The Shaykh, the Allamah, the Muhaddith, Sulaiman bin Naasir al Ulwaan – may Allah free him and kill the one who imprisoned him – said:
“And there is in it another issue and a matter which is very important which we are in need of in our contemporary world and in an age in which the ruling chair is in the hands of the undeserving, and in the shade of this vicious campaign against the Muslim countries – and that is the ruling regarding fighting under the banner of the Kaafir ruler. And that states that, if there does not exist a Shariah banner which is capable of subduing the enemy, then there is no harm in fighting under the banner of that Kaafir ruler, especially if there is in that common public interest and if the major harm will be averted. And this is what the clear Shariah evidences indicate along with the Usooli (juristic) principles and the rules of Fiqh. And it is not correct as per the Shareeah to prevent it based on the Hadeeth “Whoever fights under a banner of ignorance….” (narrated by Muslim in his Saheeh (1848) on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him). The banner that is of ignorance is the one in which the truth does not stand out clearly from falsehood or it is for ignorant partisanship and corrupted factors and over colour and race and dubious matters.
And how many destructive wars, furious battles and storms of trials have these ill fated banners caused..! And it is this banner that is haram to join and fight under. It is a banner that is not concerned about the religion and does not give any value to its ties. And the meaning may be clear from the Hadeeth when the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “One who fights under a banner of ignorance, having anger for the sake of his group, making calls for his group or supporting his group, and gets killed, then his death is that of one belonging to (the days of) Jahiliyya” . And An Nawawi- may Allah have mercy on him – said in his explanation of Saheeh Muslim: “(Ignorance i.e. Amiyyah) means the blind matter whose purpose is not clear and this is what Ahmad bin Hanbal and the majority of the scholars)”. So whoever fights under the banner of a leader and his fighting is done in support of the leader or to enforce his authority and increase his wealth, then this fighting is haram, haram and this is the dispraised ignorance (Jaahiliya).
As for those who fight the Kuffar – with the intention of defending their religion and their countries – under the banner of a Kafir regime, then they do not come under this. And the intention of those who fight is taken into consideration in this matter. And the people of knowledge do not stipulate conditions for the defensive Jihad and it is not necessary to have a Shariah banner. So they (the Kaafir enemy) are repelled in accordance with the power and capability. And those who are capable of fighting under a Shariah banner and are able to do this without causing excessive hardship, then this is what is obligatory in terms of the Shareeah. And those who are incapable of that but are able to confront individually, and as groups without a specific banner, then these people have done what is correct. And those who are incapable of either of these things, and are not capable of a real confrontation against the enemies except by entering into training centres of the regime and fighting under their banner, then there is no harm in that as they fight for numerous issues and various benefits, the most important of which and the first one is:
1. Defending the Muslims and their lands.
2. Repelling the crusader enemies or reducing the size of their forces or preventing them from increasing.
3. Removing the prevailing harm. The Fuqahaa and Usulieen do not disagree that one can do what is a small evil to repel a great evil.
And Shaykh Al Ulwaan also said, “Rather I would go further than that, and that there is no harm in aiding a Kaafir state and a Kaafir people over another Kaafir state if there is a benefit for Islam and the Muslims in that.”
Shaykh Al Ulwaan says: And the story of the truthful one, Abu Bakr – may Allah be pleased with him – is the best evidence for this issue. He – may Allah be pleased with him – had a bet with the Mushrikken that the Romans would be victorious against the Persians and this story is recorded in Tirmidhi in his Jami (3193) from Ishaaq al Fazari from Sufyan at Thawri, from Habeen Ibn Abi Amrah from Saeed Ibn Jubair,from Ibn Abbass regarding the statement of Allah:
الم غُلِبَتِ الرُّومُ فِي أَدْنَى الْأَرْضِ
“Alif Lam Mim. The Romans have been defeated. In the nearest land (Surat Ar Rum:1-3)”
he said: “Ghulibat wa Ghalabat (defeated and then victorious).” He said: “The idolaters wanted the Persians to be victorious over the Romans because they too were people who worshiped idols, while the Muslims wanted the Romans to be victorious over the Persians because they were people of the Book. This was mentioned to Abu Bakr, so Abu Bakr mentioned that to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and he said: ‘They will certainly prevail.’ Abu Bakr mentioned that to them, and they said: ‘Fix a time period between us and you; if we win, we shall get this and that, and if you win, you shall get this or that.’ He made the term five years, but they (the Romans) were not victorious.
They mentioned that to the Prophet (ﷺ) and he said: “Why did you not make it less (than)” – He (one of the narrators said): I think he said: “ten” He said: Sa’eed said: “Al-Bid’ is what is less than then” – he said: “Afterwards the Romans became victorious.” He said: “That is what Allah Most High said:
الم غُلِبَتِ الرُّومُ
‘Alif Lam Mim. The Romans have been defeated’ (Surat ar Rum 30:1-2)
up to His saying:
ۚ وَيَوْمَئِذٍ يَفْرَحُ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ بِنَصْرِ اللَّهِ ۚ يَنصُرُ مَن يَشَاءُ
‘And on that day, the believers will rejoice – with the help of Allah. He helps whom He wills’ (Surat Ar Rum:5-6)
Sufyan said: “I heard that they were victorious over them on the Day of Badr.”
Abu Eeesa (At Tirmidhi) said that this hadeedh is hassan saheeh ghareeb, we only know it from the Hadeeth of Sufyan at Thawri from Habeeb bin Abi Amrah.
And this narration is an evidence for the permission to assist a Kaafir against another Kaafir, whether that assistance is through joy and support as mentioned in this narration, or by financial and physical assistance as long as there is a greater benefit for Islam and the Muslims by it. And regarding this benefit, one should look for the people who are knowledgeable about the Shariah and the people of piety and taqwa (fear of God) and should not enquire regarding this issue from the one who sells the verses of Allah for a small price and who has made fatwa to be in accordance with requests, and personal interests and political aims.
And Abu Haneefah – may Allah have mercy on him – has said “Seek aid from them and support them when the rule of Islam is predominant upon them. And if the rule of Shirk is dominant then it is disliked – and others said it’s not disliked. And there is no problem for the one who fights together with them and under their banner for a greater benefit. And if he intends when he fights to defeat the Kuffar and break their lines, then he is rewarded for that and if he dies, he is a shaheed.
And Shafi’i said in Al Umm (4:242): “If a group of Muslims become prisoners and the Mushrikeen asked for help from them against other Mushrikeen who are similar to them for fighting against them then it is said, that they are allowed to fight them and it is said that Zubayr and his companions in Bilad al Habashah (Abyssinia) fought on behalf of Mushrikeen against Mushrikeen.
And whoever says this are saying: “What has been forbidden with regards to fighting them and the blood of those who they fight as well as their money are permitted because of (their) shirk.
And if anyone says that their fight is forbidden due to the following reasons:
That it is obligatory on the Muslim who is dominant over the Mushrikeen and received booty, to divide one fifth of the booty as per the Shareeah to those entitled to it who are dispersed throughout the lands. And he does not find any way to give it to the Imam for distributing it. And it is compulsory on them if they fight the people of the book and they give the Jizya to preserve their blood. As for him, then he is unable to protect their blood if they give the Jizya. And it would be more beloved to me that they do not fight them if they were not compelled to it. And we do not know that the narration regarding Zubayr is confirmed or not and even if it is confirmed, then the Najashi was a Muslim and had believed in the messenger, ﷺ. And prayers and peace of Allah be on the Prophet.
And from the subjects discussed by Imam Ahmed as mentioned by Abu Dawood (248-249), I said to Ahmed: “If an enemy comes upon the people of Constantine and the king said to the prisoners, “Go out and fight, and I will grant you such and such”?
He said: “If he said I will release you, then there is no problem as they may get saved.”
He said: I told, “If he said, “I will grant you and do good to you”, can they fight alongside him?
He said, “The Messenger of Allah, ﷺ said, “The one who fights to raise the word of Allah”. I don’t know”.
And may Allah have mercy on him, his statement “I don’t know” is because of the clash between benefits and harms. And the rules in this topic are clear and plain. And what remains is in comparing the benefits and the harms for applying them to the scenario.
And the matters when they are applied always require evaluation, separation and study in order to decide which one is better and how to gain benefits and repel the harms and to distinguish between the different benefits as to which is the better one. Imam Ahmed, may Allah have mercy on him, had issued permission to fight alongside the Kuffar and under their banner for the release of the prisoner as he may get saved or else he may die and the reason for the permission here is for achieving the benefits. And he, may Allah have mercy on him, was uncertain in the judgement regarding fighting alongside the Kuffar if the intent was for worldly gains or to achieve nobility. And some of the scholars have permitted this for raising the word of Allah, and to cause damage to the Kuffar, and destroy their strength and to spread terror amongst their ranks.
And Muhammad ibn Al Hassan, may Allah have mercy on him, said as mentioned in Sharh Al Sayr (4/1515), “The Muslims must not fight against the people of shirk alongside the people of shirk since both these groups are the party of the Shaitan and the party of the Shaitan are the ones who are the losers. So no Muslim should join any one of those two groups to increase their numbers and fight defending them. This is because the authority of the shirk is what prevails. The Muslim only fights to give victory to the truth and not to make the rule of the shirk dominant..” until he may Allah have mercy on him said, “And if the people at war said to the prisoners with them “Fight together with us against our polytheist enemies” and they would not fear for themselves if they do not do so, then in that case they must not fight alongside them because in this fight there is what causes shirk to dominate. So the fighter would be putting himself to risk and so there is no permission for that except if the intention is to strengthen the religion or to defend himself. And if they fear them with regards to their selves, then there is no harm if they fight alongside them because they are now repelling the evil of getting themselves killed. This is because they are given safety under their hands but they may not be safe under the hands of the others if they fall captive to them. So it is permissible for them to fight to defend themselves.
And if they say to them, “Fight along with us against our enemies who are Mushrikeen, or else we will kill you”, then there is no sin in fighting against them. Because they are also now repelling the evil of getting themselves killed. And killing those Mushriks is permissible and there is no sin in heading towards an action that is permissible when it is necessary due to compulsion. And it may even be obligatory just like eating the dead meat and drinking alcohol (in times of necessity).
And if they threaten them so as to stand within their rows but they do not fight the Muslims, then they have an option in regards to that because they do not do anything to the Muslims. And this is not from the categories of sin and the maximum that is there is that they have increased the Mushrikeen in numbers in the eyes of the Muslims, and that is similar to one destroying the property of the Muslims under a threat.
And if they said to them, “Fight with us against our enemies from other Ahlul Harb (people at war in Islam) and we will let you go free after our war ends”, and if they felt in their hearts that they were sincere, then there is no harm in fighting alongside them. This is because they are by this releasing themselves from imprisonment.
And Al Sarkhasi al Hanafi, may Allah have mercy upon him – said in “Al Mabsoot 10/98”, “If there is a group of Muslims who have sought shelter in Dar ul Harb and that land is attacked by a people who are in a state of war (against Islam), it is not permissible for those Muslims to fight them, because by fighting, the person gets exposed (to being killed or captured) and that is not permissible except to raise the word of Allah and strengthen the religion and that is not present in this situation, because the rule of the people of Shirk dominates over them and the Muslims are not able to govern by the rules of the people of Islam. So their fight would be in the way of raising the word of Shirk and that is not allowed except if they fear for themselves from those (Mushriks). In such a situation, there would be no problem because their fighting would be to protect themselves, not to raise the word of Shirk. And the basis for this is the incident of Ja’far, may Allah be pleased with him, as he fought in Habashah (Abyssinia) against the enemies who attacked Najashi, and he only did that because he and the Muslims at that time were safe under the Najashi and he feared for himself and the Muslims from other than the Najashi, and so we know that there is no harm in doing this during fear.
And Ibn Habeerah said in Al Ifsaah (2/438), “They differed regarding can help can be sought from the Mushriks to fight against the enemy at war, or can they (the Mushriks) be granted assistance against their enemy? Malik and Ahmad said “They should neither be asked for help nor should help be given to them at all”. And Malik made an exception : “If it serves the Muslims, then it is allowed.” And Abu Haneefa said, “They can be asked for help and they can be given assistance absolutely when Islam is dominant over them”. And if the rule of shirk is what is dominant, then it is disliked. And Ash Shafi’i said that that is allowed with two conditions, the first of them being that the Muslims are few and the Mushrikeen are many, and the second that the Mushrikeen are known to have good opinion about Islam and they are inclined towards it and if they are asked for help they will come to their obedience but they will not be granted any share (in the booty). But Ahmed in one of his two statements said that they are given a share.
And Al Jassas al Hanafi said in Mukhtasar Ikhtilaaf Al Fuqahaa lil Imam al-Tahaawi (3/454): Our companions have said, regarding the Muslim who seeks asylum and fights alongside the Mushrikeen, “One must not fight alongside the people of shirk, because the authority of shirk is what dominates, and this is the view of Malik. Sufyan Al Thawri said, “They may fight with them”., And Al Awzaa’i said: “They are not to fight except by making a condition that in case they win, they will be returned back to Darul Islam. And al-Shafi’i has two sayings.
And in Al Fataawa Al Kubra Al Fiqhiyah (2/25) – Ibn Hajar Al Haythami, may Allah have mercy upon him: “He was asked, may Allah cause benefits through him, regarding the Muslim when he is present in a war that is between Kuffar Harbiyeen, like the disbelievers of Malabar, and the one who participates in the war travels for a distance of two Farsakhs (around 10 km) and prepares stock of food for it and stays there during their battle and becomes pleased at their killing and them striking each other. So does the Muslim become a sinner by him witnessing it and by his presence that causes their numbers to increase, even if there was no any necessity for it? And speaking against one group and supporting another group and encouraging them to attack each other whilst he is in danger and he may be struck by their arrows or get injured or killed? Or is there no sin in it?
And if the Muslims supported one of the disbelieving groups in their wars and fought alongside them against the other without necessity or need until they kill or are killed in the war, then is this allowed or not? And is the Muslim rewarded for that due to his killing of the Kaafir or due to him getting killed? And is he treated like a martyr by not washing him and offering prayers over him? And the Muslim may be going out to help them due to the kings of their Kaafir lands requesting them to go out with them for that. So how is the verdict regarding that? And is there a difference between him going out by their kings’ request or not?
And he answered by his statement, “The presence of a Muslim in a war between two groups of Ahlul Harb if he is there with the intention to learn courage from it and the tactics of fighting and strength of mental prowess by observing it or for the sake of rejoicing when one of the people of Ahlul Harb dies, so that the word of Allah may rise high when their strength weakens and they become few in numbers, or with any other correct intention, then it is permissible and is not in any way harmful, regardless of the place of the battle, whether it is far or near. And that is not considered as increasing their numbers. Indeed increasing them is only said regarding the one who gives allegiance and aid. As for the one who is present there hoping for their demise and their annihilation till the last one of them and waiting for a calamity to strike them, then he is not increasing their numbers, but rather he is from those who are fighting against them secretly.
And similarly, there is also no harm in inciting them against each other, because bringing about the killing of a Harbi (a disbeliever without a covenant or treaty) is permissible, rather it is something beloved, by whichever way it is brought about. All of this may be done only if he is sure that his safety or his getting killed happens after causing them damage.
But if he thinks that his mere presence there will lead to his killing and such without him causing any damage to the enemy, then his presence at that time is very much condemned and a mistake. So let him refrain from that. And if he helped a Muslim or increased the number of any of the two groups and he gets killed by one of the disbelievers during the battle, then he is a martyr and is not washed nor prayed upon and he will have a reward. That is, a reward if he has fought for the word of Allah to rise. And there is no difference in all of that between the one who went out himself and the one who went out due to the request of his king without being compelled.
And he was also asked (4/222): “Is it permissible for the Muslims to be present in wars that are fought between the disbelievers for the sake of watching and viewing or not permissible? As it increases their numbers and helps them in their oppression and makes one group look good and another look bad, with the presence of danger as sometimes their arrows might hit the ones who are watching, and our Sheikhs from the people of Malabar used to prevent the Muslims from attending their battles? And is it permissible for the Muslims to fight alongside one of the two groups of disbelievers so he kills or gets killed without there being any need for that? And will he be rewarded because he either kills a kafir or gets killed by a Kaafir, and is he to be treated like a martyr?
So he replied by his statement, may Allah tabaaraka wa ta’aala have mercy on him : “If there occurred a battle between two groups of disbelievers in a state of war, it is not forbidden to be in that battle because both the groups’ blood have no value. So their mutual killing is an appropriate thing. And the one who views the mutual killing between them has not undertaken any sin by him being present in the battle. Yes, if he fears that harm may come to him by being present, then it is prohibited for him.
Perhaps the reason for which those scholars have prohibited going to the battle, is due to that. And the Muslims may fight both the groups, and if they fight one of them, it is not with the intention of making the other group victorious. But with the intention of raising the word of Islam high and to cause damage to the enemies of Allah. And whoever does that with this intention, then he attains the reward of a Mujahid based on his statement, ﷺ, in the narration of Bukhari and others, “Whoever fights so that the word of Allah becomes the most high, then he is in the path of Allah”. And there is no doubt that one who fights against one of the two groups with that intention, then he becomes like that until when he gets killed in the battle or he falls down and his condition becomes like the one who has been slaughtered or he does not have a life remaining, then he is treated as a martyr in this world and the hereafter. So he is not washed nor prayed upon. Yes, this is with the condition that the one who intends to fight knows that he will be able to cause some type of damage to them. But if he knows that by merely going to the battle they will rush to kill him without him causing any damage to them, then it is not permissible for him at that time to fight them, because he is killing himself without any benefit at all, and he will have the sin of the one who kills himself (i.e.suicide). And Allah knows best.
And the sayings of the Imaams and jurists in this subject are many, some of them permit it with restrictions, some of them without restriction. Others prohibit it completely. And what is most correct from that: It is allowed for a need, whether that is a specific need like releasing the prisoners or a general benefit for the Muslims. And whether it is allowed in this issue is dependent on the need and this should be referred to the people of knowledge and experience in every event.
And the Shariah has come to bring benefits and maximise them and to prevent harm and minimise them. And in this matter, it looks at the better between two goods and the worst among two evils, and a general benefit is given preference over a specific benefit and a greater harm is averted by a lesser harm and a small evil is endured to prevent a great evil.
And these sayings of the Imams show the permissibility of fighting alongside the original disbelievers (Kuffar Asli) and under their banner for a specific benefit of freeing the prisoners from their imprisonment. And based on this principle, and by combining the benefits and the need, one must not refrain from fighting under a nationalist or a secularist banner with the aim of protecting the religion and life and the Muslim lands and to weaken the strength of the crusaders and avert their fitna, and this is an issue with much evidence. And this has more benefit than fighting under the banner of the Kuffar and helping them against other Kuffar to free the prisoners and such.
Here ends the speech of the Shaykh Sulayman bin Naasir al Ulwaan