Ruling on booty from the wars which Muslims are fighting

Ruling on booty from the wars which Muslims are fighting

Mohamad Mostafa Nassar



In a situation where the Muslims are engaged in jihad against an aggressor like in Bosnia. when the mujahideen are fighting they sometimes capture land and booty: Money, arms, etc.

Islamically speaking it is haram=prohibited in Islam to steal. but is this theft? If it is not, then…

1) how must the money be used?
2) who can use it?
3) does it have to be distributed? to who?
4) what is meant by a fifth?


Praise be to Allah.

Allah has prescribed jihad for His sake for great purposes and reasons, such as spreading this religion, telling people about it and about the purpose for which Allah created them.

Other purposes of jihad include repulsing the aggression of the enemies of this religion, who fight it in order to extinguish its light and are trying to eliminate it and its followers.

The basic evidence for this is the aayah=verse (interpretation of the meaning):

“Permission to fight (against disbelievers) is given to those (believers) who are fought against, because they have been wronged; and surely, Allah is Able to give them (believers) victory Those who have been expelled from their homes unjustly only because they said: Our Lord is Allah.’” Quran [al-Hajj 22:40]

What is happening in Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnya and other parts of the Muslim world is that which Allah has told us about concerning the kuffaar=disbelievers (interpretation of the meaning):

“They wish that you reject Faith, as they have rejected (Faith), and thus that you all become equal (like one another).” Quran [al-Nisaa’ 4:89]

“And they desire that you should disbelieve” Quran [al-Mumtahanah 60:2]

“Many of the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) wish that if they could turn you away as disbelievers after you have believed, out of envy from their own selves, even after the truth has become manifest unto them” [al-Baqarah 2:109]

“Never will the Jews nor the Christians be pleased with you (O Muhammad) till you follow their religion” Quran [al-Baqarah 2:120].

So, the fighting that is taking place between the Muslims and the kuffaar is the checking of one set of people by means of another, which is part of the laws of the universe created by Allah, which Allah mentioned when He said (interpretation of the meaning):

“So, they routed them by Allah’s Leave and Dawood (David) killed Jaaloot (Goliath), and Allah gave him [Dawood (David)] the kingdom [after the death of Taloot (Saul) and Samuel] and Al-Hikmah (Prophethood) and taught him of that which He willed. And if Allah did not check one set of people by means of another, the earth would indeed be full of mischief. But Allah is full of bounty to the ‘Aalameen (mankind, jinn and all that exists)” Quran [al-Baqarah 2:251]

“Those who have been expelled from their homes unjustly only because they said: “Our Lord is Allah.” For had it not been that Allah checks one set of people by means of another, monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, wherein the Name of Allah is mentioned much would surely, have been pulled down. Verily, Allah will help those who help His (Cause). Truly, Allah is All Strong, All‑Mighty” Quran [al-Hajj 22:40]

The Muslims’ fighting nowadays against their enemies among the Serbs, Russians and other kuffaar is no more than the repulsion of aggression, hostility, and injustice. It is the kind of jihad aimed at checking people, which is prescribed in Islam, and thus is subject to the Islamic rulings on jihad.

Whatever the Muslims take in these wars – whether it is wealth, weapons, equipment, property, or whatever – in general belongs to the Muslims and it is halal=permissible for them, because Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“So, enjoy what you have gotten of booty in war, lawful and good’ Quran [al-Anfal 8:69].

What is meant here by booty (ghaneemah) is wealth in the form of money, property and other useful things which the Mujaahideen=Muslim fighters who are fighting for the sake of Allah have taken in their battles with the kuffaar=disbelievers.

This is not a kind of stealing at all, for several reasons:

  1. Stealing means taking property by stealth and unlawfully from its proper place. This is something completely different, for the wealth of jihad, the spoils of war and the booty, are taken from the kuffaar by right.

We are given permission to do so by sharī’ah and it is allowed for us to do this as Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“So, enjoy what you have gotten of booty in war, lawful and good” Quran [al-Anfal 8:69].

And the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to do this in his wars and his jihad against the kuffaar, when he confiscated their property and wealth.

  • Stealing applies in the case of property which is protected and is sacrosanct, but the property of the kuffaar who are waging war against Islam is not protected or sacrosanct.

The least that we can say is that this (taking booty) is a means of responding in kind, because the Muslims there have had their wealth taken from them, their rights have been denied and their homes have been confiscated. So, this is a means of restoring their rights and giving back that which has been taken from them. It is in the nature of restitution of their rights.

For Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“And indeed, whosoever takes revenge after he has suffered wrong, for such there is no way (of blame) against them” – i.e., blaming them or declaring them to be sinners – “The way (of blame) is only against those who oppress men and rebel in the earth without justification” Quran [al-Shooraa 42:41-42]

Once this is understood, then all the property which the mujahedeen=Muslim fighters gain during their wars with the kuffaar is called ghaneemah (booty) or fay’ (spoils of war) in sharī’ah.

The difference between them is that the former is that which is taken by fighting, and the latter is that which is taken without fighting, i.e., what is left behind by the kuffaar when they are routed or when they surrender without a battle or any military action.

Regarding ghaneemah (booty), it is obligatory according to sharee’ah for the imam (leader) or the commander of the mujaahideen=Muslim Fighters or the one who is responsible for them or in charge of them, to gather the booty and divide it into five equal parts, one of which is to be distributed to the groups mentioned by Allah in the aayah=verse (interpretation of the meaning):

“And know that whatever of war-booty that you may gain, verily, one-fifth (1/5th) of it is assigned to Allah, and to the Messenger, and to the near relatives [of the Messenger (Muhammad)], (and also) the orphans, Al‑Masaakin (the poor) and the wayfarer”

Quran [al-Anfal 8:41]

The other four-fifths are to be shared out among the mujaahideen=Muslim fighters who took part in the fighting, by giving one share to each foot-soldier and three shares to each horseman (one share for him and two for his horse – this is if horses were used in the fighting).

This wealth is permissible and good for the Muslim army, and has been allowed for them by Allah, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):

 “So, enjoy what you have gotten of booty in war, lawful and good’ Quran [al-Anfal 8:69].

What is meant by al-khums (the one-fifth), is what referred to in the aayah=verse Quran [al-Anfaal 8:41] and this is this first share to be distributed.

The way it is to be distributed is as follows:

  1. A share for Allah and His Messenger, which is to be used to serve the common interest of the Muslims, not for any specific person(s). Allah has stated that this is for Him and for His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

Allah and His Messenger have no need of it; therefore, we know that it is for the slaves of Allah.

The fact that Allah did not state that it was for anyone in particular indicates that it should be spent to serve the common interests of all. (Tafseer Ibn Sa’di, 3/169)

  • A share for the relatives of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) from Bani Hashim and Bani al-Muttalib. They are all equally entitled to it, rich and poor, male, and female.
  • Orphans – those who have lost their fathers whilst they are still young i.e., before the age of puberty.
  • The poor and needy.
  • The wayfarer, i.e. travellers who are cut off and need money in order to get back home.

Some Mufassireen=specialists who clarify The Glorious Quran said that the khums (one-fifth) of the war booty should not be given to anyone outside of these categories, and that it need not be shared out equally between these groups but should be distributed in the manner that best suits the current circumstances.

This was the view regarded as most correct by Ibn Sa’di, may Allah have mercy on him.

For more information, see Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 2/269; Zaad al-Ma’aad by Ibn al-Qayyim, 3/100-105).

And Allah knows best.

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