MORALITY IN WAR
Is There Any Parallel in Any Civilization?
Immediately after Umar ibn Abdul Aziz was elected Khalifah (caliph) in 717 A.D., a delegation of men from Samarqand (Uzbakistan) saw him and represented that the general of the Islamic armies, Qutaibah, had unjustifiably stationed his army men in the town in their midst. Khalifah Umar ibn Abdul Aziz wrote to the governor of Samarqand that he should appoint a tribunal to judge and settle the dispute between Qutaibah and the people of Samarqand. If the judgement of the tribunal goes against the army chief and his men are asked to vacate they must do so at once. The governor appointed Jamií ibn Hadhir Albaji as judge for enquiry. After the enquiry was over, he, though himself a Muslim, passed the judgement that the Muslim army must vacate the town. He also remarked that the commander of the Muslim forces ought to have served an ultimatum of war to the city, and according to the Islamic Law relating to war, he ought have canceled all the treaties with them so that the people of Samarqand could get time to prepare for the war. "Sudden attack on them without warning was unlawful."
When the people of Samarqand witnessed this state of affairs, they were convinced that this was an unparallel case in the history of mankind .... the state keeping its Commander-in-Chief and the armies under such strict discipline and control, bound by lofty moral principles. And consequently they decided that fighting against such a people would be futile. Rather, they came to regard it as mercy and a blessing from God. Therefore, they agreed to live with the Islamic army in Samarqand.
Just imagine. An army conquers a city and enters it. The inhabitants of that city complain to the victorious government and the judges of that government decide the case against the victorious army, and order its externment, saying that they could not live there without the consent of the people of that city. Can either the ancient or modern history of mankind point out any war in which the fighting men kept themselves so strictly bound by the moral code, and followed such lofty principles of truth and justice, as demonstrated by the sons of our civilization? In so far as my own knowledge is concerned, not one among the nations of the world can be pointed out which demonstrated such lofty morals.
Treatment of Dhimmis
Islamic armies conquer Damascus, Hams and the remaining towns of Syria and according to the terms of the treaty they realize some amount of tax for the protection of the life and property of the citizens and the defense of the country (634 A.D., within two years after Prophet Muhammad SAW). But later the Muslim leaders received news that Heraclius had brought a big army which he was anxious to bring against the Muslims. Therefore they decided to bring together their own scattered armies in various conquered towns to concentrate at one point to face the hordes of Heraclius with joint effort. So in keeping with this decision our armies started leaving the towns of Hams, Damascus and other towns. Khalid in Hams, Abu Ubaidah in Damascus and other generals in other towns addressed the citizens thus:
"The money or monies we had realized from you was meant for the protection of your lives and properties, and also to defend your lands from outside aggression. But we are sorry to inform you that we are parting with you and since we would not be able to protect and defend you, we are returning the amounts of taxes collected from you."
To this the citizens said in reply:
"God be with you and bring you back victorious. Your governance and your justice and equity have enamored us, since the Romans in spite of being our coreligionists, we have bitter experience of their oppression and tyranny. By God! If they had been in your position they would not have returned a copper out of the taxes collected from us. Rather, they would have taken away everything they could from here belonging to us."
Even in our so-called civilized period it is like that. If an army has to vacate a station, it does not leave there anything that the enemy could utilize to advantage. But is there a single example of the practice of the victorious armies of Our civilization, in the entire history of mankind. By God! If I had no faith in lofty values, and did not believe in their success or like the politicians of the modern age, considered it necessary to keep morals and principles dominated by the political interests, I would have said that the leaders of our armies stuck to lofty values and love of principles due to their unawareness and simplicity. But it is a fact that they were really true Believers and did not like to say things they could not put into practice.
Sheikh-al-Islam Ibn Taimiyah Liberated Jews and 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 the 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 (Dhimmis) 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.
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Copyright © 1997 Web version by Dr. A. Zahoor
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Excerpted from English translation of Dr. Sibai's book "Min Rawa-i-Hazaratuna"