What we have heard about what our Muslim brothers are going through in non-Muslim countries in the north and the south, where they are being harassed and persecuted for something in which they did not take part and in which they played no role, is not strange, given the wrongdoing and hatred of the disbelievers, even though they claim to be the people of justice, fairness and freedom. What is the crime of a Muslim woman who walks down the street in her hijaab? What is the crime of a Muslim who leaves his home to go and pray, not to spread mischief in the land? What is the crime of a Muslim employee who goes to his company or a student who goes to his university or a schoolgirl who is walking to her school, not going out to bomb and destroy? If the western man in the street was fair-minded – at least with himself – he would go and take revenge on the people who plotted and took part in harming him. But one who does not fear God could do anything, and the very least that the Muslims will be faced with is curses and insults. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“and you shall certainly hear much that will grieve you from those who received the Scripture before you (Jews and Christians) and from those who ascribe partners to Allah; but if you persevere patiently, and become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious) then verily, that will be a determining factor in all affairs” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:186]
Our attitude must be clear; we must explain to the disbelievers the ruling of Islamic sharia concerning harming and killing others. We should tell them that Islam forbids harming innocent people in any way, whether that involves harming their bodies, their wealth or their honour. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “There should be neither harming nor reciprocating harm.” It is not permissible to kill a disbeliever who is not hostile or who has a legitimate peace treaty with the Muslims; rather treating a non-hostile disbeliever with kindness is part of the Islamic religion, especially if that is done to call him to Islam and soften his heart (towards Islam). Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion nor drove you out of your homes. Verily, Allah loves those who deal with equity” [al-Mumtahinah 60:8]
At times of war against the disbelievers, it is not permissible for a Muslim to deliberately kill a disbeliever child or woman who is not bearing arms against the Muslims or helping in the fight. It was narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said to the Muslim army: “Go out in the name of Allah and by the help of Allah, following the way of the Messenger of Allah. Do not kill any old man, infant, child or woman… spread goodness and do good, for Allah loves those who do good.” (Narrated by Abu Dawood, 2614; its isnaad includes Khaalid ibn al-Faraz, of whom Ibn Hajar said in al-Taqreeb, he is maqbool (acceptable) i.e., if there are corroborating reports)
This is supported by the advice which Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq (may Allah be pleased with him) gave to the commander of his army: “I advise you of ten things: do not kill a woman, or a child, or any old person, or cut down any fruit trees…” (al-Muwatta’, 982, Kitaab al-Jihaad).
The disbelievers whom the Muslims fight and inflict harm and loss upon are the disbelievers who fight the Muslims and drive them out of their homes, or help to drive them out of their homes and punish and mistreat them, and who stand in the way of calling people to Islam and prevent people from following the path of Allah, and prevent the spread of Islam. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“It is only as regards those who fought against you on account of religion, and have driven you out of your homes, and helped to drive you out, that Allah forbids you to befriend them. And whosoever will befriend them, then such are the Zaalimoon (wrongdoers those who disobey Allah).” [al-Mumtahinah 60:9]
Such people are to be fought against when [the Muslims] have the power to do so, and when fighting them and declaring jihad against them is more likely to serve a purpose. But when you can achieve your purpose with gentleness and kindness, it is not right to resort to violence and force. Muslims should only use force when they are compelled to, and as a last resort. They should not initiate fighting, unless there is some cause on the part of the disbelievers, such as their fighting the Muslims, or helping other enemies of the Muslims, or preventing them from following the path of Allah and establishing the law of Allah in the land.
We should also remind these disbelievers of the massacres which have been carried out and are still being carried out against Muslims in all parts of the world, in Bosnia, Kosova, Chechnya, Palestine and Kashmir, which are being supported by Jews, Christians and others. Is the blood of the Muslims cheaper than the blood of others? Should there be mourners for non-Muslims who are killed and not for Muslims who are killed?
Moreover, when the Orthodox Christians carried out massacres in Bosnia and Kosovo, in which the numbers of those killed exceeded 200,000, apart from those who were wounded or raped, and the economic losses that resulted, did the Muslims in the Arab and Islamic countries launch attacks against the Orthodox Christians who live in their countries, or kill any of them, or open fire against their churches and subject them to terror?! What does this tell you?
It is very important for Muslims to explain these things to non-Muslims, in order to establish proof against the disbelievers. This is something that Allah wants. Secondly, among the disbelievers there are intelligent and fair-minded people, and people who are receptive to the guidance of Islam; perhaps they will be affected by a clear explanation. Thirdly, no Muslim should permit himself to be accused without explaining his innocence. The distorted image of Muslims is one of the things that is keeping the disbelievers away from the truth and being affected by the Muslims; indeed it may make them treat the Muslims like outcasts, resulting in additional wrongdoing towards the Muslims.