The Bible approves killing and capturing men, women and children
By Editorial Staff
Both divine messages of Jesus Christ and Prophet Muhammad came after humanity on earth had been thousands, tens of thousands or, maybe, hundreds of thousands years old.
Throughout those years, previous divine messages were sent down to guide people the straight path. However, in the course of time, the sole straight path was substituted by several crooked, twisted ways and the moderate way of life was changed into an animalistic, barbaric one. Such a savage shift was most reflected in war as the apex of the human conflict.
Thus, the human conflicts, especially wars, marked hideous, inhuman practices, like killing, plunder, spoil, tribute, capture and other perverse practices centuries before the birth of Jesus and Muhammad.
So, neither the so-called “Christianity” nor the final message of Islam brought by Prophet Muhammad introduced killing, plunder, spoil, tribute or capture simply because such practices preceded those two faiths.
However, are the heavenly messages not supposed to refine the human practices, behaviors and traditions?
Did Christianity and Islam manage to do that, especially when it comes to the war practices which were prevalent when they came? Or did they follow or even aggravate such practices?
Let’s seek the truth about that in the Christian scriptures and ancient history and the Islamic scriptures.
Killing, Plunder, Spoil, Tribute and Capture in Christianity
Despite the prohibition of killing and enslavement in Christianity, we notice that Christianity approves killing, plunder, spoil, tribute and capture according to the Bible, including the Old Testament and the New Testament, as well as the history of early Christianity.
Accordingly, Christianity has not refined the war practices. It rather followed such practices and even added to their barbarism and savagery.
The Old Testament
Killing, Plunder, Spoil and Capture in the Old Testament
The Old Testament approves killing men, capturing women and children as well as plunder, burning and destruction. For example, we read:
“And they warred against the Midianites, as the Lord commanded Moses; and they slew all the males. And they slew the kings of Midian besides the rest of those who were slain, namely: Evi, and Rekem, and Zur, and Hur, and Reba, five kings of Midian. Balaam also the son of Beor they slew with the sword. And the children of Israel took all the women of Midian captive, and their little ones, and took the spoil of all their cattle and all their flocks and all their goods. And they burned all their cities wherein they dwelt and all their goodly strongholds with fire. And they took all the spoil and all the prey, both of men and of beasts. And they brought the captives and the prey and the spoil unto Moses and Eleazar the priest, and unto the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the camp at the plains of Moab, which are by the Jordan near Jericho.” (Numbers 31:7-12)
Killing Captives in the Old Testament
Not only does the Old Testament approve capturing women and children, but it also approves killing them and men, not to mention plunder, burning, destruction and mutilation. For example, we read:
“When Israel had finished killing all the men of Ai in the fields and in the wilderness where they had chased them, and when every one of them had been put to the sword, all the Israelites returned to Ai and killed those who were in it. Twelve thousand men and women fell that day—all the people of Ai. For Joshua did not draw back the hand that held out his javelin until he had destroyed all who lived in Ai. But Israel did carry off for themselves the livestock and plunder of this city, as the Lord had instructed Joshua. So Joshua burned Ai and made it a permanent heap of ruins, a desolate place to this day. He impaled the body of the king of Ai on a pole and left it there until evening. At sunset, Joshua ordered them to take the body from the pole and throw it down at the entrance of the city gate. And they raised a large pile of rocks over it, which remains to this day.” (Joshua 8:24-29)
About the approval of killing captives, we read in the Old Testament: “If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me. I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh; and that with the blood of the slain and of the captives, from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy.” (Deuteronomy 32:41-42)
Moreover, the Old Testament orders killing men, women and children even if they are still babies, not to mention cows, sheep, camels and donkeys. For example, we read:
“Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.” (1 Samuel 15:3)
Tribute and Enslavement in the Old Testament
When the Old Testament does not order massacring other peoples, it rather commands the Children of Israel to enslave them and put them to tribute. For example, we read:
“And they drove not out the Canaanites who dwelt in Gezer, but the Canaanites dwell among the Ephraimites unto this day and serve under tribute.” (Joshua 16:10)
We also read: “Yet it came to pass, when the children of Israel waxed strong, that they put the Canaanites to tribute, but did not utterly drive them out.” (Joshua 17:13)
We further read: “When you advance to a city to fight against it, you shall [first] offer it terms of peace. If that city accepts your terms of peace and opens its gates to you, then all the people who are found in it shall become your forced labor and shall serve you. However, if it does not make peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall lay siege to it. When the Lord your God gives it into your hand, you shall strike down all the men in it with the edge of the sword. Only the women and the children and the animals and everything that is in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as plunder for yourself; and you shall use the spoil of your enemies which the Lord your God has given you. That is what you shall do to all the cities that are very far away from you, which are not among the cities of these nations nearby [which you are to dispossess]. Only in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that breathes. But you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, just as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that they will not teach you to act in accordance with all the detestable practices which they have done [in worship and service] for their gods, and in this way cause you to sin against the Lord your God. (Deuteronomy 20:10-18)
The New Testament
Killing in the New Testament
The New Testament quotes Jesus as confirming that he did not come for peace but with a sword. For example, we read: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to part asunder a man from his father, and a daughter from her mother, and a newly married wife from her mother-in-law. And a man’s foes will be they of his own household.” (Matthew 10:34-36)
Besides, the New Testament quotes Jesus as commanding his followers to slay those who refuse to believe in him. For example, we read: “As for my enemies who don’t want me as their king, bring them here and slaughter them before me.” (Luke 19:27)
Tribute in the New Testament
The New Testament quotes Jesus as approving tribute. We read:
Then the Pharisees met together to find a way to trap Jesus in his words. They sent their disciples, along with the supporters of Herod, to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are genuine and that you teach God’s way as it really is. We know that you are not swayed by people’s opinions, because you don’t show favoritism. So tell us what you think: Does the Law allow people to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” Knowing their evil motives, Jesus replied, “Why do you test me, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used to pay the tax.” And they brought him a denarion. “Whose image and inscription is this?” he asked. “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” (Matthew 22:15-21)
The History of Early Christianity
Not to mention the modern Christianity, the history of early Christianity abounds in many instances of killing, plunder, spoil, tribute and capture since its dawn as follows:
Massacre of Thessalonica (390 A.D.)
The Massacre of Thessalonica was an atrocity carried out under the Roman Emperor Theodosius I (Theodosius the Great) who declared the Nicene Trinitarian Christianity to be the only legitimate imperial religion in 380 A.D.
This massacre was carried out in 390 A.D. against the inhabitants of Thessalonica who had risen in revolt against the Roman Empire.
The army units sent to Thessalonica acted as if they had captured a hostile city and massacred several thousands of its inhabitants, including men, women, and children.
Church historian Theodoretus puts the figure at about 7,000, saying:
“The anger of the Emperor rose to the highest pitch, and he gratified his vindictive desire for vengeance by unsheathing the sword most unjustly and tyrannically against all, slaying the innocent and guilty alike. It is said seven thousand perished without any forms of law, and without even having judicial sentence passed upon them; but that, like ears of wheat in the time of harvest, they were alike cut down.” (Theodoretus, Ecclesiastical History 5.17)
Massacre of Aleppo (961 A.D.)
On the 18th of December 961 A.D., the Byzantines reached Aleppo under the Byzantine Emperor Nikephoros II Phokas’ command. They had a huge army which surpassed the Hamdanid army in terms of personnel and ordnance. So, the latter was defeated, and then Aleppo was besieged and then stormed.
The Christian Byzantines carried out an appalling massacre and several atrocities. So, they put Aleppo’s people to the sword and set fire to houses, mosques, trees, plants, and landmarks, including markets and palaces, like Sayf Ad-Dawla’s palace. They also captured thousands of Muslims and ruined Aleppo.
About Nikephoros’ atrocities, Ibn Kathir related: “He reached Aleppo in command of two hundred thousand soldiers in 351 A.H. So, he attacked it. As a result, its ruler Sayf Ad-Dawla was put to flight. Thus, Nikephoros stormed it and killed uncountable numbers of its people, including men and women. He also ruined Sayf Ad-Dawla’s house, which was Aleppo’s most distinctive landmark, and plundered its property and harvests and disunited it… He would kill the Muslim fighters in every place he stormed…” (Al-Bidayah Wa An-Nihayah, Ibn Kathir, Cairo, 1932 A.D.)
Blinding the Bulgarian Captives (1014 A.D.)
After Basil II (Basileios II) had won the Battle of Kleidion (in July 1014) and captured 15.000 prisoners, he blinded 99 of every 100 men, leaving one one-eyed man in each cohort to lead the rest back to their ruler. Samuel was physically struck down by the dreadful apparition of his blinded army and died two days later, on 6 October 1014, after suffering a stroke. That is why Basil II is called the “Bulgar-Slayer”.
Blinding Emperor Romanus IV (1072 A.D.)
The Byzantine Emperor Romanus IV raided the northern Levant, and attacked, plundered and massacred the people of Manbij. Then, Sultan Alp Arslan confronted him and clinched a surprise, unexpected victory over him.
However, Sultan Alp Arslan sought to negotiate a peace agreement and armistice, but Romanus IV decisively rejected any peace agreement or armistice.
Then, the Battle of Manzikert took place between Muslims and Christians under Romanus IV’s command. Muslims managed to defeat and even capture Romanus IV, whom they brought to Sultan Alp Arslan. Thereupon, the following historic conversation took place between the two leaders:
Alp Arslan scolded: “Woe to you! Did I not ask you for an armistice?” Romanus IV replied: “Stop scolding me!” Alp Arslan wondered: “What would you do if you defeated me?” Romanus IV answered: “All offenses!” Alp Arslan then asked: “What do you hope and expect me to do?” Romanus IV said: “You will kill or disgrace me in your country. The third expectation is very unlikely. It is pardon and the acceptance of ransom.” Then, the Sultan stated: “I resolved to do nothing but that (the third expectation).”
Then, Romanus IV ransomed himself with one million and five hundred thousand dinars and the release of all Muslim captives in his country.
So, the Sultan freed him and gave him such provisions and money which were enough for his journey back to home. (Ad-Dhahabi, Siyar Alam An-Nubla, Ar-Risalah Press 18/416)
It is ironic that the Christian Byzantines did to their Christian Emperor Romanus IV what the Muslim Sultan Alp Arslan did not do. Had he remained in custody with Muslims, he would have had a better fate.
When Romanus IV returned to Constantinople, he was dethroned, blinded and exiled to Prote. Shortly, he died as a result of the brutal blinding.
Massacres of Jerusalem (1099 A.D.)
During the First Crusade, Crusaders stormed Jerusalem on the 15th of July 1099 A.D. They massacred all inhabitants of Jerusalem, including men, women and children. For a whole week, they desecrated the holy city, where they kept killing everybody and ruining everything.
In the courtyards of Al Aqsa mosque only, about seventy thousand Muslims were killed.
According to Tyerman, Muslims were indiscriminately killed, and Jews who had taken refuge in their synagogue died when it was burnt down by the Crusaders. Tancred’s prisoners in the mosque were slaughtered. (Tyerman, Christopher (2006). God’s War: A New History of the Crusades. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-02387-0.)
It is worth noting that Jerusalem was seized by Muslims four times. In the four times, Muslims did not carry out the appalling atrocities Crusaders did.
In the first time, in late April 637 A.D., Jerusalem was conquered by Omar ibn Al-Khattab, who concluded with its inhabitants a peace agreement, better known as “Pact of Umar”, by virtue of which Omar them with security for themselves as well as their property, churches and crosses.
In the second time, decades after the First Crusade, Salah Ad-Din Al-Ayoubi (Saladin), restored Jerusalem on the 2nd of October 1187 A.D. Then, he accepted reasonable ransom from its inhabitants and allowed those who were not willing to pay to leave Jerusalem unscathed.
In the third time, several years after the Sixth Crusade, King Al-Nasser Dawood restored Jerusalem on the 7th of December 1239 A.D. He fought and drove out the Crusaders and provided civilians with security.
In the fourth time, King Najm Ad-Din Ayoub restored Jerusalem in 1244 A.D. Then, he gave two thousand Egyptian dinars as charity and ordered the reconstruction of its wall.
Massacre of Roman Catholic Inhabitants of Constantinople (1182 A.D.)
It is the massacre of the Western Roman Catholic inhabitants of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, better known as “Massacre of the Latins”.
In April 1182, it was carried out by the Eastern Orthodox population of the city. As a result, the Latin or Roman Catholic community, estimated at 60.000 to 80.000 people, was wiped out.
The Genoese and Pisan communities especially were decimated, and some 4,000 survivors were sold as slaves to the (Turkish) Sultanate of Rum.
The Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic inhabitants viewed each other as schismatic.
After the Latin princess Maria of Antioch who acted as regent had been overthrown, Andronikos I Komnenos, who replaced her as a Byzantine emperor, allowed the Eastern Orthodox population to massacre the Roman Catholic inhabitants.
The ensuing massacre was indiscriminate: neither women nor children were spared, and Latin patients lying in hospital beds were murdered. Houses, churches, and charities were looted. Latin clergymen received special attention, and Cardinal John, the papal legate, was beheaded and his head was dragged through the streets at the tail of a dog.
(Nicol, Donald M. (1992). Byzantium and Venice: A Study in Diplomatic and Cultural Relations. Cambridge University Press. p. 107. ISBN 978-0-521-42894-1.)
Tearing Emperor Andronikos I Komnenos Apart (1185 A.D.)
Before becoming a Byzantine emperor, in 1141 A.D., Andronikos I Komnenos was taken captive by the Muslim Seljuq Turks and remained in their hands for a whole year. Muslims did not harm him though he was fighting against them.
When he was ransomed, he came back to Constantinople and subsequently became a Byzantine emperor.
When he was deposed as a Byzantine emperor, he was captured and handed him over to the city mob and for three days he was exposed to their fury and resentment, remaining for that period tied to a post and beaten. His right hand was cut off, his teeth and hair were pulled out, one of his eyes was gouged out, and, among many other sufferings, boiling water was thrown in his face.
At last he was led to the Hippodrome of Constantinople and hung by his feet between two pillars. Two Latin soldiers competed as to whose sword would penetrate his body more deeply, and he was, according to the representation of his death, torn apart. He died on September 12, 1185.
Massacre of Akko (Acre) (1191 A.D.)
Crusaders besieged Akko for more than three months until it surrendered on the 12th of July 1191 A.D. On the 20th of August in the same year, Crusaders carried out an appalling massacre at Tal Al-Ayadiyah, where they killed more than 3000 Muslim prisoners along with their wives and children.
Destruction of Constantinople (1204 A.D.)
In 1204, during the Fourth Crusade, the Crusader armies stormed the city, burnt its public and private facilities and desecrated its churches.
While the ostensible objective of the Fourth Crusade was the occupation of Jerusalem through the invasion of Egypt, the Western Roman Catholic Crusaders occupied the Eastern Orthodox city of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire, to use its wealth for the Crusade and unify all Christians under the banner of this crusade in the church’s name.
About what happened to Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade, Sir Steven Runciman wrote:
“For nine centuries,” he goes on, “the great city had been the capital of Christian civilisation. It was filled with works of art that had survived from ancient Greece and with the masterpieces of its own exquisite craftsmen. The Venetians … seized treasures and carried them off to adorn … their town. But the Frenchmen and Flemings were filled with a lust for destruction. They rushed in a howling mob down the streets and through the houses, snatching up everything that glittered and destroying whatever they could not carry, pausing only to murder or to rape, or to break open the wine-cellars …. Neither monasteries nor churches nor libraries were spared. In Hagia Sophia itself, drunken soldiers could be seen tearing down the silken hangings and pulling the great silver iconostasis to pieces, while sacred books and icons were trampled under foot. While they drank merrily from the altar-vessels a prostitute set herself on the Patriarch’s throne and began to sing a ribald French song. Nuns were ravished in their convents. Palaces and hovels alike were entered and wrecked. Wounded women and children lay dying in the streets. For three days the ghastly scenes … continued, till the huge and beautiful city was a shambles. … When … order was restored, … citizens were tortured to make them reveal the goods that they had contrived to hide.”
(Steven Runciman, A History of the Crusades, Cambridge 1966 , vol 3, p.123.)
It is noteworthy that, in comparison, when Sultan Mehmed II (Mehmed the Conqueror) conquered Constantinople in May 1453 A.D., he dispatched military units to guard the city landmarks, mainly churches so that no soldier would cause damage to it.
He personally went to Hagia Sofia Cathedral where so many inhabitants gathered and provided them with security for their lives and property.
- The Holy Bible
- Ecclesiastical History by Theodoretus
- Al-Bidayah Wa An-Nihayah by Ibn Kathir
- Siyar Alam An-Nubla by Adh-Dhahabi
- A History of the Crusades by Steven Runciman
- God’s War: A New History of the Crusades by Christopher Tyerman
- Byzantium and Venice: A Study in Diplomatic and Cultural Relations by Donald Nicol
Killing, Plunder, Spoil, Tribute and Capture in Islam
Honoring Women between Islam and Christianity
Will Christ really condemn people?
Christians claim that Jesus Christ will judge the people on the day of Judgment and condemn them. Some of them claim that Jesus will “come once again, in another formula and role as the Major Judge who will condemn and has the right to condemn because he lead a moral life without sin”. No sin. ” They cite texts from the Gospel of John and other texts to prove this. These are as follows:
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. “2 Corinthians (5/10)
The Gospel of John (5/26-27) says,
“For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man..”
2 Corinthians (5/10) states:
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. “
“You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God. So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God”.
In Luke(6 / 37-39),
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? “!
Validity of the Christian Doctrine??
This doctrine stems its validity from, the Gospels or Epistles. It is quite known that the validity of the gospels is questioned. The least to be valid among them is the Gospel of John. The words of Paul in his letters are unacceptable, because as he was a fanatic Jew, and the first to cause the deviation of the Christian religion from its real face (i.e. monotheism) to polytheism and heresy claiming that deity Jesus Christ was a deity.
It is strange that the Christians, after proving such judgment, evade it and claim that it is only a reward for them because their true salvation and forgiveness of their sins have been already achieved by the crucifixion of. They construe the meaning of such judgment to mean many other thing than real judgment or distract it from the true meaning.
True View of Jesus’ Role
Whatever it may be, what should we believe is that God Almighty is the one who will hold people accountable on the Day of Resurrection in the true sense and no human may take part in it. Prophets may only be witnesses to it. In the Qur’an (13:40-41):
“And whether We show you part of what We promise them or take you in death, upon you is only the [duty of] notification, and upon Us is the account. Have they not seen that We set upon the land, reducing it from its borders? And Allah decides; there is no adjuster of His decision. And He is swift in account”.
“And whoever invokes besides Allah another deity for which he has no proof – then his account is only with his Lord. Indeed, the disbelievers will not succeed.” (23/117)
Suppose the validity of these texts, which are based on Jesus being the Judge for people, it does not apparently indicate so. Jesus peace be upon him will be merely a witness on people on the day of reckoning that he delivered the message as a messenger from Allah (God) Almighty. He will witness against those who deviated from the straight path and were misled. The Qur’an testifies to this fact that is Allah will bring a witness from all nations. Such witness will be the Messenger who was sent to them:
“So how [will it be] when We bring from every nation a witness and we bring you, [O Muhammad] against these [people] as a witness? That Day, those who disbelieved and disobeyed the Messenger will wish they could be covered by the earth. And they will not conceal from Allah a [single] statement.” (4:41-42)
“And [mention] the Day when We will resurrect from every nation a witness. Then it will not be permitted to the disbelievers [to apologize or make excuses], nor will they be asked to appease [Allah].” (16:84).
“And [mention] the Day when We will resurrect among every nation a witness over them from themselves. And We will bring you, [O Muhammad], as a witness over your nation. And We have sent down to you the Book as clarification for all things and as guidance and mercy and good tidings for the Muslims.” (16:89).
“And [for] their saying, “Indeed, we have killed the Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, the messenger of Allah.” And they did not kill him, nor did they crucify him; but [another] was made to resemble him to them. And indeed, those who differ over it are in doubt about it. They have no knowledge of it except the following of assumption. And they did not kill him, for certain. Rather, Allah raised him to Himself. And ever is Allah Exalted in Might and Wise. And there is none from the People of the Scripture but that he will surely believe in Jesus before his death. And on the Day of Resurrection he will be against them a witness”. (4:157-159).
“And [beware the Day] when Allah will say, “O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, ‘Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah?’” He will say, “Exalted are You! It was not for me to say that to which I have no right. If I had said it, You would have known it. You know what is within myself, and I do not know what is within Yourself. Indeed, it is You who is Knower of the unseen. I said not to them except what You commanded me – to worship Allah, my Lord and your Lord. And I was a witness over them as long as I was among them; but when You took me up, You were the Observer over them, and You are, over all things, Witness. If You should punish them – indeed they are Your servants; but if You forgive them – indeed it is You who is the Exalted in Might, the Wise”. (5:116-118).
One again, suppose such claim by the Christians to be true, how will Jesus hold the people who did not witness his message accountable?, They might not heard of his call or heard it in her false garment? The Quran says:
“We were not tortured until we send an apostle.”
‘Abdullah reported Allah’s Messenger (Muhammad PBUH) as saying:
I shall be there at the Cistern before you, and I shall have to contend for some people, but I shall have to yield. I would be saying: My Lord, they are my friends, they are my friends, and it would be said: You don’t know what innovations they made after you”. (Sahih Muslim 2297)
Anas b. Malik reported Allah’s Apostle ) PBUH) as saying:
“Some persons from amongst my associates would turn to my Cistern; when I would see them and they would be presented to me, they would be detained in the way while coming to me. I would say: My Lord, they are my companions, they are my companions, and it would be said to me: You don’t know what innovations they made after you”.( Sahih Muslim 2304 a)
Is Jesus, peace be upon him, aware of what is in the hearts of people so that he can hold them accountable? Allah says:
“To Allah belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth. Whether you show what is within yourselves or conceal it, Allah will bring you to account for it. Then He will forgive whom He wills and punish whom He wills, and Allah is over all things competent.” (2:284).
According to Islam, Islam Jesus peace be upon him will descend down at the end of time, kill the Antichrist and break the cross and kill the pig. The descent of Jesus will be a sign for the Hour. Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) said,
“By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, surely (Jesus,) the son of Mary will soon descend amongst you and will judge mankind justly (as a Just Ruler); he will break the Cross and kill the pigs and there will be no Jizya (i.e. taxation taken from non Muslims). Money will be in abundance so that nobody will accept it, and a single prostration to Allah (in prayer) will be better than the whole world and whatever is in it.” Abu Huraira added “If you wish, you can recite (this verse of the Holy Book): — ‘And there is none Of the people of the Scriptures (Jews and Christians) But must believe in him (i.e Jesus as an Apostle of Allah and a human being) Before his death. And on the Day of Judgment He will be a witness Against them.” (Sahih al-Bukhari 3448), (4.159) (See Fath-ul-Bari, Page 302 Vol 7)
There are many prophetic hadiths (sayings of Prophet Muhammad), according to Ibn Kathir, a Muslim scholar, which tell about the descent of Jesus peace be upon him, before the Day of Resurrection as a just imam (leader or ruler) and judge, Therefore, Jesus will be only a judge in worldly life not the Hereafter and he will be a ruler. He, moreover, will not hold people accountable for bad intention in the heart, he rather will judge by what appeared to him by the law of Islam, including the words of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him.
The concepts of condemn, Judgment, reward and punishment are confused on the Christian part. We see false and contradictory interpretations of the concept of condemn. The Christians claim that Christ did not come to condemn people and claim on the other side that he will hold them accountable! Christ says according to the Bible John 12:47: “If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world.” According to this Jesus did come to condemn the world, how will he hold them then accountable according to the following text: “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven”(Luke 6:37)?!
- Studies in Jewish and Christian Religions, by Saud bin Abdul Aziz Al-Khalaf, Library of Adwa’ Al-Salaf, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
- Books of the Prophet’s Sunnah
Killing is prohibited in Islam, and fighting was prohibited but permitted later subject to strict rules
Killing, plunder, spoil, tribute and capture were long-standing practices preceding the final message of Islam sent down to Prophet Muhammad. However, Islam refined such practices in such a way, which was not customary neither during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad nor even centuries after his demise up to date and even until the Judgment Day.
So, let’s know the truth about killing, plunder, spoil, tribute and capture in Islam.
Killing, Plunder, Spoil, Tribute and Capture in Islam
The Islamic Attitude towards Killing and Fighting
Prohibition of Killing and Fighting at the Dawn of Islam
The (wrongful) killing is prohibited from the dawn of Islam up to date. As for fighting, it was not allowed at the dawn of Islam even for self-defense purposes.
The call to Islam was purely peaceful at the dawn of Islam. In the face of persecution and prejudice, Prophet Muhammad and Muslims were allowed throughout the earliest thirteen years of the Prophetic mission only to keep patient with the harm caused by the polytheists and repel evil with goodness. In this regard, the following verses were sent down. We read:
And follow what is revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and be patient until Allah will judge. And He is the best of judges. (Yunus 10:109)
We also read:
Repel, by [means of] what is best, [their] evil. We are most knowing of what they describe. (Al-Mu’minun 23:96)
Permission of Fighting after Immigration subject to Strict Rules
When persecution reached its climax and was about to wipe out Islam and Muslims, Muslims were permitted to fight in defense of the heavenly message and themselves in the face of the evil forces after the immigration to Medina, i.e. after thirteen years of the call to Islam had elapsed and only ten years were left from the Prophetic mission and the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad.
This means that Prophet Muhammad’s mission started and remained purely peaceful for the best part and weapons could be carried to defend it only towards the end of Prophet Muhammad’s lifetime.
Had fighting been inherent in the call to Islam, carrying weapons would have been ordered from the very beginning. However, carrying weapons was permitted only late in Prophet Muhammad’s lifetime. This serves as historic evidence that the peacefulness of the call to Islam had been the original case and weapons were carried later to protect it.
According to the most preponderant opinion, the earliest Qur’anic verses to permit fighting are the following ones:
Indeed, Allah defends those who have believed. Indeed, Allah does not like everyone treacherous and ungrateful. Permission [to fight] has been given to those who are being fought, because they were wronged. And indeed, Allah is competent to give them victory. [They are] those who have been evicted from their homes without right – only because they say, “Our Lord is Allah.” And were it not that Allah checks the people, some by means of others, there would have been demolished monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which the name of Allah is much mentioned. And Allah will surely support those who support Him. Indeed, Allah is Powerful and Exalted in Might. [And they are] those who, if We give them authority in the land, establish prayer and give zakah and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. And to Allah belongs the outcome of [all] matters. (Al-Hajj 22:38-41)
In the above verses, we notice that the reasons for the permission of fighting are mentioned. They are defending the believers, repelling aggression, standing up to injustice and persecution, protecting the places of worship including Jewish synagogues, Christian churches and Muslim mosques, and empowering the believers on earth for them to offer prayers, give alms, enjoin good and forbid evil.
Rules of Fighting Permission
Just as the permission of fighting is given in the Qur’an for the purposes of defending faith, pertinent rules are also provided in order to regulate such fighting, restrict it to the purposes for which it is legislated and prevent its extension to purposes for which it was not legislated like injustice and aggression.
For example, the permission of fighting the polytheists is coupled with the prohibition of aggression against them. About that, we read in the Qur’an:
Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. Allah does not like transgressors. And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah is worse than killing. And do not fight them at al-Masjid al- Haram until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers. And if they cease, then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] worship is [acknowledged to be] for Allah. But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors. [Fighting in] the sacred month is for [aggression committed in] the sacred month, and for [all] violations is legal retribution. So whoever has assaulted you, then assault him in the same way that he has assaulted you. And fear Allah and know that Allah is with those who fear Him. (Al-Baqarah 2:190-194)
Likewise, the permission of fighting the hypocrites who betray the believers and side with the disbelievers against the believers is contingent on the cases where they refuse to repent and desist or they don’t take refuge with a people there is a treaty between them and the believers. About that, we read in the Qur’an:
What is [the matter] with you [that you are] two groups concerning the hypocrites, while Allah has made them fall back [into error and disbelief] for what they earned. Do you wish to guide those whom Allah has sent astray? And he whom Allah sends astray – never will you find for him a way [of guidance]. They wish you would disbelieve as they disbelieved so you would be alike. So do not take from among them allies until they emigrate for the cause of Allah. But if they turn away, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them and take not from among them any ally or helper. Except for those who take refuge with a people between yourselves and whom is a treaty or those who come to you, their hearts strained at [the prospect of] fighting you or fighting their own people. And if Allah had willed, He could have given them power over you, and they would have fought you. So if they remove themselves from you and do not fight you and offer you peace, then Allah has not made for you a cause [for fighting] against them. You will find others who wish to obtain security from you and [to] obtain security from their people. Every time they are returned to [the influence of] disbelief, they fall back into it. So if they do not withdraw from you or offer you peace or restrain their hands, then seize them and kill them wherever you overtake them. And those – We have made for you against them a clear authorization. (An-Nisaa’ 4:88-91)
We also read:
If the hypocrites and those in whose hearts is disease and those who spread rumors in al-Madinah do not cease, We will surely incite you against them; then they will not remain your neighbors therein except for a little. Accursed wherever they are found, [being] seized and massacred completely. (Al-Ahzab 33:60-61)
Similarly, the permission of fighting those who violate oaths, attack Islam and drive the believers out of their houses is also contingent on their refusal to desist. About that, we read in the Qur’an:
But if they violate their oaths after their covenant, and attack your religion with disapproval and criticism, then fight (you) the leaders of disbelief (chiefs of Quraish pagans of Makkah) – for surely their oaths are nothing to them – so that they may stop (evil actions). (At-Tawbah 9:12)
Types of Permissible Fighting
Inland Fighting (Jihad)
In Islam, fighting or armed jihad has two types: inland fighting and outland fighting. As for the inland fighting, it is fighting by Muslims against such an enemy that aggresses them either inside or around their territories.
In this case, Muslims are permitted to fight to defend themselves as well as their territories and faith until such an enemy stops aggressing them. About that, we read in the Qur’an:
And what is wrong with you that you fight not in the cause of Allah, and for those weak, ill-treated and oppressed among men, women, and children, whose cry is: “Our Lord! Rescue us from this town whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from You one who will protect, and raise for us from You one who will help.” (An-Nisaa’ 4:75)
Outland Fighting (Jihad) and its Rules
As for the outland fighting, it is fighting by Muslims against such an enemy that impels them to fight outside their territories. Such fighting often takes place for the purposes of defending Muslims while calling to Islam outside their territories. Such fighting has rules established by the Qur’an and the Sunnah (Prophetic tradition).
Such rules are included in the following hadith: Sulayman bin Buraydah narrated on the authority of his father, “Whenever the Messenger of God appointed a commander for an army or an expedition, he would instruct him to fear God in his own behavior and consider the welfare of the Muslims who were with him. He then used to say ‘Go out for Jihad in God’s name, in the cause of God, and fight those who disbelieve in God. Go out for Jihad and do not indulge in embezzlement, or be treacherous or mutilate (dead bodies) or kill a child. When you meet your enemy, or the polytheists, invite them to three courses of action, and accept whichever of them they are willing to agree to, and refrain from doing anything else: Call them to Islam, and if they agree accept it from them. Then invite them to migrate from their land to the land of the Emigrants (i.e. Medina). If they refuse, then tell them they will be like the Muslim desert Arabs, thus they will have no right in the spoil unless they participate in Jihad with Muslims. If they refuse (to accept Islam), order them to pay the tribute and if they agree, accept it from them. If they refuse, seek God’s help against them and fight them. When you besiege a fortress, and its people wish you to grant them the protection of God and His Prophet, grant them neither but grant them your protection, for it is less serious (a lesser guilt) to break your guarantee of protection than to break that of God’s. And if they offer to capitulate under the condition that they are subjected to the judgment of God, do not grant them this, but judge according to your own command, for you do not know whether or not you will be able to carry out God’s Judgment regarding them.’” (Muslim)
Prophet Muhammad prohibited killing the innocents, especially children, and attacking the places of worship, specifically hermitages, or the worshippers therein. Ibn `Abbas reported that if Prophet Muhammad dispatched an army, he would instruct: “Go out in the name of God to fight in the cause of God against those who disbelieve in God, but do not act treacherously or dishonestly, do not commit mutilation, do not kill children or hermits.” (Recorded by Imam Ahmad)
The prohibition of killing the innocents, especially women and children, is reiterated in the following hadith: Ibn `Umar reported that a woman was found dead at one battle fought by the Messenger of God. Thereupon, the Messenger of God prohibited killing women and children. (Al-Bukhari)
The Islamic Attitude towards Plunder
Though Islam permitted booties as the victor’s right according to the practice which was followed in wars centuries before its advent, Muslims were not keen on spoiling other peoples’ property, given their return of spoils in several historic situations especially in Prophet Muhammad’s lifetime. Muslims did not fight for booties but to defend themselves and call to God and Islam.
For example, Prophet Muhammad returned to Malik ibn `Awf, the chieftain of Hawazin tribe, his captured kindred and property. In addition, he gave him one hundred camels and kept him as the chieftain of his people after Malik’s defeat by Muslims in the wake of Hunayn Battle.
Ibn Ishaq reported: the Messenger of God asked the delegation of Hawazin about Malik ibn Awf: “What did he do?” They replied: “He is in Al-Taif with Thaqif tribe.” He suggested: “Tell him that if he comes to me as Muslim, I will return to him his kindred and property and, in addition, I will give him one hundred camels.” When Malik was told about that, he sneaked away from Thaqif tribe and went to the Messenger of God at Al-Ju`ranah or Mecca, where he embraced Islam and became a good Muslim. Thereupon, he returned to him his kindred and property. When he gave him one hundred camels, Malik ibn Awaf improvised the following poetic verses:
I have never seen or heard about someone out of all people like Muhammad.
He gave profusely to the beggar when he begged for giving. If you like, he will tell you about tomorrow
Booty, Spoil and Tribute not Plunder
For the avoidance of misunderstanding, Islam did not permit the customary plunder and pillage of the property of the civilians and innocents the armies were used to.
Islam just permitted “booty” which meant, in the Islamic sense, seizing the effects and ordnance of the warriors who fought Muslims at the battlefields in addition to the supplies of the armies fighting Muslims.
As for civilians, Islam does not permit plundering their property or outraging them. Upon the conquest of Mecca, the Ansaris’ standard was borne by Sa`ad ibn `Ubadah. When he passed by Abu Sufyan, he taunted: “Today will be a day of carnage. Today, sanctity will be violated. Today, God will disgrace Quraysh.”
When Prophet Muhammad caught up with Abu Sufyan, the latter complained: “O Messenger of God, have you heard what Sa`ad said?” The Prophet wondered: “What did he say?” When he was told about Sa`ad’s taunts, `Uthman and `Abdul-Rahman ibn `Awf panicked: “O Messenger of God, we fear that he will outrage Quraysh.”
Prophet Muhammad then declared: “No, today will be a day on which the Ka`abah will be glorified. Today will be a day on which God will honor Quraysh.”
Then he took the standard from Sa`ad and gave it to his son, Qays ibn Sa`ad ibn `Ubadah or purportedly to Az-Zubayr. (Ar-Rahiq Al-Makhtum, Safy Ar-Rahman Al-Mubarakfury, Dar Al-Hilal, Beirut, the 1st edition)
Ibn Ishaq reported on the authority of Safiyah bint Shaybah that when the Messenger of God descended and people were reassured, he went to the Ka`abah and circumambulated it. When he finished circumambulation, he called on `Uthman ibn Talhah to bring the Ka`abah key. So, he opened it for Prophet Muhammad to enter. Thereupon, Prophet Muhammad stood at the Ka`abah door and preached a sermon.
Prophet Muhammad then wondered: “O folks of Quraysh, what do you expect me to do to you?” They replied: “Something good! You are a good brother and the son of a good brother.” Then, he said: “Go away! You are free (to go where you want – that is, not captured.)”
Then, he sat down. Then, Ali got up and said: “Give us both door keeping and water supply!” Then, Prophet Muhammad gave the Ka`abah key to `Uthman and said: “Take it forever! It is not me but God that gave it to you. It will not be taken away from you except by a tyrant.” (Reported by Ibn Abi Shaybah in his Musannaf)
Upon the conquest of Iraq, Khaled ibn Al-Walid did not assault peasants. On the contrary, he gave them good treatment as recommended by Caliph Abu Bakr and kept them cultivating land. (Abu Bakr As-Siddiq, Ali As-Sallabi, p 312)
Thus, Muslims did not plunder the civilians’ property. They would rather spoil the belongings of the fighters and the movable property of the tribes whose members wholly fought Muslims just as some Arabian and Jewish tribes did.
As for the peoples that involved both fighters and civilians, Muslims did not assault the civilians or seize their property. However, an affordable tribute would be taken from them.
Ibn Abi Najih reported: “I asked Mojahed: ‘Why do the non-Muslim people of the Levant pay four dinars, whereas the people of Yemen pay only one dinar?’” He replied: ‘Because of solvency’” (Al-Bukhari)
Prophet Muhammad was also reported as saying: “Beware, if anyone wrongs a covenanter, diminishes his right, forces him to work beyond his capacity, or takes from him anything without his consent, I shall plead for him (covenanter) on the Day of Judgment.” (Abu Dawud)
Islam exempts from tribute women, children, the needy, monks, and the disabled. Moreover, Islam recommends spending on the elderly and the disabled from among non-Muslim citizens. The fifth rightly-guided Caliph, `Umar ibn `Abdul-Aziz wrote to his governor of Basra, Adi ibn Arta’ah:
“Look for the elderly, the weak, and the incomeless from among the non-Muslim citizens, and give to them adequate welfare from the Muslim treasury. I was told that the Commander of the Believers, `Umar ibn Al-Khattab, passed by a non-Muslim old man who was begging at doorsteps. So, `Umar lamented: ‘We have not been just towards you! We took tribute from you during your youth and then caused you to be lost in your old age.’ Then, he gave to him adequate welfare from the treasury.”
It is worth noting that Prophet Muhammad was very keen on returning the trusts which had been kept by him. Before he emigrated from Mecca, he had instructed Ali to return trusts to their owners. He said to Ali: “Sleep on my bed and put on my green gown. So, nothing hateful will happen to you.” Then, Prophet Muhammad ordered Ali to return the deposits and trusts he had. (Tarikh At-Tabarany 2/372)
If Prophet Muhammad was really keen on plunder and pillage, why did he return trusts to Quraysh though they had proceeded to kill him and his companions?
Indeed, he elected to follow the then applicable practice and restore his rights at battlefields instead of betraying trust from Badr Battle until his demise.
The Islamic Attitude towards Capture
Though Islam permitted capturing men and taking women and children captive as the victor’s right according to the practice which was followed in wars centuries before its advent, Islam refined this practice in a way which was not familiar for centuries.
Capture of Men in Islam
While Islam permitted taking men prisoner, it did not allow prolonged capture or the ensuing enslavement. A non-Muslim prisoner of war would not be held captive forever nor could he be enslaved. His fate would be either: release, ransom or killing.
A prisoner of war could be either released for free, ransomed with a financial consideration or with a Muslim prisoner of war or killed if he so deserves, though the cases of killing the prisoners of war are scarce in the history of Islam. About that, we read in the Qur’an:
So when you meet those who disbelieve [in battle], strike [their] necks until, when you have inflicted slaughter upon them, then secure their bonds, and either [confer] favor afterwards or ransom [them] until the war lays down its burdens. (Muhammad 47:4)
We also read:
It is not for a prophet to have captives [of war] until he inflicts a massacre [upon Allah ‘s enemies] in the land. Some Muslims desire the commodities of this world, but Allah desires [for you] the Hereafter. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise. (Al-Anfal 8:67)
Kind Treatment for Male Captives in Islam
Unlike any other faith, Islam commands kind treatment for captives. About that, Qur’anic verses were revealed in the Qur’an. For example, we find in the Qur’an a promise of profuse giving for captives and forgiveness in this world and the Hereafter if they give up evil and do good. We read:
O Prophet, say to whoever is in your hands of the captives, “If Allah knows [any] good in your hearts, He will give you [something] better than what was taken from you, and He will forgive you; and Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” (Al-Anfal 8:70)
Furthermore, the Qur’an orders good treatment for captives and deems those who are kind to captives as righteous servants of God whom God promises happy fate and great reward in the Hereafter. We read:
Indeed, the righteous will drink from a cup [of wine] whose mixture is of Kafur, A spring of which the [righteous] servants of Allah will drink; they will make it gush forth in force [and abundance]. They [are those who] fulfill [their] vows and fear a Day whose evil will be widespread. And they give food in spite of love for it to the needy, the orphan, and the captive, (Al-Insan 76:5-8)
Most notably, Islam urges the release of captives as one of the most remarkable good deeds. Abu Musa reported that the Prophet said, “Free the captives, feed the hungry and pay a visit to the sick.” (Al-Bukhari)
Prophet Muhammad put the above hadith into practice in his lifetime. He released Al-Mustaliq tribe’s captives and prisoners and Malik ibn `Awf’s Hawazin captives and prisoners.
Capture of Women and Children in Islam
While taking women and children captive was permitted in Islam, Muslims were not keen on capturing or enslaving women and children. There were several historic situations where Muslims freed the women and children they took captive. For example, in Prophet Muhammad’s lifetime, Muslims set free the captives from Al-Mustaliq and Hawazin tribes.
As for Al-Mustaliq tribe’s captives and prisoners, Ibn Ishaq quoted `A’ishah as relating: “When the Messenger of God divided Al-Mustaliq tribe’s captives, Juwayriah went to someone with whom she agreed to pay for her emancipation. She was so beautiful and pretty that no man would see her without getting captivated by her. She went to the Messenger of God to ask for help (with emancipation). I hated her (for her beauty). She said: ‘O Messenger of God, I am Juwayriah, the daughter of Al-Harith, who was the chieftain of his people. I endure the ordeal you know. Since I agreed to pay for my emancipation, please help me.’ Then, he suggested: ‘What about that is better than that? What if I pay for you and marry you?’ She replied: ‘Ok!’ So, he did. When people knew that, they said: ‘They (Al-Mustaliq) have become the Messenger of God’s in-laws.’ So, they freed Al-Mustaliq tribe’s captives and prisoners they had. By so doing, one hundred families were manumitted. Therefore, I have never known a woman who is more helpful for her people than her.” (Siyar A`lam An-Nubala’)
As for Hawazin tribe’s captives and prisoners, Marwan bin Al-Hakim and Miswar bin Makhrama reported that when Hawazin delegation came to the Messenger of God after they had embraced Islam and requested him to return their property and war prisoners to them, the Messenger of God said, “To me the best talk is the truest, so you may choose either of two things; the war prisoners or the wealth, for I have delayed their distribution.” The Messenger of God had waited for them for over ten days when he returned from Ta’if. So, when those people came to know that the Messenger of God was not going to return to them except one of the two things, they said, “We choose our war prisoners.” Then, the Messenger of God stood up amongst Muslims, and after glorifying God as He deserved, he said, “Now then, these brothers of yours have come to us after repentance, and I see it logical that I should return their captives to them, so whoever of you likes to do that as a favor then he can do it, and whoever amongst you likes to stick to his share, let him give up his prisoners and we will compensate him from the next booties which God will give us.” Thereupon, all people said: ‘O Messenger of God, we have agreed willingly to do so (return the captives)’” (Al-Bukhari)
Kind Treatment for Female Captives in Islam
Islam urges matchlessly kind treatment for female captives. Islam was the earliest faith to command respect and kind treatment for captive women. The first gain captive women got under Islam was their emancipation according to the general command for slave emancipation under Islam (Al-Balad 90:13), not to mention the fact that Islam made slave emancipation an expiation for some sins (Al-Maidah 5:89), (Al-Mujadilah 58:3).
Not only did Islam urge the emancipation of captive women, but it also called for their education, refinement, emancipation and marriage. It offered double reward for that in order to encourage Muslims to do that.
Abu Burda reported on the authority of his father that the Messenger of God said: “Any man who has a slave girl whom he educates properly, teaches good manners, manumits and marries will get a double reward…” (Al-Bukhari)
Prophet Muhammad was a good example to Muslims of how to put the foregoing into practice. He emancipated so many captive women and bondwomen to the extent that about half the mothers of the believers (Prophet Muhammad’s consorts) were originally captive women and bondwomen.
Lady Mary the Copt was a bondwoman with whom Prophet Muhammad was presented by Al-Muqawqis (of Egypt). Juwayriah bint Al-Harith, Saifiyah bint Huyay and Rayhanah bint Zayd had been originally captive women whom Prophet Muhammad emancipated and married, and so they became mothers of the believers.
The captive women emancipated by Prophet Muhammad were not restricted to the mothers of the believers. Rather, the emancipation of some mothers of the believers eventuated in the emancipation of the fellow captives of their tribes.
Moreover, Prophet Muhammad emancipated such captive women whom he did not marry, like Safanah bint Hatem At-Tai’ and the captive women from Hawzin tribe. So, Prophet Muhammad would not emancipate captive women solely to marry them.
Islam made for captive women several ways out of slavery. While Islam calls for their education, refinement, and emancipation for free and then their marriage, it also urges those Muslims who cannot do that to charge a material consideration in return for their emancipation (An-Nur 24:33)
Furthermore, Islam made it incumbent to refrain from sex with captive women for a whole menstrual cycle to make sure they are not pregnant. It also made giving birth to a child from the master by a captive woman automatically conducive to the emancipation of this captive woman. In this case, such a captive woman is called Umm Walad, i.e. “the mother of a child”. So, she becomes disposable no longer, that is to say cannot be sold or in any way given to anyone else.
If neither emancipation with/without compensation nor giving birth to a child from the master is possible, Islam guarantees good lives for captive women thanks to the gains they get under it.
For example, Islam encouraged Muslim men to marry Muslim captive women and bondwomen if they could not afford marriage with free Muslim women and it entitled them to the same rights as free women, including the dowry and seeking their guardians’ permission (An-Nisaa’ 4:25), (Al-Baqarah 2:221).
In clear terms, Islam commanded good treatment for captive women (An-Nisaa’ 4:36). While such good treatment involves countless manifestations and forms, there are certain forms of good treatment which are specifically ordered in Islam, like the prohibition of their exploitation for making money by coercing them into prostitution (An-Nur 24:33) and the call for giving them in marriage if their guardians are unwilling to marry them (An-Nur 24:32).
Out of mercy and compassion for captive women and bondwomen, if they committed punishable offences, they would receive half the punishment free women received (An-Nisaa’ 4:25).
- The Holy Qur’an
- Sahih Al-Bukhari
- Sahih Muslim
- Musand Al-Imam Ahmad
- As-Sirah An-Nabawiyah, by Ibn Ishaq
- Ar-Rahiq Al-Makhtoum, Safi Ad-Din Al-Mubarakfoury, Dar Al-Hilal, Beirut, Lebanon, 1st edition
- Musannaf Ibn Abi Shaybah
- Abu Bakr As-Siddiq’s Biography, Ali As-Sallaby, p 312
- Tarikh At-Tabarany
- Siyar A`lam An-Nubala’
Killing, Plunder, Spoil, Tribute and Capture in Christianity
Are There Verses in the Qur’an Promoting Violence?
Honoring Women between Islam and Christianity
Before the Opening-Battle:
The commandment of Prophet Muhammad to deal kindly with the Christian copts:
The Prophet of Islam’s (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) mercy and tolerance in battles appears much in the opening battle of Egypt. Books of history tells that
“When ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas, was about to open Egypt, he told its people saying, “Our Prophet, peace be upon him, had promised us to open Egypt, and commanded us to deal with its people kindly due to our kinship or affinity relationship (i.e. shared lineage). They replied to him that: Such kinship or affinity relationship due to lineage which dates back for old times was not to be preserved except by a real prophet (i.e. Prophet Muhammad)”.
It was narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “If you open Egypt deal kindly with the Copts because they are abiding by a dhimmah (settlement/pact/ truce) and we have Rahim (kinship affinity relationship or) to them (Narrated by al-Bayhaqi).
“Our Prophet has commanded us to deal mercifully and kindly with you due to our shared Rahim (i.e. kinship or affinity relationship/ lineage).” (‘Amr ibn Al-‘As’s saying to Christian Copts before the Opening-battle in Egypt”
Ibn Kathir explains the word Rahim (kinship or affinity relationship) that Hajar (Ishmael’s mother) was Coptic. Others said that Abraham’s mother was Coptic (It is well known that Arabs are the descendants of Prophet Abraham).
He says, “Definitely both of them were Coptic. Explaining dhimmah (truce) he points out that Prophet Muhammad considered Al-Muqawqis’s, Egypt’s leader at the time, present, as peaceful treatment which should be considered as a truce with him.
The Opening-Battle of Egypt
From the first moment of the opening of Christian Egypt, ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas, the leader of the Muslim expedite to Egypt, does not rush to fight its people. He rather, followed the tolerant Islamic legislation of the religion of Islam, which is not thirst for blood or to kill the innocent. He declares them to be safe, both: their lives and their homes, till they ponder over the matters between them and the Muslims.
The books Islamic history narrate that:
“When ‘Umar, the Muslim’s caliph, and Muslims completed the opening of Asham (the Levant), he sent ‘Amr ibn al-Aas to Egypt. He, moreover, sent Zubayr ibn al-‘Awam and Bishr ibn Artah, Kharjah ibn Hudhafah and ‘Umayr ibn Wahb al-Jumahi to accompany him.
They all gathered at the door of Egypt, and all met with Abu Maryam, the Catholicoi of Egypt, and Abu Mariam the bishop who was sent by Al-Muqawqis from Alexandria to support him, and protect Alexandria.
When they all met seeing each other, ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas said to his soldiers, “Do not hurry until they have no excuse.” He, moreover, said “Both Abu Mariam and Abu Miriam the monks of this land should appear”, which they did. He said to them, “You are both the monks of this land: know that that God (Allah) sent Muhammad- peace be upon him- with the right and commanded him to follow it, and Muhammad, peace be upon him, has commanded us to follow it. He delivered all of the message he was ordered to deliver by God and passed away making all matters clear to us”.
Among that which he ordered us to do is that we should be patient with people until they have no excuse. Therefore, we call you to Islam. Those responding to our call, would be considered of our people and those who refused to adopt Islam, will be commanded to pay Jizyah (tribute) and would be protected.
Our Prophet has informed us that we would be victorious over you and open your land. He, moreover, commanded us to deal mercifully and kindly with you due to our shared Rahim (i.e. kinship or affinity relationship/lineage). If you respond to us and do not fight us, you will be safe throughout another truce.
Our leader has commanded us to deal kindly with the Copts because our Dhimmah and Rahim”. They replied to him that: Such kinship or affinity relationship due to lineage which dates back for old times was not to be preserved except by a prophet (i.e. Prophet Muhammad)”.
“She (Hajar) was the daughter of our king of Memphis. The people of Heliopolis invaded her and her people. They defeated them to be alienated and distracted. The daughter of the king was given to Abraham -peace be upon him. So welcome you and your Amir (prince). So please give us a pledge of safety until we come back to you”, they replied.
‘Amr said to them “I cannot not be deceived by anyone. I will delay you for three days so that you may discuss the matter among yourselves otherwise I will fight you. They replied , “Give us more days,”. He added to them one more day. They also asked him one more day , which he did.
They went back to Al-Muqawqis, Artabun who refused to respond to their message and ordered that the Muslims should be fought secretly. They (the two monks) said to the people of Egypt: “We will strive to protect you and do not return to them (i.e. respond to them)”. He said to them “There are still four days left (for the truce) so fight the Muslims”.
Their leader advised them to invade the Muslim secretly and deceive them. Noble-men among them reprimanded them for fighting the brave people (i.e. Muslims) who killed Caesar and Hercules and defeated them in their lands . Artabun insisted that the Muslims should be deceived and besieged.
They could not defeat the Muslims who Besieged Ain-Shams (Heliopolis) in Egypt on the fourth day. Al-Zubayr along with his soldiers mounted on the wall protecting them and invaded them.
They fled to the door to be met with ‘Amr who reconciled with them through a truce. Al-Zubair had control over the land. ‘Amr wrote to them a Book of peace (i.e. pledge or truce) which reads:
“In the name of Allah the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful: This is what ‘Amr Ibn Al-‘Aas has given to the people of Egypt including: the safety of souls, religions, their properties, their churches, their crosses, their sea and land. No one may interfere with anything of these or diminish those rights, The people of Egypt should give the Jizyah (A few amount of tribute) if they agreed to this truce and their river’s increase mounted to fifty million; they should only be charged an amount which should meet their protection.
If any of them refused to pay Jizya, an amount of Jizya would be deducted from the whole amount of jizya imposed on them and the truce between us and those refused to pay it would be revoked. If their river is less than the required amount, an amount of Jizya would be deducted according to it. The one refused such truce and wants to go out of the land or migrate so that s/he may not be under our rule, s/he may do and would be safe until s/he migrates.
In this book is the pledge of Allah and the pledge of his messenger and the pledge of the Amir of the believers and the pledge of the believers.
All of the people of Egypt adopted such a truce and they accepted reconciliation; soldiers then dispatched in Al-Fustat (Old Cairo). Abu Mariam and Abu Miriam then appeared to ask ‘Amr to free the captives who were captured after the battle. ‘Amr refused to free them and expelled the two monks out.
When ‘Umar b. Al-Khattab, the Muslim Caliph heard about the incident, he ordered that the captives at the time of fifth-days truce should be freed and the captives who fought and those who did not should not. Some books mentioned that ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab gave the captives the choice either to revert to Islam to be free or join their people and also be freed on the condition that they pay the Jizya. Those fled captives who left and Muslims could not chase them were not to be chased to be forced to abide by this truce.
Some of the captives accepted Islam freely and others did not, to whom Muslims did not do harm. This how the truce between the Muslims and the Egyptian Copts was”.
This historical narration shows the Justice and tolerance the Muslims adopted represented in their leaders’ kind dealing towards the Egyptian Christian Copts. They gave them choice either to revert to Islam or adopt their religions making a truce between them and the Muslims which safes their lives and properties in recompense to a small amount of money called the Jizya which makes Muslims responsible to protecting them.
Such Justice also materializes in ‘Amr’s command that the amount of Jizya should be based on the amount of water of the Nile River so that the Copts may not be harmed at the times of drought.
It also materializes in Umar’s dealing with the captives ordering his leader not to rush to refuse to free them giving them the choice either to adopt Islam or to be freed on the condition of paying Jizya.
Thomas Arnold, the author of The Call to Islam, notes (According to him): “The rapid success of the Arabs is due, first of all, to the acceptance of the Christian people who hated the Byzantine rule and their unjust administration and their bitter hatred to the theologians (Monks and priests). Jacobites, moreover, who were the majority of the Christian population, were treated unfairly by the followers of the Orthodox doctrine of the court. “
Egypt’s Christian Coptic conquest represented the finest example of adherence to the human civilized values in times of wars and battles. The followers of the religion of Islam adhered to these noble Islamic principles even with enemies.
The provisions of contemporary human rights even find roots in the principles of Islam. It is the first religion to give the right to asylum. A Qur’anic aya reads,
“And if any one of the polytheists seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the words of Allah. Then deliver him to his place of safety. That is because they are a people who do not know..”(9:6).
It is the religion which has protected innocent people, their lives, property and families.
The justice of the Muslim invaders of Egypt with the Christians of Egypt has made the Copts equal in the treatment before Muslim leaders along with their different sects (Malkani and Jacobites) who oppressed each other at the time whenever they took over rule.