This month the world has been rocked by tragedy after tragedy.
Still fresh in our minds are the March 11 attacks on two Afghan villages where US soldiers were reported to have lined up and shot their victims, and set them on fire. At least nine of the 17 killed were children.
And now another unspeakable tragedy, this time in Toulouse, France. A 24-year-old Frenchman of Algerian descent is suspected of killing three Jewish children, a rabbi and three French paratroopers, who were mercilessly gunned down in cold blood. And the French people, Christian, Jewish and Muslim, all mourn the dead.
According to media reports the suspect has told police he belonged to al-Qa’ida and wanted to take revenge for Palestinian children killed in the occupied territories. Although it is true that the state of Israel has committed war crimes against the oppressed Palestinian people, the rules of war in the Sharia as taught by all Islamic scholars are clear concerning the correct Islamic manner of combat which is expected to be obeyed by Muslims in times of war.
Muslims who act unjustly, and for the unjustifiable cause of revenge, are acting outside the remit of their beliefs and succumbing to a reactionary emotional desire which ends up making them behave no different to the military forces who kill Muslim men, women and children on a daily basis. Muslims who claim to believe in a higher truth and standard of conduct should know better than to behave in a tit-for-tat manner – which is more fitting of the cynical acts of barbaric secular forces which occupy Muslim land.
The Qur’an teaches that other communities should be treated as one’s own. Fighting is justified for legitimate self-defence, to aid other Muslims and after a violation in the terms of a treaty, but should not be directed at non-combatants, ands stopped if these circumstances cease to exist.
During his life, the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) gave various injunctions to his forces and adopted practises toward the conduct of war. The most important of these were summarised by Muhammad’s companion and first Caliph, Abu Bakr, in the form of ten rules for the Muslim army:
“O people! I charge you with ten rules; learn them well!
Stop, O people, that I may give you ten rules for your guidance in the battlefield. Do not commit treachery or deviate from the right path. You must not mutilate dead bodies. Neither kill a child, nor a woman, nor an aged man. Bring no harm to the trees, nor burn them with fire, especially those which are fruitful. Slay not any of the enemy’s flock, save for your food. You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic services; leave them alone.”
(Aboul-Enein, H. Yousuf and Zuhur, Sherifa, Islamic Rulings on Warfare, p. 22, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College, Diane Publishing Co., Darby PA, ISBN 1428910395)
We at the The Muslim Debate Initiative condemn unreservedly these barbaric acts against the Jewish community and others in South West France. We condemn all attacks on civilians and non-combatants anywhere in the world, whether perpetuated by Muslims, Christians, Jews or Atheists.
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad denounced the killings and condemned the link to Palestinian children.
“It’s time for criminals to stop using the Palestinian cause to justify their terrorist actions,” Fayyad said in a statement. “The children of Palestine want nothing but dignified lives for themselves and for all the children.”