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Section 10: Captives of War

Surah Al-Anfal – Verse 70

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ قُلْ لِمَنْ فِي أَيْدِيكُمْ مِنَ الْأَسْرَىٰ إِنْ يَعْلَمِ اللَّهُ فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ خَيْرًا يُؤْتِكُمْ خَيْرًا مِمَّا أُخِذَ مِنْكُمْ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ

70. “O Prophet! Say to the captives in your hands: ‘If Allah knows any good in your hearts, He will give you better than what has been taken away from you, and He will forgive you; and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.”

In the occasion of revelation of the verse, it has been cited that ‘Abbas,, Aqil, and Nufil were captured as captives of war in the Battle of Badr. By taking ransom, the Prophet (S) emancipated them, and they embraced Islam. Later, the money which was taken as their ransom was returned to them, too.1

(Most commentary books indicate that in the Battle of Badr some Muslims said that: for observing the respectability of the Prophet (S) ‘Abbas, the Prophet's uncle, should not be taken ransom from.

The Prophet (S) said:

“By Allah, I do not renounce a dirham (a silver coin) of it.”

Then, the Prophet (S) told his uncle:

“You are wealthy; then pay ransom for yourself and for your brother's son, Aqil.”

‘Abbas said:

“If I pay ransom, I will become empty of money.”

The Prophet (S) answered:

“You can spend out of money you have in Mecca with your wife, ‘Umm-ul- ‘Fadl.”

‘Abbas said:

“None knew this matter. I understood that you are tru1y a prophet.”

And, at once, he became a Muslim at his presence.)

In the Islamic system, there are three choices of designs for war captives:

1- Emancipating them without ransom; like what happened in the conquest of Mecca, where no captive was taken.

2- Emancipation of captives of war by taking ransom in cash, or by exchange of captives.

3- Keeping captives under the control of Muslims in order to hinder the enemy of Islam to be strengthened, and to teach Islam gradually to them both, maybe they be guided to it.

Choosing either of these three choices to be practically acted is in the authority of the Islamic judge.

Captives must be treated in such a manner that it prepares them to be guided. Thus, the aim of war is guiding people and defeating the legitimate ruler, not slaughtering, spoiling, taking captives d taking ransom.

That is why preaching and guiding captives is necessary.

The verse says:

“O Prophet! Say to the captives in your hands:...”

And, the true ‘good’ is Faith. The holy verse continues saying:

“...If Allah knows any good in your hearts, He will give you better than what has been taken away from you, and He will forgive you; and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.”

Surah Al-Anfal – Verse 71

وَإِنْ يُرِيدُوا خِيَانَتَكَ فَقَدْ خَانُوا اللَّهَ مِنْ قَبْلُ فَأَمْكَنَ مِنْهُمْ ۗ وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ

71. “And if they intend to betray against you, then they have been betraying Allah from before, but He gave (you) power over them; and Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.!”

Muslims should neither treat the troops of the enemy with one hundred percent of suspicion, nor in a full favorable opinion. There should be neither a bare harshness nor a mere kindness, but they should be alert, confident in Allah, decisive, and merciful.

The manner of enemies is always treacherous. The verse says:

“And if they intend to betray against you, then they have been betraying Allah from before...”

But Allah is right and legitimate, and gives triumph to His adherents. The verse continues saying:

“...but He gave (you) power over them...”

Allah is aware of the enemies’ intentions, and in the commandments Which He issues, He is the Wise and the Controller of common Interest.

The verse says:

“...and Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.”

Surah Al-Anfal – Verse 72

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَهَاجَرُوا وَجَاهَدُوا بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنْفُسِهِمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَالَّذِينَ آوَوْا وَنَصَرُوا أُولَٰئِكَ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاءُ بَعْضٍ ۚ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَلَمْ يُهَاجِرُوا مَا لَكُمْ مِنْ وَلَايَتِهِمْ مِنْ شَيْءٍ حَتَّىٰ يُهَاجِرُوا ۚ وَإِنِ اسْتَنْصَرُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ فَعَلَيْكُمُ النَّصْرُ إِلَّا عَلَىٰ قَوْمٍ بَيْنَكُمْ وَبَيْنَهُمْ مِيثَاقٌ ۗ وَاللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ

72. “Verily those who believed and migrated and strove with their properties and their selves in the way of Allah, and those who gave shelter and helped (the strivers), those are friends one of another. And those who believed but they did not migrate, you have not any friendship towards them until they migrate. Yet if they ask your help for (the sake of) religion, then it is your duty to help (them), save against a people with whom you have a treaty; and Allah sees all that you do.”

Those who had Faith and, for the love of Allah and Messenger, separated from their homes and relations, i.e. they migrated from Mecca to Medina, and those who gave shelter to the Emigrants and helped them in war against their enemies, i.e. Ansar (the Helpers), inherit each other.

The Emigrants and the Helpers inherited from each other because of the brethren contract they concluded from the beginning with each other until the time when this matter was abrogated by Surah Al-‘Anfal, No. 8, verse 75, which says:

“...and the blood relatives are nearer to each other...”.

If the believers who did not migrate ask you to help them for the sake of the religion of Allah against infidels, you should help them, except for the group of infidels who have concluded the agreement of non-opposition with you. In this case you cannot help the Muslims in war against them. The verse says:

“Verily those who believed and migrated and strove with their properties and their selves in the way of Allah, and those who gave shelter and helped (the strivers), those are friends one of another. And those who believed but they did not migrate, you have not any friendship towards them until they migrate. Yet if they ask your help for (the sake of) religion, then it is your duty to help (them), save against a people with whom you have a treaty; and Allah sees all that you do.”

Surah Al-Anfal – Verse 73

وَالَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاءُ بَعْضٍ ۚ إِلَّا تَفْعَلُوهُ تَكُنْ فِتْنَةٌ فِي الْأَرْضِ وَفَسَادٌ كَبِيرٌ

73. “And (as for) those who disbelieve, they are friends one of another. If you do not so, there will be confusion in the earth and a greater mischief.”

The meaning of this verse is that Muslims should refrain from being friends of infidels and helping them, though they may be their close relatives. They should leave out their guardianship, too.

If you do not do what Allah (s.w.t) has commanded you, there will appear a great confusion and a great mischief in the earth.

That is, if you do not settle a relation of brotherhood between yourselves, and some of you do not take one another as guardians, even by inheriting from each other, and do not prefer the connection of Islam to the connection of relationship, nor cut off the communication between you and pagans, you will confront a great confusion and mischief in the earth.

For, as long as Muslims are not untied before infidels, polytheism will remain and pagans will be bold upon Muslims and will call them towards infidelity.

The verse says:

“And (as for) those who disbelieve, they are friends one of another. If you do not so, there will be confusion in the earth and a greater mischief.”

Surah Al-Anfal – Verse 74

وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَهَاجَرُوا وَجَاهَدُوا فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَالَّذِينَ آوَوْا وَنَصَرُوا أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ حَقًّا ۚ لَهُمْ مَغْفِرَةٌ وَرِزْقٌ كَرِيمٌ

74. “And (as for) those who believed and migrated and strove in the way of Allah, and those who gave shelter and helped, those are the believers truly; for them is forgiveness and a noble sustenance.”

Then Allah refers again to the Emigrants and the Helpers (Ansar) and admires them. The verse says:

“And (as for) those who believed and migrated and strove in the way of Allah, and those who gave shelter and helped, those are the believers truly...”

The evidence of this statement is that they both emigrated, and helped the Muslims, and separated from their relatives, and also, by spending their properties for the sake of the religion of Allah, they proved their true Faith. The verse continues saying:

“...for them is forgiveness and a noble sustenance.”

Surah Al-Anfal – Verse 75

وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنْ بَعْدُ وَهَاجَرُوا وَجَاهَدُوا مَعَكُمْ فَأُولَٰئِكَ مِنْكُمْ ۚ وَأُولُو الْأَرْحَامِ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلَىٰ بِبَعْضٍ فِي كِتَابِ اللَّهِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ

75. “And those who believed afterwards and migrated and strove with you, they are of you, and the blood relations are nearer to each other, in the book of Allah; verily Allah knows everything.”

The objective of the first part of the verse is those who believed after the first Emigration, and they migrated, too. The verse saying:

“And those who believed afterwards and migrated and strove with you...”

It is similar to the content of Surah Al-Hashr, No. 59, verse 10, which says:

“And those who came after them...”

The verse continues saying:

“…they are of you...”

This holy phrase means that they are like you and their judgment from the point of obligation of their friendship and helping them is the same as the Judgement of yours, although they believed and migrated after you.

“...and the blood relations are nearer to each other...”

That is, relatives are in precedence when they inherit. In (other words, when inheriting, some of them are more deserve from some others of the relatives.

This ordinance has been abrogated the heritage ordinance which had been issued because of Emigration and helping.

“...in the book of Allah...”

Some of the commentators have said that the holy phrase “in the book of Allah” means in the ‘Protected Tablet’, while some others have said that this holy phrase here means: ‘in the Qur'an’. This holy verse can be taken as an evidence to the fact that whoever is nearer to the dead, from the point of relation, is more deserve to inheriting from him. The verse ends as follows:

“...verily Allah knows everything.”
  • 1. Tafsir-i-Nur-uth- Thaqalayn

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