The Attitude of Sharî'ah
Towards its Opponents And the Principles of its Relation to them
It is quite certain, following the unanimity of the 'Ummah in the past
and at present, that the call to Allah is a universal one. Allah Almighty
âAnd in no way have We sent you except as a
mercy to the worldsâ (Al-Anbiyââ: 107) and says,
âO you mankind, the Messenger has already come to you with the truth from
your Lord; so believe; most charitable is it for youâ (An-Nisââ:
170) and says âSay O you mankind, surely I
am the Messenger of Allah to you altogetherâ
And in an authentic Hadîth, Jâbir May Allah be satisified with
him (m.A.b.s.w.h.) reported that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said, âI
have been given five (traits)
none of the messengers before me was givenâ and
mentioned among them â A Prophet used to be
sent to his people, but I have been sent to mankind as a wholeâ
So, the Messenger Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) abrogated all the preceding
Divine messages and man-made creeds, has hegemony over them, and manifests
the eternity of Islam. That is, it is the final stage of Allah's religion,
and His final word to mankind; therefore, it addresses all human beings
as obligatory, and they all have to respond to its teachings. It is the
religion of the original innateness upon which Allah originated all mankind,
and the course for a virtuous life that aims at man's sublimity, mentally,
emotionally, and morally.
This Sharî'ah came to encompass life as a whole, and to address the
Jinn as well, and call them to it. So, it is neither local nor racist,
but universal. Accordingly, it realistically acknowledges the opponents'
And as long as this is their nature, its relationship to adherents of other
creeds is based on calling them and guiding them with evidence and explanation
by logic and proof. It, meanwhile, considers the opponents as misguided
and following the untruth; so, Allah Almighty says, âThat
is because Allah â He is The Truth, and whatever they invoke, apart from
Him, is the untruthâ (Al-Hajj: 62)
Our scholars fall into two groups with regard to conveying this call to
The first group, which comprises the majority
of early scholars, holds that Muslims should prepare power, mobilize armies,
head towards the opponentsâ countries, and, before fighting them, offer
them a choice between embracing Islam, paying the Jizyah (head-tax), if
they were entitled to paying it, or fighting.
They also see that âwarâ is the principal relationship between Islam and
infidelity, and that âpeaceâ is an exceptional case and interim circumstances.
The reason behind war is indefinitely pursuing Allah's saying: âAnd
fight them until there is no temptation, and the religion is for Allah.â
193); and His saying, âThen kill the associators
wherever you find themâ; and âAnd fight the associators as a whole as they
fight you as a whole.â (At-Tawbah: 5 and 36, respectively)
They interpreted the word âtemptationâ in the first Verse by âinfidelityâ
saying that it means âfight them until there is no association, and untrue
religions get eradicated so that Islam alone remainsâ.
They also quoted as evidence the saying of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.): âI have
been ordered to fight people until they witness that there is no god but
Allah, and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allahâ.
The other group comprises the majority of contemporary researchers and
a few early scholars. They maintain that âpeaceâ is the principal relationship
with non-Muslims, and that âwarâ is an exceptional and interim matter.
They say that the State must prepare and qualify the callers to Allah,
send them to non-Muslim countries to propagate the blessings of Allah there,
and equip them with all that is required for working in the field of calling
to Allah, bearing in mind to base their relationship with non-Muslims on
safety and peace not on war and fighting, unless non-Muslims tried to afflict
the callers to Allah to tempt them away from their religion, and bar them
from the way to calling to Allah. Then, they must be fought, since tempting
someone away from his religion is an assault on the most sacred thing in
human life, and hence, is deemed worse than killing, as the chances should
be given to them to explain to the public what they are called to.
It is not permissible to start fighting non-Muslims, except in case that
they attacked the religion, the Muslim State, breached treaties, or for
supporting persecuted Muslims.
War is nothing but a tool for removing barriers that block people from
listening to the call to Allah, strive to contain the human conscience,
and claim Allahâs right of Lordship, and for establishing Allah's Authority,
Word, and Justice on earth. War, then, is only a palisade for the concept
of truth, justice, non-transgressing, and non-aggression, which the Qur'ân
repeats quite often.
Sayyid Qutb, may Allah's mercy be upon him, explains Allah's saying:
the religion is for Allahâ as âEstablishing Allah's religion on earth,
so that nothing may deter whoever wants to embrace it, and he may never
fear from any power on earth that may bar him from reaching it, responding
to it, or remaining an adherent of it. It is a Jihâd for protecting
the Faith from blockade and keeping it from temptationâ.
They quoted the following as evidence:
From the Qur'ân: Allah's saying: âAnd fight
in the way of Allah the ones who fought you, but do not transgressâ,
and âThere is no compulsion in religionâ
(Al-Baqarah: 190 and 256, respectively). These Verses show that compulsion
and repression are not amongst the ways of calling to the Religion, as
it is only based on heartily belief, which can only be attained by persuasion
not by the sword. They also quote as evidence Allah's saying:
âAnd in any case they are bent on peace, then be bent on it.â (Al-'Anfâl:
They also say that the authentic Biography of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) as
well as his Caliphs, who followed his guidance, show that they only fought
those who initiated aggression against Islam, or breached a treaty with
The first group replied saying that the âVerse of the swordâ has abrogated
this evidence, and that it generally applies to all non-Muslims and all
lands except for what has been specified by the Qur'ân and Sunnah.
In fact scholars of Sharîâah and Qur'ân interpretation have
vast differences of opinion regarding abrogation, though they are unanimous
that âabrogation can only be accepted by evidenceâ. So, the whole issue
is a matter of difference of opinion, and the decisive word can only be
elicited from the biography of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and his guidance
Muhammad 'Azzah Darûzah (may Allah's mercy be upon him) says,
âIt is certain that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) did not fight but the transgressing
enemies, and those who breached the treatiesâ.
Also, Muhammad 'Abû-Zahrah, (may Allah's mercy be upon him)
says, â Islam has never pulled out a sword on a truth seeker, or transgressed
against anyone. But there was brutal assault, and there were kings who
exhausted their subjects, strained them, prevented them from approaching
the light of truth, and killed those who believed in the Truth they realized
and the Religion they were satisfied with. So, the law of cooperation necessitated
that oppression should be stopped, and all afflicted people should be freed
from slavery and humiliation. Therefore, war was launched, since keeping
quiet in these circumstances contradicts cooperation, and fair war is true
cooperation, as it bars temptation in religionâ.
I am of the opinion that this statement is away from being wrong. Anyone
who looks at and investigates the Prophetâs Biography becomes quite certain
of this saying, as the associators of Quraysh were the most bitter in enmity
to Muhammad (p.b.u.h.). They left no means or method that may weaken
or liquidate him and his call without using it. They started with accusing
him of telling lies and oppressed him and his followers in Makkah, and
ended up with the Battle of Al-'Ahzâb (The Allied Parties)
for which Quraysh gathered all that which they could, together with all
their allies of Arab tribes, instigated by the enemies of Allah, the Jews
of Banû Qurayzah, to eradicate this Truth that turned everything
upside down, and changed the established system of society. After these
allies have been driven away from Al-Madînah, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.)
said, âNow we can invade them, while they cannot,
and we can march to themâ. Why?
To repulse transgression and injustice of those who never stopped terrorizing
Muslims, forcing them to abandon their religion in all ways of torture,
driving them out of their houses, and confiscating their riches.
As to the other Arab tribes, they were divided as to alliance with the
Romans or with the Persians. They also were a grave threat to the Muslims,
as they were instigated by their masters (The Romans and Persians).
Read what 'Umar (m.A.b.s.w.h.) said âI had a friend from Al-'Ansâr
(Supporters), so, when he went away I told him what happened during his
absence, and he did the same to me when I was absent. We feared a king
from Ghassân, who, we were told, wanted to march to fight us, so,
we were really afraid of himâ.
As for the Persians and Romans, they used to turn their allies against
any power or creed that unites the people anew, or competes with them in
the area under their alliance, in order that they may remain the only dominating
power. Hercules used to apprehend and kill the Arabs of the Levant who
embraced Islam, and Caesar sent someone to bring him the head of the Truthful
Messenger when he sent him a message to call him to Islam, and to remove
the shades covering the minds and conscience of his subjects. Moreover,
they represented a practical threat to the Islamic State.
These crimes are quite enough to motivate the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and his
Caliphs after him to get rid of these oppressive powers, which severely
opposed the Islamic call and its followers, when the Muslims attained the
power that enabled them to topple the thrones of the Persians and Romans.
So, war in Islam is not absolutely offensive, aiming at destroying the
non-Muslim lands, whether they were peaceful or aggressive, since Allah
Almighty, according to Ibn As-Salâh has not wanted the non-Muslims
to be eradicated, and neither did He create them to be killed. Nor is it
absolutely defensive, waiting for those who come to invade the Muslim lands,
then rise to repulse them after the initiative move has been taken by the
invaders. But, it is both offensive in the sense that it defends Islam,
its call, and its followers, and defensive in the sense that it attacks
those who oppose its call, pursuing what is being dictated by the situation,
without transgression or aggression.
The author of The Relationship Between the Muslim Nation and Other Nations
âThe relationship holding between Muslims and non-Muslims is based on the
creed, taking the form of an integrated formula to face all possibilities
by using the appropriate elements of this formula, bearing in mind that
using any of them is determined by the interest of the Islamic call. So,
it is senseless to describe it as offensive or defensive, but it is properly
described as an element of the formula employed by the Islamic call for
facing different possibilities and circumstancesâ.
I wish that contemporary writer who wrote about the motivations of Jihâd
and deemed it offensive, and badly insulted those who opposed him â in
a way that drove him out of the circle of the unprejudiced and committed
scholars â and objected to them that they have not considered the interpretations
of the righteous ancestors concerning the Verses of fighting and its rulings,
I wish that he read the interpretation of At-Tabarî, the master of
all following interpreters, which is based on authentic, transmitted tradition,
and prior to the interpretations of Inb-Kathîr, Ash-Shawkânî,
and others, which were used as references by those who said that Jihâd
is offensive in every sense of the word.