I Guds namn, Den Barmhärtigaste, Den Nådigaste
POWs (Prisoners of War) status in Islam (Submission),
the truth of the matter.
With the current USA -Iraqi war going on, more questions are being raised everyday about the position of Islam (Submission in English) on issues related to the war. One of these urging question, is the position of Islam (Submission) on the Prisoners of War (POWs), their status, their treatment and their well being. In this brief article , I will try to present this issue as every true Muslim (Submitter) can see and understand from the Quran (The Final Testament). This will give a chance to those who have never been exposed to Islam or its teachings to know the truth and not be confused by any atrocities carried out by a failing regime or a government that does not follow or adhere to the teachings of God in the Quran even when they claim to be Muslims or Islamic. History repeats itself, and many of what people think as Islam as they watch on TV is no more than corruption of the religion carried out by the same people who corrupted their own land to stay in power and oppress their own people against every law in Islam (Submission).
If the Iraqi military , Afghanistani fighters or Pakistani militia, for example, who claim to be Muslims carried their own atrocities against their POWs, they do so, not representing Islam (Submission). but rather representing the corruption of their own religion that they have been living with for years. What they practice is NOT Islam or the law of Islam but their own man-made inhumane laws that defy God’s law and His book, the Quran as we will see.
Comparison between Islam and The International Law Concerning War
Islam permits war but keeps it within the limits of mercy at which the twentieth century civilization has not yet been able to arrive, not even to come near to. Islam has set down certain rules, the most merciful and considerate to people, and required people to observe them.
Such rules go in line with the principles of international law in many ways, but differ in that they are divine rules legalized through religion and executed through the faith of Moslems. The principle of international law lack this authority that ensures putting them into practical effect. Scholars even say that considering international rules as laws is a kind of leniency. A law is a law only when it is supported by some force that ensures its performance, and there is no such force for international law. The Moslem rules, though they aim at justice and mercy, have the faith of Moslems as an authority to ensure their being carried out. Any failure in applying these laws by those who claim to be Muslims is only a reflection of the corruption of these Muslims and/or their government and their desertion of the divine law in Islam in favor of their own man made inhumane laws and thus their behaviour does NOT represent Islam (Submission) and they cannot be considered Muslims (Submitters) since they defied God in His own book, the Quran..
A. International law determines that the citizens who are not regular members of an army are not considered as fighters, and hence should not be inflicted with harm; only regular soldiers (or armed men engaged in a war) are considered as fighters.
Islam (submission in English) agrees on this point, for the Koran says: [2:190] You may fight in the cause of GOD against those who attack you, but do not aggress. GOD does not love the aggressors. It is an act of transgression to when believers fight those who do not fight them, people like their enemy’s children and wives, as well as their sick, old and clergy.
B. International law forbids killing the wounded, torturing the enemy, destroying them by treachery or deception, or using bombs, missiles or weapons which add to their torture. It also prohibits the poisoning of wells, rivers and foods; it recommends that the corpses of the dead be respected, and prohibits any severity or mayhem be inflicted on them, regardless of the nationality of dead people.
Islam applies the same principles, and the army or troop leader is expected to follow the Quranic laws closely, not to be the aggressor or transgress the limits. The captives or POWs are expected to be treated in the most humane manner possible for the situation, cared for, fed, treated, protected, sheltered, not to be tortured, humiliated or insulted.
[2:190] You may fight in the cause of GOD against those who attack you, but do not AGGRESS. GOD does not love the AGGRESSORS.
All fighting is regulated by the basic rule in 60:8-9. Fighting is allowed strictly in self-defense, while aggression and oppression are strongly condemned throughout the Quran.
[2:193] You may also fight them to eliminate oppression, and to worship GOD freely. If they refrain, you shall not AGGRESS; AGGRESSION is permitted only against the AGGRESSORS.
Once a captive, a POW cannot be killed. Quran permits only killing the enemy fighters who are actively fighting the believers while commanding to protect the captives who may be kept protected until the war is over ,or set free (e.g. severely injured captives, handicapped captives or those who do not represent danger anymore of returning as fighters).
[47:4] If you encounter (in war) those who disbelieve, you may strike the necks. If you take them as CAPTIVES you may set them free or ransom them, until the war ends. Had GOD willed, He could have granted you victory, without war. But He thus tests you by one another. As for those who get killed in the cause of GOD, He will never put their sacrifice to waste.
C. International law prescribes a number of principles regarding the proper treatment of captives. They should not be killed, injured, ill-treated or humiliated if they surrender or if they are deprived of their freedom.
Islam also urges on the polite treatment of captives in general, and God commends the righteous who treat such people hospitably, saying: [76:8-9] They donate their favorite food to the poor, the orphan, and the captive. ”We feed you for the sake of GOD; we expect no reward from you, nor thanks.
Those who Seek Protection
Among the pricniples of Islam which reveal tolerance toward the enemy in the time of war, is that it allows individuals and groups of the enemy who actively fight against Islam, to get in touch with Moslems and to reside in Moslem lands under the protection of the Islamic law which is known as the ”Law of Protection.” Islam ensures the protection of such people and requires Moslems to protect them with all they can afford as long as they are in Moslem territories. It even offers them certain privileges and releases them from certain obligations which Moslems have to observe.
The purpose of this Law of Protection is to give these people a chance to learn the truth about Islam. In this way, Moslems could effectively spread the message of their faith. The origin of this lies in God’s words: [9:6] If one of the idol worshipers sought safe passage with you, you shall grant him safe passage, so that he can hear the word of GOD, then send him back to his place of security. That is because they are people who do not know.
Islam deals with this point at length and permits the Moslem individuals to protect and settle a covenant with one or a group of non-Moslems. This measure of protection and guarantee on his part is to be respected.
Islam’s Call For Peace
In international law, there is a set of well-established rules concerning the obligations of nations toward each other in times of war and peace. The first of these is that a country should base its relations with other countries on terms of peace so that it may exchange benefit and cooperate with others in order to promote humanity to utmost perfection. Peaceful ties like these, they say, should not be broken except in extreme urgencies that necessitate war, provided that all peaceful steps have failed in terminating the cuase of dispute.
This is what Islam has always been working for, and the relations of Moslems with others are primarily based on peace and confidence. Islam refuses the killing of people merely because they embrace a different faith, nor does it allow Moslems to fight against those who disagree with them on religious questions. It urges its followers to treat such people kindly: [60:8] GOD does not enjoin you from befriending those who do not fight you because of religion, and do not evict you from your homes. You may befriend them and be equitable towards them. GOD loves the equitable.
In another place, God says: [4:90] …….. Therefore, if they leave you alone, refrain from fighting you, and offer you peace, then GOD gives you no excuse to fight them.
We also have: [8:61] If they resort to peace, so shall you, and put your trust in GOD. He is the Hearer, the Omniscient. Instructions like these pave the way for the establishment of peace, and go in harmony with the present tendency to set down principles that call for the abolishment of war.