April 20, 2001 No.

Muslim Criticism of the Use of Children in the Intifada

The London based daily Al-Hayat published a letter by S'ud Ibn Muhammad Al-'Aqili, from the King Fahd National Library in Saudi Arabia, which condemned the Palestinian Authority's use of children in the Intifada. Following are excerpts from the letter:

"It is difficult for me to talk about this subject while [Muslim] clerics keep silent and evade it... No doubt, everybody heard of the religious-legal debate throughout the Muslim world regarding the statues of Buddha destroyed by the Taliban, which in Islam are regarded as idols. There were many opinions and disagreements and many gave great attention to the Muslim clerics in order to learn from them the legality of such an action."

"On the other hand, there is a very telling silence regarding the Intifada. The Muslim's did not ask if it is religiously legal or not, even though it is a more important question than the statues. The Intifada is about Muslim holy sites, [Muslim] blood and lands, security and economy. Why haven't the clerics of the Arab world convened to explain to the public religious rulings regarding the Intifada."

"Let me be courageous and raise several important points. If we look for religious rulings in the Sharia [Muslim religious law] we will only find the well-known rulings regarding Jihad... [Therefore] we must apply the rulings regarding Jihad and especially the rulings relating to a defensive Jihad to the Intifada."

"The woman in Islam is not obliged to Jihad, except for a Jihad that does not involve fighting... Also, there is no obligation of Jihad on whoever has not reached maturity. Ibn Umar said: 'I offered myself to the Prophet, peace be upon him, in the battle of Uhud when I was fourteen years old. But he did not let me fight.' Even though the battle of Uhud was a defensive Jihad, the Prophet, peace be upon him, desperately needed people [to fight] because the infidels conspired against Al-Madinah the city of Islam and endangered Islam itself. But the Prophet, nevertheless, did not take him to fight at the age of fourteen."

"In the battle of Badr several Muslims were denied a role in the fighting because of their young age...[1] The Prophet did not hide his need for fighters in the battle of Badr, which was the first battle of Islam. There were three times as many infidels as Muslims [in this battle] and it was possible to use the youths from a distance as archers. Nevertheless, the Prophet did not allow them to fight. Moreover, Islam defended the souls of non-Muslim children when it forbade the killing of the enemy's women and children."

"Today, on the other hand, we see in the Intifada, children who are less then the age of maturity, thrown unarmed and undefended to be targets for the Jews who are armed from head to toe so that they can hit these children as they wish. The Prophet even forbade the use of animals as targets. So what is there left to say about the Palestinian people who have turned their children into targets."

"If all the Arabs together have not succeeded in defeating Israel in past wars it will certainly not be defeated through the Intifada. There are those who justify the Intifada by saying that it exhausts Israel but the consequences today are in Israel's favor. The PA's infrastructure has been destroyed, its leadership devastated, its people killed and the settlements have been enlarged. If previous wars did not effect Israel economically and it managed to recover from all of the wars and surpass the Arab and Muslim states technologically it will certainly not be affected today by this Intifada which will only bring more troubles on the Palestinian leadership."

"While writing these letters I heard on the news about an American plane that fell in Vietnam while looking for the remains of American soldiers who disappeared in the war there 30 years ago... This [apparently] is the difference between the Muslims and the West..."[2]

[1] The author lists several names: Zeid Ibn Thabit, Usama and Al-Baraa Ibn Ghareb, Samra Ibn Jandab, Rafi' Ibn Khdeij, Zeid Ibn Arqam and 'Arabeh Ibn Aus.

[2] Al-Hayat (London), April 16, 2001.