A ‘Justification’ of Jihād against Innocent Civilians
Question asked by .
Answered by Adnan Zulfiqar

The philosophy of the ‘extremist’ Muslims seems to be to oppress others regardless of whether they oppressed you or not, just because they belong to the nation of the oppressor. Something seems to be wrong with the theory that all Americans pay taxes so they are funding the violence in Palestine and Afghanistan, so the American civilian is responsible. But I cannot pinpoint what is wrong with this theory. Maybe you can shed some light with some hadīth or Qur’ānic verse. Abū Bakr (rta) as khalifā did order his men not to kill civilians when they go to war. Civilians are after all tax payers, and indirectly responsible for what their government is doing. So why is it wrong to wage war against them?


Most Islamic jurists generally agree that the underlying cause for slaying an enemy is their direct engagement in combat against Muslims. Certain contemporary individuals have suggested that tax-paying citizens are ‘indirectly’ waging war against Muslims. However, there is no provision within the history of Islamic jurisprudence or Sharī‘ah for ‘indirect’ engagement in combat. For instance, most jurists are in agreement that old people and disabled individuals cannot be slain. However, these individuals still contributed taxes to their governing authority even centuries ago. In fact, because modern times have led to the clear distinction between commoner and soldier, something not present in the past, it is far easier to distinguish which individuals are directly engaged in combat.

Furthermore, if we examine this issue under the guise of common sense, we find that individuals advocating the position under discussion are in fact undermining their own argument. These individuals often claim that Muslims can attack their enemies’ innocent civilians because our innocent civilians are being attacked. They rationalize this by suggesting that because innocent civilians pay taxes they are legitimate targets. However, if one agrees with this argument, then how can we complain that Muslim innocent civilians are being killed? After all, don’t our innocent civilians also pay taxes like those of our ‘enemies’? Are we to presume that any individual that paid Zakāh to the Islamic state in Madīnah was considered a legitimate target for Islam’s enemies?

Finally, it should be understood that taxes are usually a requirement of living under any governing structure. Every person under that structure’s authority must pay taxes. Since there are few places left in the world without governing structures, if all tax-payers are legitimate targets, are we left to believe that there are no innocent civilians left in the world? In my opinion, this is an illogical suggestion. Individuals pay taxes for their welfare, which includes many things besides the right to be protected by their state. To engage in the slaying of innocent civilians is to make a mockery of Islam’s most fundamental teachings regarding the sanctity of life.


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