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Muslim Criticism of the Use of Children in the Intifada

Special Dispatch No. 206 MEMRI April 18, 2001

The London based daily Al-Hayat published a letter by S’ud
Ibn Muhammad Al-‘Aqili, from the King Fahd National Library
in Saudi Arabia, which condemned the Palestinian
Authority’s use of children in the Intifada. Following are
excerpts from the letter:

“It is difficult for me to talk about this subject while
[Muslim] clerics keep silent and evade it… No doubt,
everybody heard of the religious-legal debate throughout
the Muslim world regarding the statues of Buddha destroyed
by the Taliban, which in Islam are regarded as idols.
There were many opinions and disagreements and many gave
great attention to the Muslim clerics in order to learn
from them the legality of such an action.”

“On the other hand, there is a very telling silence
regarding the Intifada. The Muslim’s did not ask if it is
religiously legal or not, even though it is a more
important question than the statues. The Intifada is about
Muslim holy sites, [Muslim] blood and lands, security and
economy. Why haven’t the clerics of the Arab world
convened to explain to the public religious rulings
regarding the Intifada.”

“Let me be courageous and raise several important points.
If we look for religious rulings in the Sharia [Muslim
religious law] we will only find the well-known rulings
regarding Jihad… [Therefore] we must apply the rulings
regarding Jihad and especially the rulings relating to a
defensive Jihad to the Intifada.”

“The woman in Islam is not obliged to Jihad, except for a
Jihad that does not involve fighting… Also, there is no
obligation of Jihad on whoever has not reached maturity.
Ibn Umar said: ‘I offered myself to the Prophet, peace be
upon him, in the battle of Uhud when I was fourteen years
old. But he did not let me fight.’ Even though the battle
of Uhud was a defensive Jihad, the Prophet, peace be upon
him, desperately needed people [to fight] because the
infidels conspired against Al-Madinah the city of Islam and
endangered Islam itself. But the Prophet, nevertheless,
did not take him to fight at the age of fourteen.”

“In the battle of Badr several Muslims were denied a role
in the fighting because of their young age…(1) The
Prophet did not hide his need for fighters in the battle of
Badr, which was the first battle of Islam. There were
three times as many infidels as Muslims [in this battle]
and it was possible to use the youths from a distance as
archers. Nevertheless, the Prophet did not allow them to
fight. Moreover, Islam defended the souls of non-Muslim
children when it forbade the killing of the enemy’s women
and children.”

“Today, on the other hand, we see in the Intifada, children
who are less then the age of maturity, thrown unarmed and
undefended to be targets for the Jews who are armed from
head to toe so that they can hit these children as they
wish. The Prophet even forbade the use of animals as
targets. So what is there left to say about the
Palestinian people who have turned their children into

“If all the Arabs together have not succeeded in defeating
Israel in past wars it will certainly not be defeated
through the Intifada. There are those who justify the
Intifada by saying that it exhausts Israel but the
consequences today are in Israel’s favor. The PA’s
infrastructure has been destroyed, its leadership
devastated, its people killed and the settlements have been
enlarged. If previous wars did not effect Israel
economically and it managed to recover from all of the wars
and surpass the Arab and Muslim states technologically it
will certainly not be affected today by this Intifada which
will only bring more troubles on the Palestinian

“While writing these letters I heard on the news about an
American plane that fell in Vietnam while looking for the
remains of American soldiers who disappeared in the war
there 30 years ago… This [apparently] is the difference
between the Muslims and the West…”(2)

1 The author lists several names: Zeid Ibn Thabit, Usama
and Al-Baraa Ibn Ghareb, Samra Ibn Jandab, Rafi’ Ibn
Khdeij, Zeid Ibn Arqam and ‘Arabeh Ibn Aus.

2 Al-Hayat (London), April 16, 2001.

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