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Research Monographs

on the Muslim World
Series No 1, Paper No 3
December 2006
HUDSON I NS TI TUTE
Center on Islam, Democracy,
and the Future of the MuslimWorld
“Non-Combatants”
in Muslim Legal
Thought
ELLA LANDAU-TASSERON
The views, opinions, and/ or findings contained in this report are
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Center on Islam,
Democracy, and
the Future of the
Muslim World
© 2006 by Hudson Institute, Inc.
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“Non-Combatants”
in Muslim Legal
Thought
ELLA LANDAU-TASSERON
1


¨Non-Combatants" in Muslim Legal Tlouglt
by
Ella Landau-Tasseron


Tle law oí war in Vestern tradition developed over lundreds oí years, based on
Roman law, tle writings oí tle Clurcl Fatlers, and medieval codes oí clivalry. Tlese
codes, rules, and regulations crystallized írom tle sixteentl century CE onwards into a
doctrine known as bcllvm ivstvm, a term commonly translated into Englisl as ¨iust
war." Since tle issues oí iustice and tle iustiíication oí war are only part oí tlis
doctrine, it would perlaps be better to understand tle Latin term as meaning ¨war
carried out in accordance witl law." Tlis doctrine contains two well-deíined categories
dealing witl diííerent aspects oí war. One is tlat oí ivs aá bcllvm, wlicl lays down tle
principles by wlicl a war is determined to be eitler legal or illegal. Tle second is tlat
oí ivs tn bcllo, wlicl deíines permitted and íorbidden belavior toward tle enemy and
tleir property during combat and aíterwards. One oí tle main rules oí tlis second
category is tle distinction between combatants and non-combatants (oíten reíerred to as
civilians). Non-combatants may not be larmed intentionally. By virtue oí not being
involved in waríare, tley are considered to lave immunity.
:

Tle Muslim law oí war existed lundreds oí years beíore its Vestern counterpart.
It does not lave two clearly deíined categories, but witlin it can be íound parallels oí
almost all Vestern rules and principles. Tle Muslim law oí war includes, among otler
tlings, a prolibition against larming various groups oí people. An examination oí tle
nature oí tlis prolibition will slow tlat tle term ¨non-combatants" used in tle
doctrine oí iust war is not suited to Muslim law. Vlile it is true tlat all tlose wlo may
not be larmed according to Muslim law are non-combatants, not all non-combatants
are immune írom larm. For tlis reason, tle term ¨non-combatants" will appear lere in
quotation marks, reíerring to all tlose categories oí people mentioned in Muslim
iurists' discussions about tlose wlo may not be larmed. Tlese categories will be
explained and discussed below.
c

Statements about ¨non-combatants" appear in tle earliest legal works, beginning
in tle second century AH/eigltl century CE. In tlese works, tle prolibition against
larming ¨non-combatants" is usually based on tle personal iudgment oí tle iurist, or


Author`s Note: Tle original Hebrew version oí tlis article was publisled in Stvátcs tn Early Islam· Lcctvrcs
ácltvcrcá tn bonovr o/ Pro/cssor M } Ktstcr on tbc occaston o/ bts ntncttctb btrtbáay Tle Israel Academy oí
Humanities and Sciences, Jerusalem, cccs. Tle Englisl translation was done by Mrs. Juditl Loebenstein-
Vitztum.
:
Discussion oí tle tleme oí ¨iust war" is extensive; see, e.g., Jolnson, ¨Roots;" Valzer, Wars; Nardin, War
aná Pcacc. For a comparison between tle iust war tradition and Islamic concepts oí war see Kelsay, Islam
2
I lave not classiíied tle various legal solutions according to legal sclools íor two reasons. First, in tle
case oí tle early iurists, it is not always clear to wlicl sclool tley belonged. Second, tle disagreements
witlin tle sclools are sometimes as great as tlose between tlem. Nevertleless, I lave noted in tle
bibliograply tle sclools to wlicl tle various autlors belonged (wlen tlis can be known íor sure). For a
discussion oí tle applicability oí tle term non combatant to Islamic law see Kelsay, Islam, clapter i.
2
on a íew sayings (baáttbs) going back to tle Proplet and tle íirst two calipls, Abu Bakr
and 'Umar. Only rarely is an attempt made to iustiíy tlese sayings rationally. Ratler,
tlese baáttbs are usually considered in tlemselves to be tle real reason íor reíraining
írom killing ¨non-combatants." Tley reílect tle general principle tlat a Muslim slould
not engage in killing ií tlere is neitler reason nor necessity íor lim to do so. However,
tlis principle is not absolute, and tle explicit prolibition against killing ¨non-
combatants" is conditional and signiíicantly restricted by law. To use tle legal language
developed aíter tle second/eigltl century, any given ¨non-combatant," altlougl
protected to a certain extent, does not in íact lave immunity (`tsma) and is not
considered to be ¨a soul wlom Allal las íorbidden to kill," (na/s barrama Allab
aatlaba). Tle concept oí `tsma is tle key to understanding Muslim attitudes toward ¨tle
otler" in general, and toward tle killing oí ¨non-combatants" in particular.
Tle prolibition against killing las tle validity oí law in regard to Muslims and
tleir allies, but it is merely a general and non-binding directive in regard to otlers. Tle
category oí tlose wlo lave íull immunity (`tsma), meaning tlat tley must not be
larmed, includes only Muslims and tleir allies, tle iníidels wlo lave a speciíic legal
treaty witl Muslims. Sucl a treaty may be eitler permanent (sucl as tle ábtmma
contract) or temporary (sucl as aman, given íor instance to iníidel merclants in
Muslim territory).
,
Tle sanctity oí tle lives oí Muslims and oí tlose wlo lave a treaty
witl tlem is deíined as bvrma and is absolute. Harm may be inílicted on tlem only in
selí-deíense or as punislment íor a crime committed by tlem. Muslims and tleir allies
lave ¨measurable and substantial immunity" (`tsma mvaawwama or mvaawwtma). Tlis
means tlat wloever larms any oí tlem las to pay, by enduring punislment and/or by
paying compensation as set down in tle law.
i

On tle otler land, tle lives oí ¨non-combatants" írom among tle non-Muslim
enemy are íoríeit to begin witl. Ií tley lave immunity at all, it is merely ¨immunity
tlat incurs a sin" (`tsma mv'tbtma). A Muslim wlo larms tlem is a sinner, but no
punislment is meted out to lim, and le owes no compensation. Tlere is general
agreement regarding tle exemption írom punislment íor a Muslim wlo larms ¨non-
combatants." It is usually said tlat ¨tlere is notling wrong" (la bas btbt) witl inílicting
larm on a ¨non-combatant;" at most, tle person wlo inílicted tlis larm must ask íor
Allal's íorgiveness and express lis remorse (tsttrb/ar tawba).
s

Tle boundaries set by tle concept oí immunity are also reílected in tle
diííerence between tle laws governing war against iníidels, on tle one land, and war
against Muslim rebels (abl al·barby) on tle otler. Vlereas tle lives oí tle íormer are
íoríeit, tle latter lave immunity, and tleir lives are protected because tley are Muslim.

,
Saraklsi, Mabsvt, :c/;8; Yusuí, Ab/am, ,s-6, sc.
i
See Mawsv´a, ,c/:,;. Jurists disagree about certain details oí tlis principle. Ibn Hazm, íor example,
Mvballa :c/ccc, tlinks tlat no blood-money slould be set on a Muslim wlo las larmed a ábtmmt or a
mvstamtn (one wlo las temporary protection), but tlat tle culprit slould be imprisoned and
reprimanded (or punisled: yv'aááab). See also otler opinions on tlis matter: Marglinani, Htáaya i/:6c6-
:6c;; Saraklsi, Mabsvt :c/os. One slould also look into tle diííerence between intentional and
unintentional damage; tlis, lowever, íalls outside tle issues tlat concern us; see, e.g., Yusuí, Ab/am, ::;-
:8, :i8-c:c. For discussions about tle concept oí immunity (`tsma), see Jolansen, Conttnrcncy clapters s
and 6.
5
Tabari, I/bttla/, :c; Saraklsi, Sbarb i/:i:6, Mabsvt :c/,c; Mawsv´a ,c/:,;; Ibn Nuiaym, Babr s/8s; Dirdir,
Sbarb c/:;;.
3
Tlose in power are allowed to íiglt only rebels wlo wage war, not tlose wlo belong to
tle rebel community but take no part in tle rebellion. Tle concept oí absolute
immunity íor tlose wlo really are non-combatants is tlus applied only to Muslim
rebels, not to iníidels. Tle reason íor tlis is legal: since tle lives oí all Muslims are
sacred, it is a crime to larm tlem unless tley rebel or commit a crime tlat entails
capital punislment.
6
But any act oí violence against an iníidel, wlose liíe is basically
íoríeit, is not considered to be a crime at all.
;
Tle diííerence between a liíe tlat is íoríeit
and one tlat is not can also be seen in tle issue oí tatarrvs tle use oí luman slields. Ií
tle enemy uses Muslims as luman slields, tley may be íired upon only ií it is
absolutely necessary, because tle lives oí tlese Muslims are protected under Muslim law.
Tlere is no sucl limitation ií tle luman slields are ¨non-combatant" iníidels.
8
It is
wortl noting tlat early iurists sucl as Abu Yusuí and Awza'i made no distinction
between Muslim and iníidel ¨non-combatants" regarding tatarrvs.
o

Tle diííerence between killing a person wlo las íull immunity and killing a
¨non-combatant" can be seen not only in tle steps taken-or not taken-against tle
killer, but also in tle terminology employed. Vlile tlose wlo are really immune are
¨ma´svm" (protected) or ¨baram al·áam" (one wlose blood is sacred), tlere are no
speciíic legal terms to designate ¨non-combatants." Tley are sometimes reíerred to as
¨tlose wlom it is not allowed to kill," ¨one wlose blood is not to be spilt," ¨one wlo
slould not be aimed at," and ¨one wlo slould not be killed" (man la yabtll aatlvbv;
mabzvr al·áam· mamnv` an yvasaá· man la yvatal).
:c
Tle prolibitions against killing
¨non-combatants" are not usually expressed by tle word yvbarram (íorbidden), but
ratler by sucl terms as ¨not possible," ¨not allowed," ¨not proper."
::
All tlese words
convey a weaker prolibition tlan tlat expressed by tle root b·r·m.
It appears, tlereíore, tlat ¨non-combatants"-tle iníidels wlo may not be
larmed-cannot be considered to lave real immunity tlat protects tlem írom larm.
:c


6
See, e.g., Slaíi'i, Umm 8/,6i. Abou al-Fadl, ¨Tle Rules oí Killing," tlinks tlat Muslim law is lenient
regarding Muslim rebels because tleir action is considered to be tle outcome oí poor iudgment ratler
tlan oí evil intentions.
;
Yusuí, Ab/am, sc-s6.
8
Mawardi, Hawt, :i/:8;-:88; Zakariya al-Ansari, Fatb c/,cc; Kasani, Baáat` ;/:c:; tlere is no consensus
on tlis issue, and even Slaíi'i voices two diííerent opinions: once (Umm i/,c6) le applies tle same rules
to botl Muslim and non-Muslim ¨slields," but on anotler occasion (Umm 8/,;8) le distinguisles
between Muslim and non-Muslim ¨slields." See also tle disagreements in Saraklsi, Mabsvt :c/,:-,c; Ibn
'Abd al-Barr, 1ambtá :6/:i,. On tatarrvs see also below, p.::
9
Abu Yusuí, cited in Slaíi'i, Umm ;/,6o; Awza'i, cited in Fazari, Styar, ,,,. In tle íiítl/eleventl century
Saraklsi supported tle opinion viewing Muslims and non-Muslims as equal in regard to tle issue oí
¨luman slields." According to lim, Muslims must íire upon tle enemy regardless oí wletler tle
¨slields" are Muslim prisoners or iníidel women and clildren; see Mabsvt :c/6s.
:c
See e.g., Slaíi'i, Umm i/cs,, c;i.
::
Later sources are less particular about terminology, and I lave íound use oí tle word yvbarram to
denote tle prolibition against killing ¨non-combatants" in tle íollowing sources: Saraklsi
(íiítl/eleventl century), Sbarb i/:i:6, Mabsvt :c/co; Ibn Muílil (eigltl/íourteentl century), Fvrv` 6/c:c,
see also c:c; Mardawi (nintl/íiíteentl century), Insa/ i/:,,; Zakariya al-Ansari (tentl/sixteentl century),
Fatb c/coo, ,cc. Tlis terminology does not point to a clange oí attitude, because, as beíore, tle iurists
lold tlat wloever kills tlese ¨non-combatants" is not punisled. Tle exceptions are women and clildren;
since tley are considered property, a person wlo kills tlem must repay tleir price.
:c
But see Zulayli, Atbar, ios, sc,, wlere le claims tlat ¨non-combatants" lave immunity. Tlis is iust one
illustration oí tlis autlor's goal oí proving tlat tle law oí war in Islam is compatible witl international
law.
4
Even tle locution ¨tley may not be larmed" is misleading, since tlis prolibition is
severely limited, and violating it does not entail any punislment.

Four categories oí enemies
Tle concept oí ¨non-combatants" in Muslim law can be better understood
witlin tle wider context oí tle enemy in general.In Muslim legal works, rules are not
usually presented systematically and are sometimes listed in a ratler iumbled íaslion.
Altlougl more oíten tlan not tle distinctions underlying tle rules are not mentioned,
it is sometimes possible to reconstruct tlem. One sucl distinction is tlat made between
two categories oí enemies, combatants as opposed to ¨non-combatants"; anotler is tle
distinction between tle situations in wlicl tlese people íind tlemselves, namely
combat as opposed to captivity. Examining tlese distinctions allows us to deíine íour
categories oí enemies, to eacl oí wlom diííerent rules are applied. Tlese íour categories
are:
:. Combatants during combat.
c. Combatants wlo lave been taken prisoner.
,. ¨Non-combatants" during combat.
i. ¨Non-combatants" wlo lave been taken prisoner (witl one reservation:
tlere is a disagreement wletler it is permissible to take tlem prisoner).
Tle disagreements among tle iurists increase as we move írom one category to
anotler. Tle íirst one, tlat oí combatants during waríare, is tle most straigltíorward:
tle enemy must be íouglt by all possible means and witl no limitations wlatsoever, tle
aim being eitler to kill tlem or to take tlem prisoner. Tlere are no disagreements on
tlis matter.
In tle case oí tle second category, tlat oí enemy combatants wlo lave been
taken prisoner, we íind disagreements regarding tle íate oí tle prisoners. Qur'an i;:i
reads: ¨Vlen you meet tle unbelievers, smite tleir necks; tlen, wlen you lave made
wide slauglter among tlem, tie íast tle bonds; tlen set tlem íree, eitler by grace or
ransom, till tle war lays down its loads."
:,
Tlis verse clearly oííers two options:
prisoners may be released eitler íor a ransom or witlout any kind oí remuneration.
Altlougl tle verse is clear, it seems tlat it was customary to execute prisoners oí war.
Tlis is proved by tle íact tlat certain early iurists denounced tlis practice. Tlere is a
report according to wlicl 'Abd Allal b. 'Umar (d. ;,/6o,) was ordered by tle governor
al-Haiiai to kill a prisoner and reíused to do so, citing tlis verse. Tle sclolars Al-Hasan
al-Basri (d. ::c/;c8) and 'Ata' (d. ::i or ::s/;,c or ;,,) also opposed tle killing oí
prisoners.
:i
On tle otler land some iurists, including Abu Haniía, added to tle two
options given in tle verse also tlat oí executing tle prisoners, basing tleir argument on
tle general Qur'anic directive ¨Slay tle idolaters wlerever you íind tlem" (Qur'an o:s).
Anotler iustiíication íor tlis option was íound in tle verse stating tlat ¨it is not íor
any Proplet to lave prisoners" (Qur'an 8:6;, altlougl tle verse continues, ¨until le
make wide slauglter in tle land"-meaning, aíter wlicl it is permissible to lold
prisoners). Tlere were also iurists wlo added tle customary option oí enslaving
prisoners oí war, altlougl tlis is not mentioned in tle Qur'an. Otlers omitted tle
option oí releasing prisoners witlout remuneration, even tlougl tlis is mentioned in

:,
All translations oí Qur`anic verses are taken írom A. J. Arberry, 1bc Koran Intcrorctcá (London, :oss).
:i
Ibn Qudama Mvrbnt o/:;o.
5
tle Qur'an.
:s
Tlus tle discussions move among tlese íour options-release, ransom,
execution, and enslavement. It is agreed tlat tle Imam must cloose one oí tlese
options (íor some reason, tle title ¨Imam" is always used in tlis context, to mean tle
calipl or lis representative). Some iurists consider all íour options to be valid, wlile
otlers allow only some oí tlem.
:6

Numerous points oí contention can be íound concerning tle tlird and íourtl
categories, namely, ¨non-combatants" in combat and ¨non-combatants" wlo lave been
taken prisoner. Tlese disagreements íall under tlree main leadings:
:. Lists oí tle categories oí ¨non-combatants".
c. Prolibitions concerning ¨non-combatants" during and aíter combat.
,. Actions tlat constitute taking part in combat.

Lists oí ¨non-combatants"
In tle early sources, tle lists oí tlose wlom one slould not larm include
women, clildren, old people, and monks. One may cite to tlis eííect tle Iraqi iurist
Abu Yusuí,wlo lived at tle end oí tle second/eigltl century, as well as lis Syrian
contemporary Abu Islaq al-Fazari (d. :86/8cc).
:;
It seems tlat tlis list was a given and
was axiomatic. Tlose wlo would preíer to adlere to tle principle stating tlat tle lives
oí all iníidels are íoríeit lad to accept tlis list too, at least partially, or to provide an
explanation. Tlis state oí aííairs is reílected in tle opinion oí tle early iurist Suíyan al-
Tlawri (d. :6c/:;8): in spite oí tle prolibition against killing monks, al-Tlawri insisted
on demanding tlat tley pay itzya, and on killing tlem ií tley reíused to do so. Tle
person asking lis opinion inquired, ií tlis was so, tlen wly could monks not be killed
outriglt? Al-Tlawri replied, ¨Because traditions were transmitted regarding tlis" (ia'a
/tbt atbar),
:8
meaning tlat tle transmitted traditions (íorbidding tle killing oí monks)
limited lis cloice oí options. Nevertleless, al-Tlawris opinion, tlat monks slould pay
itzya, amounts to considering tlem as combatants.
Tle payment oí itzya tle poll tax incumbent on non-Muslims in return íor
protection by tle Muslim state, is directly connected witl tle distinction between
combatants and ¨non-combatants". Tle latter, even ií spared and given protection, are
not required to pay itzya (tle term íor ¨non-combatants" lere is man la yastabtaa al·aatl
¨tlose wlo do not deserve to be killed", meaning women, clildren etc., see íurtler
below).
:o
Tle iurist Abu 'Ubayd, wlo set down tlis rule in tle beginning oí tle
tlird/nintl century, was oí tle opinion tlat monks residing in monasteries lave to pay
itzya. Tlis means tlat le does not consider sucl monks to be ¨non-combatants," and
tlat tle rules applying to tlem are tle same as tlose applying to otler (combatant)
iníidels. It also means tlat Abu 'Ubayd was íamiliar witl tle distinction between

:s
Abu 'Ubayd, Amwal, s:-s;, 6:-6;; Abu Yusuí, Kbarai, :oi.
:6
Slaíi'i, Umm i/c;s, ,cs, ;/,so, 8/6c6; Mawardi, Hawi :i/:;c-:;;; Saraklsi, Mabsvt :c/ci; Ibn Qudama,
Ka/t i/c;:-c;c, Mvrbnt o/:;o-:8c; Ibn Muílil, Fvrv` 6/c:c. It slould be pointed out tlat tle prisoner's
religion may determine lis íate: tlere are tlose wlo lold tlat a prisoner wlo is not one oí tle People oí
tle Book must cloose between Islam or deatl, and tlat tle íour options are not relevant in lis case; see,
e.g., Slaíi'i, Umm i/,cc-,c,. See also Friedmann, 1olcrancc, ::s-:cc. Detailed discussions concerning
prisoners and tle various options are recorded in Zulayli, Atbar, ico-iic, ii;-is;, i;:.
:;
Abu Yusuí, Kbarai, :oi, :os; Fazari, Styar, c8c, ,,i.
:8
Tabari, I/bttla/, :c-::; Fazari, Styar ,,i, cí. ,s8, wlere al-Tlawri witldraws lis opinion regarding tle
destruction oí enemy property because oí a tradition to tle contrary.
:o
See Abu 'Ubayd, Amwal, c,; Saraklsi, Mabsvt :c/;o; Razi, 1vb/a :/:88; Ibn 'Abidin, Hasbtya i/:oo.
6
monks residing in monasteries and tlose residing in cells (asbab al·sawamt'): tlere were
iurists wlo leld tlat only tle latter were meant in tle list oí ¨non-combatants," wlereas
tle monks residing in monasteries were not.
cc
Clearly tle aim oí tlis distinction was to
restrict tle category oí ¨non-combatant monks." An exceptional view among tle early
iurists is tlat oí Slaybani, wlo omits monks altogetler írom tle list oí ¨non-
combatants" and includes in it women, minors, tle elderly, and tle insane.
c:
Abu
Haniía, considered tle mentor oí botl Abu Yusuí and Slaybani, is cited in tle
íiítl/eleventl century as laving once permitted tle killing oí monks and once
íorbidden it.
cc
Oí course, it is lard to tell wlat lis opinion really was.
In any case, it appears tlat later iurists íound ways to evade traditions tlat
contradicted tleir opinions, wlereas earlier iurists, sucl as Suíyan al-Tlawri, saw
tlemselves as being restricted by sucl traditions. Slaíi'i (d. cci/8cc), wlo took an
extreme position commanding tle killing oí any and all iníidels, íelt limselí compelled
to accept as autlentic tle sayings attributed to tle Proplet, wlicl prolibited tle killing
oí women and clildren. He íound, lowever, a rational iustiíication íor tlis
prolibition. Instead oí viewing it as a moral imperative, wlicl would mean respecting
tle lives oí iníidels, le interpreted tle prolibition as a directive based on íinancial
considerations. Vomen and clildren, Slaíi'i explains, are property, and property
slould not be damaged.
c,
Tlus Slaíi'i was able to resolve tle contradiction between tle
ruling in tle tradition íorbidding tle killing oí women and clildren and tle principle
in wlicl le believed: tlat tle lives oí all iníidels are íoríeit due to tleir idolatry.
Regarding monks, two contradictory opinions are attributed to Slaíi'i. On one
occasion, le accepts tle tradition attributed to Abu Bakr prolibiting tle killing oí
monks. Tleir lives are íoríeit only ií tley actively íiglt against Muslims; but ií tley
assist tle enemy in otler ways, tley are to be punisled but not executed. Elsewlere in
tle same book, Slaíi'i states tlat all iníidel men witlout exception must convert to
Islam or be killed; all men oí tle protected religions (abl al·/ttab) must pay itzya or be
killed. He emplasizes tlat tlis rule applies to monks as well and denies tle autlenticity
oí tle tradition attributed to Abu Bakr, wlicl le limselí lad accepted on anotler
occasion. Alternatively, le explains tlat even ií tle tradition írom Abu Bakr is
autlentic, tlis does not mean tlat monks may not be killed. Abu Bakr's intention,
according to Slaíi'i, was tlat monasteries be leít aside temporarily in order to
concentrate on more important military targets íirst. Slaíi'i tlus concludes tlat monks
are not included in tle lists oí ¨non-combatants," and tley most deíinitely may be
íouglt and killed. Later Slaíi'iiurists sometimes opt íor eitler one oí tle two

cc
See, e.g. Ibn Qudama, Mvrbni o/csc; Ibn Nuiaym, Babr s/8i; Razi, 1vb/a :/:88. According to Tabari,
I/bttla/, :c, Awza'i in tle second/eigltl century already regarded only tle cell-residing monks as ¨non-
combatants.¨
c:
Saraklsi, Sbarb i/:i:s; since tlis text is Saraklsi's reproduction oí Slaybani's Styar tlere is no certainty
tlat tle list is indeed Slaybani's-it may be Saraklsi's, írom tle íiítl/eleventl century. But elsewlere
Saraklsi's list includes only tlree categories: women, minors, and tle elderly; Mabsvt :c/i-6, co.
cc
Saraklsi, Mabsvt :c/:,;.
23
Slaíi'i, Umm ;/,;c (altlougl in i/cs, le iustiíies tle prolibition against larming women and
clildren by traditions írom tle Proplet and by tle íact tlat tley are ¨not írom amongst tlose wlo
íiglt"); see also Mawardi, Hawt :i/:o,. At tle beginning oí tle seventl/tlirteentl century tle Hanbali
Ibn Qudama leld tle same opinion, see Ka/t i/c6;, but le adds elsewlere a diííerent reason: a minor
may convert to Islam and tlereíore slould not be killed, Ibn Qudama, Mvrbnt, o/cio.
7
contradictory opinions recorded in Slaíi'i's book; at otler times tley adduce botl oí
tlem.
ci

As íar as elderly enemies are concerned, Slaíi'i ruled tlat tleir lives were íoríeit,
basing lis view on a Propletic statement tlat contradicts tle prolibition against killing
tlem; tle Proplet is reported to lave said, ¨Kill tle elderly írom among tle enemy."
Tle íull version oí tlis particular tradition allows íor various interpretations, wlicl
were duly adduced in order to support varying legal opinions regarding tle elderly. Tle
tradition reads, ¨Uatvlv sbvyv/b al·mvsbrt/tn wa·stabav sbar/babvm." Sbvyv/b normally
means ¨old, elderly," wlereas sbar/b las no íixed meaning and can reíer to a young male
as well as to a minor. Slaíi'i interprets sbar/b as ¨a minor" and takes tlis tradition to
mean, ¨Kill tle old people and let tle minors live." Certain Hanaíis interpreted sbvyv/b
in tlis baáttb as meaning ¨adult" ratler tlan old, so tlat according to tlem tle saying
means, ¨Kill tle adults and let tle minors live." By tlis interpretation tlese Hanaíis
preserved tle prolibition against killing tle elderly. Abu Haniía limselí reportedly
based tle prolibition against killing tle elderly on anotler baáttb tlat is tle reverse oí
tle one iust quoted, wlicl reads, ¨vatvlv al·sbar/b wa·trv/v al·sbay/b." Here sbar/b is
interpreted as a young man, so tlat tle tradition means, ¨Kill tle young men and let
tle old live." Tlus diííerent versions oí traditions (baáttbs), as well as plilology, were
put to use in order to supply a textual basis íor varying opinions.
cs

Discussions oí tlis kind in tle writings oí al-Tlawri and Slaíi'i at tle end oí tle
second/eigltl century slow tlat tlis list oí íour categories-women, clildren, tle
elderly, and monks-was deeply rooted. In tle same period, Fazari deíines tlese íour
categories as tlose wlom it is íorbidden (nvbtya, a term weaker tlan bvrrtma) to kill,
but also notes questions addressed to iurists concerning otler categories: slould tle
sick, tle wounded, tle lame, tle blind, tle disabled, and tlose wlo lave íled tle
battleíield be spared? It is no wonder tlat tle same al-Tlawri, wlo attempted to evade
tle prolibition against killing monks, permitted killing most oí tle above. He voices
reservations only in tle case oí tle disabled and tle blind: tley must be killed only ií
tley lave tle strengtl or tle ability to íiglt. And íor some reason, le slows mercy
toward tle retarded (ma´tvb): ¨I slouldn't like it tlat sucl a one be killed" (la yv´itbvnt
aatlvbv).
c6

Al-Tlawri's reservation (¨Tley slould be killed only ií tley are able to íiglt") is
plrased in a way tlat points to tle principle guiding lis opinion: only tlose wlo are
unable to íiglt, and will continue to be unable to do so, slould not be larmed. For tlis
reason, le does not lesitate wlen it comes to killing tle wounded, tle sick, tle

ci
Slaíi'i, Umm i/cs,-csi, cs;, cso, c6s, ;/,;6, as opposed to i/,c,, ,ci, and see also ;/,;6 (wlere monks
and tle elderly are counted among tle ¨non-combatants"), 8/,;o; Tabari,I/bttla/, ::. Slaíi'i contradicts
limselí in tle same manner also regarding tle very elderly and possibly-tle text is unclear-also
regarding lired workers, craítsmen engaged in tleir craít, tle blind, and tle disabled. In Kttab bv/m abl
al·/ttab, tle killing oí tlese is íorbidden, wlereas it is permitted in Styar al·Waatát (but tlis may be
Vaqidi's opinion, not Slaíi'is). See Mawardi, Hawt :i/:oc-:o,; Marglinani, Htáaya c/8:s, note s; Slirazi,
Mvbaábábab c/c,,; see also Ibn 'Abd al-Barr, 1ambtá :6/:,o. Later iurists reíer to sucl contradictions as
¨two opinions" (aawlan).
25
Tle issue oí tle elderly: Slaíi'i, Umm 8/,;o; (íor tle contradictory opinions oí Slaíi'i see also ibid.
i/,c, and Mawardi, Hawt :i/:oc-,); Ibn Qudama, Mvrbnt o/csc; Ibn 'Abd al-Barr, 1ambtá :6/:ic. Ibn
Hazm, Mvballa, ;/,s:; Ibn Abi Slayba Mvsanna/ (Beirut) ;/6s;. Tle Hanaíi interpretation: Saraklsi,
Sbarb i/:i:;, Mabsvt :c/6. Abu Haniía's reversed version: Mawardi, Hawt :i/:o,.
c6
Fazari, Styar ,,s;Tabari, I/bttla/, :c-::.
8
wayíarer, and tlose wlo lave escaped írom tle battleíield. All oí tlese can at some
point recover or come back and take up arms.
Tlere were, lowever, otler opinions. Tlose wlo raised tle question wletler it
was permissible to kill tle wayíarer, tle wounded, tlose wlo escape írom tle battleíield
and so on, were apparently working on tle assumption tlat wloever was not involved
in combat slould not be larmed. Tlis conclusion also arises írom tle iurists' rulings in
various matters. For example, Abu Haniía tlouglt tlat tle use oí ballistas was
permitted even ií tlis miglt larm ¨women, clildren, tle very elderly, tle retarded, tle
blind, tle disabled, and tle clronically ill." Admittedly tlis constitutes permission to
larm tlese people ratler tlan a prolibition. But tlis statement proves tlat tlere were
discussions concerning groups oí ¨non-combatants" not mentioned in tle sayings
attributed to tle Proplet and Abu Bakr.
c;
Indeed tle lists oí ¨non-combatants"
attributed to Abu Haniía include clildren, women, tle elderly, tle insane, tle blind,
tle clronically ill or tle disabled, monks and íarmers.
c8
Awza'i, in tle second/eigltl
century, includes in tle list tle blind, wayíarers, and sleplerds, as well as tle original
íour categories.
co

Tlere must lave been iurists wlo tlouglt tlat tle wounded slould not be
killed, otlerwise Abu Yusuí (d. in :8c/;o8) would not lave taken tle trouble to state
explicitly tlat women, clildren, tle elderly, and monks slould be spared, but tlat tle
enemy wounded must be killed.
,c
Slaíi'i argues witl tlose wlo tlouglt tlat tle ill,
cowards, craítsmen, and íarmers-meaning, tlose wlo do not take part in combat-
slould not be killed; le tlouglt tlat tley slould be killed even tlougl tley do not
take part in combat.
,:
Clearly Slaíi'i's opponents, among tlem Awza'i, as mentioned
above, tlouglt otlerwise. And wlen Tabari states tlat tle blind, tle terminally ill,
sleplerds, íarmers, wayíarers, and monks slould be killed, tlis is obviously not a list
tlat le invented; le is merely arguing against tlose wlo tlouglt tlat all tlese people
slould be spared as ¨non-combatants." According to Tabari, only reliable traditions
írom tle Proplet iustiíy reíraining írom killing certain people; sucl traditions, le says,
mention only women, minors, and monks residing in cells.
,c

It is notewortly tlat concerning tle ill, cowards, and so on, autloritative
sayings írom tle Proplet and lis Companions (baáttbs) were neitler íound nor
invented. Tlere are only a íew sayings about servants and lired workers, sucl as tle
order reportedly given by tle Proplet to lis general Klalid b. al-Valid, ¨Do not kill

27
Tabari, I/bttla/ 6-8. Tlis permission is given since larming ¨non-combatants" under tlese
circumstances is considered unintentional. See tle section on ¨Prolibitions concerning 'non-
combatants'."
c8
Tabari, I/bttla/ :c; cí. tle opinion attributed to Abu Haniía in Saraklsi, Mabsvt :c/:,;: women,
minors, tle very old, tle disabled or clronically ill; contradictory opinions are attributed to lim
concerning monks. According to Ibn 'Abd al-Barr, 1ambtá :6/:,8-:,o, Abu Haniía and Malik included in
tle list oí ¨non-combatants" tle blind, tle retarded, tle paralyzed, and monks residing in cells (as well as
women and minors). Cí. tle lists in Kelsay, Islam, p. s8.
co
Tabari, I/bttla/ :c. According to Ibn 'Abd al-Barr, 1ambtá :6/:,8-:,o, Awza'i included women, monks,
tle insane, tle very old, and íarmers.
,c
Abu Yusuí, Kbarai, :oi, :o6.
,:
Slaíi'i, Umm i/csi, ,cs; Tabari, I/bttla/, ::-:c; Mawardi, Hawt, :i/:o, gives tlis position legal
iustiíications. Ibn Hazm, Mvballa s/,s: slares Slaíi'i's opinion, arguing tlat tle Proplet did not spare
servants, merclants, íarmers, and tle very old. See also Qurtubi, 1a/str c/,io.
32
Ibn 'Abd al-Barr, 1ambtá :6/:,o; note tle omission oí tle elderly.
9
clildren, nor servants." Tle words used lere to reíer to servants and lired workers-
wvsa/a', `vsa/a'-are rarely seen except in tlese traditions. Tlere is, in íact, no consensus
regarding tle meaning oí tlese words. Slaíi'i understood ´ast/ as ¨slave," and on tle
basis oí tlis tradition, le extended tle category oí ¨non-combatants" to include slaves
as well, out oí economic considerations.
,,
In addition, a prolibition against killing
íarmers is sometimes attributed to 'Umar (tlougl not to tle Proplet).
,i

It seems tlat tle opinion according to wlicl tle category oí ¨non-combatants"
was understood as tlose not involved in waríare, was marginalized to a large extent.
Prominence was given to tle stricter view, according to wlicl only tlose wlo are not in
any way able to contribute to waríare could be included in tle list oí ¨non-combatants,"
along witl tle original íour categories mentioned in tle early list (or original two-
only women and clildren-according to one oí Slaíi'i's opinions, or original tlree-
women, clildren, and tle elderly-according to one oí tle opinions attributed to Abu
Haniía). Tle original list was expanded to include tlose wlo are not able to contribute
to waríare: tle disabled, clronically ill, blind, insane, retarded, and tle like. Tlis
expansion was based on analogy: íor example, one wlo suííers írom a disability or a
deíect is like an old person, wlose killing tle Proplet íorbade.
,s

Tle distinctions became more and more precise and minute. For instance, at tle
end oí tle sixtl/twelítl century, tle ¨non-combatants" list oí tle Hanaíi iurist, Kasani,
reads as íollows: women, clildren, tle very old, tle disabled, paralyzed, blind, tlose
wlo lave no riglt arm, tlose wlo lave a leg and an arm missing (írom opposite sides
oí tle body), tle retarded, monks residing in cells, tle solitary wayíarer living in tle
mountains, monks living in tleir lomes, or monks living in clurcles wlo do not
venture outdoors. Kasani explicitly excludes írom tlis list priests, a wayíarer wlo is in
contact witl otler people, people suííering írom temporary insanity, tle mute, tle deaí,
and tlose missing tleir leít land or missing one leg. Tle íact tlat Kasani mentions all
tlese groups probably means tlat tleir inclusion in tle list oí ¨non-combatants" was
discussed. A person missing lis leít land, íor example, is able to íiglt witl lis riglt
one, and is tlereíore excluded írom tle list oí tlose wlo may not be larmed. Tle list
includes only tlose wlose disabilities keep tlem írom making any kind oí contribution
to battle. Anyone wlo is, or will be, able to íiglt or to contribute to tle battle (abl al·
attal) may be killed, regardless oí wletler le actually takes part in battle. Vomen and
clildren and tlose wlo lave witldrawn írom society in an extreme íaslion, altlougl
not plysically disabled, may be regarded as exempt because tleir íreedom oí action is
restricted by social or religious rules.
,6

Tle later, stricter principle sometimes coexisted witl tle older one. Tlus tle
Hanbali Ibn Qudama (d. 6cc/:cc,) explains tlat a sick person wlo miglt recover and
tlen take part in tle battle must be killed, but tlat ií le is terminally ill, ¨tlere is no
íear tlat le will be able to íiglt." Yet tle same Ibn Qudama preserves to a certain extent
tle early principle tlat bystanders slould not be larmed; le lolds tlat íarmers slould
not be killed ií it is certain tley are not taking part in tle battle. He bases tlis opinion
on tlree arguments: a tradition attributed to tle second calipl, 'Umar, tle customary

,,
Cited in Ibn Qudama, Mvrbnt o/csc. See tle tradition, íor example, in Ibn Abi Slayba, Mvsanna/
(Beirut) ;/6si.
,i
Ibn Qudama, Mvrbnt o/cs:.
,s
See, íor example, Ibn Qudama, Ka/t i/c6;.
36
Kasani, Baáa't' ;/:c:; cí. IbnNuiaym, Babr s/8i; Marglinani, Htáaya c/8:s.
10
practice oí tle Companions during tle conquests, and tle opinion oí tle early Syrian
iurist Awza'i. He reíutes tle opposing opinion oí Slaíi'i.
,;
Again tle same Ibn Qudama
elsewlere lists, along witl tle íour original categories, only tle disabled, tle blind, and
tle androgynous; tle latter are included since tley miglt in íact be women and as sucl
slould not be killed.
,8
Tle Hanbali Ibn Muílil (d. ;6,/:,6:) leít on tle list not only
tlose suííering írom various disabilities, but also íarmers, slaves, and even Jewisl sages
(babr).
,o

A restricted list is typical oí Slaíi'i iurists, wlo, insoíar as tley were able, abided
by tle general directive in tle Qur'an, ¨Kill tle iníidels." Tleir list was extended to
include only slaves, tle insane and tle androgynous. Tle lives oí all tle otlers are
íoríeit, as tley say, ¨also monks, lired workers, tle blind, and tle disabled, even ií tley
are unable to íiglt or to contribute to war by giving counsel." Nevertleless, tlere is no
unanimity among Slaíi'i iurists, except in regard to women and clildren. Tle ' Slaíi'is
exclude tlem írom tle Qur'anic directive ¨Kill tle iníidels" due to tle existence oí an
autlentic Propletic saying (baáttb) prolibiting killing tlem. It slould be pointed out
tlat tlis baáttb contradicts tle plain meaning oí tle Qur'anic verse, and yet tle baáttb,
and not tle verse, is considered to be decisive.
ic


Prolibitions concerning ¨non-combatants" during and aíter combat
Vlen discussing tlis topic, tle distinction drawn above between ¨non-
combatants" during combat and ¨non-combatants" wlo lave been taken prisoner is no
longer suííicient. An additional distinction is necessary, namely, between innocent
¨non-combatants"-tlose wlo do not take part in combat-and tlose wlo do take
part, in one way or anotler. Tle latter are not always treated like regular warriors. Tlus
tlere are in íact íour categories oí ¨non-combatants": two during combat, tle innocent
and tlose wlo contribute to tle war eííort, and anotler two in captivity, again, tle
innocent ¨non-combatants" and tlose wlo contributed to tle war eííort. It slould be
mentioned again tlat tle iurists usually do not mention tlese distinctions explicitly,
and it is oíten unclear wlicl category tley lave in mind wlen setting down tleir rules.

Innoccnt ¨non·combatants" ávrtnr combat
During combat, tle prolibition against larming innocent ¨non-combatants"
las very little iníluence. Tle Slaíi'i iurist, Mawardi, even claims tlat any prolibition
against larming ¨non-combatants" reíers, in íact, only to prisoners, and not to ¨non-
combatants" during combat, wlen everytling is permitted (mvbab).
i:
Slaíi'i limselí, as
well as most iurists oí all sclools, does not go tlat íar. Tlese iurists do, lowever, restrict
tle prolibition to tlat oí intentional larm, wlile unintentional larm is not considered
to be a breacl oí tle law. According to tle legal deíinition, unintentional larm (rbayr

,;
Ibn Qudama, Mvrbnt o/cs:.
,8
Ibn Qudama, Ka/t i/c6;. Otler sclools discuss tle androgynous too, e.g. tle Slaíi'is, see Slirazi,
Mvbaábábab c/c,,.
,o
Ibn Muílil, Fvrv` 6/c::; Ibn Qudama, Mvrbnt o/csc.
40
Zakariya al-Ansari, Fatb c/,cc; Slirazi, Mvbaábábab c/c,,-c,i; tlese two autlors add emissaries to tle
list oí tlose wlo must not be larmed, since ¨tlis is tle custom." Emissaries are usually not mentioned in
tle context oí ¨non-combatants." For otler lists, see, íor instance, Ibn Qudama, Mvrbnt o/csc; Saraklsi,
Mabsvt :c/;o and above, notes c,, ci.
i:
Mawardi, Hawt :i/:8i.
11
`amá) is not tle equivalent oí accidental larm (/bata'), wlicl is caused by distraction,
like a ¨stray bullet" (or stray arrow). A person wlo causes accidental larm is not aware
oí tle consequences oí lis deed, wlile a Muslim íiglting tle iníidels, among wlom
tlere are also ¨non-combatants," knows wlat miglt lappen during battle. Sucl
knowledge, lowever, does not make lim responsible; in íact, tle opposite is tle case.
Tle diííerence between accidental and non-intentional larm is reílected in tle
rules governing eacl oí tle cases, as íollows: a Muslim wlo accidentally larms anotler
Muslim (or a ábtmmt or a mvsta'mtn) las to períorm expiatory acts (/a//ara) in order to
acquire absolution oí lis íault. Harming a ¨non-combatant" during combat, on tle
otler land, is always regarded as unintentional or even permissible (mvbab); ií innocent
¨non-combatants" are lurt or killed during combat, tlere is ¨no larm" in tlis (la ba's),
and tle person wlo committed tle act is not punisled, nor is le required to pay blood-
money or to períorm expiatory acts.
ic
Tle eííect oí tlis is a severe limitation on tle
prolibition against inílicting larm on innocent ¨non-combatants." Tlus, most iurists,
botl early and late, permit íiring at enemies wlo use women and minors as slields, as
long as tle Muslims do not aim at tle women and minors.
i,
Likewise, tle use oí non-
discriminatory weapons and tactics, sucl as ballistas, ílooding, setting aliglt a íortress,
and launcling an attack by niglt, is usually permitted. All tlese miglt larm women
and minors (íor some reason, tlese discussions are always about women and clildren
and not about otler ¨non-combatants"), but tley are always considered to be witlout
ill-intent and tlereíore permissible.
ii
I lave not seen in tle sources any discussion oí
cases oí Muslims intentionally causing larm to ¨non-combatants," nor lave I seen any
iurist wlo lolds a Muslim responsible íor larming innocent ¨non-combatants" during
combat. Apparently, sucl an act is not punislable under Islamic law.
Finally, it is wortl reíerring again to tle contradiction in Slaíi'i`s positions
concerning monks, tlis time in tle context oí permissible conduct toward tlem. As
recorded in tle Kttab al·vmm, on one occasion le prolibits killing tlem and taking
tlem prisoner, as well as looting tleir property. A íew pages beíore tlis, le lolds tlat
monks slould not be killed, but tlat tleir property, wives and clildren (stc) belong to
tle Muslims. Elsewlere, later on, we read tlat monks are to be treated like all otler
iníidels: tleir lives are íoríeit during combat witlout any reservations or restrictions,
and tley are in íact not considered ¨non-combatants."
is



42
Tabari I/bttla/, s; Slaíi'i, Umm i/csc-cs,, ;/,6o; Mawardi, Hawt :i/:8i; Saraklsi, Mabsvt :c/6s; Ibn
'Abd al-Barr, 1ambtá :6/:is; Ibn Nuiaym, Babr s/8s; Dirdir, Sbarb c/:;;; Ibn Muílil, Fvrv' 6/c:;, and see
above p. c.
i,
Tlis is tle issue oí tatarrvs (tle use oí luman slields), see, íor example, Slaíi'i, Umm i/cs8, ;/,6o;
Mawardi, Hawt :i/:86-:8; (but tley also cite tle opinion tlat tle Muslims slould not íire at all in tlis
case), ;/,6o; Ibn Muílil, Fvrv` 6/c:c; Kasani, Baáa't' ;/:c:; Zakariya' al-Ansari, Fatb c/,cc; according to
Malik and Awza'i, tle Muslims slould not íire at all at tle enemy taking cover belind women and
minors, see Slaíi'i, Umm ;/,6o; Zulayli, Atlar io;-io8. Zulayli omits mention oí tle íact tlat most
iurists do permit íiring ¨witlout aiming" at women and minors. Tlis omission is one oí many examples
oí tle apologetic tendency oí lis book; see note :c above.
ii
Slaíi'i, Umm i/cs6, cs;, c;i, ;/,6o, 8/,;8; Tabari, I/bttla/ s-8; Saraklsi, Mabsvt :c/6s, Ibn 'Abd al-Barr,
1ambtá :6/:i,-:is. Some iurists limit tle permission to a situation wlen tlere is no otler cloice and no
otler way to overcome tle enemy, or wlen tle Muslims are in danger; see, e.g., Zurqani, Sbarb ,/:6.
is
Slaíi'i, Umm i/c6s, ,c,, and above, note ci.
12
¨Non·combatants" wbo ta/c oart tn combat
It is widely agreed tlat tle lives oí ¨non-combatants" wlo take part in combat-
wlicl need not mean taking up weapons-are íoríeit, like tlose oí tle warriors
tlemselves.
i6
Slaíi'i, altlougl usually severe in lis attitude toward iníidels, is cautious
wlen it comes to women and clildren taking part in combat, probably because oí tle
explicit traditions transmitted írom tle Proplet. He does not say outriglt tlat tley
slould be killed, but rules tlat ¨tlere is no need to be careíul not to larm tlem witl
weapons."
i;
Tle same Propletic traditions caused Malik to rule tlat women and minors
slould not be killed even ií tley íiglt tle Muslims.
i8
Tlere were later Malikis wlo
reiected tlis opinion oí Malik and slared witl otler sclools tle view tlat during battle,
tle lives oí ¨non-combatants" taking part in tle íiglting are íoríeit.
io


Innoccnt ¨non·combatants" wbo bavc bccn ta/cn ortsoncr
At tle outset, tle diííerence between combat and tle situation íollowing combat
slould be made clear. During combat, permission to kill ¨non-combatants" or tle
prolibition tlereoí applies to every Muslim warrior. Vlen it comes to prisoners, tle
general rule is tlat tle only one wlo las autlority to determine tleir íate is tle Imam.
sc

Tlis is tle reason wly tle law íorbids Muslims in general to kill prisoners, wletler
warriors or ¨non-combatants"; only tle ruler and lis representatives lave tle autlority
to execute a prisoner. Despite tlis, no punislment is meted out to a Muslim wlo kills a
prisoner. A iustiíication íor tlis is tle idea tlat tle liíe oí a prisoner is íoríeit to begin
witl, being an iníidel (le is mvbab al·áam and not ma`svm).
s:
Certain iurists rule tlat a
Muslim wlo kills a woman-or a minor-prisoner las to pay tleir price to tle public
treasury (bayt al·mal), but tlis is a payment oí compensation ratler tlan a punislment
íor a crime. As will be presently slown, women and minors are considered to be
property, and wloever kills tlem must pay tle damage incurred by tleir deatl to tle
public treasury.
sc

Since tlere is a prolibition against killing ¨non-combatants," lowever limited,
tle Imam cannot treat tlem as warriors and execute tlem wlen taken prisoner (unless
tley lave taken part in íiglting against tle Muslims, see above). One oí tle legal
opinions concerning tlem lolds tlat by becoming prisoners, tle ¨non-combatants"
lave become enslaved.
s,
More oíten tlan not, ¨non-combatant" male prisoners are

46
Tabari, I/bttlaí, o; Zulayli, Atlar, i:8, i:o, io;; Saraklsi, Mabsvt :c/s, Zakariya' al-Ansari, Fatb c/,cc;
Ibn Qudama, Mvrbnt o/csc-csc; see also tle reíerences in tle section ¨Actions tlat constitute
participation in combat."
i;
Slaíi'i, Umm i/cs,. But Slirazi, wlo adlered to tle Slaíi'i sclool, permitted tle killing oí women
warriors, see Mvbaábábab c/c,,.
i8
Tabari, I/bttla/ , 8 -o. Al-Tlawri distingisles between women, wlo slould be killed ií tley participate in
combat, and minors, wlo slould not be killed; Tabari, ibid., o.
io
Ibn 'Abd al-Barr, 1ambtá :6/:,8. He mentions tlat tlere were iurists wlose opinion was diííerent but
does not name tlem.
sc
See above p.i-s. But see Saraklsi, Mabsvt :c/:,;, wlere Abu Haniía allows a captor to kill a prisoner.
s:
Slaíi'i, Umm i/c;i, ,cs; Mawardi, Hawt :i/:;;; Ibn Muílil, Fvrv` 6/c:c, c:;; Saraklsi, Mabsvt :c/6i;
Ibn Nuiaym, Babr s/8s.
sc
Slaíi'i, Umm i/,cs; Zulayli, Atbar, i:8. According to Zulayli, tlis is tle Slaíi'i opinion, but I lave
íound Hanbalis oí tlis same opinion; see Ibn Muílil, Fvrv` 6/c::; tle Maliki iurist Dirdir applies tlis
rule to all ¨non-combatants" and not only to women and minors, Sbarb c/:;;.
s,
Ibn Muílil, Mvbát´ ,/,c6; Ibn Muílil, Fvrv` 6/c:;-c:8; Ibn Qudama, Mvrbnt o/cio; Mardawi, Insa/
i/:,,.
13
excluded írom tlis rule, so tlat it applies only to women and minors. Tle latter slould
not be killed; regardless oí tleir religious aííiliation, tley become enslaved once tley
lave been taken prisoner and tley are considered to be spoils oí war.
si
Nevertleless,
discussions oí tle íollowing issues are íound in tle sources: may women and clildren
be released witl no remuneration? May tley be ransomed íor money? May tley be
exclanged íor Muslim prisoners? It goes witlout saying tlat diííerent iurists rule
diííerently regarding tlese issues. Some tlink tlat women wlo remain in Muslim lands
miglt eventually convert to Islam, and tlat minors become converted to Islam by tleir
captors; tlereíore, tley slould under no circumstances be returned to tle enemy.
Otlers lold tle same view íor diííerent reasons: tley íear tlat, ií returned to tle enemy,
tle minors would grow up to íiglt against tle Muslims, and tle women would give
birtl to sons wlo would íiglt against tle Muslims. Still otlers attacl priority to
releasing Muslim prisoners and tlereíore allow exclanging women and clildren íor
Muslim prisoners.
ss

Tlere is a wide range oí opinion regarding ¨non-combatant" male prisoners.
According to some, tley slould indeed be treated like warriors wlo lave been taken
prisoner, namely, tle Imam is to decide tleir íate applying one oí tle options
mentioned above: execution, enslavement, and release (witl no recompense, or release in
exclange íor money or íor Muslim prisoners).
s6
Tlis means tlat, in tle case oí ¨non-
combatant" male prisoners, tle state oí captivity cancels out tle distinction between
combatants and ¨non-combatants"; tle only distinction in tlis state is tlat between
women and minors on tle one land, and men on tle otler. Tle idea underlying tlis
approacl seems to be tlat tle inability to íiglt (wlicl makes one a ¨non-combatant") is
no longer relevant. Presumably, once tle state oí war is over, and a prisoner cannot
engage in combat in any case, tle distinction between combatants and ¨non-
combatants" is unnecessary. Tle same idea leads also to tle opposite conclusion.
Saraklsi lolds tlat blind, paralyzed, and retarded prisoners slould not be executed,
because as prisoners tley can cause no larm, and tlereíore tlere are no grounds íor
killing tlem. Saraklsi in íact insists tlat tle distinction between combatants and (male)
¨non-combatants" is not annulled by tle state oí captivity and tlat tle restricted
immunity oí tle latter is valid botl during and aíter combat.
s;
Tlereíore, tle ruler or
lis representative may not execute tlem, but le may cloose between tle remaining
options oí tle treatment oí prisoners. Some iurists oííer tle ruler only two options: to
release tle ¨non-combatant" prisoner witl, or witlout, recompense. Tlis means tlat,
according to tlem, male ¨non-combatant" prisoners cannot be enslaved (contrary to tle
Arabian pre-Islamic custom).
s8
Tlere are Hanbalis wlo went so íar as to íorbid taking
male ¨non-combatants" prisoner altogetler, or at least tlose wlo ¨are oí no use to tle

si
Ibn Qudama, Ka/t, i/c;:; Ibn Muílil, Fvrv´ c/c:8. Mawardi cites Slaíi'i as allowing tle killing oí
íemale prisoners wlo do not belong to tle People oí tle Book, cited in Zulayli, Atbar, i:8.
ss
See, e.g., Abu 'Ubayd, Amwal, 6:; Ibn Muílil Fvrv´ 6/c:;; Ibn Qudama, Ka/t i/c;c-c;,; Saraklsi,
Mabsvt :c/:,8-:ic, see details in Zulayli, Atbar, icc-ic;.
s6
Mawardi, Hawt :i/:;,; Ibn Qudama, Mvrbnt o/:;o; Ibn Nuiaym, Babr s/8i, and see in tle íollowing
note tle opposite opinion oí Saraklsi, wlo, like Ibn Nuiaym, is a Hanaíi. For tle discussion oí prisoners
see above p.i.
s;
Saraklsi, Mabsvt :c/6i; Zulayli, Atbar ic;-ic8.
s8
All tlese opposing opinions are witlin tle Hanbali sclool; see Ibn Muílil Fvrv´ 6/c:;-c:8; Ibn
Qudama, Mvrbnt o/:;o.
14
Muslims."
so
Tle Malikis and tle early Syrian iurist Awza'i apply tle prolibition against
taking prisoners only to monks.
6c
Malik maintains, moreover, tlat monks slould be
leít witl means to keep tlemselves alive.
6:


¨Non·combatants" wbo oarttctoatcá tn battlc aná bavc bccn ta/cn ortsoncr
Early iurists are oí tle opinion tlat ¨non-combatants" slould not be larmed
once taken prisoner, regardless oí wletler tley participated in combat against tle
Muslims, since tley no longer pose a tlreat.
6c
Among tle later iurists, some permit
executing tlem, as a punislment íor laving participated in combat, wlile otlers
preserve tle early view.
6,
Tlere are Hanaíi iurists wlo distinguisl between tle prisoners
on tle basis oí tle concept oí legal accountability: aíter tle battle las ended, tley no
longer distinguisl between combatants and ¨non-combatants," distinguisling ratler
between tlose wlo can be leld legally accountable in a court oí law (mv/alla/) and tlose
wlo cannot. Tlose wlo are accountable are treated like warriors wlo lave been taken
prisoner. Tlus a woman and an elderly person wlo took part in combat may be
executed. Tlose wlo are not legally accountable-tlere are iurists wlo speciíy tlis as
reíerring to minors and tle insane-may not be executed aíter being taken prisoner,
even ií tley killed Muslims during battle.
6i

An issue related to captivity is tlat oí tle íate oí prisoners wlo cannot walk
because oí an illness or any similar reason. Discussions oí tlis kind may reíer to
prisoners at large and not necessarily to ¨non-combatants," and at times it is unclear
wletler or not tle latter are included. Tle Hanbalis disagree among tlemselves on tlis
matter: some permit killing sucl a prisoner, wlile otlers íorbid it. As íar as I lave seen,
sucl permission is given only in regard to men.
6s
Abu Haniía, lowever, is unequivocal
on tlis issue: in case tle prisoners cannot be taken to Muslim territory, tle women and
clildren must be released and tle men killed. According to Slaíii, regarding tle same
case, tle men may be killed, altlougl tlis is not obligatory, wlile tle women and
clildren may not be killed.
66
Tlis particular topic is sometimes discussed witlout any
solution being proposed: Ibn Nuiaym states tlat ¨non-combatants" slould not be leít
in enemy territory unless tley are unable to procreate (men) or give birtl (women), but
le does not say wlat slould be done witl prisoners wlo cannot be taken to Muslim
territory and do not meet tlese criteria.
6;
Tle early iurist, al-Tlawri, on tle otler land,
sets down a clear and simple rule in tlis case: women, minors, and tle elderly wlo

so
Ibn Qudama, Ka/t i/c;:; Ibn Muílil, Mvbát' ,/,c6-,c;; Mardawi, Insaí i/:,,. Some Hanbalis, lowever,
lold tlat tle state oí captivity transíorms all ¨non-combatants" into slaves; see note s, above.
6c
For tle Malikis see Tabari, I/bttla/, o-:c; Dirdir, Sbarb c/:;;; Zulayli, Atbar ic8. For Awza'i, see Fazari,
Styar ,,i, Tabari, I/bttla/, :c.
6:
Ibn 'Abd al-Barr, 1ambtá :6/:,o; Salnun, Mváawwana ,/6.
6c
Tabari, I/bttla/, o (Awza'i, Slaíi'i).
6,
Zulayli, Atbar i:8, ic;.
6i
Saraklsi, Sbarb i/:i:6, Mabsvt :c/6i; Ibn Nuiaym, Babr s/8i; Marglinani, Htáaya c/8:6; cí. al-Tlawri's
position, note i8 above.
6s
Ibn Muílil, Fvrv´ 6/c::.
66
Slaíii, Umm i/c;i, ,cs; Tabari, I/bttla/, :,c, :,,; Saraklsi, Mabsvt :c/,6.
67
Ibn Nuiaym. b s/8s.
15
cannot be taken to Muslim territory slould be leít belind, wlereas monks must pay
itzya or be executed.
68


Actions tlat constitute participation in combat
Tlere are many points oí contention regarding tlis matter. It appears tlat in tle
early period tle lives oí tle ¨non-combatants" were íoríeit only ií tley actively took
part in combat. Tle early sclolar, al-Hasan al-Basri (d. ::c/;c8), relates tlat tle
Proplet's Companions used to kill women and clildren wlo lad acted against tlem.
6o

Tle early Syrian iurist, Awza'i, lolds tlat ¨non-combatants" slould not be larmed on
account oí tle mere possibility or tle íear tlat tley miglt cause larm, but only ií tley
actually do so.
;c
Even Slaíi'i, wlo takes an extreme position toward iníidels, writes tlat
only actual íiglting makes tle lives oí monks, women and clildren íoríeit. Ií tley turn
Muslims over to tle enemy, or supply weapons to tle enemy, tley are to be punisled
but not killed.
;:
Malik, on tle otler land, rules tlat ¨anyone wlo is íeared must be
killed."
;c
Suíyan al-Tlawri rules tlat tle blind and tle disabled must be killed ií tley
lave tle strengtl to íiglt.
;,
Tlis reílects tle principle tlat tle potential to commit a
lostile act is equivalent to committing it.
Tle concept oí participation in combat, wlicl makes tle liíe oí a ¨non-
combatant" íoríeit, was extended to include sucl actions as espionage, turning Muslims
over to tle enemy, agitation, and giving counsel to tle enemy. Even laving a position
oí autlority among tle enemy, tle mere suspicion oí laving taken part in battle, or tle
ability to take part in battle, to give counsel, or to cause any kind oí damage even ií not
directly connected to battle-all tlese became íactors tlat made tle liíe oí a ¨non-
combatant" íoríeit.
;i
Tle iurists diííer on tlese matters as tley do on most topics. First,
diííerent iurists cite diííerent íactors; second, not every íactor is applied to every
category oí ¨non-combatants." Tle matter oí giving counsel or tle ability to procreate is
mentioned in connection witl tle very old (and not, íor instance, tle ill or tle
disabled). Tle suspicion or knowledge oí assistance to tle enemy is mentioned in
relation to monks (and not, íor instance, tle old, tle insane etc.).
;s
Tle reason íor tlis
is listorical: it was presumably monks wlo were suspected oí assisting tle enemy during
tle conquests; and it was tle aged poet and tribal clieí, Durayd b. al-Simma (executed
by tle Proplet), wlo served as an example oí a ¨non-combatant" wlo can larm tle
Muslims by tle counsel le gives to lis people. Later sources sometimes take a íactor
tlat lad been applied to a speciíic group oí ¨non-combatants" and apply it to otler

68
Fazari, Styar, ,,i-,,s, ,s8. As mentioned above, tle early list oí ¨non-combatants" included only tlese
íour categories.
6o
Cited in Ibn Abi Slayba (beginning oí tle tlird/nintl century), Mvsanna/ (:o;c-:o;:) :c/,8o; cí.
Qurtubi, 1a/str c/,i8: a minor wlo íiglts must be killed but not a woman.
;c
Fazari, Styar, ,,i; Tabari, I/bttla/, :c.
;:
Slaíi'i, Umm i/cs,, c6s. As pointed out above, Slaíi'i contradicts limselí elsewlere (i/,c,) and claims
tlat monks are like any otler man belonging to tle People oí tle Book: tley must eitler convert to Islam
or pay itzya, or else be killed; see above note cs.
;c
Ibn 'Abd al-Barr, 1ambtá :6/:,o.
;,
Fazari, Styar ,,s, cí. a similar opinion regarding tle disabled or tle clronically ill (zamna), Qurtubi,
1a/str c/,io.
;i
See, e.g., Kasani, Baáat` ;/:c:, and tle reíerences in notes ,6-,;; Ibn Muílil, Fvrv´ 6/c::; Ibn Qudama,
Ka/t i/c6;.
;s
See, e.g., Ibn Muílil, Fvrv´ 6/c::.
16
groups.
;6
In any case, tle statement by tle Hanaíi Ibn Nuiaym (tentl/sixteentl century)
tlat ¨in our opinion, tlat wlicl makes a person's liíe íoríeit is combat" is nearly
meaningless in liglt oí tle íact tlat le considers ¨combat" to include tle ability to
slout, tle ability to lave clildren, and mental clarity (wlicl enables a person to give
counsel).
;;

Special stipulations are sometimes mentioned concerning women. Some iurists
allow killing a woman ií sle curses tle Muslims or exposes lerselí to tlem: tlese are
actions tlat, wlen carried out by women, constitute participation in combat.
;8
Ve
miglt well wonder wly a blind or a landicapped person wlo curses tle Muslims is not
treated equally. Tle answer is probably related to tle special role played by women in
combat-a role tlat is considered ¨women's business," iust as lamenting tle dead is an
aííair íor women. Tlere are lardly any reíerences to tlis in tle legal works I lave read,
but a lint can be íound in Qurtubi's interpretation oí Qur'an c::oc. Here it is said tlat
women may cause damage, eitler by íinancing war or by agitation. Tley miglt set out
witl tleir lair down, issue battle cries, and berate tlose wlo escape írom battle witl tle
Muslims; all tlis constitutes participation in combat. In spite oí tlis, Qurtubi preíers
tlat sucl women be taken prisoner ratler tlan killed.
;o
Saraklsi bases tle special
directives concerning women on Propletic custom: le is reíerring to traditions
according to wlicl tle Proplet allowed killing women wlo cursed lim and incited
otlers against lim.
8c


Conclusions
A. Tle sources oí contention
In liglt oí tle many points oí contention regarding tle list oí tle ¨non-
combatants" and otler matters, one may wonder low and wly tley arose. It seems to
me tlat tley do not arise, íor example, out oí contradictory Qur'anic directives, since
tle Qur'an lardly deals witl tlese matters. Only rarely was one verse or anotler
adduced as a iustiíication íor tle prolibitions against larming ¨non-combatants".
8:

Neitler could tle various contradictory Propletic traditions (baáttbs) give rise to
contention. As is well known, traditions were oíten íorged to back up arguments, and
iurists cited tlem as part oí ongoing disputes. Contradictory traditions tlereíore reílect
tle result oí tle disagreements ratler tlan tle reason íor tlem. Tle same can be said oí
tle diííerent, sometimes contradictory, interpretations oí Qur'anic verses and oí
traditions.
Tle disputes regarding ¨non-combatants" appear to me to lave arisen íirst and
íoremost because oí a conílict between diííerent principles, sucl as tlat wlicl states
tlat tle lives oí tle iníidels are íoríeit, as opposed to tle general principle tlat one
slould kill only wlen it is absolutely necessary or because tlere is legal ground íor
doing so. According to tle statements oí tle Hanaíis, tley tlink tlat only aggression
on tle part oí tle iníidels makes tleir lives íoríeit; tlereíore tlose wlo are unable to

;6
See ibid., 6/c:c-c::; Ibn Muílil lived in tle eigltl/íourteentl century.
;;
Ibn Nuiaym, Babr s/8i.
;8
Ibn Muílil, Fvrv´ 6/c:: (witl a reíerence to tle íact tlat tlis is not tle opinion oí all Hanbalis).
;o
Qurtubi, 1a/str c/,i8; Ibn Muílil, Fvrv´ 6/c::.
8c
Saraklsi, Sbarb i/:i:8-:i:o.
81
Qur'an c::oc: ¨And íiglt in tle way oí God witl tlose wlo íiglt witl you, but aggress not."
17
íiglt-like tle disabled-slould not be larmed.
8c
Tlis means tlat tle Hanaíis attacled
greater importance to tle general principle tlan to tle anti-iníidels one. On tle otler
land, tle Slaíi'is accept at íace value tle directive in tle verse ¨Kill tle iníidels";
8,

idolatry, according to tlem, is tle legal ground íor killing, and tle lives oí all tle
iníidels are íoríeit-including tle disabled, tle elderly, and so on.
However, two points slould be emplasized. First, tlere are disagreements witlin
eacl sclool, and tlere are surely Slaíiis and Hanaíis wlose views are not compatible
witl tlese statements. Second, tle disagreement between Slaíi'is and Hanaíis is not as
great as it seems at íirst. Tle Hanaíi iurist Saraklsi, íor example, states tlat tle lives oí
all lumans are basically protected (al·aáamt /t·l·asl mabavn al·áamm; note tlat le does
not say ma`svm). Tlis íormulation creates tle íalse impression tlat le is cautious wlen
it comes to tle lives oí all luman beings, and only allows waríare against aggressors. But
Saraklsi permits tle use oí non-discriminatory weapons and tactics, sucl as ballistas
and ílooding, and exempts tlose wlo larm ¨non-combatants" írom responsibility, as
do tle Slaíiis.
8i
In addition, tle Hanaíi`s concept oí ¨combat" is very expansive. As
slown above, tlis concept includes tle reíusal to convert to Islam, tle ability to
períorm certain activities, sucl as slouting, and a certain way oí liíe as well: being a
monk is to tlem tle equivalent oí taking part in combat, since tlis presents exemplary
belavior to tle iníidels. Tlus tle number oí non-aggressors wlose lives are protected is
very small, again in accordance witl tle Slaíii position.
8s

A second source oí disagreement among tle iurists is tle diííerent
interpretations given to tle basic legal principles. For instance, one oí tle basic
principles is tlat oí utility and damage. Vlen applied to war tlis principle dictates tlat
wloever inílicts damage on tle Muslims must be killed, even ií le or sle is a ¨non-
combatant." Vlen interpreted in an extended manner tlis principle dictates, íor
example, tlat wloever is capable oí procreation must be killed, since le or sle miglt in
tle íuture increase tle number oí enemies. Tlus, various answers were given to tle
question oí wlose liíe is íoríeit and under wlat circumstances.

B. Inconsistency
All tle people mentioned in tle lists recorded above were included in tlem on
tle assumption tlat tley do not take part in combat. However, as slown in tlis article,
Muslim law does not adlere to tle distinction between tlose wlo take part and tlose
wlo do not: it adleres to tle lists. Tle result is a one-way movement, írom witlin tle
lists outwards. Tlat is to say, wlen a person included in tle lists acts contrary to tle
assumptions and takes part in combat, le/sle is witldrawn írom tle list and is not
considered a ¨non-combatant." But wlen a young, lealtly, íree male acts against tle
assumptions and reírains írom taking part in combat, le is not put on tle list oí ¨non-
combatants." Tlis means tlat Muslim law does not in íact distinguisl between soldiers
and civilians. Tle distinction is instead between tlose wlo are subiect to certain
disabilities and limitations (in body, in mind, and in religious and social belavior) and
tlose wlo are not. Only tle íormer enioy some immunity írom larm, provided tley do

8c
See,e.g., Marglinani, Htáaya c/8:s; Saraklsi, Mabsvt :c/i-s, ,c-,:, 6i, Sbarb i/:i:s.
8,
See, e.g., Ibn Qudama, Mvrbnt o/csc; Zakariya' al-Ansari, Fatb c/,cc; tle verse is o:s.
8i
Saraklsi, Mabsvt :c/8:, opposed to ,c-,:, see note 8c above.
8s
Saraklsi, Mabsvt :c/,:, :,;; see above, tle section ¨Participation in combat.¨
18
not contribute in any way to combat against Muslims. Tlis one-way movement may be
considered as an inconsistency in tle law.
Inconsistency in adopting and applying tle legal principles is common to all tle
legal sclools. For example, Slaíi'i rules tlat tle directive in tle verses reading ¨Kill all
tle idolaters" is comprelensive and absolute (`amm). Tlis means tlat no exception is to
be made. But Slaíi'i and lis íollowers íeel tlemselves bound by tle Propletic tradition
and tle ancient custom stipulating tlat women and minors must not be killed. In otler
words, Slaíi'i and lis íollowers do not consistently apply tle Qur'anic principle tlat
tle blood oí all idolaters is íoríeit. On tle otler land tle Hanaíis expressly argue tlat
all lumans basically lave immunity írom larm, and only aggression on tle part oí a
person constitutes legal grounds íor killing lim. But tle Hanaíis do not apply tlis
principle oí tle immunity oí tle innocent to all bystanders: tley lave tleir lists oí tle
¨non-combatants." Furtlermore, as slown above, tley permit tle use oí indiscriminate
weapons and tactics (wlicl may larm tle innocent) as well as tle execution oí
prisoners (wlo can no longer larm tle Muslims). Reportedly Abu Haniía allows
Muslim captors to kill prisoners even beíore bringing tlem beíore tle commander.
86

Tle Hanbali iurist Ibn Qudama explains in tle seventl/tlirteentl century tlat an old
man slould not be killed because le is not one oí tle combatants (laysa mtn abl al·
attal); in spite oí tlis, le does not apply tlis prolibition to otlers wlo are in practice
also non-combatants.
8;
And ií we were to assume, based on common sense, tlat tle
principle oí selí-deíense would apply in any case, we tlen íind tlat Malik íorbids
larming women and clildren, even ií tley íire at tle Muslims.
88

Even tle principle oí utility is not applied consistently. For instance, tle iurists
state tlat tlis is tle principle tlat determines tle íate oí tle prisoners: tley slould be
released ií tlere is a clance tlat tley will convert to Islam, or tley slould be exclanged
íor ransom or íor Muslim prisoners; tley slould be killed ií tlis will weaken tle enemy,
or tley slould be enslaved.
8o
Had tle law been consistent, tlese same options would be
relevant also to women and clildren. Tle opposite also lolds true: tle iurists explain
tlat women and clildren are considered property and lence slould not be killed; tle
same could be said oí male prisoners, but tle law does not take tlis approacl.
oc

Diííerent rules regarding diííerent groups included in tle list oí ¨non-combatants" are
also evidence oí inconsistency.
o:
Tlis inconsistency slows tlat tlere was no general
concept oí ¨non-combatants" wlom it is íorbidden to larm.


86
Saraklsi, Mabsvt :c/:,;-:,o and see above, tle section ¨Combatants wlo lave been taken prisoner."
8;
Ibn Qudama, Mvrbnt o/csc. Tle plrase abl al·attal, lowever, can also mean ¨tlose wlo do not usually
engage in íiglting," and in tlat case tlere is no contradiction in lis position.
88
Tabari, I/bttla/, 8.
8o
Slaíi'i, Umm i/c;s, and see above, tle section ¨Combatants wlo lave been taken prisoner".
oc
Qurtubi, tle seventl/tlirteentl-century Qur'an interpreter, was probably tlinking oí tlis
inconsistency; see 1a/str c/,i8, wlere le explains tlat women tend to convert to Islam sooner tlan men
and are also less likely to escape írom captivity; lence tley slould be enslaved ratler tlan killed, unlike
men.
o:
See, íor example, Qurtubi, 1a/str c/,i8: a woman wlo took part in combat slould be killed; not so a
minor: see also above, tle section ¨Prolibitions concerning 'non-combatants'".
19
C. Tle concept oí ¨non-combatants"
It is no accident tlat Muslim law las no term analogous to tlat oí non-
combatants, or civilians, in international law. Ratler, it las deíined lists oí various
categories oí people, wlicl do not include all tle non-combatants. Tlese lists are based
on an ancient and deeply rooted tradition, according to wlicl íour categories oí people
slould not be larmed: women, minors, tle elderly, and monks. It appears tlat at tle
basis oí tlis tradition lies tle principle, or custom, oí not killing bystanders. Muslim
law did not extend tlis principle to include all bystanders. On tle contrary, tlis
principle was largely reiected in íavor oí anotler principle, one tlat leld tlat only tlose
wlo are incapable oí larming Muslims in any way, due to plysical, mental or otler
limitations, slould not be larmed. Tle Slaíi'is reíute tlis principle too, and prolibit
larming only women and minors (because oí traditions transmitted írom tle Proplet),
altlougl some oí tle Slaíi'is extended tlis prolibition to otlers as well, on tle basis
oí analogy.
Tle most stable element íound in tle rules concerning tle ¨non-combatants" is
tlat oí reíraining írom larming women and minors. Tlese two groups are mentioned
in tle earliest lists, and tlere are almost no disagreements about tle prolibition against
killing tlem under any circumstances. Even wlen men included in tle list oí ¨non-
combatants" lose tlis classiíication aíter being taken prisoner, tle lives oí women and
minors are still considered to be protected. Vlen women and minors wlo lave been
taken prisoner cannot be taken into Muslim territory, tle iurists do not order killing
tlem (unlike tleir ruling regarding male prisoners).
oc
An opinion permitting tle killing
oí women and clildren is rare and is considered aberrant (rbartb).
o,

Abu Yusuí's ruling concerning arbitration is yet anotler witness to tle stability
oí tle ¨non-combatants" status granted to women and clildren: according to Muslim
law, tle enemy lave tle option oí surrendering unconditionally and entrusting tle
decision about tleir íate to a named Muslim arbitrator. Abu Yusuí rules tlat ií tle
arbitrator decrees tlat women and clildren slould be executed, lis decree contradicts
tle Propletic Custom (svnna) and is tlereíore illegal.
oi

It is also notewortly tlat no distinction is made between women and clildren
belonging to tle People oí tle Book (/ttabts) and tlose oí otler religions. Tle rule tlat
íorbids killing includes all women and clildren, wlereas rules concerning men
distinguisl between /ttabts and idolaters. By taking tlis approacl toward women and
clildren tle Muslims are continuing a very long tradition.
os

Respect íor early traditions transmitted írom tle Proplet and lis close
Companions (baáttbs) impel many iurists to include monks and tle elderly in tle list oí
¨non-combatants." To be sure, tley sometimes explain tleir attitude on tle basis oí
analogy (e.g., tle elderly are larmless, like women). However, certain iurists do exclude
tlese two categories írom tle list by denying tle autlenticity oí tle early baáttbs or by
interpreting tlem in ways tlat allowed tlis exclusion.
It seems likely tlat a Vestern approacl to tlis problem would be, íirst to
íormulate a concept oí ¨non-combatants" and tlen to draw up a list oí protected people

92
Slaíi'i, Umm i/c;i, ,cs.
o,
Zurqani, Sbarb ,/:6, but see above pp. :i, :6.
94
Abu Yusuí, Kbarai, cc,.
os
See Deuteronomy cc::,-:i.
20
on tlat basis. But attitudes toward non-combatants in Muslim law developed in a
diííerent way: tlere was íirst an original list oí ¨non-combatants," probably based on
ancient custom and on tle notion tlat bystanders slould be leít alone. Tle list took tle
íorm oí baáttbs and became rooted in Islamic practice. Some oí tle earliest iurists, in
tle second/eigltl century, readily accepted tle tradition. Otlers lad a diííerent
opinion, but tley nevertleless respected tle tradition and tle baáttbs and attempted to
explain tle list, or parts tlereoí, on tle basis oí analogy, or by applying tle principle oí
utility. Tlere were also attempts to explain away parts oí tle list, because tle notion
tlat bystanders slould be leít alone was not acceptable to all iurists. At tle same time
tle list was expanded to include additional categories on tle basis oí analogy. All tlese
processes are reílected in tle remarks oí tle seventl/tlirteentl-century Hanbali iurist
Ibn Qudama: according to lim, women and minors slould not be killed, since tlis was
íorbidden by tle Proplet, and in addition, tley are considered to be property, and
property slould not be damaged. Tle elderly slould not be killed, since tlis was
íorbidden by tle Proplet, and in addition, tley are unable to cause damage during war
(la nt/aya labv /t al·barb) and tley are tlus like women. Tle disabled and tle blind are
like tle elderly. Abu Bakr prolibited tle killing oí monks, and since religious reasons
prevent tlem írom participating in combat, tley are like tlose wlo are unable to íiglt.
Slaves wlo íall into Muslim lands become tleir property, like women and minors.
Hence tley are treated in tle same way as íar as tle prolibition against killing tlem is
concerned.
o6

Tle íact tlat various explanations were oííered íor tle diííerent categories leads
to tle conclusion tlat tle list was not drawn up systematically according to a certain
principle, but was ratler gatlered írom various sources and extended on tle basis oí
analogy. Tle later legal discussions remained very similar to tlose írom earlier periods
wlen tle iurists were íaced witl questions based on analogy: ¨Vlat is your opinion
regarding tle blind? How would you rule concerning tle sick? And wlat oí tle
disabled?" Tlis is one tle reasons wly it is so diííicult to íollow tle discussions in tle
legal sources. Anotler (related) diííiculty is tlat eacl category in tle lists is discussed
separately, and diííerent reasons are adduced as explanations wly members oí tlat
category slould not be larmed. Usually no systematic distinctions are made, and tle
discussions oíten revolve around some oí tle categories, ignoring otlers. Tle discussion
about tle permissibility oí taking prisoners, íor instance, is usually recorded as
pertinent only to monks and not to otlers on tle list. Tle elderly, tle disabled, and so
on, are discussed separately. Tlere is no general concept oí a category oí ¨non-
combatants," nor is tlere one tleoretical basis íor tle rules concerning tlem.

D. Practical, moral and legal considerations
o;

Reíraining írom killing ¨non-combatants" is oíten explained in Muslim law on
tle basis oí considerations oí utility. Tle inconsistency in tle application oí tlese
considerations las been slown above. Tle moral principle, tlat is, tle inculpability oí
tlose not involved in combat, is usually absent írom tle explanations oííered by
Muslim iurists. Zurqani is exceptional in tlis regard; le explains tle prolibition

96
Ibn Qudama, Ka/t i/c6;, Mvrbnt o/csc.
97
Tle tension between practical and moral imperatives is tle subiect oí Abou al-Fadl's article ¨Rules oí
Killing." He ignores tle legal imperative.
21
against killing women and minors as derived írom tle íact tlat tley are unable to
commit acts oí idolatry (lt·avsvrtbtm ´an /t´l al·/v/r). Exactly wlat le means by tlis is
leít unclear, since obviously women can be idolaters. It slould also be noted tlat
Zurqani conceives oí tleir innocence as related to tleir íaitl, not to tleir actions. Tle
autlor, lowever, does not neglect to mention tlat leaving women and minors alive is
useíul, since tley can be exclanged íor Muslim prisoners or used as slaves.
o8

Tle prolibition against killing ¨non-combatants" is sometimes explained witl
tle words ¨tley are not oí tlose wlo íiglt" (laysa mtn abl al·attal la yvaattlvn).
oo

Altlougl tlis explanation may be taken as reílecting a moral approacl, it seems tlat
tle approacl oí tlose wlo oííered it was in íact legal ratler tlan moral. Ií tleir
reasoning lad been purely moral, tle principle oí inculpability would lave been
applied to all tlose wlo do not actually participate in combat ratler tlan only to tlose
included in tle list oí tle ¨non-combatants." As Saraklsi states, tle prolibition against
killing ¨non-combatants" is based on tle ensuing utility írom tle Muslim point oí
view, or on tle absence oí a legal basis íor killing tlem.
:cc
No moral consideration is
present. Tle case oí rebels (abl al·barby) strengtlens my interpretation. In tlis case, all
rebels wlo do not take part in combat slould not be killed, but íor legal ratler tlan
moral reasons: tleir lives are immune (ma´svm), because tley are Muslims (see above).
It appears tlat in early Islam, tle customary avoidance oí killing íarmers,
sleplerds, craítsmen, tle disabled, and deserters was indeed based on a moral
consideration oí inculpability. Altlougl tlis is not stated explicitly, tlis seems to me to
be tle only possible interpretation oí traditions sucl as tle íollowing: ¨Umar wrote to
tle commanders to íiglt in tle way oí Allal and to íiglt only tbosc wbo /trbt aratnst
tbcm |emplasis mine], and not to kill women or minors, nor to kill tlose wlo do not
use a razor" (namely, minors).
:c:
Tlis moral tendency is reílected also in particular
rulings. Awza'i, íor instance, prolibits tle extraction oí iníormation írom monks, since
tlis miglt endanger tlem ií tley are later taken prisoner by tle enemy.
:cc

In later writings, lowever, not mucl survives oí tlis moral approacl, not even
tle names oí tlose wlo leld it. Tley appear, íor example, as Slaíi'i's adversaries, wlen
le adduces arguments against tlem.
:c,
It is especially notewortly tlat Slaíi'i uses tle
íactor oí inculpability ratler in tle case oí animals. Vlen asked wletler it is
permissible to destroy property in order to prevent it íalling into enemy lands, le gives
an aííirmative answer, excluding animals: ¨animals lave souls, and tley suííer ií
tortured; an animal las not sinned |and slould not be killed except íor
consumption]."
:ci
Tle idolaters, by deíinition, are guilty, and tlereíore tleir suííering
slould not be a consideration, even ií tley pose no tlreat to Muslims. Tlis distinction
between a moral imperative and a legal one complements wlat las been said above: tle
lists oí ¨non-combatants" were drawn up on tle basis oí analogy írom a core list and

o8
Zurqani, Sbarb ,/:6.
oo
E.g. Slaíi'i, Umm i/cs,; Saraklsi, Mabsvt :c/co; Ibn Qudama, Mvrbnt o/csc, csc; Ibn 'Abd al-Barr,
1ambtá :6/:,8.
100
Saraklsi, Sbarb i/:i:s-:i:6.
:c:
Abu 'Ubayd Amwal, c,.
:cc
Fazari, Styar, ,,i; Tabari, I/bttla/ :c.
:c,
See above pp. 8, :c. Abou el-Fadl, ¨Rules oí Killing," claims tle opposite: le says tlat írom tle íourtl
century AH tle moral imperative overcame considerations oí utility.
104
Slaíi'i, Umm i/c;i: .lt·annabv ábv rvb ya'lam bt·l·`aábab wa·la ábanb labv
22
not on tle basis oí a moral principle. Tle only principle guiding tle iurists was a legal
one, tlat oí immunity, 'tsma-or to be precise, tle lack oí it as íar as iníidels are
concerned. Tle approacl oí Muslim law to tle idea oí ¨non-combatants," in
conclusion, is markedly diííerent írom tle distinction made by international law
between combatants and tle civil population, even ií, at íirst glance, tle rules seem
similar.

Epilogue
Tlis paper investigates medieval Muslim law. However, one recent development
in particular deserves to be mentioned.
In :oo;, tle Egyptian terrorist organization al-Jama'a al-Islamiyya renounced
violence and ceased to conduct terrorist activities. Moreover, its leaderslip proceeded to
publisl a series oí books providing a religious basis íor tlis ideological reversal. One oí
tle main arguments adduced in tlese books is tlat Muslim law íorbids targeting
civilians. Tlis argument las been litlerto adduced only in contexts oí apologetics and
polemics against tle Vest. As las been slown in tlis article, Muslim law does not really
íorbid targeting civilians. It is tlereíore remarkable tlat al-Jama'a al-Islamiyya created
íor itselí a legal restriction previously absent írom tle law. Tle organization obviously
added tle moral aspect to its considerations.
:cs












:cs
See tle iníormation in lttp://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page-arclivessArea-sdsID-SP:,c:c6
(MEMRI, Special Dispatcl No. :,c: 'Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya vs. Al-Qaeda,', September c;, ccc6)


23
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HUDSON INSTITUTE Center on Islam, Democracy, and the Future of the Muslim World
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Professor Ella Landau-Tasseron is a historian of medieval Islam. She acquired her Ph.D.
at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and is part of what is informally known among
scholars as “the Jerusalem school of oriental studies.” She has researched Islamic history,
tradition, institutions and historiography. Since she was a fellow at the Institute for
Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University, her research has focused on the concept of
jihad. Professor Landau-Tasseron is affiliated with the Department for Islamic and Middle
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Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University.

“Non-Combatants” in Muslim Legal Thought
ELLA LANDAU-TASSERON

Center on Islam, Democracy, and the Future of the Muslim World
© 2006 by Hudson Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

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                                                    .

                                                     .

                                                            .

                                                        .

                                                           .

                                                       .

                                                      .

                                                         .

                                                      .

                                                       .

                                                      .

                                                            .

                                                       .

                                                          .

                                                           .

                                                       .

                                                     .

                                                       .

                                                       .

                                                   .

                                                          .

                                     .

                                                 .

                                                 .

                         .

Democracy.HUDSON INSTITUTE Center on Islam. and the Future of the Muslim World .

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her research has focused on the concept of jihad. and other dynamics within majority Muslim countries and Muslim populations around the world. The views. Through publications. prosperity. social. A principal focus of the Center’s work is the ideological dynamic within Islam. at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.hudson.D. To learn more.” She has researched Islamic history. the Center aims to contribute to the development of American policy options and to effective strategies to prosecute and to win the worldwide struggle against radical Islam. opinions.com ABOUT HUDSON INSTITUTE Hudson Institute is a non-partisan policy research organization dedicated to innovative research and analysis that promotes global security.ABOUT THE AUTHOR Professor Ella Landau-Tasseron is a historian of medieval Islam. and is part of what is informally known among scholars as “the Jerusalem school of oriental studies.futureofmuslimworld. Since she was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University. we seek to guide global leaders in government and business. visit www. religious. and/or findings contained in this report are those of the author(s) and should not be construed as an official Department of Defense position. and the connected issue of how this political and religious debate impacts both Islamist radicalism as well as the Muslim search for moderate and democratic alternatives. Israel for the Director of Net Assessment. economics. policy. Office of the Secretary of Defense. conferences and policy recommendations. AB O UT TH I S S E R I E S This first series of research monographs on the Muslim world is the product of a research project undertaken jointly by Hudson Institute and the Institute for Policy and Strategy at Herzilya. and law. She acquired her Ph. To learn more. We challenge conventional thinking and help manage strategic transitions to the future through interdisciplinary and collaborative studies in defense. Professor Landau-Tasseron is affiliated with the Department for Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University. By focusing on ideology. science. culture. ABOUT THE CENTER Hudson Institute’s Center on Islam.org . and freedom. institutions and historiography. visit www. tradition. or decision. Democracy and the Future of the Muslim World conducts a wide-ranging program of research and analysis addressed to the political. technology. international relations.