The international life in Islam is the course of relationships between an Islamic state or nation and other states or nations. Like the other aspects of the Islamic life, this one stems from Divine guidance and follows the Godly pattern. It is laid down on the following foundations:
1. An unshakable belief in the unity of mankind in origin, in human status, and in aims (Qur’an, 4:1; 7:189; 49:13);
2. Due respect for other people’s interests and rights to life, honor and property, as long as they do not encroach upon the rights of Muslims. This is because usurpation, transgression and wrong of all kinds are strictly forbidden (2:190-193; 42:42);
3. Peace as the normal course of relations, with exchange of goodwill missions and mutually honest endeavors for the sake of humanity in which all people share equally (see above and Qur’an, 8:61);
4. Intolerance of appeasement and encroachment in international relations. Should someone be tempted to violate the rights of the Islamic State, or disturb its peace, or endanger its security or exploit its peaceful policies, the State must hasten to defend itself and suppress all attempts of such a nature. Only here, under such circumstances, Islam justifies war. But even then there are moral principles to be followed to confine its scope to a minimum and carry its course only as far as it is necessary. The Law of war and peace in Islam is highly moral and unique, comprehensive and sound, it deserves a special study by jurists and moralists alike, something which this work cannot cover. But it should be remarked, however, that Islam neither justifies an aggressive war, nor does it make destruction of crops, animals, homes, etc., an objective of war. It neither allows the killing of non-fighting women, children and aged people, nor does it tolerate the torture of war prisoners and the imposition of its teachings on the defeated. It is only a defensive measure, justified by the practical principles of Islam, as long as wrong, injustice and aggression exist in the world (2:190 - 195, 216:218; 22:39 - 41; see also the discussion on Jihad below);
5. Fulfilling the obligations undertaken by the Islamic State and honoring the treaties concluded between the Islamic State and other states. This is only binding if the other parties remain faithful to their obligations and honor their treaties. Otherwise, there can be no validity of treaties or binding obligations (5:1; 8:55-56; 9:3-4);
6. Maintenance of internal peace and security, and genuine contribution to human understanding and universal to human understanding and universal brotherhood on the international level.
These are the inspiring sources in the making of the international life of an Islamic state. The Islamic State does not live just for itself and its own subjects. It has a wide scope and an important mission in the international field. By the order of Islam it has to endeavor for the prosperity and advancement of its own citizens in every aspect of life, and by the same order it should make valuable contributions to humanity at large. This provides for friendly relations, in the broadest sense of the word, with friendly people and states. It enjoins the Islamic State to play a vital role in the interest of humanity on the international level in education, economics, industry, politics, and so on. This role was initiated by Muhammad himself and maintained by his followers throughout the succeeding generations.
Before we conclude this chapter, it should be pointed out that whatever is discussed here is based on the sound, genuine and true principles of Islam as stated in the Qur’an and the Traditions of Muhammad. This is Islam which Muhammad and his faithful followers practiced and exemplified in the most excellent manner. It is not the Islam of any particular theologian or any particular jurist or ruler. Rather, it is Islam, the writer believers, as it really is, and as it is meant to be.
It should also be borne in mind that the Islamic system of life is unique and different from all other systems and ideologies. Whether one looks at it from a spiritual or moral, intellectual or cultural, political or economic or any other point of view, one can readily see that it is marked with distinguished characteristics. To illustrate, one may mention a few examples:
1. The source of the Islamic ideology is different. It is not man-made. It is not the production of subversive politicians or revengeful economists. Nor is it the work of pragmatic moralists or selfish industrialists. It is the work of God, the art of the Infinite One, created in the best interest of humanity as a whole. And by its nature it is binding and venerated by all the faithful. It is intelligible to every sound mind because it is free from the puzzling mysteries, secret reservations and arrogated prerogatives.
2. The aims of the Islamic ideology are also different. It is not aimed at world domination or physical expansion. Rather, it is aimed at world submission to the Will of God and world confinement to the limits of God’s Law. Its principal objective is to please God and cultivate man in such a way as to help him to obey the Law of the Creator and be a faithful vicegerent of the Lord. To achieve this end, it deals with all aspects of life; its purpose is to develop in man a clear mind, a pure spirit, a live conscience, a healthy body and responsive feelings. A person with these qualities cannot fail to obey God and adopt the most sound course of life. So the objectives of the Islamic ideology are far from being simply human or temporal.
3. The Islamic ideology has all the elements and forces that make it comprehensive and practicable, moderate and flexible. Its Divine origin reveals only the fundamental and inviolable principles, leaving a due scope for the human intelligence to work out details and make the necessary adaptation. In whatever way one looks at it, one can see that the Islamic ideology is composed of comprehensive, practicable and resourceful principles. They are comprehensive because they deal with all the major aspects of life; practicable because they have been put into practice and translated into reality at one time or another; moderate because they do not favor the individual capitalist or the proletariat; they are not exclusively concerned with the mundane or with the spiritual; they are confined neither to this world nor to the Future life. They mark a middle way between all extremes and are a guide to a moderate and stable life. Apart from these established principles, there is a great deal of flexibility for working out details suitable to various regions and ages. This flexibility is a matter of fact, a necessity, because the ideology is the work of God and in it, as in all of His work, there is a wide scope for the human mind and human trial.
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