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DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY AND ETHICS OF WAR

Sabtu, 05 Februari 2011

According to the Islamic Holy Book - the Quran, God has bestowed honour on every individual irrespective of skin colour, race, nationality, etc. Freedom is one of the great favours of God and its deprivation is a great misery. Under the Islamic dispensation, no one can be made a captive without a just cause. Prisoners can only be taken in the event of a regular declared war or battle and not for any other reason or under any other pretext. The Holy Quran specifically states:

It does not behove a Prophet that he should have captives until he engages in regular fighting in the land. If you take captives, except in regular fighting, you will be regarded as desiring the goods of this world, while ALLAH desires for you the Hereafter. And ALLAH is Mighty, Wise (8:68)

This verse cuts at the root of not only slavery practice in years gone by but also demolishes any supposed justification of modern day hostage-taking and hijacking of innocent people not involved in actual combat.

In his farewell address the Holy Prophet of Islam gave special instructions regarding good treatment which should be meted out to prisoners. The Holy Prophet said:

O men, you still have in your possession some prisoners of war. I advise you, therefore, to feed them and to clothe them in the same way and style as you feed and clothe yourselves ..... To give them pain or trouble can never be tolerated.

More specific commandments on the ethics of war and treatment of prisoners are contained in the fifth verse of the forty-seventh chapter of the Quran. This comprehensive verse can be paraphrased as follows:

"When engaged in a regular battle, it should be fought bravely and relentlessly. War can be continued till peace and freedom of conscience are established. Prisoners are to be taken judiciously. Free men cannot be deprived of their liberty without a just and reasonable cause. When war is over, prisoners should be released as an act of favour or on taking ransom or by negotiating a mutual exchange."

In the history of Islam all these methods have been used for releasing prisoners. A novel method to get release was that the educated prisoners could teach reading and writing to those who were illiterate, in lieu of ransom.

This verse further strikes at the roots of those who would justify modern day terrorism in the name and under the banner of Islam.

Envoys are privileged people in the Islamic system. They enjoy full personal immunity. They are not subject to political ransom, no matter how worthy the cause may be, and to kidnap them is a heinous crime. They must not be killed, molested or maltreated. There are numerous instances from the Holy Prophet's life which illustrate the application of these principles.

Thus Islamic scriptural commandments and the precepts of the Holy Prophet of Islam concerning diplomatic immunity are free from ambiguities. In a nutshell, taking hostages and maltreating envoys and private citizens in any shape and form is totally foreign to the teachings and doctrines of Islam. In other words, the philosophy of Islam totally rejects terrorism.

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