Early Islamic Debate on Deception in War.
In the 5th year of the Hijrah, the Battle of the Ahzab (Confederation)
occurred, in which an army of 10,000 marched on Medina from Mecca.
The large Meccan army was faced by 3,000 Muslims. Muhammad
took the advice of Salman al-Farissi (the Persian) to dig a trench
around Medina, an uncommon tactic in early Arabian warfare. The
trench surprised the Meccans, and, as they laid siege to Medina, the
confederation began to split apart.
One of the more important concepts of early Islamic warfare was a
debate on deception, or deceptive tactics in warfare, which included
the use of techniques unknown to the Arab tribes, espionage, and
other actions that were not part of the code of honor at the time.
Modern readers who think of intelligence, espionage, or surprise
tactics as integral parts of war should try to recall the concepts of
chivalry that governed the knights of medieval Europe, in which
the rules of dueling and combat were as important as victory itself.
The early Muslim warriors believed their very manhood rested
on chivalrous, generous, hospitable, and consistently honorable
The Battle of the Confederacy (also called the Battle of the Ditch)
opened a crucial discussion on reconciling honesty, truthfulness,
and clarity that every Muslim should strive for with the deceptive
strategies employed in warfare. In al-Bukhari, Chapter 73, hadith
No. 1298, Muhammad said: “Verily, war is deception.”48 Muslims
would debate this, and come to the conclusion that deception was
sanctioned to win wars but should not operate in daily social life
within Medina. Among the tactics used in Muhammad’s time during
the Battle of the Confederates were:49
• Newly converted Naim bin Masud returned to his Meccan
tribe and gathered intelligence prior to the Battle of the
Confederates. His espionage provided Muhammad and his
leaders with valuable information on the weakness of the
Meccan alliance with other tribes.
• In the Battle of Bani Lahyan (the first offensive battle initiated
by the Muslims), Muhammad ordered his armies northward
towards Syria to give the Meccans a sense that they were
secure in the south. Muhammad’s army then attacked the
Meccans from the rear, threatening the tribe in their very
Drawing upon the hadith of al-Nawawi, Islamic scholars agreed
that deception in war was sanctioned if practiced upon non-Muslims
who had broken truces but was not permitted between non-Muslim
and Muslim entities coexisting peacefully. Another Prophetic saying
on deception is his statement that a liar is not one whose lies repair
relations among people and whose intent is to bring goodness.50
Here, fair speech, and what we might call “white lies” in the interest
of peacemaking, are acceptable and not deceptive.
Tactics of Early Islamic Armies.
Today many Muslims attribute their success in conquering a vast
expanse of territory in a relatively short period of time to faith. This
typically fuels jihadist rhetoric as Muslims today fail to understand
the mechanics of early Muslims’ tactical achievements. Arab warriors
had trained from childhood in tribal warfare. In pre-teen years, many
rode camels and horses, wielded swords, threw spears, and were
proficient in the use of the lance and archery.51
Many of these Islamic armies did not need to exceed 20,000
troops due to their versatility. The armies harassed the flanks with
cavalry, while each infantryman emptied his arrows into the enemy
formation, threw his lance, and fought hand-to-hand. Arab armies
of the early Islamic period were broken up into units of ten. Muslim
women accompanied the military expeditions and often administered
aid to wounded Islamic warriors as well as the coup de grace for those
wounded enemies left in the battlefield. Women would bring up the
rear of the Islamic army, collecting weapons, armor, and anything
else of value to the moving Muslim force. Islamic warfare also
borrowed tactics from Persia and Byzantium, such as Greek fire and
siege engines. The Chronicle of al-Tabari, written in 923 A.D., offers an
account of how early Muslim armies were organized and fought.
Components of an early Muslim army included the following:
• The Guides (al-Adilla’ or al-Ada): Scouts who studied
approaches to the terrain and the battlefield.
• The Eyes (al-Ayun): Specialists in cavalry reconnaissance.
• The Stuffers (al-Hashir): Brought up the rear of an army.
• Those of Action (al-Fa`alah): Fixed bridges and dug trenches.
• The Poets (al-Shu`ara): Motivated fighters prior to battle.52
Early Islamic armies did not devise any notable military
technological innovations; their success relied on speed; deception;
flexibility; and the use of threats, negotiation, truces, duplicity,
patience, and violence.53 Their weaponry was not advanced.
Indigenous to the Arabian heartland were bows and arrows, lances,
and a straight sword made in Yemen or India which might be worn in
a shoulder harness. References are made to women who fought with
tent poles (as lances). Warriors wore leather or simple chain mail
shirts. However, once they advanced beyond the Arabian peninsula,
these armies adopted the use of the battering rams, catapults,
mangonels (a type of large catapult), towers to push against walls,
ballistas (used to launch missiles), and mining which were employed
in the Byzantine art of war.54
Muslim armies gave their adversaries three choices, delivered
in writing or orally through a messenger under a flag of truce: (1)
embrace Islam, (2) enter into a truce (`ahd) in which jizya, a tax that
signaled surrender to Muslim authority in return for relative selfgovernment,
was paid, or (3) continue to fight. Al-Tabari termed it
the “final ultimatum.” Islamic scholars have debated the issuance of
this ultimatum; their positions include:
• Issuing it before the battle (Quran, al-Fath, verse 16).
• The ultimatum is not required as it gives away the element of
• If the Muslims know the intent of the adversary, then a
formal ultimatum is not necessary, but recommended. Two
hadiths cover the issuance of ultimatums: the first describes
Muhammad as not engaging in battle until dialogue proved
unsuccessful. In the second, Muhammad sends an expedition
to warn the leader to fear God and outlines terms for
The concepts of truces and when they may be broken―mentioned
in the Quran, al-Ma’ida, verse 1, al-Isra’, verse 34, and al-Nahl―also
preoccupied early Islamic theologians. Certain legal schools held
that a truce or armistice of a jihad could be maintained for up to but
no longer than 10 years.56 Events however demonstrated variations
on this principle.
Muslim scholar Ibn Khaldun provided a social theory for the
Muslims success in battle and applied this theory to other ebbs and
flows of power. He wrote of the solidarity or tribal connectedness
(`asabiyya) of the Muslim warriors. Unfortunately, this primordial
solidarity tended to break down, as he showed with a historical
and proto-sociological analysis, after tribal warriors settled down in
urban milieus and over several (three) generations. When Muslims
argue that faith was a factor in the military prowess of the Muslims,
they often connect this idea of solidarity―formulated in modern
terms as esprit de corps―and cohesion with the religious idealism that
the fighters had in common.
Islamic rulings are further complicated because many Muslim
scholars held that innovations potentially were corrupting, leading
the community away from the mores of Medina. Yet many new
capabilities, weapons, and situations arose. As one might expect,
opinions vary on alliances between Muslim and non-Muslim powers.
The Ottomans extended the period under which a truce or treaty
with a non-Muslim power for commercial reasons could hold from
10 years to the lifetime of a Sultan. Some scholars later held that it
was permissable for Muslim states to call for aid from Western allies,
as in the Gulf War of 1991.
Regular and Irregular Jihad.
Most scholarship on Islamic warfare has been written for a limited
academic audience. Since the Islamic Revolution in Iran, the broader
Islamic revival, and the rise of numerous militant movements that
audience has expanded, and scholars sought to explain the attitudes
of jihadists to a nonspecialist readership. The classic definitions of
Islamic warfare did not, as we have seen, explain the popularity of
the jihadist vision. John Kelsay, like some other scholars, refers to
two forms of warfare in Islam, regular and irregular jihad. The strict
rules of warfare and definitions discussed in this text involve regular
jihad; that is, jihad designed to expand Muslim territory and which
involves two or more nations at war. Irregular jihad, which includes
uprisings, revolutions, or internal rebellions, expands the definitions
of the Islamic rules of war. As mentioned earlier, each exhibits
differing conceptions of leadership, and they are not considered
equally valid. Kelsay writes,
From the perspective of groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, irregular
war is a fact of life. The necessity to struggle against injustice is an
obligation that Muslims cannot ignore . . . assassinations, deception,
kidnappings—these acts which are either justified or excused by the
realities of the struggle that contemporary Muslims are commanded to
undertake. Or so irregulars argue.57
This unorthodox argument,58 along with the previously explained
idea of labeling a Muslim as a non-Muslim (takfir), the perception of
the Muslim world as being in a non-Islamic (jahili) condition, and
the view of jihad as the sole solution, is factionalizing the Muslim
world. It distorts the classical definitions of war against apostates,
unbelievers, rebels, and brigands, and misdirects the debate over the
nature of the collective or individual duty to jihad.
This argument ignores Islamic scholarship on the topic of
warfare, arguing that certain tactics, if employed under the guise
of irregular warfare, are legitimate and not subject to conventions
and restrictions. That Islamic militants are attempting to create new
doctrine to circumvent the body of Quranic verses and prophetic
sayings that do not support their goals is significant. It is not very
certain that Muslim youth understand the distinction between
modern and classic, or moderate and radical versions. This is so
despite the fact that extremism, terrorism, and irregular acts of
violence are generally disapproved of in the classical texts.59 Clerics
could more clearly explain to their public how Islamic injunctions
discredit the radicals’ tactics of suicide operations, assassinations,
kidnappings, hostage-taking, and ransom demands.
Understanding the importance of the classic Islamic texts and the
ultimate goals of Islam itself―peace and social equity―will enable
us to fight terrorism through information operations combined with
other means. It will also permit us to better comprehend the views
and options of our Muslim allies.
Al-Qaeda and like-minded groups seek to employ Islam and secure
Islamic conquest for their own purposes and ignore the emphases
that the sacred texts place on restraint and justice. Osama Bin Laden
and other extremists want Muslims to believe that Muhammad
took up the sword to kill disbelievers, while Islamic texts show that
Muhammad resorted to fighting only in defense of his new society in
Medina. Religious scholars must work more assiduously to discredit
this version of Islamic history.
We are not proclaiming or inventing an Islamic “reformation,”
a theme that has been appearing in the media. An Islamic reform
movement began in the 19th century, and there is a well-established
tradition of liberal “readings” of the texts. Unfortunately, the
extremists and other trends of Muslim thinkers have countered many
of these arguments, seeing them as instruments for Westernization.
The emphasis on justice, moderation, and restraint long predates our
era. Hopefully, it will bring Muslims closer to other faiths and heal
the fissures created by the extremists’ brand of Islamic warfare.
Policy Recommendations and Concerns.
The United States rightly has identified the stultification and
even subversion of Islamic education in places like Saudi Arabia,
Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Madrasas there do not focus on the
complexity of the classical texts of Islam, nor teach students to
analyze the reasons for this complex nature, but instead indoctrinate
martyrdom and bellicosity. However, the dilemma goes far beyond
these problems. As much as we wish to encourage alternatives to
Islamic militancy, we need to recognize that they cannot be dictated
to Muslims on our own terms and according to our preferred
scenarios. Indeed, heated debate and conflicts between Muslims on
the role of religion in their polities and societies likely will continue
for many decades. If democratization is to proceed, these conflicts
may become even more pronounced and the results may not be to
the secular Westerner’s taste. At the very least, as American military
and diplomatic personnel engage in the Middle East, a more complex
understanding of Islam is needed to guide us and help us comprehend
our Muslim allies’ fight against Islamic ideological extremism.
In a 1938 speech urging greater U.S. involvement against the
Nazis, Winston Churchill pleaded: “We must arm. Britain must arm.
America must arm . . . but arms . . . are not sufficient by themselves.
We must add to them the power of ideas.”60 With this in mind, U.S.
1. Become more cognizant of the complexity of Islamic law and the
debates among Muslims. This does not mean that policymakers should
direct the process or outcome of these debates.
2. Be aware of the danger of simplistic characterizations of Islam as
a “violent religion.” Such characterizations inflame the emotions of
Muslims everywhere, heighten perceptions of Western hostility,
and limit our own ability to understand the future of the war on
3. Understand how jihadist groups manipulate, hide and deemphasize
aspects of Islamic history, law, and Quranic verses. Jihadists and the
madrasas and study groups they sponsor are not creating theologians
who will contribute to the spiritual growth of Islam but suicide
bombers and foot-soldiers involved in Islamic nihilism.
4. Recognize that what al-Qaeda and its franchises fear most are Islamic
laws, histories, and principles that do not conform to their militant ideologies.
Therefore, the struggle between liberal and radical interpretations of
Islam is a key aspect of the global war on terror.
5. Acknowledge that a perfectly defined delineation between
“mainstream” and extremist views is not evident. Al-Qaeda and other
jihadists proselytize with interpretations such as those of Muhammad
ibn Abd al-Wahhab, Ibn Taymiyya, and Sayyid Qutb. But Wahhabism
is at the core of today’s Saudi Arabia, and Saudis must decide how
to best counter interpretations that lead toward extremism. Ibn
Taymiyya’s and Sayyid Qutb’s notions of social justice, the necessary
Islamic character of leadership, and the importance of the Quran are
highly palatable ideas to most Muslims, in contrast with other key
jihadist notions in these theorists’ work. That mixture of palatable
and offensive ideas compounds the difficulties of the Egyptian
government in seeking to limit radical influence. We nonetheless
must understand the implications of the measures our allies choose
6. Realize that the majority of Muslims do not speak Arabic. This
means that Islamic teachings can be manipulated, as evidenced
by the varying English translations of the Quran ranging from the
moderate to the radical. To the non-Arabic speaking masses in
Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Indonesia, Arabic is a sacred language.
Therefore, a radical cleric preaching and lacing his speech with
Arabic and Quranic words takes on an air of holiness, even though
the sentiments he expresses reflect jihadic opinion.
7. U.S. forces, particularly those involved in psychological operations,
need to be educated in aspects of Islamic history, law, and culture. As
Islamic militants quote and violently interpret verses from the Quran
and hadith, U.S. and allied forces should not plead ignorance, but
achieve a higher level of familiarity with religious and other aspects
of Muslim culture. U.S. and allied forces may better comprehend the
specific dilemmas of our Muslim allies if they are familiar with the
messages of jihadist and moderate Islam. Alternatively, they should
consult experts who are well-versed in these matters.
8. Recognize the simultaneous impracticality of armistices and
reconciliation with Islamist militants, and the Islamic rationale for
attempting such solutions. Such efforts were attempted in both Saudi
Arabia and Iraq, but, in fact, those already passionately committed
to the jihadist worldview will not be won over, and only those
less committed might waver. We might therefore conclude more
9. Factor in the possibility of failure in the battle against jihadist
sentiment, while working as assiduously as possible for a different outcome.
That Islamism consists of moderate as well as radical, extremist
groups operating in a politically unstable environment may
rather point to a protracted struggle and period of reformulation.
Knowledge of Islamic discourses will still be helpful and necessary
in determining our responses to such a situation.
GLOSSARY OF ISLAMIC TERMS, PERSONALITIES,
Abd al-Wahhab, Muhammad: Founder of Wahhabism. Cleric who lived in the
mid-18th century and sought to purify Arabia Islamically. His strict brand
of Islam and mission to purge Arabia of pre-Islamic practices was adopted
by Muhammad Ibn Saud in the 1740s. The Wahhabis call themselves
Abu Bakr: The first caliph of Islam after Muhammad’s death.
Abu Dawud: An early Muslim who compiled hadiths (prophetic sayings and
deeds). The name may apply to his compendium.
Abu Huraira: An early Muslim who collected a large number of hadiths
(prophetic sayings and deeds) soon after the Prophet’s death. The name
applies to the person and his compendium.
Abu Sufyan: Initially the Prophet Muhammad’s fiercest opponent in Mecca,
he was responsible for the initial genocide of Muslims and their exile from
Mecca. After the capture of Mecca in 630 A.D., he converted to Islam. Abu
Sufyan’s descendants would become the Ummayad dynasty of 661-750
al-Adilla’ or al-Ada’ (The Guides): Scouts, who studied approaches to the
terrain and the battlefield.
`Ahd: A truce.
Ahl al-Kitab: (Peoples of the Book): Scriptuaries, or monotheists who
possess a revelatory scripture: Jews, Christians, Magians (Zoroastrians),
‘Ali bin Abu Talib: Prophet Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, who rose
to become the fourth caliph of Islam.
Aman: A safe-passage agreement issued to a person from non-Muslim
territory. One carrying an aman, but found to be a spy, could be executed.
Apostasy: One of the most serious crimes in Islamic law. Denying one’s
faith in Islam, or conversion to another religious creed.
`Asabiyya: Group feeling, or solidarity, esprit de corps of the early Muslim
Awqaf: Prohibitory and perpetual endowments; like a lawful form of
mortmain. A Muslim may set aside land or property and the income
deriving from it, as awaqf. Neither rulers nor heirs could seize awqaf. It
supported schools, libraries, or other public works, and the Muslim clerics
were in charge of it prior to the creation of state supervisory bodies or
`Ayun (Eyes): Specialists in cavalry reconnaissance.
Ba`athat: Noncombat expeditions or missions that could be diplomatic in
nature, a courier, or political exchange. Certain Islamic texts consider these
to be combative in nature.
Badr Corps: The military wing of the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution
in Iraq (SCIRI).
Banu Nadir: One of three Jewish tribes living in Medina.
Banu Qaynuqah: One of three Jewish tribes living in Medina.
Banu Qurayza: One of three Jewish tribes living in Medina.
al-Bukhari: Compiler of one of the highly respected, or “sound,” hadith
Caliph (Khalifah): A political office used to govern urban areas of pre-
Islamic Arabia and chosen by the consensus of tribal elders. The term predates
Islam and simply means “successor.” The four Caliphs to succeed
Muhammad from 570-632 A.D were, in order, Abu Bakr, `Umar, ‘Uthman,
Dar al-Islam: Literally the abode or house of Islam. The territory controlled
by Muslims where Islamic law is observed.
Dar al-harb: Literally the abode or house of war. Territory that is not
controlled by Muslims.
al-Fa`alah: (Those of Action): Fighters designated to fix bridges, dig trenches,
Fatwa: An opinion, or responsum, issued by an Islamic jurist. A fatwa answers
a particular question, and in Sunni Islam, jurists utilize the Quran, hadith,
legal analogy, and consensus in fatwa construction, while Shi`i jurists may
also use a creative process known as ijtihad. Khomaini, as an Ayatollah,
the Mufti of a Muslim city or country, or a well-educated `alim or religious
scholar is qualified to issue a fatwa, but Osama bin Laden is not qualified
to do so.
Fitnah: The term has many meanings, including sedition, schism,
insurrection, to mislead, and to guide in error.
Ghazw: Originally meant a raid but has evolved into the term for battle.
When one sees this term in the context of a sentence, it may also denote
battles that the Prophet Muhammad participated in directly.
Hadith: Hadith are sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad, and
there are seven collections of compiled hadith that are considered to be
“sound,” or reliable by the majority of Muslims: al-Bukhari, Al-Tirmidhi,
Muslim, Abu Dawud, al-Nisa’i, al-Nawawi, and Ibn Majah. These are the
recorded sayings of Muhammad or his Companions, in both the Shiite and
Sunni versions of Islam.
Harb: War, the general term for warfare not specifically designated as
Hashir: (Stuffer): Specialists who brought up the rear of an army.
Hijrah: Refers to the migration of Muslims from Mecca to Medina and
Prophet Muhammad escaping the genocide of Muslims in Mecca around
Hudud: Severe penalties for the capital crimes in Islamic law which include
apostasy, sedition, adultery, and fornication. At the court’s discretion, the
penalties may be death by the sword, lapidation (stoning, usually to death),
Ibn Kathir: Islamic scholar who lived in the 13th century and authored 13
major works of Islamic history, thought, jurisprudence, and explanations
of the Quran and hadith. Ibn Kathir was a student of Ibn Taymiyyah and
two other major Islamic scholars in Damascus of the middle 13th century.
Ibn Taymiyyah: A 13th century Islamic jurist who redefined jihad and
apostasy to address the Crusades and the Mongols who had invaded the
region and influenced local rulers in his day. He is considered a spiritual
source for Islamic militants and al-Qaeda.
Ibn `Umar: A person who knew and fought with Prophet Muhammad and
recorded his sayings and deeds.
Imam: An imam is, in one meaning of the word, merely a prayer-leader.
For the Shi`a Muslims, the Imam is appointed by God to lead the Muslims.
The Ja`fari Shi`a sect are called the Twelvers because of their belief in a line
of twelve Imams who were the rightful authorities, the last of which is in
occultation (absent, not dead or alive) and will return one day to humanity.
In the Muslim rulings on war, the term imam stands for the legitimate
ruler, who was then called the caliph. For that reason, radical leaders have
sometimes used the title of Imam.
Jahili: From the pre-Islamic period, or “time of ignorance.” Islamists often
brand the West, or their own governments, as being in a state of Jahiliyya,
just like the pre-Islamic world.
Jihad: Struggle or offensive war. Frequently defined in English as “holy
war,” Muslims distinguish between the greater jihad, the daily struggle to
fulfill the requirements and ideals of Islam, and the lesser jihad, fighting for
Jizyah: A tax levied on the Jews and Christians, who are not subject, as are
Muslims, to payment of zakat. The jizyah was similar to the Roman poll tax.
Land taxes were also charged.
Kaffir: a polytheist.
Khaybar: The Jewish section of Medina when Prophet Muhammad governed
Khida`: Deception or stratagem.
Madrasah: An Islamic school.
Maghribi: Arabic geographical reference to North Africa (present day
Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya).
Malik ibn Anas: An early Islamic scholar who founded the Maliki school, or
madhhab of Islamic law.
Mawdudi, Abu al-`A’la: One of the founders of Pakistan.
Mecca: The Prophet’s birthplace and where he began preaching. Mecca is
also home to the Kaaba, a cube structure that is considered by Muslims to
be the first house for monotheistic worship, built by Adam and rebuilt by
Abraham and his son, Ishmael. Mecca is the holiest site in Islam.
Medina: Originally called Yathrib, Muhammad and his followers migrated
here to escape religious persecution by the Meccans and to establish an
Islamic society. It was then named madinat al-nabi (city of the Prophet).
Muhammad, Abu Bakr, and ‘Umar are buried here, and Medina is the
second holiest site in Islam.
Mufti: A Muslim official who is entitled to issue a religious opinion. Often
represents a city or entire state.
Muhammad: Prophet of Islam who lived from 570-632 A.D.
Musnad: A term used to explain a concept and from where these words are
supported (either in the Quran or one of the four main Sunni schools of
Islamic thought [Hanbali, Shaf`i, Maliki, or Hanafi]).
Niyah: Intention, specifically the pure intention to commit an act. For
instance, scholars argue that the intent for prayer is more important than
the physical completion of that act.
Qital: Fighting or killing, a term for military activity used in the Quran.
Quran: Islamic book of divine revelation. The Quran is divided into 114
Suras, or chapters, with 6,219 Ayahs or verses.
Saraya: These are battles that Prophet Muhammad commissioned but did
not lead. Also advanced raiding parties and reconnaissance groups, usually
Sayyid Qutb: Leader of the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt who was executed
in 1966 and is considered a founding ideologue of the Islamic militant trend
in that country, and regionally. He wrote that Muslims were living in a
state of jahiliyyah, or pre-Islamic ignorance, and held that only jihad would
overcome this condition and achieve an Islamic state.
Shafa`: Intercession with Allah on the Day of Judgment when all souls shall
come before Him. This intercession can be carried out by an intermediary,
the Prophet Muhammad, or one of the martyrs, or, for the Shi`a, one of the
Shahid: One who is martyred for the cause of Islam.
Shari`ah: Islamic law. Islamic law is based upon the Quran, the hadith,
qiyas (analogy), and ijma` (consensus). Jurists of the Shi`i tradition may
also utilize ijtihad (a creative interpretive process) to issue an Islamic legal
ruling, or fatwa. Prior to 19th century Ottoman reforms, Islamic law was
Shirk: Polytheism, idol worship. Many pre-Islamic Arabs believed in a
pantheon of gods and goddesses.
Shu`ara’ (Poets): Orators and poets who encouraged fighters and motivated
them prior to the battle.
Shuhada: Martyrdom. For Shi`a Muslims, the concept refers to `Ali ibn
Abi Talib and Hussayn who were killed by the Ummayads in battle. For
Sunni and Shi`a Muslims, martyrdom may refer to those who participate
Siyar: The Islamic law of nations. An area of law that is the early equivalent
of international law and the rules governing hostilities, peacemaking, and
treatment of foreign nationals.
Turath: Islamic or Arab legacy or precedent. The Arab and Muslim
intellectual circles frequently argue over the definitions of this legacy,
always seeing it as a core social, political, cultural, and religious element
under siege in an era of globalization.
`Umar: The second caliph of Islam who succeeded Abu Bakr.
Waqf: (Awqaf, plural): A religious endowment that theoretically exists
in perpetuity. A Muslim may set aside land or property and the income
deriving from it, as waqf. Neither rulers nor heirs could seize awqaf. It
supported schools, libraries, or other public works, and Muslim clerics
were in charge of it prior to the creation of state supervisory bodies or
Zakat: Charity. A voluntary payment of a set percent of a Muslim’s income
and assets that is one of the five duties, or Pillars of Islam.
1. Umar Ibn Ibrahim Al-Awasi al-Ansari, Tafrij al-qurub fi tadbir al-hurub
(A Muslim Manual of War), George T. Scanlon, ed. and trans., Cairo: American
University at Cairo Press, 1961, pp. 1-4.
2. Ibid., pp. 7-19.
3. See The Islamic Law of Nations: Shaybani’s Siyar (Kitab al-siyar al-kabir), Majid
Khadduri, trans., Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1966. Also see Majid Khadduri,
War and Peace in the Law of Islam, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1955.
4. The finer points of a fatwa rest upon language, but also, in our times, on
politics. Simply put, fatwas state whether something is approved, disapproved, or
neutral in Islam. Often fairly brief, the jurist may explain the principles foremost in
his mind, or divide the question into sub-points, each with a particular response.
See, for instance, Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, “Operation Desert Storm and the
War of Fatwas,” in Muhammad Khalid Masud, Brinkley Messick, and David S.
Power, eds., Islamic Legal Interpretation and Their Fatwas, Cambridge, MA: Harvard
University Press, 1996, pp. 297-309.
5. See, among other sources, Fred Donner, “The Sources of Islamic Conceptions
of War,” in John Kelsay and James Turner Johnson, eds., Just War and Jihad: Historical
and Theoretical Perspectives on War and Peace in Western and Islamic Traditions,
Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1991.
6. Majid Khadduri, War and Peace in the Law of Islam, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins
Press, 1955, p. 58.
7. Numerous details on the rules of safe-conduct, or aman, are provided in
al-Shaybani’s Siyar. See The Islamic Law of Nations: Shaybani’s Siyar (Kitab al-siyar alkabir),
Majid Khadduri, trans., Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1966, pp. 158-194.
8. Bernard Lewis, The Political Language of Islam, Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 1982, pp. 82-83. See also Rudolph Peters, Jihad in Classical and Modern Islam,
Princeton: Markus Wiener, 1996, p. 5.
9. Abdulaziz A. Sachedina, “The Development of Jihad in Islamic Revelation
and History,” in James T. Johnson and John Kelsay, eds., Cross, Crescent, and Sword:
The Justification and Limitation of War in Western and Islamic Tradition, New York:
Greenwood, 1990, pp. 41, 45, 46, 47. Also see A. A. Sachedina, The Just Ruler in
Shi’ite Islam: The Comprehensive Authority of the Jurist in Imamite Jurisprudence, New
York: Oxford University Press, 1988, pp. 105-117.
10. See, for additional information, Khaled Abou El Fadl, Rebellion and Violence
in Islamic Law, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001.
11. The Magians were a priestly caste of a pre-Islamic monotheistic Iranian sect
sometimes confused with the Zoroastrians. The Sabeans were another monotheistic
group, also known as the Mandeans.
12. Khadduri, War and Peace, p. 81, and the entire chapter, pp. 74-82.
13. Mahmoud Khalaf Jarad al-Issawi, Fiqh al-ghazw (Islamic Jurisprudence of
Battle), Amman, Jordan: Dar Ammar Printing Press, 2000, pp. 18-21.
14. We often refer to Abdullah Yusuf `Ali, The Holy Quran: Translation and
Commentary, Brentwood, MD: Amana Corporation, 1983, often called the
Washington translation. It is moderate in tone and provides in depth interpretations
for the translated verses. We also consulted Dr. Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-
Hilali and Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan’s Interpretation of the Holy Quran in the
English Language: A Summarized Version of Al-Tabari, Al-Qurtubi, and Ibn Kathir with
Comments from Sahih-Bukhari, Summarized in One Volume, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia:
Dar-u-Salam, Publishers, 1994. This edition is more conservative in approach,
with an exclusively Saudi Islamic translation and view of the Quran, here referred
to as the Wahhabi version. Other English translations such as those by Arberry,
Dawood, and Pickthall may be consulted, but even untrained readers will notice
some differences in wording and style in each.
15. Mahmud Shaltut, “The Koran and Fighting,” as translated by Rudolph
Peters from al-Qur’an wa-al-qital, Cairo: Matba`at al-Nasr and Maktab Ittihad al-
Sharq, 1948; and Cairo: Dar al-Kitab al-`Arabi, 1951, in Rudolph Peters, Jihad in
Classical and Modern Islam, Princeton: Markus Weiner, 1996, pp. 69, 70, 79.
16. Al-Issawi, Fiqh al-ghazw, p, 23.
17. Dr. Muhammad Taqi-ud-Din Al-Hilali and Dr. Muhammad Muhsin
Khan’s Interpretation of the Holy Quran in the English Language, pp. 845-864; Elias A.
Elias, Modern Arabic-English Dictionary, Beirut: Dar al-Khayl, 1972, p. 493; and J. M.
Cowan, ed., The Hans Wehr Dictionary of Modern Arabic, p. 815.
18. Sohail Hashmi, “Interpreting the Islamic Ethics of War and Peace,” in Sohail
Hashmi, ed., Islamic Political Ethics: Civil Society, Pluralism, and Conflict, Princeton,
NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002, p. 204.
19. Khaled Abou El Fadl, “Ahkam al-Bughat: Irregular Warfare and the Law of
Rebellion in Islam,” in James Turner Johnson and John Kelsay, eds., Cross, Crescent,
and Sword: The Justification and Limitation of War in Western and Islamic Tradition,
Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1990.
20. Yusuf `Ali, Meaning of the Holy Qur’an, p. 78, footnote 211.
21. Peters, Jihad, p. 6.
22. Al-Hilali and Khan, Interpretation of the Meaning of the Holy Quran, pp. 1043-
23. One may also go back to Franz Rosenthal, “On Suicide in Islam,” Journal of
the American Oriental Society, Vol. 66, 1946, pp. 239-259; Jalaluddin Umri, “Suicide
or Termination of Life,” Islamic Comparative Law Quarterly, Vol. 7, 1987, pp. 136-
24. Rudolph Peters, Islam and Colonialism: The Doctrine of Jihad in Modern History,
The Hague: Mouton Publishers, 1979, p. 13.
25. Shaltut, “The Koran and Fighting,” in Peters, Jihad, p. 79.
26. Al-Hilali and Khan’s Interpretation of the Holy Quran, pp. 845-864.
27. Document 35, “Letter to Muslims of Pakistan,” in Roland Jacquard, In the
Name of Osama bin Laden: Global Terrorism and the Bin Laden Brotherhood, Durham
and London: Duke University Press, 2002, p. 259.
28. Abu Lababah Hussein, al-Islam wa al-harb (Islam and Warfare), Riyadh: Dar
al-Liwa Publishers, 1979, pp. 39-50.
29. A. J. Wensinck, Concordance et indices de la tradition musulmane, 7 Vols.
Leiden: Brill, 1936-39, Vol IV, p. 180.
30. Hussein, al-Islam wa-al-harb, p. 48.
31. Peters, Islam and Colonialism, pp. 16-17.
32. Maryam Elahi, “Rights of the Child under Islamic Law: Prohibition of the
Child Soldier,” in Elizabeth Warnock Fernea, ed., Children in the Muslim Middle
East, Austin: University of Texas Press, 1995.
33. Ibid., p. 373.
34. Hussein, al-Islam, pp. 45-50.
35. This text was recensed by al-Masmudi (d. 848) and al-Shaybani (d. 805),
who was noted for his extensive use of hadith.
36. Passages from Malik’s Muwatta, in Peters, Jihad, p. 23; or see Malik ibn
Anas, Al-Muwatta of Imam Malik ibn Anas: The First Formulation of Islamic Law.
Aisha Aburrahman Bewley, trans., London and New York: Kegan Paul, 1989, pp.
37. The penalties for homicide, bodily harm, and damage to property are
described succinctly in Joseph Schact, An Introduction to Islamic Law, Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1964, pp. 181-187.
38. `Ali, The Meaning of the Holy Qur’an, p. 257, footnote 737.
39. Hussein, al-Islam, pp. 37-38.
40. Al-Issawi, Fiqh al-ghazw, pp. 68-70.
41. Ibid, pp. 108-114.
42. Abu Ya`la, Kitab al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyya, Al-Fiqqi, ed., Cairo: 1938, p. 34,
cited by Khadduri, War and Peace, p. 108.
43. Al-Issawi, Fiqh al-ghazw, pp. 116-118.
44. The two essays that follow the Wahhabi translation of the Qur’an, “The
Jews and the Christians” (no author indicated) and Muhammad Taqi ud-Din
Hilali “Jesus and Muhammad in the Bible and the Qur’an and Biblical Evidence of
Jesus Being a Servant of God and Having No Share in Divinity,” in terms of tone
and organization surely create an impediment to interfaith tolerance, although
that may not be the intent of the translator/interpreters. Al-Hilali and Khan,
Interpretation of the Meanings of the Noble Qur’an, pp. 1025-1041.
45. Khadduri, War and Peace, pp. 196-199.
46. Al-Issawi, Fiqh al-ghazw, pp. 151-209.
47. Hussein, al-Islam, p. 26.
48. Sahih al-Bukhari, Muhammad Muhsin Khan, trans., Medina: Islamic
University of Medina, Saudi Arabia, 1996.
49. Ibid., pp. 324-329.
50. Ibid., p. 328.
51. Christon I. Archer, et al; World History of Warfare, Lincoln: University of
Nebraska Press, 2002, pp. 152-163.
52. Al-Issawi, Fiqh al-ghazw, pp. 52-54.
53. Archer, et al., World History of Warfare, p. 162.
54. Edmund Bosworth, “Armies of the Prophet: Strategy, Tactics and Weapons
in Islamic Warfare,” in Bernard Lewis, ed., Islam and the Arab World, New York:
Alfred A. Knopf, 1976, p. 202.
55. Al-Issawi, Fiqh al-ghazw, pp. 39-44.
56. Peters, Islam and Colonialism, p. 33.
57. John Kelsay, Islam and War, Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1993, pp. 106-
58. The terms “regular” and “irregular” are foreign to the conceptualization
of jihad as found in Muslim sources. As we explained earlier, the more cogent
questions are: what type of jihad is intended? Is it jihad or merely qital? And, who
has authorized jihad?
59. Tamara Sonn, “Irregular Warfare and Terrorism in Islam: Asking the Right
Questions,” in Johnson and Kelsay, eds., Cross, Crescent and Sword.
60. Extract from broadcast to the United States, October 16, 1938, Churchill
Archives Center, Churchill Papers, CHAR 9/132http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.ar ... PUB588.pdf