Alice asked the cat. “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where….. “ said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“……so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
[“Alice in Wonderland” by Lewis Carrol]
An eight-year-young boy approached an old man in front of a wishing well, looked up into his eyes, and asked: “I understand you’re a very wise man. I’d like to know the secret of life.” The old man looked at the youngster and replied: “I’ve thought a lot in my lifetime, and the secret can be summed up in four words The first is to “think”. Think about the values you wish to live your life by. The second is to “believe”. Believe in yourself based on the thinking you’ve done about the values you’re going to live your life by. The third is to “dream”. Dream about the things that can be, based on your belief in yourself and the values you’re going to live by. The last is to “dare”. Dare to make your dreams become reality, based on your belief in yourself and your values. “And with that”, Walter E. Disney said to the little boy, “Think, Believe, Dream, and Dare”.
The world is supported by four things:
The learning of the wise, the justice of the great, the prayers of the righteous and the valour of the brave.
But all of these are as nothing without a ruler who knows the art of ruling.
The classical proverbial justification of un-fair play “All is fair in love and war” (John Lyly’s ‘Euphues’ – 1578) is in straight disagreement with the very basic rationale of Islam and thus humanity, “all must be fair in love and war”.
Incidents at Mazar-i-Sharif and Bagram (Afghanistan), Abu Gharib (Iraq), Darfur (Chad), Sabra and Shatila (Palestine) depict the unethical ways of fighting, and range from physical as well as psychological abuse and torture, to the use of poisons, chemical weapons and deploying civilians as human shields. Despite all-round commotions of human rights, civil liberties, constitutional privileges and media activism in today’s world, the might is still right and the conflicts continue to be governed by John Lyly’s quote.
Islam permits war but keeps it within the limits of compassion. The basic principle for fighting in Islam is that other communities should be treated as one’s own. Fighting is justified for legitimate self-defense, to aid other Muslims and after a violation in the terms of a treaty, but should be stopped if these circumstances cease to exist. Islam has set down certain rules, which are kind and considerate to people. These rules are in line with the principles of international law in many ways, but differ on two most important counts: legality and executive power. The principle of international laws lacks the authority that ensures putting them into practical effect. A law is a law only when it is supported by some force that ensures its enforcement, and there is no such force for international law. The Muslim rules aim at justice and mercy, and have the faith of Muslims as an authority to ensure their being carried out.
Prophet Muhammad PBUH was role-model for humanity on all counts. This very well includes his status as a Commander of Muslim army. In the best of historical records ever made (his each and every word and action has been recorded and reaches us via more than 600,000 narrations and traditions), we find that he conquered one million square miles in 10 years – an area equal to the Europe, West of Russia – by sacrificing less than 150 Muslims. The following table enlists the causalities during Ghazwaat.
|2||Abwa (Waddan)||0||0||6||Bani-ul-Mustaliq||1||< 10|
|Badr Kubra||14||70||Bani Al-Hayaan||0||0|
[The 700 Jews executed after Ghazwa e Khandaq are not considered war casualties (since that was due to act of treason and breaking of Medina pact). Likewise, killing of 4 people during Mecca conquest was judicial execution and not combat killings]
In contrast, the war casualties of major conflicts of just one century (from 1900 till-date) surpass one’s imagination. (The figures are based on lowest estimates).
|First World War||1914 – 18||15 Million|
|Russian Civil War||1917 – 22||5 Million|
|Second World War||1937 – 45||40 Million|
|Vietnam War||1959 – 75||2.5 Million|
|Second Congo War||1998 – 2003||3.8 Million|
|Naxalite-Maoist insurgency (India)||1967 till-date||6,000 +|
|Civil War / Invasions in Afghanistan||1978 till-date||2 Million|
|Somali Civil War||1991 till-date||400,000|
|War on Terror in Pakistan||2004 till-date||50,000|
|Arab-Israeli Conflict||1948 till-date||90,000|
|Turkey–Kurdistan Workers’ Party conflict||1978 till-date||45,000|
|Indian Atrocities in Kashmir||1989 till-date||60,000|
From the procurement of battle equipment to the grooming of troops, and from the onset of war to the culmination of conflicts, Islam elaborates comprehensive guidelines for the conduct of war. Some of the main features of how war is supposed to be fought in Islam are appended below.
Personal behavior of the troops is one of the most important elements of war. Islamic directives maintain that whatever is prohibited during peace is also prohibited during war. As such, war is no excuse to be lenient with troops who act in an unbecoming manner. Holy Prophet PBUH said: “Beware of the prayer of the oppressed; for there is no barrier between it and Allah.” Additionally, Islam clearly identifies with whom to fight. Fighting is to be directed only against fighting troops, and not non-fighting personnel, as a Quranic verse reads: “Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not, aggressors.” (Al-Baqarah: 190)
Torturing the enemy, and burning the combatants alive is strictly prohibited. The mutilation of dead bodies is also prohibited. The Quran also discourages Muslim combatants from displaying pomp and unnecessary boasting when setting out for battle. Harming civilian areas and pillaging residential areas is also forbidden, as is the destruction of trees, crops, livestock and farmlands. The Muslim forces may not loot travelers, as doing so is contrary to the spirit of jihad. Nor do they have the right to use the local facilities of the non-combatant native people without their consent. If such a consent is obtained, the Muslim army is still under the obligation to compensate the people financially for the use of such facilities.
In line with his supreme qualities and traditions of mercy and compassion, Prophet PBUH’s instructions to Commanding Chiefs were: “Fight in the cause of Allah. Fight those who deny Allah; Do not be embittered. Do not be treacherous. Do not mutilate. Do not kill children or those (people) in convents.” Similarly, Abu-Bakr RA instructed Usama RA’s (for his campaign on Syria) as: “Do not betray or be treacherous or vindictive. Do not mutilate. Do not kill the children, the aged or the women. Do not cut or bum palm trees or fruitful trees. Don’t slay a sheep, a cow or camel except for your food. And you will come across people who confined themselves to worship in hermitages, leave them alone to what they devoted themselves for.” The first righteous caliph instructed Yazid bin Abu Sufian in the following manner: “I give you ten commandments: don’t kill a woman or a child or an old person, and don’t cut trees or ruin dwellings or slay a sheep but for food. Don’t burn palm trees or drown them. And don’t be spiteful or unjust.”
Maintenance of justice and avoidance of blind retaliation is yet another milestone set by Islam to be followed during war. Allah Almighty says: “O ye who believe! Be steadfast witnesses for Allah in equity, and let not hatred of any people seduce you that ye deal not justly. Deal justly, that is nearer to your duty. Observe your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is Informed of what ye do.” (Al-Maidah: 8)
Medical and nursing help is a basic right of every soul. Throughout the Islamic history of wars, this was also extended to enemies. A well known example is that of Salahuddin Ayubi sending medical help to his opponent, Richard (The Lion-heart) of England who went ill during the Crusades. In another instance, after Muslim Commander Al-Kamil defeated the Franks during the Crusades, Oliverus Scholasticus praised the Islamic laws of war, commenting on how Al-Kamil supplied the defeated Frankish army with food:
“Who could doubt that such goodness, friendship and charity come from God? Men whose parents, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, had died in agony at our hands, whose lands we took, whom we drove naked from their homes, revived us with their own food when we were dying of hunger and showered us with kindness even when we were in their power.”
Islam outlined exemplary treatment and disposal of Prisoners of War (POWs). Prior to Islam, it was mandatory for the captives to work for their food. Quran defined it as charity, to feed the prisoners: “And feed with food the needy wretch, the orphan and the prisoner, for love of Him. (Saying): We feed you, for the sake of Allah only. We wish for no reward nor thanks from you.” (Al-Insan: 5-9)
Holy Prophet PBUH directed Sahaaba RA to be polite to the captives. Abu Aziz-ibn Umair (a captive of Ghazwa e Badr) used to recall: “Whenever I sat with my captors for lunch or dinner, they would offer me the bread and themselves the dates, in view of the Prophet’s recommendation in our favour” (as bread was the more luxurious item of food than dates).
As per Islamic law, captives belong to the state and not to individual (captors). In Islam, the ruler may exercise any option, as deemed suitable to free the captives on any or no condition. Among those whom the Prophet SAW set free was Abu-Azza, a poet, who had requested to the Prophet SAW: “I have five daughters who have no one to support them, so give me away to them as a charity and I promise never to fight you or help your enemies.”
Islamic armies did not fight, but despotic authorities. Islamic wars were for liberation and not compulsion. Interestingly, when Muslims fought Romans in Egypt, the Egyptian Christians sided with and helped Muslims against Romans – their brothers in faith. This was because Christian of Egypt were suffering religious oppression by Romans to adopt religious beliefs of the later.
The concept of intervention to stop aggression is a development that modem international law has recognized after world wars in the form of creation of League of Nations, so that disputes may be settled collectively. Fourteen-hundred years before the establishment of the League of Nations and UNO, Islam decreed such responsibility. The legal principle of intervention to solve dispute was stated in Quran: “If two parties of believers fall into a quarrel, make ye peace between them: But if one of them transgresses beyond bounds against the other, then fight ye (all) against the one that transgresses until it complies with the command of God; but if it complies, then make peace between them with justice, and be fair: for God loves those who are fair.” (Al-Hujurat: 9)
In modern day, one of the major shortcomings of modern international politics and military traditions is the meager regard to moral obligations. Most often, treaties and agreements proved unworthy of the price of paper they had been inscribed upon. Islam has categorically prohibited treachery by taking on the enemy by surprise. Further, if Muslim states sense the treachery by an enemy with whom they had a treaty, the annulment of treaty should be announced before going to war again. Some quotations from Quran in this context are:
“ O ye who believe! Fulfil your undertakings…”(Al-Maidah:1)
“Fulfill the convenant of God when you have entered into it, and break not your oaths after you have confirmed them; indeed you have made God your surety, for God knoweth an that you do.” (An-Nahl: 91)
“Thou fearest treachery from any group, throw back (their covenant) to them, (so as to be) on equal terms: for God loveth not the treacherous.” (Al-Anfal:85)
Additionally, although Muslim states are bound to help of oppressed Muslims in enemy states, they are not allowed to fulfill this duty if there is a treaty between the two states. Priority goes to honouring the treaty. Quran states: “But if they seek your aid in religion, it is your duty to help them, except against a people with whom you have a treaty of mutual alliance. And (remember) God seeth an that you do.” (Al-Anfal:72)
War ethics has always been a complex subject for objective study or analysis. Given the nature of man, one cannot imagine a world without wars. The best we can strive for is to have a code of rules for war. It is the merit of Islam that it does provide such rules, which remain ever nobler and more realistic than any other code existing for the conduct of war. It is the significance of this universal religion (which is a way-of-life in itself), that the “means” are as important as “goals”, and for every righteous objective, the righteous way ought to be followed.
[Compiled using various resources from Internet]
“Heroes die young” is the most apt statement for Sarmad Tariq who mattered to the world in so many wonderful ways.
Also known as “the chairman”, he was a storyteller, motivational speaker, quadriplegic and most of all, an inspiration from. After meeting a swimming accident at the age of 15, he was paralyzed from the left shoulder down and confined to a wheelchair (hence his nickname). He also holds the world record of longest non-stop drive by a quadriplegic by driving his hand controlled car for 33 hours, covering a distance of 1,847 km from Khyber to Karachi. On 30 January 2005, he was the first wheelchair-bound athlete to participate in the Lahore Marathon. By completing the race in seven and a half hours, he qualified to represent his country in ING New York City Marathon 2005 and made history for Pakistan by returning with a finisher’s medal. Among his other accomplishments, he learned to drive a specially adapted automatic car, and obtained a job with a software firm by the age of 23.
His body left this world on 30 April 2014. His soul remains alive in his inspirational words and acts.
May Allah Bless him with the best of his blessings. Aameen.
1. Do not form an opinion about people on the basis of how they look, what they wear or their general demeanour. Every human being has some positive qualities that can only be discovered if we allow ourselves to do away with the judgments and discover those qualities about them.
2. Do not waste your energy and time on getting angry and worked up about the little things in life. Save it for things that really matter. And when you let your anger out, express to show your care not disrespect.
3. Do not let your fears, complexes and anxieties keep you away from pursuing what your heart tells you to. Time will not wait and there will be no tomorrow, so just do what you have to do and the rest will follow.
4. Do not let your challenges become your excuses. Seize them as opportunities that need to be explored and given meaning to.
5. Do not follow your passion, hobbies and interests half-heartedly, without full knowledge about them. If you ride a bicycle, a jeep, dance, learn all about its history, mechanics and the works because it’s only through this learning that you will excel in the passion.
6. Do not let the child or teenager in you die as you age. Allow yourself to feel the excitement about the small, the silly and fun things in life no matter what age you are.
7. Do not find excuses for doing or not doing something that you did not want or wanted to do. While your age, gender, class, disability may make things tough for you, it’s not a good enough excuse.
8. Do not waste your time ‘flipping through the TV channels’. There needs to be a purpose behind what you do and that purpose, no matter how big or small, should make sense to you. So, even when you watch a movie, listen to music, meet your friends, you of all people should know why you are doing it.
9. Do not take your loved ones for granted so keep telling them how much you love, adore and care for them.
10. Do not try to control the thoughts, opinions and lives of your loved ones. Let them live the way they want to as they are responsible for their lives. Your concern for your loved ones should not cross the boundaries of their personal space. Emotional black mail and self-pity are tools of destruction, not construction.