Asmah Sultan Mallick is a master’s student of International Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Weeks after the Colonel’s death, attention is now shifting from Moammar Gadhafi to the importance of establishing a new order for Libya and its people. It is safe to say most people are very happy that Gadhafi is gone, and gone for good. While I am just as excited as the next person and optimistic for a brighter future, I can’t help but to be disgusted by the images and videos that were publicized in the media around the demise of Gadhafi. The images were quite disturbing, an old man wiping blood from his face saying “God forbids this” while guns were being shot and chaos everywhere, then later people posing with his bloodied body all while smiling and giving the peace sign with their fingers.
The Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) said:
Those who are merciful will be shown mercy by the Most Merciful. Have mercy on those who are on earth and the One who is in heaven will show mercy to you (Abu Dawud)
I would have liked to see Gadhafi tried and brought to justice, rather than dragged by his hair, begging people in disbelief to stop. I know many people believe Gadhafi got what he deserved and will point to the list of his cruel behavior. There is no doubt that he is accountable especially as a country’s “leader,” but I feel that the whole point is for the standard to be raised, not repeated. People should never use the standard of an enemy.
Islam gives very specific limitations to make war civilized and humane, rules from God and teachings from His Prophet (PBUH) which must be followed by Muslims in all circumstances, irrespective of the behavior of the enemy. Islam has prohibited its followers from disgracing or mutilating the corpses of enemies as was practiced in pre-Islamic Arabia.
It is narrated in a hadith: “The Prophet prohibited us from mutilating the corpses of the enemies” (al- Bukhari; Abu Dawud). This hadith was given on the occasion of the Battle of Uhud. The bodies of the martyred Muslims were mutilated by the disbelievers by cutting off their ears and noses and putting them together to put around their necks as trophies of war. Hamza, the uncle of the Prophet (PBUH), was cut open by the Quraish and his liver was pulled out and chewed by Hind, the wife of Abu Sufyan, the leader of the Meccan army. The Muslims were enraged by this but the Prophet (PBUH) asked his followers not to reciprocate such treatment to the dead bodies of the enemies. Emotions obviously ran high after this incident, just as when Gadhafi was found, but the point is to break the cycle, even at the time when sheer rage takes over.
The core of my beliefs reinforces in my consciousness that we will not shift to a more enlightened state as a global community if we do not raise our standards. While it’s obviously easier said than done and I do not have a family member that was viciously killed by an unjust ruler, I have always felt it odd to celebrate a death and we have seen several significant, unjust figures die in the past year. My only hope in the future is that people can show humanity, not selectively but to all humanity-the kind that the peoples’ oppressors didn’t have.
What was your gut reaction when you saw the images of Gadhafi being dragged alive and the subsequent treatment of his corpse being viewed by the public? How are Islam’s rules regarding violent engagement similar or different from international law? Please leave your comments below.