The United Nations estimates that over 100 million mines from past and present wars lie buried throughout the world. Landmine injuries result in loss of feet, hands, hearing, and eyesight. Many persons who are hit by landmines die while waiting to obtain medical attention. It is estimated that 93% of landmine victims are males. Almost one-third of these victims are teenage boys.
The health effects of landmines have been well-documented. UNICEF estimates that 20-25 persons are maimed by landmines every day.
There is no doubt that planting landmines constitutes a danger to humans as well as to animals. That is why there is a strong reservation against planting landmines in Islam, and the issue is restricted to necessity and in war times only.
The prominent Al-Azhar scholar Sheikh `Abdul-Majeed Subh states the following: “There is no doubt that planting landmines according to the technical means known nowadays claims the lives of great numbers of helpless non-combatants. Egypt, for example, is severely hurt by the landmines planted in its territories [by European powers] from the beginning of the twentieth century.
Speaking from an Islamic point of view, I would like to stress that it is permissible to plant landmines during war times only in necessary situations and under the condition that those mines be removed after the end of war. The reason behind that is to avoid causing harm to helpless civilians, who are the worst affected by such mines.
Muslims who plant mines during war time have to remove them after the end of war, as the presence of such mines after war constitutes a danger to the lives of all people. It is the duty of the concerned authorities to keep charts of land mines at the time of planting them, as they will need such charts to determine the exact location of mines after war Not only that, but those authorities have to remove those mines and their remains using mine sweepers [or other means] so that people’s lives become safe.
Such procedures do stress to what extent Islamic teachings are merciful to all humanity. It is worth stressing here that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to instruct his commanding officers saying: “Fight in the cause of Allah. Fight those who deny Allah. Do not be embittered. Do not be treacherous. Do not mutilate. Do not kill children or those (people) in monasteries and convents.”
It is also reported that Abu-Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) instructed Usama’s campaign in Syria saying: “Do not betray or be treacherous or vindictive. Do not mutilate. Do not kill the children, the aged or the women. Do not cut or burn palm trees or fruit trees. Do not slay a sheep, a cow or camel except for your food. And you will come across people who confined themselves to worship in hermitages; leave them alone to what they devoted themselves for.”
Also, Abu-Bakr instructed Yazid ibn-Abi Sufian saying: “I give you ten commands: don’t kill a woman or a child or an old person, and don’t cut trees or ruin dwellings or slay a sheep but for food. Don’t burn palm trees or flood them. And don’t be spiteful or unjust.”
With the noble Islamic instructions above, I would like to stress that the Europeans in their wars do not pay attention to any of the instructions stated by any religion, and they violate all the humanitarian principles.
To me, Christianity can be described with the word “mercy” or “love”; but the Europeans throughout their warring history have neither mercy nor love. Their wars were really merciless and loveless. The atrocities perpetrated by the Western Imperialism on the Arab world are well known, the enslavement
of poor Africans by whites is well known, what France did in Algeria is well known, what Italy did in Libya is well known.
Islam, with all its lofty teachings and high morals, condemns any atrocity, not only on humans but also on animals as well. Being affected by those unique teachings, the well known French historian Josiah Lebo, stated that “the history of humanity knows no just invasion save at the hands of the Arabs.”
Clarifying more on the Islamic ruling concerning landmines, Dr. Nasr Farid Wasil, former Mufti of Egypt, states:
“In view of the irreparable harm done by landmines, I see that it is not necessary to plant them save in cases of dire necessity, and planting them should be restricted to war time only, and Muslims may resort to them when they see that the enemy uses the same war technique. 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 60)
Thus, after the end of war, the mines that were planted have to be removed and modern mine sweepers and other techniques should be used in the removal process so that all the remains of such mines are totally removed. Thus, the necessity which warrants planting landmines in the first place should not continue after the cause (war) is ended.”
Moreover, Dr. Amir `Abdul-Azeez, professor of Shari`ah at An-Nagah University, Nablus, Palestine, adds:
“There is nothing wrong in planting landmines if Muslims see that planting them is one of the necessary means to ward off aggression against them. If Muslims can manage to rebel the aggression against them without planting those mines, then planting them should be a last resort. Those who can determine such necessity are the military personnel of the Muslims.
Having said this, I would like to stress that Islam, compared to the long history of all religions and other creeds, is the most merciful religion to all living creatures, at the top of which are human beings regardless of their religion, creedal affiliations, languages, and countries because Islam is the religion of mercy.
It is worth mentioning here that the Islamic Shari`ah warns those who punish animals of a severe punishment on the Day of Judgment; then how about those who punish and humiliate human beings!?”
Finally, the prominent Muslim scholar and Da`iyah Sheikh `Abdel-Khaliq Hasan Ash-Shareef concludes:
“As stated above, there are high Islamic morals that should be followed even at war times. Those noble morals prohibit a true Muslim from fighting except against those who fight him.
Indeed, planting landmines constitutes fighting non-combatants and that is why it is forbidden to plant landmines save in cases of necessity. For example, when Muslims know for sure that the enemy is trying to attack them from a certain place, they can mine that place to prevent their enemy from attacking them. It is reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) ordered his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them all) to dig the trench around the Madinah in ghazwat al-Ahzab</i >or in the Invasion of the Confederates as a protective measure to safeguard the people of Madinah against the attacks of the Confederates.
Having stated this, I do stress here that if it is really necessary to plant landmines before or during a war, those mines have to be removed immediately after the end of war The exact locations of mines should be cleared by mine sweepers. The concerned authorities should help remove such mines and be aware not to deny any information concerning the planted mines and their exact locations, as such denial is not only an injustice but constitutes a religious violation as well.”
If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to write back!
May Allah guide you to the straight path, and guide you to that which pleases Him, Amen.