Friday, 28 September 2012



Assalamualaikum. Before i begin, I would like to inform you that this particular topic is a huge and vast topic. It involves a lot of Fiqh and other Islamic tools producing their judgement varying from situation to situation. However, there are some ahadeeth from the Prophet of Mercy (s.a.w) which i shall enlist. In order to study this deep topic, one must be aware of the Order of Allah and his messenger , the sunnah of the sahabaas, the khalifa e rashideen, the Salafus saaliheen, the Fiqhi rules and the Ijma'a on this topic.

Please be informed that I have not included or covered even 40% of the topic, because of the diverse rulings derived from fiqh and etc. Hence do not use this blog post as a final testimony on this topic. 

Secondly, Whatever i mention below (i.e the rulings, order , etc) they can vary depending from situation to situation and again this requires an in dept study on this subject. 

Before proceeding further, i strongly recommend you reading how our prophet (s.a.w) proved to be the prophet of mercy even to the Non Muslim by clicking on this link :

Let us begin with the hadith : 

May the Most Merciful have mercy on those who are merciful. Have mercy on those upon the earth, and He who is above the heaven will have mercy on you.” [Al-Jaami' (1924), Al-Sunan-ul-Kubraa (9/41); Al-Asmaa' was-Sifaat (893)]


There shall be no compulsion in religion [Quran 2:256]

A prisoner of war has the right to remain on his religion and cannot be compelled to give it up. Today this principle is referred to as freedom of religion. He should merely be called to Islam without any pressure being placed upon him. Allah says: "O Prophet! Say to those who are captives in your hands: 'If Allah finds any good in your hearts, He will give you something better than what has been taken from you and He will forgive you. For Allah is Oft Forgiving, Most Merciful." [Sûrah al-Anfâl: 70]

We can see in this verse how prisoners of war are to be endeared to Islam and how they should be invited to accept the faith. The verse opens to them the doors of repentance. It entices them with a promise of rewards far greater than the ransom that they have had to spend on themselves. It promises them that if they embrace Islam willingly, Allah will bless them from His bounty in this world and the next and grant them forgiveness for all the wrong they had committed in the past. This verse is clear proof that they are not to be compelled to accept Islam. The Prophet (peace be upon him) and those who followed him never once forced a prisoner of war to embrace Islam.

This can clearly be seen in the story of Thamâmah b. Athâl al-Hanafi, an idolater who was captured by the Muslim army in battle and then brought to the mosque where he was restrained. The Prophet approached him respectfully and said: "What have you, O Thamâmah?"

Thamâmah replied: "Actually I have a lot going for me. If you kill me, you kill a man whose blood will surely be avenged. If you are generous, then you are generous to a man who knows how to be grateful. If you are after money, then ask of me whatever amount you like."

The Prophet (peace be upon him) left him at this point. On the second day when he approached him, Thamâmah said basically the same thing. On the third day, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Let Thamâmah go." 

They unbound him and let him go. He went on his way, quickly took a bath, and returned, declaring: "I bear witness that there is no God but Allah and I bear witness that you are the Messenger of Allah. O Muhammad! I swear to Allah that there was no man on the face of the Earth who I hated more than you. Now you have become to me the dearest of men. And I swear by Allah that there was no religion on Earth more loathsome to me than your religion, but now it is the most beloved to me of all religions. There was no country on Earth more despised by me than your country, yet now I love it more than any other country in the world." [Al-Bukhârî (4372) and Muslim (1764)]

This is the effect that kindness and good conduct can have. Look at the effect it had on this man who was far from being a simpleton. He was a man of distinction, the leader of his people. Moreover, his acceptance of Islam was not an act of deception, nor did it take place under any pressure or compulsion.


Note :  manners does not mean that when a prisoner is taken for interrogation or in captive, you embrace and hug him. Rather what manners in this context means is that when a prisoner is taken captive, one should not treat him like an animal or a filthy creature, but know that he is a human like us and deserves to be treated at least with human manners. And even during interrogation or etc, it is not allowed for a Muslim to blackmail the captive by saying " we will kill your family or rape them and etc" and this is against manners, morals and Islam itself. 

An exception here is made where it is known that a prisoner is hiding something. Then it is permissible to punish him in a restrained matter to extract information from him. Such punishment, however, should never reach the level of outright torture and must not have any affect on his health.

 Narrated 'Aisha: (the wife of the Prophet) A group of Jews entered upon the Prophet and said, "As-Samu-Alaikum." (i.e. death be upon you). I understood it and said, "Wa-Alaikum As-Samu wal-la'n. (death and the curse of Allah be Upon you)." Allah's Apostle said "Be calm, O 'Aisha! Allah loves that on, should be kind and lenient in all matters." I said, "O Allah's Apostle! Haven't you heard what they (the Jews) have said?" Allah's Apostle said "I have (already) said (to them) "And upon you ! "  [Sahih Bukhaari, Book of Adaab]

The Prophet (s.a.w) said: "The most beloved of Allah's servants to Allah are those with the best manners." [At-Tabaraanee collected it, and Albani authenticated it in Silsilatul-AHaadeethis-Saheehah (#432)]

Abd Allah ibn 'Amr said, "The Prophet of Allah, upon him be peace, was never obscene or coarse. Rather, he used to tell us that the best among us were those with the best manners." [Sahih Bukhari, Muslim and Tirmidhi]

Narrated 'Abdur Rahman bin Abi Laila: Sahl bin Hunaif and Qais bin Sad were sitting in the city of Al-Qadisiya. A funeral procession passed in front of them and they stood up. They were told that funeral procession was of one of the inhabitants of the land i.e. of a non-believer, under the protection of Muslims. They said, "A funeral procession passed in front of the Prophet and he stood up. When he was told that it was the coffin of a Jew, he said, "Is it not a living being (soul)?"  [Bukhari 2:23:399]

When the dead receive so much respect from our prophet (s.a.w), then don't you think the living deserve much more? 

Even during Battles, during the incident of Khaybar, after the treaty of jizyah (tax) was finalised, some of the newly reverted Muslim youth from Messenger of Allah's army got out of control and started causing havoc due to which the Messenger of Allah (sallalahu `alayhi wa sallam) called for them and said :

وَإِنَّ اﷲَ عزوجل لَمْ يُحِلَّ لَکُمْ أَنْ تَدْخُلُوا بُيُوتَ أَهْلِ الْکِتَابِ إِلَّا بِإِذْنٍ، وَلَا ضَرْبَ نِسَائِهِمْ، وَلَا أَکْلَ ثِمَارِهِمْ

Allah has not permitted you to enter the houses of the people of the Book without their permission, or beat/harass their women, or eat their fruits without their permission when they have given you that which is imposed on them (i.e the tax) .

[Ref: Sunan al-Kubra lil-Bayhaqi, 9/204; Hadeeth 18508; Abi Dawood] 


The fuqahaa’ discussed the matter of imprisoning a person who is sick in the first place – do the authorities have the right to imprison a sick person? The answer is that this is the matter of ijtihaad, and the final decision rests with the Qaadi (judge) who must weigh up the reason why this person is to be imprisoned, the seriousness of his disease and the possibility of taking care of him in jail. If sufficient health care is available for this sick person in prison, and he is not suffering a serious illness which could kill him if he is detained, it is permissible to imprison him. If such care is not available, the judge may hand him over to someone who can treat him and guard him, without releasing him completely, until it is possible to imprison him again.

If a prisoner becomes sick whilst in jail. If a prisoner becomes sick whilst in jail and it is possible to treat him there, then he must be treated without bringing him out. Doctors and servants should not be prevented from going in to see him, treat him and serve him. If not treating him leads to his death, criminal charges are to be laid against those who were the cause of that, and they are to be punished.

۱، أَبِي عَزِيزِ بْنِ عُمَيْرِ ابْنِ أَخِي مُصْعَبِ بْنِ عُمَيْرٍ قَالَ: كُنْتُ فِي الْأُسَارَى يَوْمَ بَدْرٍ , فَقَالَ: رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَآلِهِ وَسَلَّمَ: «اسْتَوْصُوا بِالْأُسَارَى خَيْرًا» , وَكُنْتُ فِي نَفَرٍ مِنَ الْأَنْصَارِ , فَكَانُوا إِذَا قَدِمُوا غَدَاءَهُمْ أَوْ عَشَاءَهُمْ أَكَلُوا التَّمْرَ وَأَطْعَمُونِي الْخُبْزَ بِوَصِيَّةِ وَآلِهِ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ إِيَّاهُمْ

Abi `Azeez bin `Umayr narrated that during the day of Badr, i was one of the prisoners. The messenger of allah (s.a.w) said (to his companions): "Treaty them fairly (i.e in a good way)" 

(Then when i accepted Islam) i was among the ansaar (and we had some prisoners ) so when the time of their noon or evening meal came, i used to feed them (the best of) dates for (i remember how when i was a prisoner) the prophet (s.a.w) had commanded to treat us nicely as a result of which we were fed with khubs (despite being prisoners) 

[Ref: Mu`jam as-sagheer lit-tabraani (402); Hasan by haythami and suyuti] 

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) passed by a prisoner who was in chains, and he called out, “O Muhammad, O Muhammad!” He came to him and said, “What is the matter?” He said, “I am hungry – feed me. I am thirsty – give me water.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) commanded that his needs should be met. (Narrated by Muslim, 3/1263 see

Allah says in the Qur'ân: "And they feed from what they love for themselves the indigent, the orphan, and the prisoner of war, saying: 'We feed you for the sake of Allah. No reward do we desire from you nor thanks." [Sûrah al-Insân: 8-9]

Ibn Katheer Commented on the above verse: 

'' Ibn 'Abbas said, "At that time (when this Ayah was revealed) their (the Muslims') captives were idolators.'' Proof for this is that on the day of Badr the Messenger of Allah commanded his Companions to treat the captives respectfully. They (the Companions) would give them (the prisoners) preference over themselves when eating their meals. 'Ikrimah said, "They (captives) are the slaves.'' Ibn Jarir preferred this opinion since the Ayah generally refers to both the Muslim and the idolators. Sa'id bin Jubayr, 'Ata', Al-Hasan and Qatadah all made similar statements. The Messenger of Allah advised treating servants well in more than one Hadith.

Allah has made taking care of enemy prisoners of war an act of worship that can bring the believer closer to Allah. When Allah says: "from what they love for themselves", He is showing us that it is not sufficient just to give them our surplus food, but to prefer them over ourselves and give them the best, even if we have a need for it ourselves.

Conversely, denying nourishment to the prisoners of war is counted as a major sin in Islam. The Prophet (peace be upon him) alluded to this when he said: "A woman was punished on account of a cat. She kept it in confinement until it died, and on account of it entered the Fire. She confined it without feeding it or giving it anything to drink. She did not let it out to eat on its own." [Al-Bukhârî (3482) and Muslim (2242)]

Since a prisoner is unable to provide for himself, it is incumbent upon his captor to provide for him. If the punishment for abusing a cat is so great, then imagine what the punishment must be when a human being is concerned.


Now the reason i said "unacceptable violence" is because when obviously one takes a prisoner of war with him, then there indulges violence for various reasons, which could be justified as well. However, Islam is the only religion which has laid down such rights of Prisoners wherein the fuqahaa have agreed that the below actions are forbidden 

1. Mutilating the body: it is not permitted to punish a prisoner by cutting off any part of his body or breaking any of his bones. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) forbade mutilation of prisoners-of-war and said: “Do not mutilate.” (Narrated by Muslim, 3/1357).

2. Starving prisoners (to death) or exposing them to the cold, or feeding them harmful things, or preventing them from wearing clothes.

3. Removing prisoners’ clothing, because this uncovers their ‘awrah and exposes them to physical and psychological illness. (This will be explained below) 

4. Preventing them from relieving themselves, doing wudoo’ and praying. It is obvious that this is harmful to the prisoners’ health.

5. Not Burning from Fire : the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him)  said “No one should punish with fire except Allaah.” [Narrated by al-Bukhaari (3016)]

When word of the advance of Abû Sufyan's forces reached Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him), his Companions captured a slave belonging to the enemy. They asked him the whereabouts of Abû Sufyan and his forces. The slave replied: "I know nothing about Abu Sufyân, but Abu Jahl, `Utbah, Shayibah, and Umayyah b. Khalaf are there." When he said this, they beat him until he said: " I will tell you about Abu Sufyan." However, when they stopped beating him, he again said: " I know nothing about Abu Sufyân, but Abu Jahl, `Utbah, Shayibah, and Umayyah b. Khalaf are there." When he said this, they beat to beat him again. The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) had been praying. When he saw what they were doing, he stopped praying and said: "I swear by Allah in whose hand is my soul! You beat him when he tells you the truth and let him go when he lies to you!"

Many of the scholars of the past hated the idea of killing prisoners of war, event though under exceptions it may or may not be allowed to kill them. Note that throughout all of the wars and battles that the Prophet (peace be upon him) waged, he killed very few prisoners of war. These were all among the worst criminals among the enemy who had previously engaged in atrocities against the Muslims. Many of them would today be called war criminals.One of these was Ibn Khatl who was killed during the conquest of Mecca. [al-Bukharî (1846) and Muslim (1357)] 

6) Killing them while Tying them down is prohibited.

`Ubayd ibn Bayan narrates that we had gone on an expedition with `Abdur Rahman ibn Khaalid when four young soldiers from the opposite military camp were caught and he commanded that they be tied and killed. When this reached Abu Ayyub al-Ansaari (radhiallahu `anhu) he said : "I heard the Messenger of Allah (sallalahu `alayhi wa sallam) say that 

سمعت رسول الله ﷺ ینهی عن قتل الصبر فو الذي نفسي بیده لوکانت الدجاجة ماصبرتها

"Do not tie down and kill; for by He who holds my soul even if it were a chicken , i would not tie it and kill it

[Ref: Sunan Abi Dawood (2667)] 

Related narration : Narrated Sa`id bin Jubair:

While I was with Ibn `Umar, we passed by a group of young men who had tied a hen and started shooting at it. When they saw Ibn `Umar, they dispersed, leaving it. On that Ibn `Umar said, "Who has done this? The Prophet (ﷺ) cursed the one who did so."

Also Ibn `Umar said : Prevent your boys from tying the birds for the sake of killing them, as I have heard the Prophet (ﷺ) forbidding the killing of an animal or other living thing after tying them.

[Ref: Saheeh al-Bukhaari]


Jâbir relates: "After the Battle of Badr, prisoners of war were brought. Among them was al-`Abbâs. He did not have a shirt on, so the Prophet (peace be upon him) looked for a shirt for him. It turned out that a shirt of `Abd Allah b. `Ubayy was the right size, so the Prophet gave it to al-`Abbâs to wear and compensated `Abdullah with his own shirt." [Al-Bukhârî (3008)] 

From this, we can see how Islam guarantees prisoners of war the right to decent clothes.


Now, decent does not mean having a snooker bar or a swimming pool in it. Rather what it means is to have a decent or a minimal but a humane environment to live in. 

Once the Prophet (peace be upon him) brought a prisoner of war to his own home and left that prisoner under the supervision of `Â'ishah. There were women with her who distracted her attention and the prisoner got up and left. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) returned home and asked her where the prisoner was, she replied that the women who were with her kept her distracted. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to her: "May Allah smite your hand!" and left to dispatch someone to pursue the prisoner.

When the prisoner was apprehended, the Prophet (peace be upon him) returned home with him and saw `Â'ishah sitting with her hands out. He asked her why she was doing that, and she said: "You invoked Allah to smite my hands, so I am waiting for it to happen."

The Prophet said: "Have you gone mad?" Then he raised his hand and prayed to Allah, saying: "Turn my invocation against this one into a form of expiation for her and a purification." [Sunan al-Bayhaqî: 9/89; al-Dhahabî declared its chain of transmission to be good.]

Ibn Kathir, in his historical work al-Bidâyah wa al-Nihâyah, mentions that the Prophet (peace be upon him) distributed the prisoners from the Battle of Badr between his Companions (5/191).

The Prophet (peace be upon him) would free the prisoners of war who knew how to read and write in exchange for their teaching the children of Madinah how to do so. Such a prisoner would obviously have to be free to move about and not tied up. The only reason for restraining a prisoner is to keep him from running away. If preventing him from fleeing can be achieved without tying him up, then there is no need to bind him.

Note : A prisoner of war is a prisoner of the state. He is never a prisoner of the person who had taken him captive. Therefore, it is the political leadership who must determine what to do with the prisoner. This leadership may choose to free the prisoner, like the Prophet (peace be upon him) did with Thamâmah b. Athâl, as well as with 80 men captured during the Battle of Hudaybiyah. They had come with the express purpose of killing the Prophet (peace be upon him) but were captured and then pardoned by the Prophet (peace be upon him). They may decide to charge a ransom for the prisoner's release. The Prophet (peace be upon him) did this with the prisoners captured during a number of battles, including the Battle of Badr. They may also exchange their prisoners for Muslim prisoners of war captured by the enemy, like the Prophet (peace be upon him) did with the man from `Uqayl. The Prophet (peace be upon him) once sent a female prisoner to Makkah in exchange for a number of Muslims whom the Meccans had captured. [Muslim (1755), Ahmad (16502), al-Nasâ'î (8665), and Ibn Mâjah (2846)]


The Rightly-Guided Khaleefah ‘Ali ibn Abi Taalib (may Allaah be pleased with him) used to inspect the prisons, meet the prisoners in them and enquire about their circumstances.

‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azeez, the fifth Rightly-Guided Khaleefah, used to write to his employees, telling them to see how the prisoners were and to take care of the sick among them.

The ‘Abbaasi khaleefah al-Mu’tadid allocated 1500 dinars of the monthly budget to be spent on the needs and medical treatment of prisoners.

When the ‘Abbaasi khaleefah al-Muqtadir imprisoned one of his wazeers, Ibn Muqlah, the wazeer got sick. So the khaleefah sent the famous doctor Thaabit ibn Sinaan ibn Thaabit ibn Qurrah to treat him in jail, and he urged him to treat him well. The doctor used to feed him with his own hand and treated him very kindly.

At the time of the khaleefah al-Muqtadir, the wazeer ‘Ali ibn ‘Eesaa al-Jarraah wrote to the head of the hospitals of Iraq at that time, telling him: “I have been thinking, may Allaah grant you long life, about those who are in prison. With their large numbers and rough accommodation, they are not free from disease. They are prevented from doing things which will benefit them and meeting with doctors whom they can consult about the sicknesses they are exposed to. So you have to appoint doctors for them who will go in and see them every day and take them medicine and drinks, and who will go around to all the jails and treat the sick in them and prescribe medicine for them.” This care lasted throughout the khilaafah of al-Muqtadir, al-Qaahir, al-Raadi and al-Muttaqi.

[See : , the book of the biography of Ali' (r.a) by Shaikh Ali' Muhammad Al Sallabi and  Ahkaam al-Sijn wa Mu’aamilat al-Sujanaa’ fi’l-Islam, p. 367-379; al-Mawsoo’ah al-Fiqhiyyah, part 16, p. 320-327  ] 


When families are taken together as prisoners of war, they have a right not to be separated. A mother should not be separated from her child, nor should that child be separated from its father. Brothers should not be separated either. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said regarding captives: "Whoever separates a mother from her child will be separated from his own loved ones on the Day of Judgment." [Ahmad (23499), al-Tirmidhî (1283), Ibn Mâjah (2250) and Abû Dâwûd (2696). Al-Tirmidhî declares it good but unusual.] For this reason, the Companions and the people of knowledge who came after them hated separating parents from children among the war captives.

Al-Dârimî relates that Abû Ayyûb al-Ansârî was in an army and inadvertently separated a mother from her two children. When he saw them crying, he quickly returned them to their mother, declaring: "The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: 'Whoever separates a mother from her child will be separated from his own loved ones on the Day of Judgment.'" Look at how much mercy, compassion, and justice was employed by the Muslims during war in keeping family members together whom they taken captive.

With regards to the Muslim captives, i believe the below 2 athaars would suffice in understanding everything about it 

Ibn Abbas reported that Umar (May Allaah pleased be with him) said, “Every Captive who is in the hands of the disbelievers, then the ransom to free him will be paid from the treasury of the Muslims (Narrated by Ibn Abi Shaybah in his ‘Musannaf’; 6/497)

Ibn Abi Shaybah also reported that Umar narrated, “For me to rescue a Muslim from the lands of the disbelievers is more beloved to me than the entire Arabian peninsula.” (Musannaf; 6/496)


Narrated `Abdullah bin Yazid Al-Ansari: The Prophet (ﷺ) forbade robbery (taking away what belongs to others without their permission), 

[Ref: Saheeh Bukhaari] 

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Please note that the rulings may differ and change depending on varied situations and circumstances. However, the basic etiquettes remain the same.  There is a lot more understanding to this topic than this post, so please i request you to study more into this before issuing any fatwas. 


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