The 24th Call: Impermissibility to Kill Whoever Embraces Islam while Fighting
Almighty Allah says (what can be translated as):
O you who have believed, when you go forth [to fight] in the cause of Allah, investigate; and do not say to one who gives you [a greeting of] peace "You are not a believer," aspiring for the goods of worldly life; for with Allah are many acquisitions. You [yourselves] were like that before; then Allah conferred His favor upon you, so investigate. Indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted. (An-Nisa': 94)
Almighty Allah warns the believers against another kind of murder that occurred during travelling or fighting in the path of Allah in the lands of polytheists. Islam spread in many places in the Arabian Peninsula and some Muslims were trying to contact their Muslim brothers. Almighty Allah commands them not to consider anyone they find in any land of disbelief as a disbeliever, they have to wait and be prudent in judging him after they fully investigate his case.
This verse was revealed after an incident that took place when a shepherd with some sheep from Salim Tribe passed by some Muslim fighters for the cause of Allah. He greeted them with the greeting of Islam. They said he does not greet us with Islam except to be safe from us. They killed him and they brought his sheep to the Prophet (Peace Be upon Him).
Almighty Allah says to them that if they are fighting in the land of the enemies they should be careful and investigate before they kill anyone. They should never say to the one who greets them with the greeting of Islam and shows them his Islam that he is not a Muslim. Allah says to them do not kill him to take spoils of war, as Allah has much better of what you desired of the gains of this life for which you killed this man who greeted you with peace. He showed you faith yet you overlooked this and you accused him of hypocrisy and caution to attain the gains of the present life. The permissible lawful sustenance which Allah has for you is better than any money. You used to be like this man who was hiding his belief and keeping it unknown from his people. Then, Allah blessed you with dignity and victory and led you to Islam. Allah is The All-Knowing of what you do. The motives that moved you to kill this man are not hidden from Allah Almighty.
The goods of worldly life should not be calculated by Muslims who go forth to fight in the cause of Allah Almighty. It is not the motive for jihad or the aim for it. The same applies to hastening to shed any blood before investigation. It might be a precious Muslim blood so it is not permissible to be shed.
Almighty Allah reminds the believers of their previous state of Jahiliah which was characterized by hastiness, imprudence and greed to have spoils of war. Allah blessed them with the purification of their spirits and elevation of their aims. They no longer fight for the goods of worldly life as they used to do in Jahiliah. Allah blessed them with boundaries and a system, so the first impulse or reaction is not their final judgment as it used to be in Jahilah. The text also includes a hint to their state when they were hiding their Islam – from their people – because of weakness and fear. They were showing their belief only when they felt secure among the Muslims. This man who was killed was hiding his Islam from his people, when he met the Muslims he showed his Islam and greeted them with the greeting of Islam.
"You [yourselves] were like that before; then Allah conferred His favor upon you, so investigate. Indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted."
This way, the Qur'anic method touches the hearts so that they live, feel embarrassed and remember the blessing of Allah. Based on this sensitivity, responsiveness and piety, the Qur'anic method establishes the teachings and rulings after it explains and clarifies them to the Muslims.
So, this lesson has tackled these aspects and rules of the international treatments in such clarity and purity since more than fourteen centuries ago.