Islam: “Regulation Of Warfare And The Promotion Of Peace”

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DTT: A non-Muslim scholar’s perspective on how Islam regulated warfare and the promotion of peace in its historical context. Dr. Anicee van Engeland, should be commended for the balanced approach in understanding Islam and to give a perspective of how Islam originally was understood in relation to the topic of war and peace.

A brief Biography of Dr. Anicee van Engeland:

“Dr Anicée Van Engeland is a Lecturer in Law. She is an international human rights jurist and a political analyst.”

Dr. Anicee van Engeland

The True Face Of Islam: The Regulation Of Warfare And The Promotion Of Peace

Arguing that Islam is a religion of peace does not mean that it is pacifist: it is not. Although the Quran devotes more than a hundred verses to peace, Islam acknowledges the human reality of warfare and seeks to regulate it. The distinction between civilians and warriors lies at the core of this philosophy, which has been described as an ethic for saving lives. Approaching Islam as a religion of peace and respecting the inner philosophy and the message of the Prophet Muhammad clearly contradicts the interpretations and practices of Jihad surveyed above. Islam is a religion of peace that regulates warfare and sets limitations to it.

Islam As a Religion Of Peace That Regulates Warfare

Extremists too often discard the many peaceful verses in the Quran and Hadith (see Boisard 1988: 5). Hassan al-Banna (1948), the Egyptian founder of the Muslim brotherhood, reminded us that Islam is first a religion of love and peace, of solidarity and social justice. His writings are even more important in today’s world in which Islam is so often misquoted and misused to spread terror and hatred. Peace, freedom (especially freedom of religion), security, equity and social justice lie at the core of Islam (2:190, 2:194).

Many verses in the Quran and Sunnah support this view. According to verse 60:8,

‘God does not forbid you from showing kindness and dealing justly with those who have not fought you about religion and have not driven you out of your homes. God loves just dealers.’

Verse 5:32 states:

‘Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely.’

It is said that the following words were inscribed upon the hilt of the Prophet Muhammed’s sword:

‘Forgive him who wrongs you; join him who cuts you off, do good to him who does evil to you, and speak the truth although it be against yourself’ (Bennett 1998: 60-61).

It is said that the following words were inscribed upon the hilt of Prophet Muhammad’s sword:

‘Forgive him who wrongs you; join him who cuts you off; do good to him who does evil to you, and speak the truth although it be against yourself’ (Bennett 1998: 60-61).

There is also a series of Hadith that insist upon peace and humanity:

‘The Messenger of God said: when God created the creation, God inscribed upon the Throne, ‘My compassion overpowers My wrath’ (Bukhari: bk. 37, no. 6628).

Another hadith reported by Muslim tells the story of prisoners brought to the Prophet Muhammad. Among them was a mother with her child held fast against her chest. The Prophet Muhammad said:

‘Do you think this woman could ever manage to throw her child into the fire?’

The Prophet Muhammad’s companions replied:

‘By God, so far as it lies in her power, she would never throw her child into the fire!’

The Prophet Muhammad then said:

‘God has more compassion for God’s servants than this woman does for her child’ (Muslim: bk. 37, no. 6635).

These values sustain a Jihad of peace, a joined-up effort of the Ummah, the ‘community of Believers’, to live in a fair and stable society in which war, if it must happen, is strictly regulated. The propagation of the peaceful message of Islam is a priority for all Muslims and Islam as a whole. [1]

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Reference:

[1] The Liberal Way of War: Legal Perspectives [Routledge: Taylor & Francis Group, London And New York, Copyright Robert P. Barnidge, Jr 2013] by Dr. Anicee van Engeland, page 248 – 249

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