Question: Is there any sense of pardon and forgiveness in Islamic just war theory?
Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
Thank you for your important question.
Yes, there is a very clear concept of pardon and forgiveness in Islamic just war theory.
Allah Most High says regarding prisoners of war, “When you meet the unbelievers, smite their necks, then, when you have thoroughly subdued them, tie fast the bonds; then set them free, either by grace or ransom, till the war lays down its loads.” [Qur’an, 47: 4] The concept of grace, pardon, and forgiveness are definitely in our scripture.
So too, when the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) conquered Mecca and forgave its people, he said, “‘Whosoever enters his own home is safe; whosoever enters the mosque is safe; whosoever enters the house of Abu Sufyan is safe.’ He forbade any of his soldiers to kill anyone. Then when they had all gathered in the mosque, he said, ‘How do you think I am going to deal with you all?
Kindly! You are a noble brother and a noble cousin! Go! For you are all pardoned.’” [Al-Umm, Shafi’i]
To say that pardon only has a role when Islamdom is weak is not true.
I pray this helps.
[Ustadh] Farid Dingle
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language.