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The word Islam means Peace, but for nearly 1, years its adherents have waged war--frequently on the grandest and most successful scales in history.
Table of contents

If they cease hostilities, there can be no [further] hostility, except towards aggressors. A sacred month for a sacred month: violation of sanctity [calls for] fair retribution.

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So if anyone commits aggression against you, attack him as he attacked you, but be mindful of God, and know that He is with those who are mindful of Him. A concise picture of just war theory comes into focus. It does not require people to actually embrace Islam individually, but only that they uphold social justice consistent with Islamic and humanitarian values. Moreover, if enemies desist in their fighting, such as when a soldier surrenders or a state calls for a peace treaty, then their peace offering should be accepted without any retribution except for individuals guilty of war crimes.

The Quran emphasizes that peace should be made with the enemy, regardless of their faith or race or any other characteristic of their identity. Peace is always preferred as long as the enemy inclines towards it and quits its aggression. Furthermore, if an enemy combatant seeks refuge, Muslims are ordered to grant him it. That being said, we can affirm the following rules of engagement:.

Now that the basic foundation of just war has been established, we will move on to discuss its details. As proven earlier, enemies who surrender or stop fighting must be given safety.

Islam at War

Islam prescribed an ingenious solution to the dilemma of what to do with prisoners of war. Walzer addresses this issue, writing:. How long should prisoners be imprisoned? How can they attain their freedom? Plain and simple, and perhaps the quickest and easiest solution for captors. This, of course, is morally reprehensible except as a legal punishment for bona fide war criminals.

Execution as a general prescription is against both Islamic and modern just war principles.

From war to peace and back again

This action is compatible with Islam and just war theory on the condition that prisoners are not mistreated. The disadvantage of this system, even when instituted appropriately, is that it hurts both the captives and captors. For the captives, it forces them to be locked up indefinitely, where they can neither benefit themselves nor society. Logistically, without the resources to construct mass systems of incarceration with appropriately staffed and furnished buildings, this would have been impossible to implement in the aftermath of a large battle.

In historical practice, it has been rare that prisoners were held in ideal conditions.

This is the most generous solution, but it is entirely impractical and can even be dangerous. If your enemies know that they will merely be released whenever they are captured, they know that they can later regroup and attack you again. Each prisoner was assigned to one household of the Muslim community. That household was responsible for providing the bondsman with adequate shelter and the same quality of food and clothing shared by all members of the family.

The bondsman, in turn, would assist the family with routine chores and labor. The prisoner is protected from abuse and given the same quality treatment and living standards as the household master he is assigned to live with. The prisoner is also is able to pay back this good treatment with his labor, so as not to disadvantage the community. The caretaker could not change the name of his bondsman and thereby do violence to his family lineage. One of the companions, Abu Dharr, was seen wearing the same clothing as his bondsman.

They are your brothers and sisters. God has placed them in your hands. Whoever has his brother under him should feed him with the same food he eats, clothe him with the same clothes he wears, and not burden him beyond his ability. If you burden him, then help him. Freeing bondsmen is also greatly rewarded by God and is even required for the expiation of many sins. As can be seen from the above restrictions, the system of bondage in Islam was designed to integrate prisoners of war as productive members of society.

Sometimes bondsmen would convert to Islam when receiving such graceful treatment. This system, unfortunately, has been unfairly characterized as equivalent to how Native Americans and Africans were treated by their European and American slave masters. Furthermore, as mentioned, Islam encouraged and facilitated the freeing of bondsme n.

The Islamic system, in fact, can be a fair and benevolent alternative to the treatment of prisoners in modern times. In war, sometimes military actions must be taken that will invariably take civilian lives and destroy property. Can such actions be considered just? A negative effect can be justified as the lesser of two evils.

Islam and the West: a Historical Perspective

Walzer asserts that this doctrine is the basis for accepting a reasonable degree of collateral damage:. In other words, Walzer argues that it is just and acceptable to take military actions that may have harmful unintended consequences, like the deaths of civilians, as long as the initial act is legitimate and the positive outcome repelling a threat is the primary motive. This understanding is consistent with Islamic law principles that allow a greater harm to be removed by a lesser harm, to attempt to calculate as much as possible the net benefit and harm of an action. Islam is a religion that has spawned multifaceted political movements whose goal is power.

Israel calls them home. Who or what is to blame? There are two schools. For the second, it is rather the abject failure of the Arab world, its blocked societies where dictators face off against political Islam, its repression, its feeble institutions, its sectarianism precluding the practice of participatory citizenship, its wild conspiracy theories, its inability to provide jobs or hope for its youth, that gives the Islamic State its appeal. Ahmadinejad was in no way the candidate of the clerics.

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They had no interest in this simpleton. But when it came down to the simpleton versus Rafsanjani, they put all of their weight behind Ahmadinejad, because Rafsanjani has always been an enemy of the current supreme leader in Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei. When Ahmadinejad became president, he found that everything he had promised during his campaign was impossible to achieve. You cannot root out corruption in Iran without rooting out the clerics.

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Ahmadinejad also says the U. Again, this is a popular perception in Iran, which is an educated country. Its literacy rate matches that of the U. In short, Ahmadinejad has used the anti-American issue to bolster support. And the more the U. Everyone in the American government knows that the president of Iran makes not a single foreign-policy decision: not one.

BBC - Religions - Islam: War

His comments about wiping Israel off the map, his anti-American remarks, his criticism of Bush — in no way does any of this translate into Iranian foreign policy. Khamenei makes the decisions. He has appointed Ali Larijani, the presidential candidate the clerics backed, to be the chief nuclear negotiator in Iran.

But certain people within the Bush administration, and within the Iranian administration, want to have an escalation of tensions. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attending the opening ceremony of a heavy-water plant, which will feed a nuclear research reactor. Cooper: What do you make of the letter Ahmadinejad sent to Bush last spring? Aslan: Ahmadinejad is trying to set himself up as the George W. Bush of the Muslim world, to show that he has the authority to send a letter to the most powerful man on earth.

Still, it was the first attempt by an Iranian president to communicate with the United States, and every foreign-policy expert I have talked to has said it was a big mistake to have ignored that letter.

Reuven Firestone

We could have made some small gesture. When the former president of Iran, Mohammad Khatami, was in the U. Let me engage in a bit of secret dealings here.

15. Islamic Conquests and Civil War

But no one recognized that Khatami was here because he had permission to be here from the very highest levels of the government in Iran. The clerical rulers are trying to figure out a way around this impasse. Cooper: So how do you see this panning out? Do you think the U. When I hear this kind of talk, I begin sweating a bit.

There are no military options in Iran, and everyone knows it. And yet the Bush administration has ruled out the possibility. Cooper: What about this idea that Iran has been the chief beneficiary of the war on terror? The invasion of Iraq has made the price of oil skyrocket, and Iran, whose economy is in a shambles, has benefited from that.

If the oil money were not there, the Iranian economy would have collapsed by now. Iran is doing a marvelous job of keeping Afghanistan going and has had a huge beneficial influence on Iraq. The trade back and forth across the border since Saddam fell has helped reestablish some semblance of economic stability in Iraq. The thousands of Iranian pilgrims and tourists pouring into Iraq have brought money into the region.

As poor as they are, Iranians are practically millionaires compared to Iraqis. The Pentagon says that Iran is training the insurgents in Iraq, but any talk about a connection between Iran and al-Qaeda is just absurd. They are mortal enemies. Thomas Turner, the brigadier general in charge of Baghdad, says he has seen absolutely no evidence that the Iranians are training or funding or supplying the insurgents.