COMMON SENSE On Mohammed and the Etiquette of War [Archives:2000/20/Focus]
By: Hassan Al-Haifi
The Prophet Mohammed (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was the final messenger of Allah, the Al-Mighty and was sent, as He more than once cited in the Holy Koran, as “mercy for all the universe”. That was the essence of the mission entrusted to the most phenomenal missionary of all times. The then unprecedented human connotations that capped the teachings of Mohammed (P) were not just introduced to the world by sermons and speeches to his followers and congregations, but were also modeled in his deeds and practices, which Moslems are obliged to take note of and to model their own behavior accordingly.
The early days of the appearance of Islam were without a doubt living manifestations of the patience and discipline that Moslems are expected to have, in the wake of severe persecution and arrogant intolerance, which to this day remain unparalleled in the struggle for human rights and tolerance Ð the right to worship and have faith in God in the manner and way that an individual freely chooses. For the final messenger of Allah and his early disciples had adopted and sought to propagate, peacefully, a creed that was far too righteous for the evil regime that existed then in Mecca and for that matter throughout the world. It was a world of idol worship and misconceptions about God’s true intentions for His creation on Earth. It was a dog-eat-dog world, where the meek had no hope for appealing their sorry plight, and human beings were treated like dogs, if they did not conform to the form of constituencies of the prevailing regimes wherever they lived. Even the “civilized world” at the time (Sixth and Early Seventh Century AD), was far from anywhere being close to the righteous world God perceived for humanity. One of the leading powers of the times sought spiritual inspiration by the worship of fire, as the official state religion. Another had corrupted the monotheism ordained by over twenty five prophets and messengers, which were sent by the Al-Mighty to provide the right guidance for spiritual salvation and guidance, by breaking-up the Divine into a happy nuclear family of three, claiming themselves to be as being an extension of this nuclear family Ð the product of various clerical conferences and conventions from the time that Jesus Christ had sought to underline that there is only one God and that man was no more than a creation of the Divine Genius, just like the Earth and the stars and all that surrounded them are. There is no clear definition of the distinctive traits of the role and the powers allotted to each member of this fabricated concoction of the Divine, which was promoted by such conspicuous perception of the Divine. There is no logical explanation as to why the Al-Mighty would have need of a social order similar to that He Himself has set forth for the creatures He has created. Yet these are also “people of the Book”, as Islam looks upon them and orders us to respect, leaving God to judge on the wisdom of their beliefs later on, and confident that the simple logic and clear explanations that the Koran provides for the Ultimate Being are far more than sufficient to persuade any human – with the minutest semblance of intelligence – that here is a more comprehensive and rational discernment that sheds light on the nature of the Omnipotent and Supreme Ruler of the Universe, who is unequalled or unmatched in power and esteem and the power to create and destroy, as He sees fit. Surely, sensible theologians can find common grounds for belief along these perceptions, if they fully grasp the implications to life, as God has clearly defined them, and set forth the proper ordinances to control the universal order that the world should follow accordingly for the achievement of true social justice and equity in human welfare – the real basis for world peace. Nevertheless, alas, men will be men, and for the majority, the devil continues to make greater headway than common sense. Perhaps God’s wisdom has made it so, lest men will find their own path to righteousness and honest interactions between themselves and with the universe at large: “There is no compulsion in religion” (The Holy Koran, Surah IV). The Path is open and free for all to tread on if God sheds enlightenment on whom he chooses from his bidpedded creation, by those who seek such enlightenment in the signs made available everywhere for the open and perceptive minds to absorb and interpret accordingly. This is where the magnificence of Islam comes in and the exhilaration provided to the mind is unequalled by any other creed. The power has made Islam the fastest spreading religion in the world Ð peacefully.
Reflecting back on the Prophet Mohammed’s life and that of his early disciples and followers, we find the significance of the emphasis on the use of peaceful means to make the Message clear. Mohammed (P) and his early followers for the first thirteen years of the delivery of the creed, despite the torture and the severe conditions they were subjected to by the pagan mercantile regime that prevailed in their domain, kept their hands tied as they were slapped, whipped, burned, besieged and crucified Ð just to name an inkling of the gruesome fate they had to endure for simply saying that God is One! It is a continuous human tragedy that good turns into a disrespectable status in the mundane fabric of society! Only after the early Moslems have left the city of Mecca, after finding more receptive ears to the more refined spiritual and mundane social order that Mohammed was trying to exalt among his clan and fellow constituents of the powerful tribe of Qureish Ð who relished in their maintenance of a complex mythical hierarchy of gods and semi-spiritual super beings that reached over 300 different manifestations, symbolized by statues and idols, as far as the human imagination can create! It was the people of Yathrib who came and told Mohammed: “Come, take refuge with all your followers in our midst. We shall defend you and your followers and you shall remain as our guide and ruler”.
Yet with this new power gained and the ability to avenge for all the mistreatment wrought upon these early Moslems, if they so desired, and the powerful military minded elements that by then Islam had embraced, the patient and persevering Prophet of Allah would never let human emotions and passions for revenge overtake him. These were the lines of authority that only could be crossed by Heavenly decrees. Only after three years of finding peace and refuge in the City of Medina (as the city of Yathrib became named, aptly as the City of the Prophet since then), and after having instilled some of the institutional and social frameworks that would govern Moslem society, was the permission given to Moslems to go to war for the defense of their faith and their rights. However, alas, when this decree came, would it not be usual that such a significant change in policy would have to have clear guidelines on how Moslems are to engage in war, as well? After all Islam is the comprehensive order that properly regulates human life in keeping with the Divine rulings on all aspects of human behavior, even if it was in advocacy of the Message. Sure enough, Moslems were hit upon with clear guidelines on how to wage war. In all these guidelines, the important elements one can discern is that, Moslems can and should engage in war, only in self-defense and protection. On the other hand, there is a very clear code of honor that must be adhered to as such. Civilians, unarmed people and even trees were to be spared any harm. There was no senseless killings or persecutions permitted. Prisoners were to be treated more like guests. More important and relevant to the times, such tactics as kidnappings, mass civilian killings and other horrendous crimes, now being inflicted under the banner of no other than the religion of peace, are absolutely forbidden and render their practitioners as no better than the worst enemies of Islam!
For true believers in Islam, all the fanatical misdeeds of overzealous “fighters” or “mujahideen” that have caught the spotlight of an international media, which is controlled by the true enemies of Islam tend to portray a very unhealthy unjust image of Islam and surely would put its adherents in the folds of the enemies of Allah, since they tend to forget that in all their wars and battles in self-defense, the Prophet Mohammed and his true faithful followers never kidnapped anyone; never killed or maimed innocent civilians, even of other faith, let alone their own brethren and never imposed the religion on anyone. That is a fact that history gives clear testimony too. That is the creed of Allah Ð that is Islam. Any deviation from these sound and righteous military policies are of no service to Islam and to their ignorant practitioners who will surely be damned in hell just as any other enemies of Islam, no matter how long their beards are and no matter how much they prostrate per day! Islam is more substance than form. Islam is a discipline and a humanitarian message. Any doubts about that only raise serious doubts about those who harbor anything to the contrary.