Some of the Prophetís (peace be upon him) statements were written down immediately as he dictated them. These were agreements he made with other tribes or communities, letters he sent to rulers, kings and governors, or instructions he gave to some people and he wanted them carried out exactly as he instructed. His other statements, or hadiths, were written down at a later stage, but their authenticity was meticulously verified, in a way that cannot be excelled. In everything he said or had written down, one prime objective was the fulfillment of his task as Godís messenger, which is the delivery of his message.
Sending out an army was one important occasion used by the Prophet to do so. He would give instructions and guidance to the commander so that he would make sure to go about his mission in the right way that Islam accepts. His instructions set out a complete program for a commander, outlining how he should treat his soldiers and how he should deal with the enemy after victory, and with the people he may pass by. Here is the translation of a hadith that sums up the Prophetís instructions.
ďWhen the Prophet appointed a commander of an army or an expedition, he would urge him to remain always God-fearing and to look after those who were under his command. He would then say to him: Go on your mission in Godís name and for Godís cause. Fight those who deny God. Fight, but do not take anything unjustly. Do not resort to any treachery. Do not disfigure any killed person, and never kill a child. Should you encounter your enemies of unbelievers, give them a choice between three alternatives. Whichever of these they choose, you should accept and do not engage them in a fight. You should call on them to accept Islam. If they respond favorably, accept that and stand away from them. Then ask them to move from their quarters and join the Muhajireen. If they do, they will receive the same treatment and privileges as the Muhajireen, and they will be required to do the same tasks. If they refuse, tell them that they will be in the same position as the Bedouin Muslims. They will be governed by Godís law that applies to all believers. They will have no share in war booty or other gains made without a fight, unless they join the Muslims and fight alongside them.Ē
This is the first alternative a Muslim commander should offer to those who are preparing to wage war against the Muslims. It details their duties, should they accept the call made to them to accept Islam and join the Muslim camp. The Prophet goes on to explain the other two alternatives a Muslim commander should offer if the first one is rejected. Once more we add that it is clearly apparent that explaining Godís message was always in his mind when he spoke to people: ďIf they refuse, then ask them to agree to pay a tribute. If they agree, accept it from them and do not fight them. If they refuse, then seek Godís help and fight them.Ē The tribute, or jizyah, is a payment made by enemies who decide not to fight the Islamic state, but to live in peace with it. In return, they will be entitled to support by the Muslim state against any enemy.
The Prophet goes on to give his commanders and governors advice in dealing with other situations. We will look at these next week, God willing.