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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Details of Fatwa
Title of FatwaMuslims Possessing Weapons of Mass Destruction
Date of Reply10/Aug/2005
Topic Of FatwaInternational Relations & Jihad
Country Applied United Arab Emirates
Question of Fatwa

Is it permissible for Muslim countries to use nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction to defend themselves? Is it also permissible for them to possess and manufacture such weapons in Muslim countries?

Please answer me as fast as possible. Jazakum Allah Khayran.

Name of Mufti Al-Azhar House of Fatwa
Content of Reply

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear questioner, thanks for your evident eagerness to know about the teachings of Islam. We earnestly implore Allah to guide all Muslims in this tumultuous period to the safe shore, to grant them the power they really lack to stand firm in facing their enemies, and to guide all people to peaceful resolutions and safety.

First of all, we'd like to draw your attention to the fact that in addressing the issue at hand, Islam does not focus on the legality of possessing these weapons as much as it does on the way they are used and utilized. Basically, Islam does not go against the principle of self-defense, starting from individuals up to the state level. As it calls for the unity of Muslims, it warns that this unity must be based on a solid ground that will culminate to enhancing the image of the Muslim Ummah.

So, in terms of having weapons for self-defense, for acquiring strength, Islam does not go against that. But in terms of possessing weapons that aim at “mass destruction” rather than construction, Islam strictly rejects that, for Allah the Almighty warns against filling the earth with mischief, and He commends all efforts that aim at catering for the people’s welfare. So, when we talk about the threat a certain weapon poses to mankind, we must do that globally. Our perception of the issue must not be coated with double-standard policy, in the sense that as we lay ban on the possession of such destructive weapons, we turn blind eyes to others who already have them and are not ready to get rid of them, regardless of the danger it poses to the international peace and security.

Addressing the juristic aspects of possessing such weapons, Al-Azhar House of Fatwa, issues the following fatwa on 24, December, 2002:

Allah Almighty urges the Muslim Ummah to have the necessary means of power and logistics that are capable of securing its interests, and preserving its sanctity against any violation. With these necessary measures in effect, the whole Ummah will stand erect and will undoubtedly put fear in the hearts of its enemies, who leave no stone unturned in encroaching on the whole Ummah and bringing all Muslims into a corner.

In more than one Qur’anic verse, there are clear orders for Muslims throughout ages to have the necessary equipment and to be always on maximum alert to face any foreign peril from their enemies. Referring to this, Allah Almighty says: (Make ready for them all thou canst of (armed) force and of horses tethered, that thereby ye may dismay the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others beside them whom ye know not. Allah knoweth them. Whatsoever ye spend in the way of Allah it will be repaid to you in full, and ye will not be wronged.) (Al-Anfal 8: 60)

Pondering over the above verse, we see that there are many lessons that can be derived:

1. The verse urges the Ummah to be fully aware of its enemies in order to enable Muslims to prepare and to have at least equal means of deterrence, if not greater means. The enemies of Allah come at the top of the list of enemies that Muslims should fight with every means. It stands to reason that the enemies of Allah described in the verse include those traitors who are not shy to publicly disobey Allah and violate all the sanctities of the Ummah openly.

2. The phrase “your enemy” in the verse refers to those who attack the Muslim Ummah in any form, whether such an attack is against the creed of the Ummah or its sanctities.

3. The phrase (…and others beside them whom ye know not. Allah knoweth them…) refers to the hypocrites who mislead the Muslim Ummah by their deceiving appearances and vicious schemes. This is the classical interpretation of the phrase by the exegetes of the Qur’an in earlier times. In the modern sense, those “others” refer to all the opposing powers that wage an unabated war against the Muslim Ummah both openly and covertly.

We would like here to state that such modern enemies use all possible means to render the whole Ummah into a fragile body that is powerless by disseminating despair, sedition, corruption, passivity, cultural invasion, false propaganda and psychological warfare.

It is clear now from the above lessons that Islam makes it a religious obligation upon the whole Ummah to be always alert to the plots of its enemies. This is the preliminary step of awareness, which has to be followed by the necessary next step of mobilizing the Ummah with the required means that are capable of forcibly deterring the enemy using all the technological and modern means that are equal to or even greater than those of the enemy. Here, if the necessary means of equipping the Ummah fall short of that of its enemy, the whole Ummah is sinful.

It is worth stressing here that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to make use of the new means of his time to serve his cause. He (peace and blessings be upon him) took much care in urging his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them all) to master the languages of the enemy. In this regard, he is reported to have ordered Zayd Ibn Thabit (may Allah be pleased with him) to learn the language of the Jews, and he mastered it in fifteen days. After that, the Prophet entrusted him to write his messages to the Jews and to read the Jewish messages sent to the Prophet. Knowing this, it is really inspiring to make use of the old saying, “He who knows the language of a group of people becomes free from their evils."

The above Qur’anic and Prophetic proofs should be practically and seriously followed to the letter by all Muslims nowadays.

We would like also here to refer to what happened during Ghazwat al-Ahzab or the Confederates Invasion when the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) summoned a high advisory council to discuss a plan to defend Madinah. After a lengthy talk between military leaders and people who possess sound vision, it was agreed, on the proposal of the honorable Companion Salman Al-Farisi, to dig trenches around Madinah as defenses. The proposal of Salman proved successful, and the plan that was carried out was a war technique that was unprecedented in Arabia at that time.

It is clear from the above that Muslims must possess up-to-date war techniques and equipment, and they should make the best use of modern means developed by others that are so beneficial to them.

In this regard, we would like also to stress that when Islam orders Muslims to equip themselves with modern means of deterrence, its aim is not to tell Muslims to make mischief on the earth, but, as stated in the above verse, to dismay the enemy of Allah, our enemy, and others.

The aforementioned verse does not mention transgression or even refer to it. Rather, the aim of the military equipment is to dismay the enemies of Islam and Muslims. Such procedure is necessary to tell the whole world that the Muslim Ummah possesses modern means of deterrence that are capable of rebelling any aggression against Islam and Muslims.

Based on the above fatwa, it’s clear that the whole emphasis is laid not on the necessity of possessing weapons of mass destruction. Rather, it’s laid on equipping Muslims with means of self-defense in a way that will enhance their image, rather than being a puppet for other nations. At the same time, it calls on Muslims not to join ranks with evil forces. So when the Qur’an stipulates that there should be no spread of mischief on earth, it’s incumbent on the Muslim Ummah to lead the entire world to the stage whereby the earth will be free of weapons of mass destruction, whereby everyone’s heart will be filled with comfort and peace and harmony will reign in the world. Thus, it’s illogic for the international community to launch a program aiming at putting some nations at the mercy of others. It is not reasonable for some states to be given free rein to possess these destructive weapons while others are barred from doing the same. It’s the responsibility of the international community to work on purging the earth of these weapons, and all hands should be on deck for this purpose. So, why do not we try to possess "weapons of mass construction" instead of "weapons of mass destruction".

Fatwa published on
Details of Fatwa
Title of FatwaUsing WMD in War: Islamic View
Date of Reply16/Dec/2002
Topic Of FatwaRelations during War
Country Applied Palestine
Question of FatwaDear scholars! What does Islam say on using weapons of mass destruction in combat? As I know, our religion is peace and it never encourages such brutality to be displayed during warfare.
Name of Mufti Group of Muftis
Content of Reply
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All thanks and praises are due to Allah and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear sister in Islam, we are pleased by receiving your question, for it reflects your conviction of the fact that Islam offers workable solutions to the world’s complicated problems. May Allah guide the perplexed people to the light of Islam!

First of all, it should be crystal clear that Islam never sanctions brutality or aggression, for, as you mentioned, Islam is the religion of peace. It never allows mass destruction. Islam has laid down many restrictions to make war more human and moral.

Here, we would like to cite for you the statement made by Dr. Taha Jabir Al-`Alwani, President of the Graduate School of Islamic and Social Sciences and President of the Fiqh Council. It reads:

"It is a well established fact that Islam considers all humanity as one family. Their God is One; they belong to the same father and mother. Whenever there’s any conflict among the family members, they should and must find the best solution to settle their conflict. They don’t have the right to fight each other unless they can’t find any other solution. That means that war is an exceptional position. No party has right to kill the other; they are all members of the same family.

Weapons of mass destruction like nuclear, chemical weapons, etc. are not permissible to be used against the other members of your family because by the nature of these weapons, you can’t differentiate between the innocent and the criminal. If we look at this, we wouldn’t allow any nuclear, chemical weapons, which would kill the innocent and the aggressor, especially from the Islamic point of view. Allah Almighty says in the Qur'an: “Nor take life - which Allah has made sacred - except for just cause. And if anyone is slain wrongfully, We have given his heir authority (to demand retaliation or to forgive): but let him not exceed bounds in the matter of taking life; for he is helped (by the law).” (Al-Isra’: 33)

When we agree that war is exceptional, that means we must look at it like medicine. You don’t have right to use more than the dosage prescribed by the physician.. If you take overdose, that may lead to another problem. This is why Islam has made forbidden for Muslims to kill women, children, religious people, the people who leave the war area seeking peace; Islam cares also for the environment: trees, water, animals, etc.

With this, we understand that possessing power and weapons of mass destruction is a test from Allah to humans, to see whether they will restrain themselves from using these weapons against innocent people who are also part of the human family.”

Shedding more light on this, Sheikh Faysal Mawlawi, deputy chairman of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, adds:

“We would like to say also that Islam cares much for keeping the environment clean and pure so that man can lead a better and healthy life free from any diseases or illnesses. However, in case these nuclear weapons are used against Muslims, it becomes permissible for Muslims to defend themselves using the same weapon. This is based on the words of Allah: "If ye punish, then punish with the like of that wherewith ye were afflicted." (An-Nahl: 126) Besides, reciprocity is surely a principle known to all members of the international community. Again, we stress the fact that all problems are to be solved in a peaceful way. Once we have no other choice but to fight, we are to defend ourselves, children, women and lands.”

Almighty Allah knows best.

Allah Almighty knows best.

Fatwa published on .

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