Inamullah Khan argues that although Islam permits fighting, it
insists that the use of force be minimal. Furthermore, the Muslim
conduct of war must be as humane as possible. A Muslim soldier
does not fight for self-glory or plunder, and he is ordered not to kill
indiscriminately. Given this mandate, Islam prohibits nuclear
weapons because they are weapons of mass destruction and can in
no way distinguish between combatants and noncombatants nor
between military targets and fields and factories.
Islam does not tolerate such indiscriminate methods. Nor
does it allow God’s creation—human lives, trees, animals, the
environment—to be destroyed. For example, the use of napalm is
unacceptable, as are explosions in department stores, hijacking and
killing hostages on any means of transportation, and bombing
civilian targets. The modern world has made primitive weapons
obsolete, but the encompassing moral sphere of Islam also renders
modern weapons morally illegitimate.
Because nonviolent alternatives do
exist, an argument can be made that for Muslims to be true to their
faith, they have no alternative but to utilize nonviolent action in the
contemporary world. The question then is whether Islam embodies
conditions conducive to the use of effective nonviolent actions.
The eight theses on Muslim nonviolent action that follow are
suggested as a challenge for Muslims and others who seek to
reaffirm the original vision of Islam so that the true meaning of
peace—the absence of both structural as well as personal
violence—can be obtained:
1. For Islam, the problem of violence is an integral part
of the Islamic moral sphere.
2. Violence, if any, used by Muslims must be governed
by rules prescribed in the Qur‘an and Hadith.
3. If violence used cannot discriminate between
combatants and noncombatants, then it is unacceptable in Islam.
4. Modern technology of destruction renders
discrimination virtually impossible at present.
5. In the modern world, Muslims cannot use violence.
6. Islam teaches Muslims to fight for justice with the
understanding that human lives—as all parts of God’s creation—
are purposive and sacred.
7. In order to be true to Islam, Muslims must utilize
nonviolent action as a new mode of struggle.
8. Islam itself is fertile soil for nonviolence because of
its potential for disobedience, strong discipline, sharing and social
responsibility, perseverance and self-sacrifice, and the belief in
the unity of the Muslim community and the oneness of mankind.
That such theses of Muslim nonviolent action are essential to peace
in this world and the true meaning of Islam is evident from the
(of salutation) from the Lord
Most Merciful! 36:58)
The Nonviolent Crescent:
Eight Theses on Muslim
Islam and Nonviolence
Glenn D. Paige, Chaiwat Satha-Anand (Qader Muheideen), and Sara Gilliatt