Just Warfare

As I am reading Muhammad, it seems as though the differences in cultural values between Muslims and Americans are an issue that may be difficult to reconcile. During Muhammad’s life, after he and many of those who had converted to Islam were forced out of Mecca, they exercised a common tribal practice of raiding caravans. At that time, raiding rival tribes was considered an acceptable practice for those who had lost other means of making a living. This also included taking captives for ransom.

Although Islam was a religion of peace, Muhammad had a vision that allowed war if the rival or opponent had wronged Muslims. This made it acceptable for Muhammad to raid caravans from Mecca as tribes of Mecca had wronged the Muslims by expelling them from their tribe.

This sets up two scenarios that make it difficult to reconcile warfare between Americans and Muslims:

  • If an appropriate (and this is one of the keys) Muslim leader determines that the Americans have wronged Muslims it is not only acceptable but the duty of the Muslim to wage war on the Americans.
  • Taking hostages for ransom is considered an acceptable practice as a means of income.
  • With Americans identifying the Muslims they are fighting as terrorists, the policy is to not to negotiate resulting in a conundrum.