Muslim Killing Discussed

Question: Is killing to defend your country justified?

Muslim Killing

ABDUL RASHID is a member of the Ottawa Muslim community, the Christian-Muslim Dialogue and the Capital Region Interfaith Council.

The right of a country to defend itself against aggression is recognized by both national and international laws. The United Nations Charter, Chapter VII, Article 51 guarantees this right. From a faith perspective, while Islam accepts war as a fact of life in this world, an armed conflict is also likely to result in human casualties. However, Islam does not permit initiating hostilities or aggression.

The Muslims were permitted to engage in a defensive war after suffering suppression for a very long time and expulsion from their land (Holy Qur’an, 22:39-40). At the same time, they are ordered in clear terms not to transgress the bounds: “And fight in the way of God those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for God does not love transgressors” (2:190).

This warning against “transgressing limits” includes several things. For example, Islam does not sanction pre-emptive strikes or war of aggression. Similarly, prisoners are not to be killed, tortured or stripped naked, depriving them of all human dignity.

The first caliph of Islam after the Holy Prophet instructed the Muslim army: “Do not attack non-combatants, do not kill children, women and the elderly, do not kill monks, do not mutilate the dead, do not cheat, do not cut down fruit-trees and do not kill sheep and cattle unless they are needed for food.”

Furthermore, the Holy Qur’an gives explicit instructions to the Muslims not to miss an opportunity to achieve peace. They are told to go for peace even if they have serious doubts about the sincerity of the enemy: “But if they incline towards peace, you (also) incline towards peace, and trust in God; for He is the One that hears and knows (all things). Should they intend to deceive you, verily God suffices you” (8:61-62).

Religious Opinion

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