Killing the “Other”…

Question and answer details
Killing the “Other”…
Hello, I need to know some information about the human rights in Islam. My son has gone to this war and I want to make sure he will come back home safe and in one piece!! He believed in the freedom of the Iraqi people and said he wanted to liberate them. I told him not to go because I know Muslims kill non-Muslims without war, so what about war. I am a sincere Christian and Christ said we should not fight back our enemies. But, my son isn’t very religious and did not go for my word. What will become of him, now that the war is ending? Will the Iraqi people – the portion whom supported Saddam – revenge from him? A friend of mine, who is a professor in comparative religions is telling me that Muslims are not that barbarian and that they have certain rules by which they treat their war prisoners. Who should I believe? What will happen to my son? Will he be able to come home back soon?
Salaam Dear - Sister in Humanity - Rachel,

Thank you for your question.

First of all, I would like you to kindly inform me of your source of knowledge that Muslims kill non-Muslims without war! For the sake of argument, let us agree that the Christ (peace and prayers be upon him) said what you mentioned, DID IRAQ FIGHT THE U.S.A.? So… that your son should not fight his enemy?!

You are kindly requested to lend me your ears for some pieces of advice:
  • If you want to know about Islam, go back to its main sources: the Qur'an and the prophetic traditions of Prophet Muhammad (peace and prayers be upon him). And you can easily get a first hand access to them. There are over fifty translations of the meanings of the Qur'an into English and most of the Prophetic traditions have been translated too.

  • It is a fatal mistake to take it for granted that the followers of any doctrine or religion are the best examples of the practical application of the principles and values of such a doctrine or religion. Do all Christians go regularly to church and do what they should do so as to be truly committed and sincere Christians? Do all Muslims go to the mosque and know exactly what they should know about their religion and apply it in their daily life? The answer to both questions is absolutely: NO!! It is only a few who are truly and sincerely committed. The same rule applies to most followers of any other doctrine or religion.

  • Based on the above argument, if some followers of any religion do something wrong, we should not be subjective in our judgment and claim that all the followers of such a religion must do the same thing. For example, if a Muslim did kill a non-Muslim, this does not necessarily mean that all Muslims are killers. When the US troops nowadays has killed, and still killing hundreds of Iraqi civilians - who have never waged any war against America - should we pass a judgment that all Americans are killers of civilians?!

  • I think it would be much better if you read by yourself about Islam, with an objective eye without presuppositions or bias. Then, you would get a clearer picture.
Following are some clarifications about Islam and its principles:
  • The word Islam in Arabic is derived from the stem salima and its other derivatives are salaam, silm, salaamah, istislam, which revolve around the following meanings: peace, submission and surrender. In other words, a Muslim is the one who surrenders and submits his will to that of God - peacefully. By doing so, he gets two types of peace: inner peace within the heart and mind, because he established communication and initiated a relation with God and outer peace in his relation with the whole universe.

  • A Muslim must believe in all the previous prophets and messengers who were sent before Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Otherwise, his faith is considered incomplete. Thus, Muslims believe in Moses, Jesus and all the preceding messengers who all came to teach people that there is only one God worthy of worship. He is the One Who created us, sustains us and the One before Whom we will all be resurrected and judged for our deeds.

  • God orders Muslims in the Qur'an that there is no coerce in religion, i.e. no Muslim should force a non-Muslim to embrace Islam against his own free will. Rather, we are asked to present Islam to others; taking into consideration a number of things: the right time, the appropriate wording, and the best means.

  • There are lots of misconceptions that are mongered about Islam, on top of which comes the definition of the concept of jihad. Many people define it as "holy war", which is incorrect. Prophet Muhammad and his companions had been oppressed and persecuted by the pagans of Makkah for about thirteen years, until they were driven out of their homes and immigrated to Madinah.

    Despite all this bad treatment, the prophet (pbuh) left his cousin behind, so as to give the pagans the property and belongings entrusted to him. This was because they would not trust each other and Prophet Muhammad was known among them by the title of the ‘Honest and Trustworthy’.

  • Jihad then was ordained by God as some sort of defense against the aggression and oppression of the pagans and later on for the sake of propagating the word of God and spreading monotheism and justice on earth. Yet, there are many rules that govern jihad and mujahedeen (those who practice jihad).
Allah Almighty has stated the objectives behind jihad in the cause of Allah, the Most High. He, the Most Perfect, says in Surah 8, verse 39:

*{Fight them until there is no more fitnah (shirk), and the religion will be for Allah Alone. But if they cease [worshipping others besides Allah] then certainly Allah is All-Seer of what they do.}*

Thus, the objectives of jihad include:
  • Supporting the word of God; Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:

    “Whoever fights in order to make the word of Allah the highest, then he is in the cause of Allah.” (Reported by Bukhari.)

  • Helping the Oppressed; Allah, the Most High, says in Surah 4, verse 75:

    *{And what is wrong with you that you do not fight in the cause of Allah, and for those weak, ill treated and oppressed among men, women, and children, whose cry is: Our Lord! Rescue us from this town whose people are oppressors.}*

  • Repelling Aggression and Protecting Islam Allah (swt) says in Surah 2, verse 194:

    *{Whoever transgresses against you, retaliate likewise against him, and fear Allah, and know that Allah is with those who fear him.}*

    And also in Surah 22, verse 40:

    *{For had it not been that Allah tests one set of people by means of another, monasteries, churches, synagogues, and masaajed, wherein the name of Allah is mentioned often, would surely have been pulled down. Verily, Allah will help those who help His [cause]. Truly, Allah is All-Strong, Almighty.}*

When God sent His prophet and ordered him to summon the people to His religion, He did not permit him to kill or fight anyone, merely for that reason. This was before the prophet emigrated to Madinah, where there were other different reasons to start jihad. Thereafter, Allah (swt) gave permission to the prophet and Muslims to fight, under specific ethical framework.

I think you need to read more in the Islamic history, along with the Qur’an and prophetic traditions, as I mentioned before. As for your son, I hope he would come back home to you safely. But, I pray that would happen after he has “killed” as little as much possible from the Iraqi civilians.

I also need to draw your attention, dear Rachel, that as much as you feared for your son, as much as the Iraqi mothers feared for their children. It is a sorrow, that someone like your son – who believes in the freedom of the Iraqi people, as you mentioned – has been practicing their killing under the name of “bringing democracy to the nation”. In case you and him haven’t noticed; the dictator is enjoying his freedom… flying away to the Russian lands, while the Iraqi people are moaning their dead!!

Thank you and please, do keep in touch.


Useful Links:

Occupation is not Liberation

Ethical Treatment of POWs

Targeting Reporters