"The wealth and blood of a non-Muslim are halal for a Muslim.” How should we understand this statement? Does it not contradict with the following verse: "if any one slew a person…, it would be as if he slew the whole people"?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The wealth and blood of a Muslim are not halal for a Muslim; similarly, the wealth and blood of a non-Muslim are not halal for a Muslim. As a matter of fact, the Prophet (pbuh) states the following:

“If a person maltreats a dhimmi, I am his enemy." (al-Hindi, Kanzul-Ummal, IV / 618; al-Jamius-Saghir, I / 1210)

The statement "The wealth and blood of a non-Muslim are halal for a Muslim" is valid about the non-Muslims that fight against Muslims.

It is clearly forbidden in other hadiths to kill non-Muslim women and old people that are too weak to fight during wars.

Ibn Umar narrates:  

"A woman was found dead in one of the battles that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) took part. Thereupon, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) prohibited killing women and children." (1)

There are different narrations prohibiting killing women and children. When the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) saw a woman who had been killed, he reminded the Muslims of the prohibition. According to a narration Ibn Hajar includes in his explanation, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) saw a woman who had been killed in Taif and asked, 

"Did I not prohibit killing women? Who killed this woman?"

Somebody stepped forward and said,

"O Messenger of Allah! I did. I placed her on the back of my mount but she tried to throw me down and kill me. Then, I killed her."

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) ordered the woman to be buried.

Acting upon the sensitivity of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) regarding the issue, Imam Malik and Awzai arrive at the following decision:

"It is not permissible to kill women and children in wars by any means. Even if the unbelievers use women and children as a shield and take shelter behind them in a war or if they enter a castle or embark a ship and use women and children as a shield, it is not permissible to shoot them with the intention of killing them or to burn their shelter."

Imam Shafii and Kufis (Hanafi scholars) state the following:

"It is permissible to kill female warriors."

Ibn Habib, a Maliki scholar, says,

"It is not permissible to kill a woman just because she takes part in a war; she can be killed if she kills or tries to kill a Muslim." The same thing is valid for a boy who is a murahiq (who is close to the age of puberty).

According to what Ibn Battal reports, all scholars agree that it is not permissible to attempt to kill women and children at war. The reason for women is that "they are weak" and the reason for children is that "their parents made them unbelievers". They add the following: "It is possible to benefit from both of them."

According to the explanations above, it is not permissible to kill non-Muslim children and women at war; it is forbidden.

(1) see Bukhari, Jihad 147, 148; Muslim, Jihad 24, (1744); Muwatta 3, (2, 447); Tirmidhi, Jihad 19, (1569); Abu Dawud, Jihad 34, (1667); Ibn Majah, 30, (2841)

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