How should we deal with our enemies?

This was sent to me by a dear brother through email with a request that I post it to the blog.  I pray it is received well.  Thank you brother Nadeem.

Letter of advice from Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (RA) to Sa’d Ibn Abi Waqqas- Commander of The Muslim Army in Conquest of Persia.

”….Then After, I order you and all troops that are along with you to be obedient to Allah in all circumstances as this (being obedient to Allah) is better than the weapons against the enemy and a strong stratagem (device) in the war.

I order you and the soldiers who are with you to be more cautious and afraid of your own crimes and sins (and do not commit them) than your enemy, as the crimes and sins of the soldiers are more dangerous to them than their enemy. .

The Muslims are victorious only because their enemies are disobedient to Allah, and had it not been so, we have no power over them, because neither our number is equal to their number, nor are our weapons like theirs.

If we commit crimes and sins as they do, then they will have superiority over us in power and we will not gain victory over them.

We do not overpower them with our strength. And you should also know that in this marching of yours (for Allah’s cause) there are guards (Angels) upon you from Allah (to watch you) and they all know what you do.

So be shy from them and do not commit Allah’s disobedience (crimes and sins) while you are going in Allah’s cause and do not say: ‘Our enemy is worse than us, so they will not overpower us.’

Perhaps some people who are worse than the others may overpower the others as the (disbelievers) Magians overpowered the Children of Israel when they (the latter) involved themselves with Allah’s disobedience(crimes and sins).

So they (disbelievers, Magians) entered the very innermost parts of their homes and it was a promise (completely) Fulfilled.

And ask Allah the assistance’s over your own selves, (to save you from the crimes and sins) just as you ask Allah for the victory over your enemies, I ask Allah for that, both for you and us.”

Many may wonder who the “enemy” is and what this posting has to do in the modern context.  To me, the enemy is two-fold, on hand it is that one, entity, or group with which we Muslims may contend with or are in opposition with (regardless of the reasoning), on the other hand it is Shaitan (Satan).

Many a Muslim today love to point out the “enemy” oftentimes, “enemy” is a code word for non-Muslims, The West, Israel, etc. this is not my point of contention today.  I could go on and on with the foolish ideas behind the reasoning of those who equate enemy with these above mentioned entities, but that will not add to the post today.  The point of the posting and the letter from Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (RA) to Sa’d Ibn Abi Waqqas, is that it truly doesn’t matter who the “enemy” is.  It doesn’t matter whether the enemy is man, djinn, Shaitan, etc.  The ultimate point is are your actions as a Muslim even when dealing with the enemy in accordance with the teachings of Islam?  If not, then you can and will be defeated in either this world or the next.  This is the main reason why terrorists, extremists, radicals, etc. (insert title of the month) will never be taken seriously by practicing Muslims who adhere to the core of Islam.  The debate is lost on the thinking Muslim by merely trying to discern who the enemy is, because thinking Muslims always ask follow up questions like “…and then what?”.  If an enemy is defined so must rules of engagement and the explanation and guidance on how to proceed in Islamic adherence.  You can’t just point out an enemy and then decide that because you have an enemy you can therefore abandon Islam as it pertains to your duties toward that enemy and then excuse your every excess through excuses based on what it was that the enemy has done first.  Whether verbal or physical, Allah gives clear guidance that when we are in conflict or contend with an “enemy” that we are not to A: respond or react as the enemy would B: act in a superior manner than the enemy has.  This letter is a reminder of those teachings.  So while my incongruous rambling may be hard to decipher, know that as a matter of principle, it’s not so much the enemy and who that may or may not be, but more so what are we doing as Muslims in response?

If the enemy is the West and we deplore their actions, what are our responses to their actions?  If the enemy is Israel and we deplore their actions, what are our responses to their actions?  Even if our enemy is either another Muslim or non-Muslim engaged in a debate about Islam and we deplore their words and actions, what are our responses in kind?

If we cannot honestly state and admit that our actions and responses are not better, superior, and helping display the peace and light found within Islam, than we are wrong and may show ourselves to not only be worse than our enemies real or perceived, but worthy of being abandoned by God in our causes.

2:190 Fight in God’s cause against those who wage war against you, but do not commit aggression for, verily, God does not love aggressors.

5:8  O YOU who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in your devotion to God, bearing witness to the truth in all equity; and never let hatred of anyone lead you into the sin of deviating from justice. Be just: this is closest to being God-conscious. And remain conscious of God: verily, God is aware of all that you do.

41:34 since good and evil cannot be equal, repel evil with something that is better. Then will he between whom and thee was hatred may then become as though he had always been close unto thee, a true friend!



  1. I think the title of this commentary is the root of the issue…Why do you consider anyone your enemy? If I have any enemies it is due to my own fear, ignorance and lack of tolerance.

    I prefer to see the world as full of potential friends and allies all working towards the same goal, or at the very least wanting the same thing…acceptance, peace and love.


    1. I do not, but how do expect to reach people without using the language that they use? The point of my commentary, the letter I posted, and the Qur’an is clear. It’s not that you should consider people your enemies, but even if you do, let it not be a catalyst to commit horrors in the world. It’s possible to feel one way, but act in another. The guidance speaks to the reality that everyone doesn’t feel or think alike, especially as it relates to how some feel about others. This commentary was to get people to consider their actions toward others, regardless of their feelings.


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