The Captive Dog

Cherif Teimi

January 2, 2024

What is behind the fair treatment that the Israeli captives received from the Palestinian Resistance Factions?

During the truce between the Palestinian Resistance Factions and the Zionist barbaric Occupation Army in Gaza that started on November 24 and lasted for 7 days, there was a lot of footage that demonstrated how the Palestinian Resistance Groups treated kindly not only the Israeli captives but their pets as well. Indeed, the facial expressions of the released Israeli captives, their clean and neat clothes, in addition to unprompted handshaking with the Palestinian fighters by some of them, destroyed the Israeli narratives about “the torturing of the hostages by “HAMAS”. Undoubtedly, those spontaneous smiles by the Israeli released captives, which sometimes showed gratitude toward the Palestinian Resistance guards, are very significant! Herein, I leave a question to psychologists: can those smiles, handshaking and waving goodbye to the Palestinian Resistance fighters come out of tortured captives?! —Absolutely not! In this essay, I am neither going to play the role of a semiotic analyst nor the role of a psychologist to decipher those footages, but rather I am going to touch upon the teachings of Islam that equipped the Palestinian Resistance Factions— as well as the Palestinian people— with the morals to deal with the captives and hostages with mercy and care. But, before that, let’s unveil the truth that the natural state for Muslims is to live in peace with all human beings without discrimination.

Wars are unavoidable; likewise is self-defense. In Islam, fighting is permissible only in case of self-defense. Almighty God says: “Fight in the cause of Allah only against those who wage war against you, but do not exceed the limits. Allah does not like transgressors.” Surah 2, verse 190. In the same context, God says: “Fight against them ˹if they persecute you˺ until there is no more persecution, and ˹your˺ devotion will be to Allah ˹alone˺. If they stop ˹persecuting you˺, let there be no hostility except against the aggressors.” Surah 2, verse 193. These two verses, from the Holy Qur’an, unambiguously order Muslims not to start war against others, but allow them to defend themselves when being attacked or persecuted. However, if the Other is disposed toward peace, then God urges Muslims to apt to it. God, glory be to Him, demands: “If the enemy is inclined towards peace, make peace with them. And put your trust in Allah. Indeed, He ˹alone˺ is the All-Hearing, All-Knowing.” Surah 8, verse 61. In another verse, God, exalted is He, says: “…So if they refrain from fighting you and offer you peace, then Allah does not permit you to harm them.” Surah 4, verse 90. Hence, the natural state for Muslims is living in peace; and preventing war and hostility. The primary and ultimate purpose for Muslims is not dominating the world, or enslaving peoples under their system of governance, but worshiping God. God, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate says: “I did not create jinn and humans except to worship Me.” Surah 51, verse 56. Still, Muslims are required to establish systems of government on Earth that guarantee peace and allow space for people— Muslims and non-Muslims— to worship God (or whoever/whatever; God guarantees freedom of faith/religion: “Let there be no compulsion in religion, for the truth stands out clearly from falsehood.” Surah 2, verse 256.) As a matter of fact, the ultimate goal for Muslims to pursue is establishing peace on Earth to worship God. However, in case war is imposed on Muslims, they are entitled the right to self-defense— by God, as we saw in the Qur’anic verses above. Yet, this right is not unconditional! There are limits. God, the Almighty, warns those who trespass limits. “… do not exceed the limits. Allah does not like transgressors.” (Recall verse 190, Surah 2, above). “…These are the limits set by Allah. And whoever transgresses Allah’s limits has truly wronged his own soul…” Surah 65, verse 1. Based on these obligating verses (and many others) in the Qur’an, Muslims may defend themselves but rightfully! This is a necessary background about the Qur’anic stance toward war and peace.

As is highlighted in the previous paragraph, Muslims are allowed to engage in war only in case of self-defense with a condition of not to trespass the limits. It must be a righteous war in the path of God. Indeed, God, the Almighty, urges the believers to defend themselves and their dignity and not to accept living in humiliation. He, praise be to Him says: “Fighting has been made obligatory upon you ˹believers˺, though you dislike it. Perhaps you dislike something which is good for you and like something which is bad for you. Allah knows and you do not know.” Surah 2, verse 216. Also, God, glory be to Him, commands the believers to fight in His path and for the weak: “And what is it with you? You do not fight in the cause of Allah and for oppressed men, women, and children who cry out, “Our Lord! Deliver us from this land of oppressors! Appoint for us a saviour; appoint for us a helper—all by Your grace.” Surah 4, verse 75. Therefore, for Muslim believers, engaging in wars is an inescapable disliked act! Meanwhile, accepting humiliation and living under occupation or persecution is disgraceful and ignominious!   Actually, the Sunnah also contains straight and unequivocal statements that teach and order Muslims to be righteous and pious when engaging in war.  God’s messenger, Muhammad, God bless him and grant him peace, says: “Go in God’s name, trusting in God, and adhering to the religion of God’s Apostle. Do not kill a decrepit old man, or a young infant, or a child, or a woman; do not be dishonest about booty, but collect your spoils, do right and act well, for God loves those who do well.” Narrated by Anas Ibn Malik, reported by Abu Dawud. This hadith clearly shows the commands that the Prophet, peace be upon Him, gave to his companions who were sent to war. This Hadith excludes the types of people that should not be killed during war. What remains? — Fighters only!

Concerning captives, Islam recommends the believers to treat them well. God, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate, appreciates and praises those who feed the captives from their own food that they are in need of. He, exalted is He, says: “… and give food—despite their desire for it—to the poor, the orphan, and the captive (8), ˹saying to themselves,˺ “We feed you only for the sake of Allah, seeking neither reward nor thanks from you (9), We fear from our Lord a horribly distressful Day[i] (10).” Surah 76, verses 8, 9, and 10. Also, the Qur’an teaches Muslims to open gates of dialogue with the captives and assure them that they will get fair treatment with a condition of bearing goodness and not to betray. God, the All-Wise, says: “O Prophet! Tell the captives in your custody, “If Allah finds goodness in your hearts, He will give you better than what has been taken from you, and forgive you. For Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” Surah 8, verse 70. It is very clear from these Qur’anic verses that captives should get fair treatment.

The previous paragraph provides evidence from Qur’an that captives should be treated well. In this paragraph, pieces of evidence are provided from Sunnah on how captives should be treated. On the day of Badr[ii], the Messenger of God, Muhammad, God bless him and grant him peace, commanded his companions to treat the captives well. He, peace be upon Him said: “Treat the captives kindly.” Reported by Attabarani. Also, the Prophet, God bless him and grant him peace, warned those who torture the captives. As reported by Muslim[iii], May God have mercy on him, Hisham Ben Hakim Ben Hizam passed by people from Anbaat in Sham who were locking up people in sun, and said: what is the matter with them? They replied: they are locked up because of Jizya[iv]. Then, Hisham said: I testify that I heard the Messenger of God, God bless him and grant him peace, saying: “God will torture those who torture people in this world.” Further, the Messenger of God, peace be upon him, treated well even those who betrayed[v] Him. When he saw the captives from the Jews of Banu Quraydha held in sun, he ordered his companions saying: “Treat them well, let them have a siesta, and give them water until they cool down; do not gather against them the heat of the sun and the heat of weapons.” These were the morals of the Messenger of God, peace be upon Him, with his enemies and those who betrayed him! O World, this is our model!

Taking all the evidence from Qur’an and Sunnah into consideration, it can be assured that Islam is far advanced than any other constitutions and charters that humans have produced. Islam is righteous about war and just toward the captives of war. Despite all the harm that the enemies cause to Muslims, Islam does not allow their killing but commands that they should be treated kindly and fairly! As evidence from reality, the world witnessed how the Palestinian Resistance Factions treated the Israeli captives. The footages and declarations of the Israeli captives prove that they received a kind treatment. This fact cannot be denied and should be taught to humanity in all over the world.


  • Holly Qur’an
  • Purified Sunnah

[i] Day of Judgment

[ii] The first battle the Messenger of God and his companions engaged in against the heathens of Quraish.

[iii] Recognized as one of the most important scholars of hadeeth (the second one after Al-Bukhari).

[iv] Tax that non-Muslims should pay to live in a Muslim state (to have the services, security and be free from participating in wars Muslims are engaged in).

[v] There was a contract between the messenger of God and the Jews in Yathrib (Medina) by which they agreed to live in peace, but Jews violated the contract by helping the heathens of Quraish against the Messenger of God and the Believers.