Non-Combatants in Muslim Legal Thought by Center for Islam, Democracy and Future of the Muslim World


Publication Date: December 2006

Publisher: Hudson Institute

Author(s): Elie Landau-Tasseron

Research Area: Culture and religion; Law and ethics

Type: Report


The Muslim law of war existed hundreds of years before its Western counterpart. It does not have two clearly defined catergories, but within it can be found almost all Western rules and principles. The Muslim law of war includes, among other things, a prohibition against harming various groups of people. An examination of the nature of this prohibition will show that the term "non-combatants" used in the doctrine of just war is not suited to Muslim law. While it is true that all those who may not be harmed according to Muslim law are non-combatants, not all non-combatants are immune from harm. For this reason, the term "non-combatants" will appear here in quotation marks, referring to all those categories of people mentioned in Muslim jurists' discussions about those who may not be harmed. These categories will be explained in this paper.