Abu Bakr and International Law
by Sh. G. F. Haddad

Wa `alaykum as-Salam wa rahmatullah:

One responded in a manner that suggests Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (radiyallahu 'anh) engaged in acts that in modern standards would be considered as a violation of human rights -- specifically, declaring war against those rebels who refused to pay zakat, citing that his declaration of war violates the ability religious freedom. So another responded saying there must be some "spiritual significance" to his actions. I'm sure that would be somewhat the case regarding the greatest man after the ambiya'.

Is this to say that on the level other than this wondrously vague and ethereal "spiritual significance" he did violate human rights and international law?

Or is this to say - at the risk of sounding defensive - that the rhetorical hobgoblin of "human rights and international law" must intimidate Muslims into thinking that the Shari`a fails where the fathers of civilian carpet-bombing and concentration camps succeed?

Rather, those against whom Abu Bakr waged war had (1) broken their pact with the polity and (2) become leaders (perhaps unwillingly) of a general onslaught on Islam. So from the two perspectives of defense and pre-emption Abu Bakr was entirely within the purported confines of human rights and international law. This is based on his foremost understanding of the Prophetic instruction:

"I was ordered to fight people until they say: 'There is no God but The One God [Allah].' When they say it, they have made untouchable by me their life and property, APART FROM THE RIGHTS DUE UPON THEM."

The same applies to Abu Bakr's giving a free choice to non- Muslims as the record states:

Abu Bakr said - Allah be well-pleased with him:

"When you meet the idolatrous enemy - if Allah wills - call them to three things. If they respond, accept it from them and stop fighting them. Call them to Islam. If they respond, accept it from them and stop fighting them. Then call them to move from their residence to the residence of the Emigrants. Tell them, if they do, that they have the rights and responsibilities of the Emigrants, no more and no less.

"If they enter Islam but prefer their own residence to the residence of the Emigrants, tell them that they have the same status as the Muslim Arabs of the desert. The Law of Allah will apply to them just as it applies to the Believers, but they will have no share in the spoils except if they fight with the Muslims.

"If they refuse to enter Islam then ask of them the non- Muslim duty (al-jizya). If they accept, accept it from them and stop fighting them. If they refuse, seek help from Allah and fight them if Allah wills.

"Do not drown nor burn date orchards. Do not hamstring livestock nor cut down fruit trees nor destroy churches. Do not kill children nor elders nor women. You will find people who secluded themselves from society in monasteries. Leave them to their seclusion. You will find others in the midst of whose heads the devil nests.(*) When you find them, strike off their heads if Allah wills."

Narrated by al-Tabari in his Tarikh (3:26) and Ibn al-Athir in his (Dar Sadir ed. 1:227), al-Bayhaqi in his Sunan (9:85), and Ibn `Asakir in Tarikh Dimashq. Cited in Kanz al-`Ummal (11408, 30268).

(*) I.e. Diocesan and other non-monastic clerics (al-shamamisa) that are part of fighting personnel (and have a notorious disreputation in medieval European history and literature) cf. Ibn Habib as quoted by al-Zurqani in Sharh al-Muwatta' (3:17) and al-Suyuti in Tanwir al-Hawalik (1:298).

The above were based on the instructions of the Prophet himself MHMD upon him blessings and peace, to which Abu Bakr added some stipulations. Burayda related that whenever the Prophet MHMD sent out a military expedition he would tell its commander in private and in public to fear Allah.

Then the Prophet MHMD would say, upon him blessings and peace:

"[...] When you meet the idolatrous enemy, call them to three things. If they accept even one of them, accept it from them and stop fighting them. Call them to Islam. If they accept, accept it from them and stop fighting them. Then call them to move from their residence to the residence of the Emigrants. Tell them, if they do, that they will have the rights and responsibilities of the Emigrants, no more and no less. If they refuse to move, tell them that they can have the status of the Muslim Arabs of the desert. The Law of Allah will apply to them just as it applies to the Believers, but they will have no share in the spoils except if they fight with the Muslims.

"If they refuse [both of the above] then ask of them the non-Muslim duty (al-jizya). If they accept, accept it from them and stop fighting them. If they refuse, seek help from Allah and fight them.

"When you surround a fort and its occupants request a guarantee from you in terms honored by Allah and His Prophet MHMD do not give a guarantee in such terms but give it in terms honored by yourself and your companions. It is easier to be the custodians of your guarantee and that of your companions than to be the custodians of the guarantee of Allah and His Prophet MHMD. When you surround a fort and its occupants request you to treat them according to the Judgment of Allah, do not grant such a request but grant that you will treat them according to your judgment. For you do not know whether you will be accurate in applying the Judgment of Allah."

Narrated from Burayda by Muslim, from Ibn `Abbas by Abu Dawud, Ahmad, Abu Ya`la, al-Tabarani, and others, and from Ibn `Umar in the Sahihayn.

GFH
GF Haddad
[Sun, 11 Apr 2004]







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