The Etiquettes of War
Islam is a religion of principles, values, moral qualities, justice, mercy and tolerance. Even with the enemies, Islam instructs to strictly observe these rules. The pagans of Makkah caused much troubles to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and his companions (may Allah be pleased with them), but when Allah bestowed the conquest of Makkah upon Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and the power to decide the fates of the pagans was given in the hands of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), the pagans of Makkah thought he would surely avenge them and pay them in the same coin. But the leader of the universe Muhammad (ﷺ) announced for general forgiveness and said:
«اِذْھَبُوا فأنْتُم الطُّلَقاءُ» [بیھقي]
Translation: “Go all of you, you all are free.” [Baihaqi]
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) would advise his commanders:
«اغْزُوا بِاسْمِ اللَّهِ فِى سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ قَاتِلُوا مَنْ كَفَرَ بِاللَّهِ اغْزُوا وَ لاَ تَغُلُّوا وَلاَ تَغْدِرُوا وَلاَ تَمْثُلُوا وَلاَ تَقْتُلُوا وَلِيدًا» [مسلم، ترمذي، ابوداؤد]
Translation: “Fight in the name of Allah and in the path of Allah and with him who disbelieves in Allah; fight and do not be treacherous and do not be dishonest about booty and do not deface (in killing) and do not kill children. (Who are young and unable to fight)” [Muslim, Tirmizi, Abu Dawood]
Islam does not avenge nor does it allow mutilating the corpses or cutting them into pieces. In the Battle of Uhud, the infidels had mutilated the body of Hadrat Hamza (Radhi Allahu Anhu), the leader of the Muslim martyrs, and other martyrs. Islam is totally a religion of tolerance and justice. Islam has termed haram embezzlement, breach of promise, cutting or burning trees, killing animals, destroying houses and crops, except when necessary and on a limited scale and in a way that the enemies get humiliated and are forced to surrender. In this context, we have the doing of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) with some of the Jews.
The history is witness that Muslims have always behaved their enemies with forgiveness and they never broke the promise. When Amir-ul-Mumineen Hadrat Umar bin al-Khattab (Radhi Allahu Anhu) went to Palestine to receive the key of Bait al-Muqaddas from the Roman Christians, it was the time of prayer. He went out of the Church and offered prayer there lest Muslims should take his action as a precedent and turn Christians’ churches into mosques.
In the last days of Islamic history, the following example of forgiveness was a matter of amazement for all. When Muhammad bin Fateh (may Allah have mercy upon him) conquered Constantinople he left the churches of the Christians for them to worship there and behaved the Christian priests very mannerly. Even some of them were forced to observe that the kind of respect and honour they got from their Muslim brethren, they never got from their Christian brothers.