A Principle to Govern World Relations
In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Beneficent
Allah, save whom there is no deity, will gather you all together on the day of resurrection, which is sure to come no doubt. Whose word could be truer than Allah’s? (Women-An-Nisaa: 4: 87)
This verse is the opening of a passage which provides a number of legislative rules to regulate international relations with Islamic society. It is only appropriate that this passage should begin with the basic and most essential principle of Islamic philosophy, since this principle is practically the pivot around which the Islamic society revolves. That principle is the one which declares that there is no deity, save Allah. All provisions for relations between an Islamic society and other camps are based on this principle. The passage includes a denunciation of the division of Muslims into two groups with different views with regard to the treatment of hypocrites. It seems that this relates to a particular group of hypocrites who did not live in Madinah. These provisions, as well as the denunciation are, therefore based on the same central principle of Islam which is stated most clearly whenever a piece of legislation or a practical directive is mentioned in the Quran.
The provisions which we are looking at here constitute only a part of the rules which Islam was the first to enunciate in human history for the regulation of international relations. For the first time ever, these relations have a basis other than brute force.
Despite its international law and all the world bodies that have come into existence on its basis, Europe began moving in this direction only in the 17th century (11th century of the Islamic calendar). Generally speaking, this law remains theoretical, and the international organisations, are on the whole, devices to conceal the ambitions of the great powers, and a stage for the cold war. In no way can they be described as aiming to ensure that justice is done. They have come into existence as a result of disputes between forces of equal strength. Whenever this balance is heavily tilted one way or the other, international laws become of little value and international organisations have no teeth.
Islam, the divine code for human life, established the bases of international dealings in the seventh century, initiating them without any pressure produced by any dispute. It has formulated these bases for use by Islamic society as it establishes its relations with other camps and forces. The Islamic aim is to raise high the banner of justice, even with hostile camps which do not feel themselves committed to the same principles. Indeed, Islam has taken the initiative to formulate these bases for the first time ever. We find them in a different surah of the Quran, with each of them explained within its proper context. Together, they constitute a complete code for international dealings. They provide an authoritative rule for every case which may take place between an Islamic society and other camps, whatever attitude they may take towards Islam, be it one of open warfare, peace, alliance, neutrality or association with an enemy, or one who is at peace with an Islamic society, or in alliance with it or neutral. This passage of the surah speaks of dealing with the following groups and cases:
* The hypocrites who lived away from Madinah.
* Those who are associated with a community which has a covenant with Muslims.
* Neutral people who dislike to be engaged in warfare against Muslims or against their own people, while they continue to follow their own religion.
* Those who wish to play games with faith, pretending to be Muslims whenever they come to Madinah and declaring their disbelief when they go back to Makkah.
* Cases of accidental and deliberate killing among Muslims in different situations.
Clear and express provisions are given for all these cases. These provisions constitute a part of the principles which govern international relations. We begin at the starting point mentioned in this surah, namely the basic principle which is central to the foundation of Islamic society: “ Allah, save whom there is no deity, will gather you all together on the day of resurrection which is sure to come no doubt. Whose word could be truer than Allah’s?”
In the cultivation of hearts and education of people, as well as in establishing the Islamic society and giving it its shape and law, Islam begins with the basic principle of declaring the Oneness of Allah and that He is the only deity in the universe. The same holds true whether the legislation to be enacted is an internal one for the Muslim community or relates to international dealings. Hence the passage which includes a host of provisions for external relations opens with the same central principle. It is from believing in the hereafter and the gathering by Allah of all His servants, so that they may account for what they have done with the chances He offered them in this life, that the Islamic system begins its work to cultivate hearts and educate people. The aim is to provide Muslims with a keen sense of commitment to Islamic laws and directives and their operation in human life. Every little thing is part of the test set for every individual. Everyone will be held to account for all his deeds, big or small. This is the surest guarantee for the proper enforcement of all laws. It is a guarantee which is well rooted in the depth of the human soul. It gives it an ever sensitive conscience. This is Allah’s word: “Whose word could be truer than Allah’s?”
This is the starting point which precedes the denunciation of having two different attitudes within the Muslim community in Madinah towards hypocrisy and hypocrites.