Is Guerrilla Warfare allowed by Islam?
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

Some people justify that in some cases Islam allows Jihad without state authority. They cite the skirmishes carried out by Abū Basīr against the Quraysh in support of their stance. Is this correct?

Answer: class="Paragraph">I am afraid that this is a misinterpretation of facts: We know from history1 that after the treaty of Hudaybiyyah, Abū Basīr defected to Madīnah. According to the terms of the treaty, he was duly returned back to the Quraysh by the Prophet (sws). He was sent back in the custody of two people of the Quraysh. On the way, he killed one of his two custodians and again defected to Madīnah. When he arrived in Madīnah, the Prophet (sws) was angry with what he had done. Sensing that the Prophet (sws) would once again return him to the Quraysh, he left Madīnah and settled at a place near Dhu’l-Marwah, where later on other people joined him. From this place, they would attack the caravans of the Quraysh.

If these guerrilla attacks are analyzed in the light of the Qur’ān, the basic thing which comes to light is that whatever Abū Basīr and has companions were doing was not sanctioned at all by Islam. The Qur’ān says that the actions and deeds of a person who had not migrated to Madīnah were not the responsibility of the newly Islamic state:

And as to those who believed but did not migrate [to [Madīnah], you owe no duty of protection until they migrate. (8:72)

In other words, the verse clearly says that the deeds of people who are not its citizens are not its responsibility. Not only did the Qur’ān acquit the Islamic state of Madīnah from the actions of these people, we even find the following harsh remarks of the Prophet (sws) about Abū Basīr when he returned to Madīnah after killing one of  his two custodians:2

His mother be cursed, if he is able to find some supporters he is bound to ignite the flames of war.

So Jihad without state authority is totally prohibited by Islam. Without such authority, it is tantamount to terrorism.



1. For details see: Bukhārī, Kitābu’l-Shurūt, No. 2731

2. Bukhārī, Kitābu’l-Shurūt, No. 2731

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