Imam Taymiyyah on Fighting With Infidels


Before I begin, I want to assert that reproducing someone’s work on this blog doesn’t necessarily mean endorsing or propagating any idea or belief. This blog post should only be considered as academic in nature. And as a reference to this blog it should only be reproduced further for academic purpose only.

Professor Abu Zahrah of Egypt in his book “Imam Ibn Taymiyyah” (the Urdu translation of which has been produced by Naib Hussain Naqwi) summarieses the opinion of Imam Taymiyyah on fighting with infidels in the following terms:

On the first question as to whether it is permissible to fight the disbelievers on the ground of their disbelief or on that of their tyranny and transgression, the Imam refers to two schools of thought among the Ulema. The first school holds that according to Imam Malik, Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, Imam Abu Hanifah and others, and the majority of of Ulema and Aimmah, fighting with disbelievers is allowed only if they are bent upon oppressions and tyranny. From this opinion it follows that waar with infidels is not permissible in any other circumstances.

Consequently, fighting can be resorted to as a defensive measure or in response to aggression, even if it turns out to be a case of emergency. But in such a fight only the active comatants or their inciters will be killed, and women, achorites, and disabled or old people, who neitherparticipate in the fighting nor exhort others to do so, will not be slain, In brief, the disbeliever who does not take up arms, does not urge others to fight and is not guilty of any hostile act in connection with the war shall not be put to death.

The second school is of the opinion that war with the disbelievers is grounced on their disbeliever. That means that fighting is obligatory with them simply because they are infidels not because they are inclined to turanny. This is to be creed of Imam al-Shafi. Therefore, under this principle, every disbeliever who has attained majority and discretion would be deserving of capital punishment, irrespective of whether he is capable of fighting or not, whether he is himself on the war path or not and whether he is actively assisting his comrades (the disbelievers) to pursue the fight or not.

In this regard, Imam Ibn Taymiyyah considers the first opinion, viz., the opinion of the majority, to be correct and, in support of his position cities authorities from the Quran and Sunnah.

Source: Punishment of Apostasy in Islam, by S. A. Rahman (former Chief Justice of Pakistan)

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