Rafed English

Prisoners of war are not to be killed

Related from al-Zuhri, from Imam 'Ali ib n al-Hussein (A) who said (in a hadith):

'If you take a prisoner and he is incapable of walking and you do not have a carriage then send him on his way (set him free) and do not kill him for you do no t know what the Imam will rule regarding him.' He also said:

'The prisoner, if he enters Islam will be spared his life and he will become part of the group.'

Related from 'Abdullah ibn Maymo un who said: "Imam 'Ali (A) was brought a prisoner on the day of the battle of Siffin and the prisoner pledged allegiance to him. Imam 'Ali (A) said: 'I will not kill you for I fear Allah Lord of the worlds.' So he sent him on his way and returned to him the booty that he had come with.'

Related from Amir-ul-Mu'mineen Imam 'Ali (A) who said:

"The Messenger of Allah (S) took some prisoners on the day of the battle of Badr and took ransom in exchange for their freedom. (similarly there were exchanges of prisoners of war.) For the Imam has the choice, if Allah grants him victory over the Polyth eists, to kill the warriors from them or to take them as prisoners and count them amongst the spoils of war and to divide them up. And if the Imam see it to be in the general interest, he could set them free."

Related from Bashir, who said to Imam Saadiq (A): 'I had a dream in which I said to yo u: 'Fighting without an Imam to whom ob edience is mandatory is prohibited in the same way that eating the flesh of animals not slaughtered (according to the Islamic law), or blood, or swine flesh is prohibited.' Then you said to me (in the dream): 'Yes, this is the case.' Imam Saadiq (A) said: 'Yes this is indeed the case.'

Related from Sama'ah, from Imam Saadiq (A) who said: 'Abbad al- Basri met Ali ibn al-Hussein (A) on the road to Makkah and said to him: 'O Ali son of al-Hussein, you have left jihad and its difficulties and turned to the Hajj and its easiness for indeed Allah Almighty and Exalted is He has said:

{Surely Allah has bought from the Believers their own selves a nd their wealth in return for Paradise, that they fight in the way of Allah . . .} 27

Ali ibn al-Hussein (A) said: 'Read on.' He said: {Those who turn in repentance and do acts of worship . . .} 28 Then Ali ibn al-Hussein (A) said:

"If we see those people who are described thus, then jihad with them is better then the Hajj."

Related from Muhammad ibn 'Abdullah al-Samandari who said: 'I said to Imam Saadiq (A): 'If I was by the gate (meaning the main gate) and there was a call to arms should I go with them?' He (A) said:

"Do you think that if you went out with them and you took a man prisoner then granted him sanctuary and gave him the same treaty that the Messenger of Allah (S) used to give to the Polytheists, would they fulfil the covenant?"

I said: 'No they would not fulfil it.' He (A) said: "Then do not go out with them." Related form Abu Basir, from Imam Saadiq (A), from his forefathers (A) who said:

"The Muslim should not go out for jihad if he does not safeguard the rule or implement the command of Allah Almighty. If he were to die in that place he would be an aide to our enemy in limiting our right and putting our blood in danger. His death would be a death as of the days of ignorance.'

Related from Ja'far ibn Muhammad (A) in the hadith of the sharai'a al- din who said: 'Jihad is mandatory with the just Imam, and whoever is killed defending his wealth is a martyr.' Related from Bashshara al-Mustapha, from Komeil, from Amir-ul- Mu'mineen 'Ali (A) who said: 'O Komeil, there is to be no military raids without a just Imam.'

Related from Sayyid 'Ali ibn Tawous in the book Kashf al-Yaqin with the chain of narration to the Prophet (S) regarding the blessed night ascension to Heaven: Allah Almighty revealed to the Prophet (S): 'Walking on foot to jihad is only with you or with the Imams from your progeny.'

Related from al-Sha'bi who said: 'When Imam 'Ali (A) took prisoners on the day of Siffin he set them free. 'Amr ibn al-'Aas had said (to Mu'awiyah): "Kill the prisoners you have taken." In the mean time the freed prisoners started to arrive at Mu'awiyah's camp. Mu'awiyah then said to 'Amr ibn al-'Aas: 'O 'Amr, if we were to follow what you say then we would indeed fall into a foul state o f affairs and our reputation would be worsened. Do you not see that our prisoners have been released? Then he ordered that the prisoners from Imam 'Ali's men be released. When Imam Ali (a) had taken a prisoner from the Syrian camp,

he would released him except when one of his own men had been killed in which case he would kill him for that.

Also if Imam Ali (A) released a prisoner and he returned once more to fight, he would kill him then. Author's note: The killing of the prisoners was o nly in extraordinary cases because the Imam release of prisoners is well recorded in the chronicles. The account of Asbagh ibn Darar, presented later, is one example of this.


27. The Holy Qur'an: Repentance (9): 111.

28. The Holy Qur'an: Repentance (9): 112.

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

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