Anyone who is familiar with the Koran and the traditions of the
prophet Muhammad knows that kidnapping civilians and harming them is
absolutely prohibited. Those who do kidnap civilians defy the
Islamic code of ethics. This ethos applies to every kidnapped
civilian, including Jill Carroll, the freelance journalist on
assignment for The Christian Science Monitor, who worked in Iraq
until she was kidnapped early last month. I appeal to her kidnappers
to immediately release her and to stop kidnapping civilians
Every now and then, we hear about the kidnapping of "foreign"
nationals in Islamic countries. Recently the family of a former
German minister was kidnapped in Yemen. In Gaza, Kate Burton, a
British human rights activist, and her parents were kidnapped. By
the time I had a chance to write about this topic, the news came
that both captured families had been released. This was a happy
ending that I had really hoped for.
It is well known that the kidnappers' demands, in cases like
these, usually have nothing to do directly with the kidnapped
persons or their countries. This does not mean, however, that it is
permissible to kidnap innocent civilians should conflicts exist. The
two European families were kidnapped because they were easy targets.
The same applies to Ms. Carroll.
I could have based the arguments in this article on the laws,
treaties, and covenants that prohibit such deeds. I could have also
brought up notions of Arab magnanimity, nobility, and honor that
require us to be generous and kind to our guests. Many of those
captured foreigners carried the burden of working for our causes
and, for that, they endured hardships and paid a high price.
I have chosen, because of the cultural background of this nation,
to present the Islamic position regarding kidnapping, which opposes
it. We must get rid of this negative phenomenon that does not serve
us in any way.
From the perspective of the Islamic sharia, the al-Mustamin is
"the foreign person whose safety is guaranteed." Such a person is
protected, even if his or her native country is in a state of
animosity with Muslims. Animosity is a temporary state, and,
further, not all Western citizens necessarily support the foreign
policies of their governments.
The Muslim must understand that the person who obtains a
visitor's visa enters into a contract with the country that grants
him the visa. The state, as an institution, does that on behalf of
its people. Despite those who look with suspicion at the state,
especially if the ruler lacks legitimacy, the visa should be
recognized as a legitimate agreement for guests of our countries to
move freely about without harm.
We have seen foreign visitors support our political rights and
defend Islam. Indeed, despite being non- Muslims themselves, they
have come to the defense of Muslims in their own countries when the
The International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) declared its
position on kidnapping and the taking of hostages in their
communique which was published in September 2004. In what follows, I
paraphrase and summarize their statement, which draws on verses and
examples in the Koran prohibiting kidnapping. The full text is
available in Arabic on www.Islamonline.net:
1. Kidnapping is an assault on another, whether a Muslim or non-
Muslim. It is an unjust act that God forbids and prohibits: "Allah
commands justice, the doing of good and giving to kith and kin, and
He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion: He
instructs you, that ye may receive admonition" (Koran, 16:90). …