4 years ago
Islam is a religion of love, peace and tolerance even with enemies. God says in the Holy Quran what means:
Though war in Islam was always to defend the Islamic state, there was ethics that should be followed with the prisoners and even with combatants, this ethics was stressed by the Holy Quran and detailed by the prophet and followed by the rightly -guided caliphs.
Concerning the rules of combat as outlined in Islam, the following points are important to note:
The Holy Quran holds hostilities so abhorrent in time of peace and war
Allah says in the Qur'an what means:
The above permission to fight clearly lays down the following conditions:
(1) Never commit aggression; fighting is allowed only for self-defense.
(2) Fighting must never be against non-combatants or non-fighting personnel.
Prophet Muhammad used to instruct his followers during battles and tell them not to be embittered or inclined to commit treachery but even he was keen to put the Islamic war ethic into effect. He asked them to spare non-combatants, particularly children and hermits.
Caliph Abu Bakr, being taught at the prophet's hands, gave the following instructions to the commander who led the campaign to Syria:
Justice is highly valued in Islam and no Muslim is allowed to violate it even in times of war against their bitterest enemies. From the early days of Islam, medical assistance was available to all irrespective of religion or creed and was even given to the enemies. The medical profession itself was specially honored in Islam, and it was the duty of the Muslims to offer help in this regard to all.
A well-known example is that of Salahuddin Ayyubi (Saladin), who gave medical help to his opponent Richard the Lion-Hearted of England, who was seriously ill during the Crusades. He sent his own doctor and personally supervised Richard's treatment until he became well. This is in contrast with the behavior of the invading crusaders. When they entered Jerusalem on July 15, 1099, they slaughtered seventy thousand Muslims, including women, children, and the elderly: "They broke children's skulls by knocking them against the wall, threw babies from roof tops, roasted men over fires and cut open women's bellies to see if they had swallowed any gold."
This description was given by Edward Gibbon, the famous historian; and in modern warfare, this example is paralleled by the atrocious behavior of the Serb army in Bosnia, to quote just one instance.
For the first time in the history of warfare, it was Islam that adopted an attitude of mercy and caring for the captured enemy. Unprecedented by previous legal systems, and long before the Geneva Convention, Islam set the rule that the captive is to be sheltered by his captivity and the wounded by his injury. Islam made it obligatory to feed prisoners.
Ibn Umayr, one of the captives of Muslims in the Battle of Badr recalled: "Whenever I sat with my captors for lunch or dinner, they would offer me bread and themselves [eat] the dates, in view of the Prophet's recommendation in our favor." Please note that in that desert situation, bread was a more luxurious item of food than dates.
Islam clearly prohibits subjecting captives to ill treatment by denying them food, drink, or clothing. According to Islamic law, the captive belongs to the state and not to his captor. The ruler has the ultimate option, as he sees fit, to grant him freedom immediately or at a later time, as he sees fit.
Sometimes enemy prisoners were exchanged for Muslim prisoners held in enemy hands. An acceptable ransom for release was for the prisoner to teach ten Muslim children to read and write. Combatants were set free upon their word of honor not to fight again; and if they broke their promise and were caught again, they might be severely dealt with.
Islam never fought civilian populations, but only fought despotic rulers. Islamic war was one of liberation and not one of coercion. The liberated people had the freedom to choose their religion, and Muslims often fought to ensure this freedom.