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Dynamics of Islamic Jihad

By Dr. Muhammad Sharif Chaudhry

CHAPTER 12

TREATIES

  1. The Qur’an and the Sunnah on Fulfilment of Promises

  2. The Qur’an and Sunnah on Fulfilment of Treaties by Islamic State

  3. Some Treaties made by the Prophet

    1. Charter of Madinah

    2. Treaty of Hudaibiyah

    3. Treaty with the Christians of Najran

  4. Rules and Regulations of the Treaties

Treaties are made between the states or nations sometimes to bring war or hostilities to an end and sometimes to settle terms of peace after the termination of a war. Treaties are even made to resolve certain disputes peacefully to avoid possible wars. Between friendly or like-minded states, treaties are made to form alliances against a common enemy or to keep peace and security in a certain region. These days treaties of mutual cooperation in economic field, trade and commerce, education, science and technology, diplomatic relations, etc. are being made. In this chapter, however, we shall be dealing only with the treaties relating to war and peace.

Islam means ‘peace’ and it stands for peace. Its followers are always ready to incline towards peace as the Holy Qur’an enjoins upon them: “And if they incline to peace, incline thou also to it, and  trust in Allah. Lo! He is the Hearer, the Knower.” (8 : 61)

About the nature and terms of treaties and about the procedure and effects of such treaties, no detailed rules have been made in the Holy Qur’an obviously for the reasons that the same are to be made according to the demands of the occasion. In the practice of the Holy Prophet, however, we find a lot of guidance about peace treaties as he himself concluded many treaties with the tribes and nations around him.

Before dilating upon the subject under issue in detail, let us reproduce some verses of the Qur’an and Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad about fulfillment of pledges and treaties.

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I-  The Qur’an and the Sunnah on Fulfillment of Promises

Islamic attaches as much importance to treaties, pacts and alliances in international relations as is the importance attached by it to the promises, covenants and pledges in individual and personal human relationships. The Qur’an, the revealed book of Islam, enjoins upon its followers to fulfil their promises and pledges. According to the Qur’an, the fulfillment of a covenant is a great human virtue and the Qur’an showers its admiration very liberally upon those who honour their given word at all costs. The Qur’an says:-

1.       Nay, but (the chosen of Allah is) he who fulfilleth his pledge and wardeth off (evil); for lo! Allah loveth those who ward off (evil).

–—(3:Al-Imran : 76)

2.       Those of them with whom thou maddest a treaty, and then at every opportunity they break their treaty, and they keep not duty to (Allah):

–—(3 : Ar-Ra’d : 20)

3.   Such as keep the pact of Allah, and break not the covenant.

–—(13:Ar-Ra’d : 20)

4.   Fulfil the covenant of Allah when ye have covenanted, and break not your oaths after the asseveration of them, and after ye have made Allah surety over you. Lo! Allah knoweth what ye do.

–—(16:An-Nahl : 91)

5.   Come not near the wealth of the orphan save with that which is better till he comes to strength; and keep the covenant. Lo! of the covenant it will be asked.

–—(17:Bani Isra’il : 34)

6.   And who are shepherds of their pledge and their covenant.

–—(23:Al-Mu’minun : 8)

7.   And those who keep their pledges and their covenant.

–—(70:Al-Ma’arij : 32)

Traditions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) enjoining upon his followers to fulfill their promises and trusts are as under :-

1.   Abdulah-bin-Abil-Hasma’a reported: I bought something from the Holy Prophet before he was raised up (as a Prophet), and there was price due to him (from me). So I promised to come to him therewith in its (appointed) place but I forgot. I remembered after 3 days, and found him in his place. He said: You have put trouble to myself. I have been here since three days waiting for you.

–—(Abu Daud)

2.   Abu Hurairah reported from the Holy Prophet who said: Pay trust to one who has entrusted you, and be not treacherous to one who was treacherous to you.

–—(Tirmizi, Abu Daud)

 

3.   Abdullah-b-Amr reported that the Messenger of Allah said: When four things are in you, there is nothing against you in the world which may cause your loss; guarding of trust, truthfulness in speech and beauty in conduct, and moderation in food.

–—(Ahmad, Baihaqi)

4.   Anas reported: Hardly did the Messenger of Allah address us without saying: There is no faith in him who has got no trust, and no religion for him who has got no promise.

–—(Baihaqi)

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II-  The Qur’an and the Sunnah on Fulfillment of Treaties by Islamic State

The Islamic state like individuals is also duty-bound to fulfil its treaties, alliances and words of honour given by it to foreign countries. It is one of the fundamental principles of the foreign policy pursued by an Islamic state to abide by its international commitments in all circumstances and at every cost. To comply with the terms and obligations of a treaty amounts to keeping duty to Allah. The Holy Qur’an enjoins the Islamic state to honour its pledges even with its enemy states and not to be the first one in breaking a pledge as it is a great sin. The Islamic state can break a treaty or pledge only when the other party to the treaty or pledge has been the first to break it and is bent upon harming the interests of the Islamic state. The Qur’an says:-

1.   Lo! the worst of beasts in Allah’s sight are the ungrateful who will not believe; Those of them with whom thou maddest a treaty, and then at every opportunity they break their treaty, and they keep not duty to (Allah): If thou comest on them in the war, deal with them so as to strike fear in those who are behind them, that haply they may remember. And if thou fearest treachery from any folk, then throw back to them (their treaty) fairly. Lo! Allah loveth not the treacherous.

–—(8:55-58)

2.   And a proclamation from Allah and His messenger to all men on the day of the Greater pilgrimage that Allah is free from obligation to the idolaters and (so is) His messenger. So if ye repent it will be better for you; but if ye are averse, then know that ye cannot escape Allah. Give tidings (O Muhammad) of a painful doom to those who disbelieve. Excepting those of the idolaters with whom ye (Muslims) have a treaty, and who have since abated nothing of your right nor have supported anyone against you (As for those), fulfil their treaty to them till their term. Lo! Allah loveth those who keep their duty (unto Him).

–—(9:3-4)

3.   How can there be a treaty with Allah and with His messenger for the idolaters save those with whom ye made a treaty at the Inviolable Place of Worship? So long as they are true to you, be true to them. Lo! Allah loveth those who keep their duty.

–—(9:7)

4.   And if they break their pledges after their treaty (hath been made with you) and assail your religion, then fight the heads of disbelief ––– Lo! they have no binding oaths ––– in order that they may desist.

–—(9:12)

Islam gives so much importance to the sanctity of treaties that sometimes even the obligations of Muslim brotherhood can be overridden to honour the given words. We read in the Qur’an “……… And those who believed but did not leave their homes, ye have no duty to protect them till they leave their homes; but if they seek help from you in the matter of religion then it is your duty to help (them) except against a folk between whom and you there is a treaty. Allah is Seer of what ye do”. –—(8:72) According to this verse, it is the bounden duty of the Islamic state to help its Muslim brothers living in another state who are being persecuted and who ask for such help. However, help cannot be given to them if they are citizens of a state with which the Islamic state has made a treaty. Thus observance of international obligations in such a situation would be more imperative for the Islamic state than honouring its religious ties with the oppressed Muslim minority.

In another verse, the Holy Book of Islam stresses the fulfillment of international obligations by the Islamic state with even individuals living in a state having treaty relations. The Qur’an says, while pronouncing punishment for the murder of a believer by mistake:

“He who hath killed a believer by mistake must set free a believing slave, and pay the blood-money to the family of the slain, unless they remit it as a charity. If he (the victim) be of a people hostile unto you and he is a believer, then (the penance is) to set free a believing slave. And if he cometh of a folk between whom and you there is a covenant, then the blood-money must be paid unto his folk and (also) a believing slave must be set free. And whoso hath not the wherewithal must fast two consecutive months. A penance from Allah. Allah is Knower Wise :

–—(4:92)

Thus this verse ordains that blood-money is to be paid for the murder of a person belonging to a non-Muslim state which has a treaty with the Islamic state, if he is killed in the territory of the Islamic state.

Some of the Ahadith and traditions which highlight the practice of the Prophet of Islam and his companions are:

1.   Amr-b-Auf-Mujani reported from the Holy Prophet who said: Compromise is lawful among Muslims except a compromise which makes a lawful thing unlawful or an unlawful thing lawful. And the Muslims shall stand upon their terms except a term which makes a lawful thing unlawful or an unlawful thing lawful.

–—(Tirmizi, Ibn Majah and Abu Daud)

2.   Amr-b-Shuaib reported from his father who from his grandfather heard that the Messenger of Allah said in his sermon: Fulfil your convenants of the Days of Ignorance, because it (meaning Islam) does not add to it but firmness, and do not renew a convenant in Islam

–—(Tirmizi)

3.   Safwan-b-Solaim from a number of the children of the companions of the Messenger of Allah, who from their fathers reported from the Apostle of Allah who said: Behold! Whoso oppresses a covenanted man, or does some damage to him, puts such a hard-ship on him as is beyond his endurance, or takes away something from him without his willful consent, I shall be his disputant on the Resurrection Day.

–—(Abu Daud)

4.   Bara’a-b-A’jeb reported that the Messenger of Allah made treaty with the Quraish on the Day of Hudaibiyyah over three things : On conditions that whoso of the polytheists would come to him, he would return him to them, but whoever of the Muslim comes to them, they would not return him; and on condition that he would come to Makkah next year and would stay there for three days, and would not enter there except by sheathing lances, swords and bows and like that. Then Abu Jandal came to him while he was bound in fetters. So he returned him to them.

–—(Bukhari, Muslim)

5.   Solaim-b-A’mer reported that there was a treaty between Muwayiah and the Byzantines and he was going towards their lands till when the convenant came to an end, he attacked them. A man came riding on a horse (or a pack horse) and said: Allah is greatest, Allah is greatest, fidelity and no treachery. They reconnoitered when lo! he was Amr-b-Abasah. Muwayiah asked him about that. He said: I heard the Messenger of Allah say: Whoso has got a treaty between him and a people must not loosen the treaty, nor make it tight till its term expires or he is thrown to them on an equal footing. He said : Then Muwayiah returned with the people.

–—(Tirmizi, Abu Daud)

6.   Any Muslim could give a pledge of protection to any person or persons even belonging to a hostile state, yet the pledge was binding for the Islamic state. The Prophet of Islam accepted the pledge of security given by a Muslim woman in these words : “O Mother of Hani! We have protected whom you protected”. Umar, the righteous caliph, accepted the pledge of protection given by a slave to the residents of a town conquered by Muslim forces in Iraq and directed Abu Ubaydah, the General of Islamic troops, to fulfil the commitment. Thus, an ordinary Muslim, even a woman or a slave, can offer protection to an enemy and his or her commitment can bind the entire Muslim community. The Prophet (PBUH) is reported to have said: “Muslims are one and the humblest among them is entitled to bind them by his pledge”.

7.   Khalid-bin-Walid returned the amount of Jizyah (which he had accepted on the pledge of protection) to the Christians of a town in Syria as he felt that he would not be able to protect them from the invasion of the Byzantine emperor. His words were : “We accepted Jizyah in return for defending you, but in this we have failed, thus, Jizyah is returned”.

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III-  Some Treaties Made by the Prophet

1- Charter of Madinah : Soon after his migration from Makkah to Madinah in the year 622 A.D. (1 A.H), Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) concluded a tripartite agreement between the Emigrants, the Helpers and the Jews of Madinah. This agreement is known in history as the Charter of Madinah. It is a historic document which regulated the relations between the Muslims who had migrated from Makkah to Madinah (known as Muhajerin) and the Muslims who were already living in Madinah (known as Ansar) on the one hand and between the Muslims and the Jews of Madinah and their allies on the other hand. It established first Islamic state with the Prophet as head in Madinah and defined the rights and obligations of the parties to the charter. Its main provisions are :-[1]

1.   This is a document from Muhammad the Prophet governing the relations between the believers and Muslims of the Quraish and Yathrib and those who followed them and joined them and laboured (fought) with these.

2.   They are one community (ummah) to the exclusion of all other people.

3.   The Muhajerin of the Quraish, according to their present custom, shall pay the blood-money within their own number and shall redeem, their prisoners with the kindness and justice common among believers (ma’ruf).

4.   The Banu Auf, according to their present custom, shall pay the blood money they paid in times of ignorance; every section shall redeem its prisoners with the kindness and justice common among believers.

5-8. The Banu Sa’idah, the Banu Harithah, the Banu Jusham and the Banu Najjar likewise.

9-11.The Banu Amr bin Auf, the Banu al-Nabit and the Banu al-Aus likewise.

12.  Believers shall not leave anyone destitute among them by not paying his redemption money or blood money in kindness.

13.  A believer shall not take away the freedom of another Muslim against his will.

14.  The God-fearing believers shall be against the rebellious or him who seeks to spread injustice, or sin or enmity, or corruption between believers; the hand of every man shall be against him even if he be a son of one of them.

15.  A believer shall not slay a believer for the sake of an unbeliever nor shall he aid an unbeliever against a believer.

16.  Allah’s protection (dhimmah) is one; the least (adna) of them may give protection to a stranger on their behalf. The believers are friends (mawali) one to the other to the exclusion of other people.

17.  To the Jew who follows us belong help and equality. He shall not be wronged nor shall his enemies be aided.

18.  The peace of the believers is indivisible. No separate peace shall be made when believers are fighting in the way of Allah.

19.  Conditions must be fair and equitable to all (in all peace treaties).

20.  In every party, a rider must take another behind him (while doing military duties).

21.  The believers must avenge the blood of one another shed in the Way of Allah. The God-fearing believers enjoy the best and most upright guidance.

22.  No polytheist shall take the property or person of a Quraish under his protection nor shall he intervene against a believer.

23.  Whoever is convicted of killing a believer without just cause shall be subject to retaliation, unless the next of kin is satisfied (with blood-money), and the believers shall be against him as one man, and they are bound to take action against him.

24.  It shall not be lawful for a believer who has agreed to what is in this document and believes in Allah and the Last Day to help an evil-doer or to shelter him. The curse of Allah and His Anger on the Day of Resurrection will be upon him if he does, and neither repentance nor ransom will be accepted from him.

25.  Whenever there is a difference of opinion about anything, it must be referred to Allah and Muhammad for a final decision.

26.  The Jews shall contribute to the cost of war as long as they are fighting alongside the believers.

27.  The Jews of the Banu Auf are one community with the believers (the Jews have their religion and the Muslims have theirs), their freedmen and their persons except those who behave unjustly or sinfully, for they hurt but themselves and their families.

28-35.The same applies to the Jews of the Banu al-Najjar, Banu al-Harith, Banu Sa’idah, Banu Jusham, Banu al-aus, Banu Thalabah and the Jafnah, a clan of the Thalabah and the Banu al-Shutaibah.

36   Loyalty is a protection against treachery. The freedmen of Thalabah are as themselves. The close friends of the Jews are as themselves.

37   None of (the believers) shall go to war, except with the permission of Muhammad, but he shall not be prevented from taking revenge for a wound.

38   He who slays a man without warning slays himself and his household, unless it be one who has wronged him, for Allah will accept that.

39   The Jews must bear their expenses and the Muslims their expenses.

40   Each must help the other against anyone who attacks the people of this document.

41   They must seek mutual advice and consultation, and loyalty is a protection against treachery.

42   A man is not liable for his ally’s misdeeds.

43   The wronged must be helped.

44   The Jews must bear expenses along with the believers so long as war lasts.

45   The valley of Yathrib shall be a sanctuary for the people of this document.

46   A stranger under protection (jar) shall be as his host so long as he does no harm and commits no crime. A woman shall only be given protection with the consent of her family.

47   If any dispute or controversy likely to cause trouble should arise it must be referred to Allah and to Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah. Allah accepts what is nearest to piety and goodness in this documents.

48   The Quraish and their helpers shall not be given protection.

49   The contracting parties are bound to help one another against any attack on Yathrib.

50   If they are called to make peace and maintain it, they must do so; and if they make a similar demand on the Muslims, it must be carried out, except in the case of a Holy War.

51   Everyone shall have his portion from the side to which he belongs; the Jews of al-Aus, their freedmen and themselves have the same standing with the people of this document in pure loyalty from the people of this document. Loyalty is a protection against treachery. He who acquires anything acquires it for himself.

52   Allah approves of this document. This deed will not protect the unjust and the sinner. The man who goes forth to fight or the man who stays at home in the city is safe unless he has been unjust and a sinner. Allah is the Protector of the good and God-fearing man and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.

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2- Treaty of Hudaibiyah: In the year 6 A.H. Prophet Muhammad set out for Makkah with 1400 companions for Umrah. Hearing that the pagan Quraish of Makkah are not prepared to allow him to enter Makkah, the Prophet encamped at Hudaibiyah six miles short of Makkah. After hectic negotiations between the Muslims and the Quraish a truce for a period of ten years was signed which is known in history as the Treaty of Hudaibiyah. Following is the text of this treaty :[2]

“With Thy name, O God!

“This is what was agreed upon between Muhammad, son of ‘Abdullah, and Suhail, son of ‘Amr:

“They both agreed to put down fighting on the part of people for ten years, during which period the people were to enjoy peace and refrain from fighting with each other.

“And whoever of the companions of Muhammad comes to Makkah on Hajj or ‘Umrah-pilgrimage, or in quest of the bounty of God en route to Yaman or Ta’if, such shall be in security regarding his person and property. And whoever comes to Madinah, from among the Quraish, en route to Syria or ‘Iraq [variant : Egypt] seeking the bounty of God, such shall be in security regarding his person and property.

“And whoever comes to Muhammad from among the Quraishites without the permission of his guardian (mawla), he [he the Prophet] will hand him over to them; and whoever comes to the Quraish from among those who are with Muhammad, they will not hand him over to him.

“And that between us is a tied-up breast [i.e. bound to fulfil the terms] and that there shall be no secret help violating neutrality, and no acting unfaithfully.

“And that whosoever likes to enter the league of Muhammad and his alliance may enter into it : and whoso likes to enter the league of the Quraish and their alliance may enter it–And thereupon upsprang the tribe of Khuza’ah and said: We are in league with Muhammajd and his alliance; and upsprang the tribe of Banu Bakr and said: We are in league with the Quraish and their alliance.

“And that thou [Muhammad] shalt return from us [Quraish is this year and enter not in our midst; and that when it is the coming year, we shall go out from thee and thou shall enter with thy companions and stay there three nights, with thee being the weapon of the rider : having swords at the side; thou shalt not enter with what is other than them [swords].

“And that the animals of sacrifice (brought by thee this time) will be slaughtered where we found them [i.e. in Hudaibiyah], and thou shalt not conduct them to us [in Makkah].

[Probably Seal of Muhammad and Seal of Suhail]

“WITNESSES :

“Muslims :– Abu Bakr, Umar, ‘Abd ar-Rahman ibn ‘Awf. ‘Abdullah Ibn Suhail Ibn ‘Amr, Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas, Mahmud ibn Maslamah, etc.

‘Makkans :– Mikraz ibn Hafs, etc.

Scribe and Witness :– ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib”.

The terms of this treaty prima facie appear to the disadvantage of the Muslims and it was considered so by many companions of the Prophet as well. But the treaty proved a landmark in the history of Islam. It provided to the Muslims necessary relief from the hectic warfare and to Islam it provided boost in its spread and propagation. No doubt the treaty has been called ‘Fatah Mubeen’ (clear victory) by the Qur’an in its chapter 48 and it was indeed no less than that.

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3-Treaty with the Christians of Najran: In the year 8.A.H. Christians of Najran submitted to the Islamic state of Madinah and agreed to pay fixed tribute to Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam. In lieu of this submission and tribute, they secured from the Prophet his protection to their life, faith, land and property. The terms of the treaty concluded between the parties are :[3]

1.   From Muhammad the Messenger of Allah to the people of Najran.

2.   The people of Najran are responsible for paying tribute to the Prophet according to the rate fixed for them in fruit, wheat or cattle.

3.   Whatever is taken from them, armour, horses, camels or luggage, will be taken according to determined computation.

4.   In case of war between us and Yemen, the people of Najran will lend us thirty armours, thirty horses and thirty camels.

5.   Any damage to, or loss of, the things borrowed will be paid by my envoys.

6.   The life, faith, land and property of the people of Najran and of the neighbouring areas, absent or present, will be under the protection of Allah and His Messenger.

7.   Their places of worship and their religious rights will also be protected.

8.   Their bishops will not be transferred nor their monks be removed nor those who abstain from war.

9.   The status quo will be strictly maintained; whatever is in their possession, whether plentiful or scarce, will not be changed.

10.  They will have no right to do any business involving interest (riba) or to claim any right to blood retaliation (shed in the days of) ignorance.

11.  If any of them claims his right to something, the matter will be decided between them with justice. They shall not be wronged nor shall they (be allowed to) do any wrong.

12.  Whatever is mentioned in this document is under the eternal protection of Allah and is the responsibility of Muhammad the Prophet, provided these people do good of their own accord without any coercion or compulsion.

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IV-  Rules and Regulations of the Treaties

The jurists of Islam have laid down certain rules and regulations which should be adhered to while framing treaties and alliances. Basing their argument on the command of the Qur’an : “when ye contract a debt for a fixed term, record it in writing”, and the practice of the Prophet, they say that a treaty must be reduced into black and white. Terms of the treaty should be clear to the parties concerned and there must be no ambiguity in them. The date of the writing of the treaty, date on which it comes into force and the duration of the treaty must be precisely mentioned. The signatures of the duly authorized persons should be affixed along with the names and signatures of the witnesses in whose presence the deed was executed. If the supreme commander or the head of the government is not present at the time of execution of treaty, then the provisional agreement made on his behalf by a subordinate authority must be later ratified by the competent authority. The terms of the treaty must be implemented in letter and spirit and the solemn pledges made between the parties must be truly honoured in deeds.

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[1]       Clauses of Charter of Madinah adopted from Encyclopedia of Seerah.

 [2]       Adopted verbation from Dr. Hamidullah’s book ‘The Muslim conduct of State.’

[3]       Adopted verbation from the Encyclopedia of Seerah.

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