations such opportunities of learning were not available at the time being.

74 These are government income from spoil of war and land rent.

75. The holy Qur'an: Repentance (9): 29.

Adapted from the book: "War, Peace & Non-Violence" by: "Sayyid Muhammad Sadiq Shirazi"

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