Imam Ibn Abdal Barr on killing of women & children in battle


assalaamu alaikum,

Could you kindly provide summary to this lengthy section by Imam Ibn Abdal-Barr in his work Istidhkaar on the killing of women & children in battle w/ relevance to our time ?


wa `alaykum salam,

Imam Ibn Abdal-Barr  says:

وَأَجْمَعَ الْعُلَمَاءُ عَلَى الْقَوْلِ بِذَلِكَ وَلَا يَجُوزُ عِنْدَهُمْ قَتْلُ نِسَاءِ الْحَرْبِيِّينَ وَلَا أَطْفَالِهِمْ لِأَنَّهُمْ لَيْسُوا مِمَّنْ يُقَاتِلُ فِي الْأَغْلَبِ وَاللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ يَقُولُ (وَقَاتِلُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ الَّذِينَ يُقَاتِلُونَكُمْ) الْبَقَرَةِ 190 وَاخْتَلَفُوا فِي النِّسَاءِ وَالصِّبْيَانِ إِذَا قَاتَلُوا

The ulama are in consensus on the word in regard to killing women and children of those with whom a nation is at war that it is not permitted because for the most part they are not among those participate in fighting and Allah says:

Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you (Surat al-Baqara, 2:190)

As regards women and children who do participate in fighting, the ulama differed on their case.

And the Imam cites many ahadith on this topic showing clearly how the Prophet (s) prohibited the killing of non-combatant women and children.

Clearly this is particularly relevant in our time in the face of those who kill generally with terrorist attacks,  with no regards as to who is innocent and who is not, and Allah knows best, whereas the ulama concurred that one fights only those who are actively engaged in fighting the nation. Most importantly, war cannot be declared by groups or non-state actors in Islam.

Taher Siddiqui

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