Islam is the complete and perfect Divine Revelation from Allah Almighty to mankind for his prosperity and salvation. All the previous prophets of Allah, like Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus (u) were Muslims sent to their respective peoples with the general religion of Islam - worship of Allah without partner or idolatry - and the specific code of laws suitable for their peoples.
Allah, the Exalted says:
And we did not send any Messenger before you but We revealed to him (the saying): none has the right to be worshipped except I (Allah), so worship Me (alone).
Muhammad ibn Abdullah is the final Prophet and Messenger of Allah. He has been sent to all mankind with the Islamic code of Laws legislated by Allah, the most Wise and Omniscient.
Allah, the Exalted says:
Muhammad is not the father of any man among you; but he is the Messenger of Allah and the last of the Prophets.
And Allah the Exalted says:
This day I have perfected your religion for you, and completed my favor upon you, and have chosen for you al-Islam as your religion.
And He says:
Truly, the religion before Allah is al-Islam.
And He says:
And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers.
The Messenger of Allah explained his similitude in respect to the previous Prophets of Allah saying:
My example and the example of the Prophets who preceded me, is like that of a person who built a beautiful house. The house was perfect and magnificent except for a place of a single brick (in one corner). People who saw that house admired it but wonderedwhy did not the owner complete that missing single brick? I am that missing brick. I am the final Prophet (for mankind on the earth).
All humanity agrees in the general principle that truth, justice and goodness must be upheld and defended in the face of attack by the forces of falsehood, tyranny and evil. Muslims take this obligation very seriously, and strive to promote the truth, justice and goodness by all legal means available. For secular societies, religion is considered purely a private affair. Public life legally must be guided by secular principles and institutions and never by religion or religious law. We must remember that the development of secularism itself was a reaction to the extravagances and conflicts of the Christian Churches and various Monarchs and Kings in Europe.
This introduces the sensitive subject of "Jihad (struggle, exertion), which is a much maligned and misused word. The following verse of the Glorious Qur'an, read in its fuller context, gives a general rule about Jihad:
Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loves not transgressors.
The summary about Jihad is that fighting is allowed for Muslims for protection against aggression, exploitation and suppression, and yet in this all transgressions are prohibited. The Arabic root for Jihad means to endeavor, and it includes not only fighting against oppressors and tyrants but also struggling generally to promote good and combat evil. By Jihad the religion of Islam with its ultimate truth, justice and goodness is protected, and the Muslims themselves are defended from those that wish them harm. It is an obligation on all Muslims to believe in and practice Jihad to some degree: greater obligations exist for those with greater abilities, but even the poor and disabled give their moral support and supplications for victory.
Jihad was practiced in the previous faiths as well. Since evil appears all over the world and throughout human history, Jihad was in order to stop tyranny and injustice. It is also to prohibit people from worshiping false deities and demigods, and to introduce them to the reality of the worship of Allah alone, who has no son, partners or associates. Jihad is legislated to remove injustices and to introduce man to the mercy, justice and peace of Islam as a way of life, for the interest of man's benefit on earth, and not for the interest of specific groups of Arabs or other national groups of Muslims, since Islam is universal and has no geographic or limited borders. As the tradition states, the Messenger of Allah said:
Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or is oppressed."A man enquired: "O Messenger of Allah! I help him when he is oppressed, but how can I help him when he is an oppressor?'' He said: "You can keep him from committing oppression. That will be your help to him."
The message and invitation of Islam is international and universal for all humanity, with a comprehensive code of beliefs, morals and ethics for every walk of life. Islam laid down the principles of justice, fairness, equality, freedom, prosperity, success and truthfulness for man on earth. Jihad is legislated not to force people against their own will to join Islam, but rather as a tool and mechanism to help maintain the peace that allows for the peaceful spread of the message about the religion of monotheism, justice and equality to the entire world and protect it against attack. After people receive the message, it is up to them to accept Islam or choose otherwise. The essential purpose of Jihad is to open the way for peaceful propagation of the Message of Islam to people. The Almighty Allah states in the Glorious Quran:
Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects Taaghoot (idols, evil tyrants, etc) and believes in Allah, has grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold that never breaks. And, Allah hears and knows all things.
The principle cementing intra-relationships between governments and people is based on justice and peace since there can be no lasting peace without justice. Jihad is not a "Holy War as described in the Western media, but it is an honorable "struggle and resistance against oppressors and those who oppose the peaceful spread of Allah's Word and faith in Him and His religion of Islam. "War most often begins as a drive for personal or national interests, for land, resources, and/or other political or economic reasons. Islam prohibits this "war and allows for Jihad in the three situations, namely:
Allah says in the Glorious Qur'an:
Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loves not transgressors.
The obligation of countering oppression and tyranny is mentioned in the verse of the Glorious Qur'an:
And why should you not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated people (and oppressed)? Men, women, and children, whose cry is: "Our Lord! Rescue us from this town whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from You one who will protect, and raise for us from You one who will help!
The Prophet of Allah said:
The best Jihad is a word of truth before a tyrannical unjust ruler.
Allah, the Exalted, says in the Glorious Qur'an:
And fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevails justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere; but if they cease, verily Allah does see all that they do.
A "Mujahid (Muslim fighter for the cause of Allah) must purify his intention to please Allah alone. He must have a clear understanding that Jihad is only for just reasons: to protect Islam and the Muslims, and to spread the message of Islam and Word of Allah. If the enemies of Islam who are fighting the Muslims cease their attack, and accept terms for a just peace, the Muslim fighters are commanded to cease hostilities.
Allah also says: (But if they incline to peace, you also incline to it, and (put your) trust in Allah. Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.)
And He Most Exalted said:
Therefore if they withdraw from you and cease fighting, and send you (guarantees of) peace, then Allah has left no way for you (to war against them).
Islam has permitted fighting only for the above specified reasons and has laid down strict rules of conduct in "warfare. All other reasons for "war are totally prohibited in Islam, for instance, war for land expansion, colonial interests and revenge, etc. Islam does not allow fighters to kill haphazardly, but only permits them to kill military personnel and those directly supporting armed forces. Islam does not permit, accept or condone the killing of elderly people, children, women, those under medical treatment, medical staff, and monks who have secluded themselves for the worship of Allah . Islam forbids mutilating bodies and organs of the deceased enemy fighters. Islam also forbids the killing of cattle or any type of animal of the enemies, the destruction of peoples' homes and the pollution of potable water resources, including rivers, lakes, springs and wells of water of the fighting enemies. These concepts are based on the many verses of the Glorious Quran, including this verse:
But seek, with the (wealth) which Allah has bestowed on you, the Home of the Hereafter, nor forget your portion in this world: but do good as Allah has been good to you, and seek not (occasions for) mischief in the land: for Allah loves not those who do mischief.
It is also based on many sayings of Messenger of Allah , for instance his statement:
Fight for the Cause of Allah and in His Name, against the disbelievers in Allah. Fight them, but do not breach your contracts or truces, do not mutilate, and do not kill a newly born baby
And he said:
do not kill a woman, or slave.
This is also in compliance with the directions and the recommendation of the first Caliph, Abu Bakr to his military leaders upon commissioning them for Jihad. It was narrated that he said, "Listen and obey the following ten commands and instructions: Do not betray any one (if you give a pledge). Do not steal from the war booties. Do not breach your pledge of allegiance. Do not mutilate the body of the killed enemy fighters or deceased. Do not kill a child or a minor. Do not kill an elderly man or woman. Do not kill a woman. Do not uproot a date palm tree (or any other trees) and do not burn them either. Do not cut or destroy a fruit tree. Do not slaughter a female sheep, a cow or a camel except for your (required) food. You surely will pass by some people who isolate themselves and are secluded for worship of Allah as monks and else, thus leave them alone and do not disturb them. You will, surely, stop at some people on the road, who will bring forth for you all types of food dishes. Whenever you eat their food, recite the name of Allah each time you eat. You will, surely, pass by a group of people who shaved the hair in the center of their heads, and left the surrounding hair in long braids: it is allowed to fight and kill these people as they are the warriors of the enemies who carry their swords against you. Go ahead, with the name of Allah ."
The prisoners of war are not to be tortured, humiliated, or mutilated. They are not to be imprisoned in tight claustrophobic prison cells without adequate food and drink thus causing them to die.. The Glorious Quran states:
And they feed, for the love of Allah, the indigent, the orphan, and the captive, (saying), "We feed you for the sake of Allah alone: no reward do we desire from you, or thanks.
The Islamic government has the right either to set free such POWs with no ransom at all, or for an agreed ransom, or exchange them for Muslim POWs. This is based on the verse of the Glorious Quran:
Therefore, when you meet the disbelievers (in battle) smite their necks; at length, when you have thoroughly subdued them, bind a firm bond (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom: until the war lays down its burdens. Thus (are you commanded): but if it had been Allah's Will, He could certainly have exacted retribution from them (Himself); but (He lets you fight) in order to test you, some with others. But those who are slain in the way of Allah, He will never let their deeds be lost.
The conquered people who comprise the non-Muslim residents of an Islamic state and their families, possessions and estates are entitled protection by Islamic law from any violation. No one has a right to seize the possession or the wealth of the non-Muslim residents, or humiliate them or encroach upon their honor. No one has the right to unjustly attack them. The belief and religious practices of the non-Muslim residents in an Islamic state are respected to the legal limit. For instance Allah says in the Glorious Qur'an:
(They are) those who, if We establish them in the land, establish regular prayer and give regular charity, enjoin the right and forbid wrong: with Allah rests the end (and decision) of (all) affairs.
The non-Muslim residents of an Islamic state are required to pay a minimal tax called "Jizyah which is a specific type of head-tax collected from individuals who do not accept Islam and desire to keep their religion while living in an Islamic state and under Islamic rule. For instance in the early Islamic States while wealthy Muslims were paying 2.5% of their accumulated wealth, non-Muslim residents paid Jizyah in three categories: the rich and wealthy class, an equivalent to the sum of (48) forty-eight Dirhams A Dirham is an Islamic coin equivalent in value to 2.28 grams of silver. The name "Dirham is still used in some Islamic and Arab countries but the modern currency does not have the same value as the older currency. a year; the middle or average class, such as merchants, traders and farmers, an equivalent to the sum of (24) twenty-four Dirhams a year; and the working class, such as bakers, carpenters, plumbers and the like, an equivalent to the sum of (12) twelve Dirhams a year. The Jizyah is collected in return for the protection of the non-Muslim residents of an Islamic State and their wealth. The Muslim leader and commander, General Khalid bin al-Waleed once made a pledge to the non-Muslim residents of the Islamic state at the time and said, "I offer you my pledge of allegiance to fully protect you against the head-tax collected from you. If we provide the necessary protection, we are entitled for the head-tax. Otherwise, you are not required to pay it.' Then, when the Muslims forces had to vacate the area for battle elsewhere they returned the Jizyah they had taken since they were not able to provide the security stipulated.This is a famous incident in Islamic history: see for instance Baladthuri, Futuh al-Buldan, in the conquest of Sham (Greater Syria)
Jizyah is not applicable to every non-Muslim resident of an Islamic state; rather, it is to be taken from those who earn. Many categories of people are exempt from paying this Jizyah including the poor, minors, women, monks, blind people, and the disabled individuals. Islam made it obligatory on the Islamic government to provide the full protection to these categories of people and offer them suitable living allowances. In fact, the pledge given by General Khalid bin al-Waleed to the non-Muslim residents of the town called "Heerah' in Iraq, under the Islamic rule, stated the following:
Any elderly person, disabled worker, terminally ill person or a rich person who went bankrupt, and based on that deserve charity from the fellow religious people, will not be required to pay head-tax. Furthermore, each one will become entitled for suitable allowances from the Islamic Treasury for himself and his dependents.
Another example is when the second Caliph, Omar bin al-Khattab , once passed by an elder Jewish man who was begging. Omar asked about him and was informed that he was a non-Muslim resident of the Islamic state. Omar immediately said, "We have not been fair to you! We've collected head-tax from you while you were young and capable and neglected you in your old age!' Omar took the old Jew to his own home and offered him whatever he found of foodstuff and clothes. Later, Omar instructed those in charge of the treasury, saying:
Follow up, monitor and observe the situations of similar people. Offer them assistance that suffices them and their family members from the Islamic Treasury.'
Allah states in the Glorious Qur'an:
Alms are for the poor and the needy.
[i.e. the beginning of the famous verse on Zakah (obligatory charity)] In one interpretation of this verse:
the poor are the Muslims and the needy are the non-Muslim residents of an Islamic state.