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Prophet Muhammadﷺ: War Etiquettes and Our Future

09 May 2017
Prophet Muhammadﷺ: War Etiquettes and Our Future

  The kindness and compassion of Prophet Muhammad (peace upon him) was such that he commanded ethical principles in events requiring physical fighting. For example:

“While entering the enemy area, do not raise your hand against any child, old person, patient or wounded person. Do not raise your eyes towards a woman. Do not cut any fruit-bearing trees. Do not sacrifice any milk-giving animal, and do not ruin a population. Fight only those who fight with you, and do not aggravate those who do not fight with you. Do not touch places of worship on the way, and do not confront those inside it” (Al-Quraizi, Imta AlAsma, Wida Jaish Muattah Wasiyah Al-Umara: 1-338-339).

His companions always kept in mind these teachings while he was alive and after his death. The Rashidun Caliphate strictly implemented these teachings, and after that God-fearing and pious Muslim rulers kept in mind these Islamic manners of war.

Inhumane treatment was never meted out to the POWs. Instead, pity was shown to them, and their wounds were treated.  They were treated with kindness and respect, unlike the treatment of POWs in the modern world.  The love and affection shown by the Prophet (peace upon him) and his companions made a good impression on the POWs.

 Every town where Prophet Muhammad (peace upon him) entered, he entered as an angel of mercy. He gave independence and honor to everyone whether rich or poor, man or woman. His biggest achievement was that he molded the whole community into into one of love, affection, humanity, and brotherhood. Even after his death, this did not change. It is an obvious fact which is also admitted even by non-Muslim historian.

Famous Dutch Orientalist, Goeje, writes in his book:

“People were inclined towards the Arabs in the Syrian Empire and they deserved it as they showed good moral and behavior with the people of the occupied land contrary to cruel behavior of the previous Roman rulers.

“Some Christian sects refused to accept the council of Chalcedon, because of which Heraclius had cut their noses and ears and demolished their houses.

“Similarly, the Jews, who were accused of supporting the Iranian invaders, were subject to immense brutality, although Heraclius had promised pardon.

“Contrary to this, Arabs followed the teachings of their Caliph Hazrat Abu Bakr Siddique (R.A.) and won hearts with their high moral and conduct of the people of conquered lands.”

After approximately 15 years, a Nestorian priest wrote to his friend:

“These Arab rulers never interfered in our religion. They gave freedom of religion to everyone, respected our elders and religious leaders and gave large donations to churches and monasteries”.

Famous Russian Orientalist, Barthold writes:

“Religious Russian historians agreed that, during the Crusade War, general public including the religious leaders wanted the era of Muslims to return instead of Romans.”

A British historian, A. L. Maycock, writes:

“When the Turks entered Constantinople after 200 years, the residents shouted slogans. (They preferred Muslim Rulers turban instead of the crown of Pope).”

For all these historical references, please see:

(Dr. Muhammad Hameedullah – Rasool ki Hukumrani aur Janasheeni: 147-149; Translated by Professor Khaled Parvez.)

Even in India, Muslims ruled for more than 1000 years, but never interfered in the religion of Hindus. They had full freedom of faith and religion and received all rights as respected citizens.

How beautiful and fascinating was the style of Prophet Muhammad’s training and education! How natural, lovely and affectionate was the style of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in helping people learn and understand!

Irrespective of the mistakes made by people, he would never get angry. In fact, the bigger the mistake, the more his kindness and patience, love and pity, and forgiveness. With this love and affection, kindness and patience, he was able to change the camel riders and the shepherds. Those who had been unaware of knowledge and culture became teachers of communities and leaders of knowledge and culture. Those who embraced Islam were more than 125 thousand, and all had become enriched in knowledge and wisdom. The people who accepted Islam in this era of ignorance became a shining star in the darkness.

It is also worth mentioning here that Prophet Muhammad’s love and affection was not only for human beings but also for animals grazing on ground as well as the birds flying in the sky.

The Holy Prophet said, “A good deed done to an animal is as good as doing good to a human being, while an act of cruelty to an animal is as bad as an act of cruelty to a human being” (Mishkat al Masabih).

Whether it was his own family members, friends, enemies, or birds and animals, Prophet Muhammad (peace upon him) was generous with his mercy and compassion.

What could be the reason for the flow of love and affection between the battle that took place in his life and those which took place in the Rashidun Caliphate? This confusion only arises when one does not have understanding of the reason and reality of these battles It is clear that the reason for these battles was not to hoard money to conquer other countries, or to seek revenge. History is witness that, despite consistency in being victorious,, worldly wishes never entered the Prophet’s mind.

He used to say, “What have I to do with the world? The example of me and the world is the same as a traveler in summer who takes rest for some time under the shade of a tree and then moves ahead” (Shaab Al-Eman, Imam Baihaqi, Hadith No. 1378).

The wars of the Prophet (peace upon him) were in pursuit of happiness, success, and welfare of those living under the oppression of tyrants so that honor and dignity would prevail.

Allah says:

“Permission has been given to those who are being fought, because they were wronged. And indeed, Allah is competent to give them victory. Those who have been evicted from their homes without right only because they say, ‘Our Lord is Allah’. And were it not that Allah checks the people, some by means of others, there would have been demolished monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which the name of Allah is much mentioned. And Allah will surely support those who support Him. Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might” (22: 39-40).

And Allah ordered:

“Have you not seen those who were told, ‘Restrain your hands and establish prayer and give charity’” (4: 78).

Muslims are given permission to fight in self-defense, and they fought against the cruelty on them.  After overpowering their enemies, they were in position to defend others and support them.As Allah does not like demolition of a Masjid due to enmity towards Muslims, similarly he does not like demolition of other places of worship due to enmity towards other religions. Hence when Muslims invaded countries, they did not touch any places of worship. It is worth mentioning that when the Holy Quran ordered killing or fighting the nonbelievers and polytheists, it referred to those who were in the forefront of cruelty and repression and not the general public. Wherever Quran has challenged for war and wherever Prophet Muhammad has fought, it was against these tyrants.

Prophet Muhammad (peace upon him) throughout his life fought against cruelty and repression until it was wiped out of the Arab peninsula. After him, his devotees carried on with the holy mission. They never back tracked, never lost hope, and lost everything for the sake of human honor until the whole land was purified and justice prevailed everywhere. They had to sacrifice a lot for it. Salutation to Prophet Muhammad and his kind-hearted devotees!

When he completed his 23 years of struggle and the truth prevailed, he should have taken a sigh of relief; however, he was worried for the generations to come.  He knew the history of the rise and fall of the past nations.

Our Present condition is similar to what he feared. We closed our eyes to the consequences. We have reached the extreme of humiliation and shame. We are similar to those struck down by the flood. Instead of preaching Islam to others, it has become a stranger to us. We call ourselves Muslims, but our generation is ignorant of Islamic teaching, culture, and history.

(Translated, abridged, and edited from the Urdu article written by Maulana Muhammad Inayatullah Subhani, published in Dawat, New Delhi, October 22, 2016.)


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