On what practices is Islamic law of war based?

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On what practices is Islamic law of war based?
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Dear Brother / Sister,

It is useful to know the following views and practices of the Prophet about the topic:

The Prophet was sent as mercy for all creatures (al-Anbiya, 21/107). Islam, which Allah sent with him, means peace. Displaying the Prophet as a supporter of war is incompatible with reality.

Firstly, it should be stated that both in Mecca and Medina periods, our Prophet invited people to Islam through advice, evidence, persuasion and reciting the Qur’an.

So, the community around him was not formed by the people gathered by force; in contrast, it was formed by the people who chose Islam with their own freewill as the result of being invited to Allah through soft words and persuasion.

In fact, Hz. Muhammad, the Prophet of peace, love and mercy, did not like war and fight. He did not react in the same way to those who treated him and Muslims in a hostile manner, tormented them with violence during the Mecca period; and he did not resort to take vengeance on them.

The Prophet Muhammad and believers were always advised to be patient in the verses of the Qur’an revealed during the Mecca period. When believers complained about the torments they were exposed to, the Prophet advised them to be patient and firm by saying “Be patient, I have not been ordered to fight”.

In the Qur’an, peace is essential in relationships with other communities. The Qur’an orders all believers to “enter into peace all together” (al-Baqara, 2/208). If others incline towards peace, the Prophet is also asked to incline to peace (al-Anfal, 8/61).

Another indication showing that  the Prophet’s purpose is peace is his expressions he uttered through various means that peace will be dominant in the neighborhood. Thus, the following statement he made to Adiy bin Khatim, who came Medina and became a Muslim, is very meaningful; “I swear by Allah that you will soon hear that a woman coming from Qadisiyyah on her camel to visit the Kaaba on her own will not feel any fear except for the fear of Allah”.

In the Mecca period, our Prophet did not introduce Islam with weapons to the people out of this city, and did not spread it using force. In contrast, Muslims  were attacked by swords because they accepted Islam. After the Hegira, instead of tolerance and submission, they were allowed and even ordered to fight.

Reasons for the permission to fight and the legitimacy of jihad can be summarized as follows:

a) Legitimate self-defense: The leading reason for war is to enable Muslims to protect their lives, properties and honor.

The more the Muslims tolerated the unbelievers in Mecca the more they increased their oppression and cruelties. This aggression continued after the Hegira, too. Abu Sufyan and Ubay bin Khalaf wanted Ansar to withdraw from between their tribe and Muhammad by sending them a letter; otherwise, they declared that they would fight them. Because Ansar rejected this, they sent the same letters to the Jews and hypocrites of the Quraysh. Abu Sufyan began to attack Medina with small troops.

As a matter of fact, eight months after the Hegira, they proceeded to the place named Batn ar-Rabigh with a troop of two hundred people. This showed that the polytheists of Mecca did not appreciate goodness, tolerance and politeness and that their attacks could not be prevented by tolerance.

It was inevitable to resort to force against force and respond to power with power. With the revelation of the verses allowing jihad, Muslims were enabled to fight to protect their lives and properties. In these verses, it is stated that the believers were fought, exposed to persecution, and driven out of their homeland unjustly just because they believed in Allah and that they were allowed to fight because of these reasons.

b) Securing the call to Islam: It was necessary for Islam, which was sent by Allah for all mankind, to spread. It could have been an obstacle for the spreading of Islam not to give the right of defense to those who became Muslims with their freewill and who were attacked. If Muslim had been compelled to submit to the unbelievers who prevented the call to Islam with weapons, other people who noticed this situation would have avoided to accept a religion that did not give the right of defense to them against attacks.

c) Securing human rights and freedom of religion: As the Prophet Muhammad did not force people to enter Islam, nobody has the right to convert those who became Muslims with their freewill to their previous beliefs. Forcing people in this point means violating human rights, and depriving people of their freedom of religion.

d) To punish those who spoil treaties, and traitors: The wars made against Jews can be regarded as part of the policy of punishing those who break the oath. Jews in Medina violated the treaty which they signed with the Prophet.

Some of them collaborated with unbelievers, some of them even tried to assassinate the Prophet. The tribe of Qaynuqa and Sons of Nadir accepted to leave Medina. They could have been executed unquestioningly, but the Prophet did not do so.

As for the warriors of Sons of Qurayza, they committed war crime against the Muslims during the Battle of Khandaq; so, they were executed according to the judgment of the judge who was chosen by them.

e) Protecting the Islamic land against the attacks of foreigners: When the universal call to Islam reached the boundaries of the Arabian Peninsula, both Islam and Muslims would have been harmed if it had not been protected against the attacks of the super powers of the world at that time to the Islamic land.

As a matter of fact, when Islam spread to every part of the Arabian Peninsula, Byzantine and Sasanian Empires that did not pay attention to Muslims before that time planned attacks to the Islamic regions.

Tabuk and Muta Wars happened in order to prevent such attacks (İbrahim Sarıçam, Hz. Muhammed ve Evrensel Mesajı, 147, ff).

Conquest and wars throughout the history of Islam generally happened  within the framework of these principles.

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