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Principles of Justice in War: The Advice of Abū Bakr to Usāmah Bin Zayd

Posted by Abu Iyaad
Sunday, Oct 22 2023
Filed under Miscellaneous

In the ḥadīth of ʿAbd Allāh bin ʿUmar (رضي الله عنه) there occurs that a woman was found killed in the one of the battles of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and he censured the killing of women and children and prohibited that.[1]

Allāh did not legislate fighting in His Sharīʿah for revenge or tyranny, but only to subdue the forces of polytheism, idolatry, disbelief and oppression which stand to hinder people from hearing the peaceful call to Tawḥīd and Islām and deliverance from punishment and success with Paradise in the Hereafter. Hence, fighting was legislated out of necessity and as mercy. Upon this, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) prohibited the killing of women and children in war (as well as other categories).

Imām al-Ṭabarī (d. 310H) (رحمه الله) mentions in his Tārīkh, that Abū Bakr al-Ṣiddīq (رضي الله عنه), the first Caliph, advised the leader of the Muslim army, Usāmah bin Zayd (رضي الله عنه) with the following:[2]

O people, stop [for a moment], I advise you with ten:

01  Do not be treacherous (with secret violation of agreements).

02  Do not take spoils of war dishonestly.

03  Do not be treacherous (with open violation of agreements).

04  Do not mutilate (those who die in battle).

05  Do not kill a small child, an old man, or a woman.

06  Do not cut-down or burn the date-palm tree.

07  Do not cut fruit-bearing trees.

08  Do not slaughter any sheep, cow or camel unless it is for eating.

09  You will come upon a people who have isolated themselves in monasteries, so leave them alone and what they have preoccupied themselves with.

10  You will come upon people who come to you with vessels of various types of food. If you eat anything from them, mention the name of Allāh over them.


“God commands us to kill children” - Rabbi Yaron Reuven.[3]

A List of the 613 Mitzvot (Commandments)

Below is a list of the 613 mitzvot (commandments). It is based primarily on the list compiled by Rambam in the Mishneh Torah.

601.Not to keep alive any individual of the seven Canaanite nations (Deut. 20:16) (negative).
602. To exterminate the seven Canaanite nations from the land of Israel (Deut. 20:17) (affirmative).
611. Always to remember what Amalek did (Deut. 25:17) (CCA76). See Shabbat Zakhor.
612. That the evil done to us by Amalek shall not be forgotten (Deut. 25:19) (CCN194). See Shabbat Zakhor.
613. To destroy the seed of Amalek (Deut. 25:19) (CCA77). See Shabbat Zakhor.


Apologists claim that what has been described as a call to bloodthirsty revenge, ethnic cleansing and genocide in the Bible (Old Testament, Torah) was only historical and no longer applicable today. However, the texts quoted by the Rabbi have been included in the 613 essential commandments (mitzvot) (extracted by Maimonides) and Rabbis have never ceased to use these texts till this day to justify deliberate killing of women and children, while giving—as we see in the video—their reasoning behind it:

The kid will grow up one day to kill a Jew and hence it is an act of viciousness to the one who maybe killed (in the future) by not killing the child now.

As for us, then in our Sharīʿah, we are not allowed to kill women and children in battle, and this is from manliness, bravery, justice and mercy.

What is done by the likes of Ḥamas, ISIS, al-Qaeda and other groups—who are funded, aided and abetted by Western powers for their own objectives (see, for example Hamas and the Israeli Right)—of killing of women and children, then all of that is criminal and opposed to our religion and we condemn it without hesitation.

In short, this is our religion, this is our Sharīʿah (law), which prohibits the killing of non-combatant civilians, women and children and this is the way of our Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), one of truth, wisdom, justice and mercy. It is not the way of HAMAS who are strategic assets/partners of the Jewish right in facilitating dispossession of the Palestinians of their land and who fight for the world and grievances therein.

Further, the issue of Palestine has become a dispute over land. For misguided groups and sects such as the Muslim Brotherhood and all their offshoots, as well as HAMAS and the various Jihadi groups, this has become a dispute over land, it has become a worldly issue, not one of true religion and calling to Islām.

For that reason, these groups in particular (not the Palestinian people as a whole) are incapable of living up to the moral excellence, moral superiority and virtue, patience and restraint, and end up being intoxicated with revenge, and end up doing what is unlawful in our Sharīʿah, such as killing women and children, and end up harming the Palestinian population and doing thing against their interests, their safety and their welfare.

They also do not have scholars. genuine scholars who are deeply rooted in knowledge, rather, they denigrate and attack the scholars who speak with truth, wisdom, pragmatism and deal with factual realities.

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) never fought over land, but he fought to remove hindrances and barriers which stood in the way of people from receiving and accepting guidance. He never fought for revenge.

The Moderation, Justice and Superiority of Islām and its Legislation Over Distorted, Abrogated Religion and Prior Legislation

From the tremendous mercy of our Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) is that instead of calling for the destruction of his enemies, he supplicated for their guidance and on occasions when he was given the choice by the Angel Jibrīl, whether to destroy a people or leave them (such as the people of Ṭāʾif). He chose not to have them destroyed because there may arise from their offspring those who will worship Allāh alone.

THE WAY OF THE PROPHET(صلى الله عليه وسلم)

Abū Hurayrah reports that a man said to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), “O Messenger of Allāh, supplicate against the polytheists”—this was during their great oppression against the Muslims—and the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, “I was not sent to curse, I was sent as mercy.”[4]

Abū Hurayrah also reports that Ṭufayl bin ʿAmr and some of his associates from the Daws tribe came to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and said, “O Messenger of Allāh, the Daws have disobeyed us and refused our call, so supplicate against them.” The Prophet said, “O Allāh guide the [tribe of] Daws and bring them to us.”[5]

The Daws tribe accepted Islām towards the end of the Prophet’s mission and just as the Prophet supplicated, the entire tribe consisting of seventy to eighty households migrated to Madīnah.

Jābir bin ʿAbdullāh reported that a group of the companions said, “O Messenger of Allāh, the nobles of the Thaqīf tribe have violated against us so supplicate against them.” The Prophet said, “O Allāh, guide the tribe of Thaqīf.”[6]

This demonstrates the moral excellence and superiority of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) who was himself mocked, abused, reviled, pelted with stones, strangled and humiliated in public by the polytheists.

Since, he was sent to guide and not destroy or kill, he never, ever held on to grudges of a personal nature. Likewise, when Islām spread and Muslim converts were receiving similar treatment from their tribes, the Prophet indicated to them that Islām is a religion of guidance, peace and mercy and that they should behave with patience and dignity in the face of non-acceptance and aggression from their tribes.

1. Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī (nos. 3014, 3015 and Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, no. 1744).
2. Tārīkh al-Ṭabarī (2/463).
3. Note that this is not the view and interpretation of all Jews.
4. Reported by Imām Muslim in his Ṣaḥīḥ.
5. Related by al-Bukhārī.
6. Reported by al-Tirmidhī in his Sunan.

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