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  3. War in Islam… Causes and Objectives

War in Islam… Causes and Objectives

Article translated to : العربية Español

the truth of fighting in islam

as we have known before, peace is the origin in islam. the prophet (pbuh) taught and guided his companions and said to them: “do not wish to meet the enemy and ask allah soundness (by avoiding war)”[1].

according to his ethics-based education derived from the holy quran and the prophet’s sunnah, the muslim hates killing and blood. therefore, the muslim does not initiate fighting with anybody. rather, he seeks all means to avoid fighting and bloodshed. this is well-evidenced in several quranic verses. the permission of fighting was only made after muslims faced war staged by the others. at that time, it was imperative to defend self and religion. if muslims did not fight in that case, this would have been a form of cowardice and weak determination. allah, be exalted he, says: {to those against whom war is made, permission is given (to fight), because they are wronged;- and verily, allah is most powerful for their aid;- (they are) those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right,- (for no cause) except that they say, "our lord is allah}[al-hajj:39-40]. the justification of fighting is clear in the verse: muslims were wronged and expelled from their homes for no cause.

allah also says: {fight in the cause of allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for allah loveth not transgressors.}[al-baqarah:190]. al-qurtuby said: this verse is the first verse revealed in the order to fight. it is agreed that fighting was banned before emigration by the quranic verse: {repel (evil) with what is better}[fussilat:34]and the verse: {…but forgive them, and overlook (their misdeeds)}[al-ma’eda:13]. in addition, there are other verses revealed in mecca. when the prophet immigrated to medina, the permission of fighting was revealed[2].

it is noticed that the order of fighting was meant to fight only who starts fighting, not peace-lover. this was clearly stressed in the verse: {do not transgress limits}and then warning believers: {for allah loveth not transgressors.}. allah, exalted be he, does not love transgression even if against non-muslims. this includes limitation of fighting, which implies mercy for the humanity.

allah, to whom be ascribed all perfection and majesty, says: {…and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together}[al-tawbah:36]. fighting in this verse is restricted. when they are all united, it is a must for us to be united[3]. the cause of fighting pagans all together is that they fight muslims all together. therefore, it is impermissible for muslim to fight whoever does not fight him except under clear cause, including stealing, plunder, usurpation of muslims’ rights, or injustice they did to anybody – and muslims want to end such injustice – or because pagans prevent muslims from promulgating their religion or informing the other of their faith.

similar to the previous verse, allah also says: {will ye not fight people who violated their oaths, plotted to expel the messenger, and took the aggressive by being the first (to assault) you? do ye fear them? nay, it is allah whom ye should more justly fear, if ye believe!}[al-tawbah:13]. the people who violated their oaths were mecca infidels. they caused the prophet to leave. it was said: they caused the prophet to get out of medina to fight the people of mecca for breaching oaths. al-hassan said: {being the first}to start fighting and violate covenants. they helped bani bakr against khuzaah. it was interpreted: they were the first to start fighting in the day of badr because the prophet got prepared for taking al-ir (train of beasts of burden) and when they protected their ir, they could have gone, but they insisted on reaching badr (a place about 150 km to the south of al medina where the first great battle in islamic history took place) and drink wine there. it was also interpreted that they prevented the prophet from performing hajj and umra [lesser pilgrimage]and tawaf (circumambulation around the ka`bah)[4]. regardless the time of the start, the cause of muslims is clear: their enemies started fighting.

these are the causes and motives behind muslims’ engagement in war. the reality of muslims during the eras of “the well-directed” caliphs evidenced that; in their conquests, muslims did not fight or kill all pagans who faced them. rather, they fought only those who fought them from among the army of conquered country, leaving other pagans embracing their own religions.

as we see, such causes and motives are denied only by unjust and biased people. they include replying to aggression, defending self, people, homeland and religion, as well as securing religion and belief for believers, whom disbelievers try to make abandon their religion. they also include protecting the islamic faith until it reaches all people and finally punishing those who breach covenants[5]. who could deny such causes and objectives of war?





[1]al-bukhary, book of jihad and marching, the chapter of “if the prophet (pbuh) did not fight at the beginning of the day…” (2804), sahih muslim: book of jihad and marching, the chapter of “dislike of wishing to meet the enemy and order to be patient at meeting”,  (1742)

[2]see al-qurtuby: al-jamea li’ahkam al-quran [the collection of the instructions of quran], 1/718.

[3]- see al-qurtuby: al-jamea li’ahkam al-quran [the collection of the instructions of quran], 4/474

[4]see al-qurtuby: al-jamea li’ahkam al-quran [the collection of the instructions of quran], 4/434.

[5]anwar al-gindy: with what muslims achieve victory?, pp57-62.

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