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Sunday, 4 November, 2001, 11:49 GMT
War View: 'UK Muslims must obey UK law'
warview graphic
UK Muslims who aim to fight against British forces in Afghanistan are breaking Islamic law, says Professor Muhammad Abdel Haleem, director of the Centre for Islamic Studies at SOAS, London University.

Is a Muslim citizen or resident of this country under obligation by Islamic law to fight in Afghanistan, even against the British Army?

Muslims who come to the UK undertake they must accept the law

Is it indeed admissible in Islamic law for a British Muslim to fight against the British Army in Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world?

The answer to both these questions is a categorical "no".

This is not a matter of opinion or deduction, but is based on explicit statements in the Koran and Hadith (the Traditions of the Prophet Muhammad), both of which are the supreme sources of Islamic law.

Covenants and treaties

In chapter eight, verse 72, the Koran states, regarding Muslim obligations to other Muslims in another country: "If they seek your help against religious persecution, it is your duty to help them, except against a people between whom and yourselves there is a covenant."

Muslims are bound by the conditions they accept

Faithfulness to treaties, contracts or agreements is a duty on Muslims which is given paramount importance in Islam, as expressed in the Koran, chapter five, verse one and chapter 16, verses 91 and 92 to give but two examples.

There is also a Tradition of the Prophet that says: "Muslims are bound by the conditions they accept" and another, given in the Sahih of Muslim, that Muhammad told a group of Muslims to fulfil an agreement they had made with unbelievers.


Muslims who come to the United Kingdom to live or take citizenship are bound by an undertaking - expressed or implied - to respect the law of the country. They certainly undertake not to fight against this country.

If any Muslim here feels he has to fight, he must first give up his undertaking

No Muslim here should feel there is a clash of loyalty in this matter, since the Koran and Hadith are categorical that a Muslim should abide by the undertakings involved in living here that follows from citizenship or residence.

If any Muslim from this country still feels that he has to fight in Afghanistan, and even against the British Army, he is bound by Islamic law first to declare that he is quit of the undertaking that follows from citizenship or residence here.

It means he would have to give up his citizenship or permit to live in this country. Then he may feel free to proceed as he so wishes.

This is one of a series of differing opinions on the War on Afghanistan we are publishing. You can send your view about this or other articles by using the form below.

Your comments:

Thank goodness someone is finally coming out to inform people about what the Koran actually says.

It is time for many Muslims to learn what this holy book really teaches and not what various "teachers" -for their own nefarious purposes - would have them believe ... and follow.
PJ, Saudi Arabia

I totally agree with Professor Muhammad Abdel Haleem and Carys Moseley.

The small number of fundamentalists/extremists are given far too much coverage in the media and in doing so the media allows their view to mould that of the general public.

I would fear attacks from Muslims and non-Muslims alike if I were in their shoes.

Why aren't they being deported? Does the government see some means of them being useful? Just get rid of them.

Muslims in the UK have always been subjected to prejudices. They are all the more worse thanks to the selfish fools we cannot get rid of from amongst our midst.
Saif Siddiqui, UK

Amen to Professor Muhammad Abdel Haleem!!!!!!
Juliet, USA

I agree with Professor Abdel Haleem. There are organisations working to lure young Muslims in this country into a detached and often hostile separatism, not just from British society but even the mainstream Islamic community. From there it is a small step to going to fight against British soldiers in Afghanistan. If that is what they want, fine. But they must forfeit their right to remain a British citizen in that case. It would be sad though, because that is just what the terrorists want. To polarise the world into "us and them". In their minds you are either "with us" or "with the enemy". There is no place for peace in the middle of that concept.
Sohail, UK

Any Muslim who goes to fight British/American troops must be charged with treason.
Mr. Ferguson, Scotland.

I agree with the professor. Enough of "political correctness", the UK (and US and any coalition partner)governments must make it explicitly clear to their Muslim citizens that fighting against them is an act of treason, punishable by applicable laws. Let us be very honest that there is only one religion on the face of the earth that has this problem of national loyalty and identity.
Sam, USA

A Muslim obligated to for against any country or countries when their Muslim brothers is attack
Ajmal Abdullah, UK

This demonstrates the need for legal theorists to return to study and teach natural law theory in universities. Natural law theory is based on classical theism, ie belief in one God, and grew up in the Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions as a way of making sense of the fact that all people of whatever belief submit to basic values and laws. Without proper scholarly recognition of this, legal theory and eventually legal practice become dependent on the state and erode human rights and responsibilities. We need now for Islamic and Judeao-Christian legal theorists to come together and work constructively on natural law theory so that problems similar to the one Professor Abdel Haleem has dealt with are tackled. This is the only way of dealing properly with Islam in Britain. Public policy has for too long treated Muslims as an ethnic not a religious group. This is because law and public policy have turned their back on the natural law tradition and settled for less.
Carys Moseley, Oxford, UK

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