The Concept of Pledge of Protection in the Modern Time

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all worlds, Who says in His Ever Glorious Book, “Honor your pledges: you will be questioned about your pledges.” I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and that our Master Prophet Muhammad is His votary and Messenger; who said, “The best of Allah’s servants are those who fulfill their covenants.” May Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him, his Household, Companions and upon those who follow their path to the Day of Judgment.

Islam is the religion of security, peace, righteousness, kindness and goodness. The fulfillment of one’s covenants is undoubtedly a moral and sublime human value, as it builds trust and brings about safety and security among peoples of the world. With this value, the bonds of cooperation, fraternity, development and progress will increase among individuals of the society. This is why the fulfillment of one’s covenants is part of one’s faith and a sign of honesty and benevolence. It is a manner cherished by Allah, a Prophetic trait and an Islamic value.

 Islam has ordered its followers to adhere to the fulfillment of covenants, promises and agreements and it has strongly affirmed this. The Almighty Allah said, “Honor your pledges: you will be questioned about your pledges.” He (Glory be to Him) also said,” Fulfil any pledge you make in God’s Name and do not break oaths after you have sworn them, for you have made God your surety: God knows everything you do.” This means: commit yourselves to fulfill every covenant you have made, whether it is between you and the Almighty Allah, or between you and people, and do not break your oaths once you have sworn them, as you have made God a witness over you. He who makes a pledge, must honor it, and he who makes a promise must fulfill it.

The Almighty Allah has told us that those who fulfill their pledges are beloved to Him and are the truthful and righteous people. Allah, the Exalted, said, “Indeed! God loves those who keep their pledges,” and said, “those who keep pledges whenever they make them; those who are steadfast in misfortune, adversity, and times of danger; these are the ones who are true, and it is they who are aware of God.” Allah, the Exalted, showed that those people are the people of great reward and the people of Paradise, as He said, “Allah will give a great reward to the one who fulfils his pledge to Him.” In another verse, the Almighty Allah showed this great reward saying, “Those who are faithful to their trusts and their pledges; who give honest testimony; and are steadfast in their prayer; they will live in gardens with honor.”

The Prophet (PBUH) has placed a high value on the fulfillment of one’s pledges, and warned against breaking them as the betrayal of one’s pledges causes corruption in societies and leads to the loss of trust among people as the Prophet (PBUH) said, “There are three signs of a hypocrite:  When he speaks, he lies; when he makes a promise, he breaks it; and when he is trusted, he betrays his trust.” He (PBUH) also said, “Muslims have to stick to the conditions they make, except the conditions that make the lawful unlawful, or the unlawful lawful.” Also, the Prophet (PBUH) warned against betrayal saying, “When Allah will gather together, on the Day of Judgment, all the earlier and later generations of mankind, a flag will be raised (to mark off) every person guilty of betrayal, and it will be announced that this is the perfidy of so and so, son of so and so”. Ibn Kathir commented: the wisdom of this is that the sin of betrayal is invisible, and people do not see it. So on the day of Resurrection it will become announced so that people will know what those people did and the Almighty Allah will disgrace them before all creatures.

Among the pledges which the Islamic Shari’ah has commanded us to respect and fulfill is the pledge of protection. In the modern terms it means: the permit, visa or entry permission issued by one country to the citizens of another country to enter its lands, either as tourists, visitors or residents according to the international conventions, conventions and agreements in dealing with diplomats or those of the same capacity or according to bilateral agreements between the two states. This happens by any legal means accepted by the host State in accordance with its laws.  Once such a person obtains the residence permit or the visa, he/she is considered protected within this state, and this agreement given to him becomes binding to all of its citizens and residents. It shall not be revoked, circumvented, or derogated from, both in terms of the Sahri’ah and the law. Any person from the public who finds any breach that affects the security of his nation, he must refer the matter to the authorized person, so that the bodies of the State can handle the matter in the light of the regulations. Ordinary persons have no right to handle the matter themselves least this would cause chaos and indiscipline.

It goes without saying that the fulfilment of one’s pledges comes at the top of the obligations imposed by the Sahri’ah, law, patriotism and humanness. As our religion has stressed the importance of the pledge of protection, making the pledge given by one Muslim as given by all Muslims, so what is the case when this pledge is regulated by both religions and law as one reinforces the other? No doubt that this reinforcement obligates the necessity to fulfill pledges and promises, not to violate them or even compromise them.

Islam is the religion of preserving the covenants and agreements, a religion that does not admit cheating, deception, or betrayal. It has never been proven that the Prophet (PBUH) -since the beginning of his call- or his Companions have deprived anyone from safety, or have broken any promise of protection they had granted to anybody. In this regard, Allah, Most High, addressed his Prophet (PBUH) saying: “And if you fear treachery on the part of a people, then throw back to them on terms of equality; surely Allah does not love the treacherous.” Also, there was a covenant between Mu’awiyah and the Byzantines, and he was going towards their country, to suddenly attack them upon the end of the covenant. A man came on a horse, or a packhorse saying, “Allah is Great! Allah is Great! Let there be faithfulness and not treachery.” When they looked, they found that he was ‘Amr ibn ‘Abasah. Mu’awiyah sent for him and questioned him (about that). He said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) saying: ‘When one has covenant with people, he must not strengthen or loosen it till its term comes to an end or he brings it to an end in agreement with them (to make both the parties equal).’ So Mu’awiyah returned.” Not only that, but the greatness of Islam is also crystal clear in its highest ranks in Allah’s Order to His Prophet (PBUH) to protect and provide shelter to whoever seeks protection from him, even if he is a polytheist or a warrior. Allah says: “And if one of the idolaters seek protection from you, grant him protection till he hears the word of Allah, then make him attain his place of safety; this is because they are a people who do not know.”

The Prophet (PBUH) has actually instilled these noble values that achieve security and safety for the entire humanity, both in saying and action. He (PBUH) is reported to have said: “Whoever killed a Mu’ahid (a person who is granted the pledge of protection by the Muslims) shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise though its fragrance can be smelt at a distance of forty years (of traveling),” and “The Muslim is the one from whose tongue and hand the people are safe, and the believer is the one from whom the people’s lives and wealth are safe.” Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) offered the greatest example ever in fulfilling covenants, even with his enemies. Telling about the Battle of Badr, Hudhayfat Ibn Al-Yaman (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “Nothing prevented me from being present at! The Battle of Badr except this incident. I came out with my father (to participate in the Battle), but we were caught by the disbelievers of Quraish. They said: (Do) you intend to go to Muhammad? We said: We do not intend to go to him, but we wish to go (back) to Medina. So they took from us a covenant in the name of God that we would turn back to Medina and would not fight on the side of Muhammad (PBUH). So, we came to the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) and related the incident to him. He said: Both, of you proceed (to Medina); we will fulfill the covenant made with them and seek God’s help against them.”

As such, we affirm that it is our duty to keep the covenants and pledges our country abides by towards anyone coming to it, and to be cooperative in protecting his blood, honor, property and privacy. It is also our duty to offer him hospitality to convey to him the beloved image we want to transmit about the greatness of our religion, the depth of our civilization and the advancement of our humanity in a way that contributes to forming the image we want about our religion, country and society, which is actually the case of the developed and civilized nations and peoples.

With that said, I ask Allah to forgive me and you.

All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. I bear witness that there is no god deserving to be worshipped but Allah; I bear witness that our master Muhammad is His slave and Messenger. May Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him, his family, companions and whoever follows them to the Day of Judgment;

Muslim brothers:

Islam is the religion of justice, tolerance and peaceful coexistence. A Muslim is always- whenever and wherever he goes, an embodiment of security and peace. Also, when he travels to another country, be it a Muslim country or not, the visa granted to him by this country looks like a pledge of safety whereby he feels secure and safe and, on the other hand, is considered a pledge of safety from him to the people of that country by which they feel secure and safe on their selves and properties. Accordingly, he had to abide by the laws of this country and to fulfill his duties honestly and faithfully. He is not allowed thus to unlawfully take anything from their properties, to commit aggression against their honors or to betray them in any way, so that he would serve as the best ambassador for his religion, country and civilization. So, once he entered this country, he has to adhere to (their laws) and make covenant with Allah, Most High, to be faithful, lest he would be from those to whom the Saying of Allah, “And those who break the covenant of Allah after its confirmation and cut asunder that which Allah has ordered to be joined and make mischief in the land; (as for) those, upon them shall be curse and they shall have the evil (issue) of the abode.” In his Al-Umm, Imam Al-Shafe’i (may Allah have mercy upon him) says: “When the man enters a non-Muslim country in terms of a pledge of safety given to him, he is not allowed to take anything from their properties- be it little or much- even if this country was at war with Muslims. That is because as they offered him safety, he in turn shall offer them safety, and because nothing is lawful to him at times of safety except that which is lawful to him from the properties of Muslims.”

Impressive are the following lines of poetry:

Keeping covenants is of the nobles’ traits … And breaking them is of the means’

For me, there are no good characteristics … But to keep cordiality and covenants

O Allah! Guide us to the best of manners and make us avoid the worst of them, for you only are capable of this.