regarding the behavior of muslims while fighting, the merciful prophet muhammad – peace and blessings be upon him - taught his umma lofty morals and steadfast regulations whose violations entail inhibitive retributions in life and afterlife. (1)
only legal means and honest methods are allowed in jihad in the path of allah. safwan bin assal reported that the prophet – peace and blessings be upon him –told a detachment: “go in the name of allah and in his path; fight those who disbelieve and do not maim the dead, do not betray, do not exceed the limits, and do not kill a baby.” (2)
annas reported that the prophet – peace and blessings be upon him – forbade the killing of animals. (3)
jaber also reported that the prophet – peace and blessings be upon him – forbade torturing animals till death. (4)
handhalah al katib reported that they fought with the prophet – peace and blessings be upon him – and they passed by a killed woman around whom people were gathering. the prophet said sadly: “she was not fighting.” then he ordered a man: “go to khalid bin al walid and tell him not to kill a baby or a wageworker.” (5)
in one of the battles the prophet once – peace and blessings be upon him – said disapprovingly to some of his companions:
“woe unto some of you who were obsessed today with killing to the extent of killing babies!”
“o, prophet, they are the sons of the disbelievers,” said one man.
“the best among you were sons of disbelievers,” said the prophet. “do not kill babies nor children. every one is born on fitra until he starts to speak and then his parents make him a jew or a christian.” (6)
yahia bin said reported that abu bakr sent an army to syria and while he was walking with yazeed bin abi sufian, a leader in the army, he told him:
“you will find some persons who claim they dedicated themselves to the worship of allah, so let them alone.”
he also advised him:
“i will advise you with ten things: do not kill a woman or a boy or an aged man; do not cut a fruitful tree and do not demolish an inhabited place; do not sterilize an ewe or kill a camel except for eating; do not burn bees (or disperse them in another narration) or drown them; do not steal spoils of war and do not be a coward in front of the enemy (7).”
omar bin al khattab told the fighters: “fear allah and do not kill farmers unless they fight you.” (8)
these are just a few texts from the islamic constitution of fighting that was set by the prophet – peace and blessings be upon him – and that contain the moral bases of war which can be summarized as follows: (9)
1) sincerity and devotion for the real aims of war and giving up deceit, betrayal, treason, deception, and revenge.
2) protecting environment and avoiding making mischief on earth by unnecessarily burning trees and killing animals.
3) not killing those who do not fight such as women, boys, and the elderly.
4) religious tolerance and respecting others’ sacred places by not killing priests or monks unless they fight or help those fighting or destroying their churches or synagogues.
1) angogho ambki thumb: the most magnificent civilized values in the life of the best human being, p. 40 passim.
2) narrated by ibn majah (2875) and tabrani in al mujam al kabir vol 8, p. 70. al albani corrected it in the correct and weak hadiths of ibn majah.
3) sahih, narrated by al bukhari (5089) and muslim (3616).
4) sahih, narrated by muslim (3620).
5) hasan, narrated by ibn majah (2842) and al- hakim (2/122). it is in the series of sahih hadiths under no. (701).
6) sahih, narrated by ahmad (3/435) and ad darami (2/223). it is in the series of sahih hadiths under no. (402).
7) malik (858), ibn abi shaibah vol. 7 p. 645, and abdul razzaq (9375).
8) baihaqi’s knowing traditions and narrations (5645).
9) angogho ambki thumb: the most magnificent civilized values in the life of the best human being, p. 40 and after.