Ethics of War

An Islamic story:


In the battle of Khandaq, the Muslims dug a ditch around themselves for their defense, so that the enemy could not get across. A man from the enemy side called Amr bin Abdawud who was known for his strength, courage and art of fighting managed to get across the ditch. All the Muslims were terrified to fight him and only Imam Ali (R.A) came forward to fight this man. There was a fierce fight until at last Imam Ali (R.A) threw Amr down onto the ground and mounted his chest ready to kill him. Just as Imam Ali (R.A) was about to kill this enemy of Islam, he spit on the face of our Imam (R.A). Everybody was certain that because of this insult, Amr would meet his death even faster still, but to their amazement, Imam Ali (R.A) moved from Amr’s chest and walked away. Amr attacked Imam (R.A) again and after a short while, Imam (R.A) again overpowered Amr and killed him. After the battle was over people asked Imam Ali (R.A) the reason why he had spared Amr’s life when he had first overpowered him. To which Imam (R.A) replied that if he had killed him, then it would have not been only for the sake of Allah but also for the satisfaction of his anger and so he let him free. Then Imam (R.A) controlled his anger and killed Amr purely for the sake of Allah.



The above hadith (note: this story may not be authentic) emphasizes the importance of suppressing anger during battle. If the story is true, then how much more importance should one place on preserving the life of a child who is engaged in battle against you?  As, surely, engaging with them in battle is more of an expression of anger than of anything else? Is it REALLY permissible for Muslims to fight against children in battle, or should Muslims simply walk away from such shameful, dishonourable warfare against children that are too young to know what they are doing?


Sheikh Abdal Hakim Murad suggests that (in the Islamic tradition) it is permissible to fight against children in war if they are carrying weapons. Perhaps Sheikh Abdal Hakim should quote some Islamic sources to explain where he got the belief that engaging with children in battle is permissible.  He mentions this during his recent lecture on “the ethics of war”, in the following video:


Ethics of War – Explore Islam Week 2014 – Timothy Winter:


The film “Rules of Engagement” (2000) was notorious for showing how the American army thought nothing of fighting against a young Arab girl – simply because she held up a gun to the U.S. forces:

“Rules of Engagement” film (2000)

This film shows footage of a young Yemeni girl walking around with one leg – she was injured by US soldiers shooting at Yemeni civilians (allegedly in self-defence).  The film then shows that the same girl was injured because she held a gun at the U.S. Army during their attack.  Thus, the little girl – that viewers were sympathizing with in the film, is made to look no better than the Yemeni terrorists.  The US army considers innocent children being killed in battle as just “collateral damage”:



Perhaps this is why American police today seem so trigger happy – eager to shoot a child holding a toy gun:


CLEVELAND (AP) — The police officer who fatally shot a 12-year-old boy carrying a pellet gun fired within 1½ to 2 seconds of pulling up in his cruiser, police said Wednesday. During those few moments, he ordered the youngster three times to put up his hands, they said.  Read more here:


Unless you’re an arrogant, psychotic, angry moron, common sense alone should tell you to avoid engaging with children in battle at all cost – even if they’re carrying weapons, as there simply isn’t any honour in it at all, and it’s very disrespectful to human life.  Rather, one should subdue one’s anger in battle, and truly believe that the hereafter is a much better place than this worldly life – and all that can be gained from it by engaging in battle.


YouTube links on controlling anger:

Controlling Anger – Nouman Ali Khan – Quran Weekly

Uploaded on 22 Feb 2010

Nouman Ali Khan explains how reducing anger is tied to surrendering love for this world, refraining from major sins, and guarding against shamelessness:

Are You Humble or Arrogant? – A Litmus Test – Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan:


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