Guerrilla Warfare: History and Its Place in Islamic Doctrine – By Ahmed Sohail Siddiqui
Guerrilla warfare, often referred to as “gorilla warfare” due to a common spelling mistake, is a form of irregular warfare characterized by small, mobile, and often hidden combatants who employ hit-and-run tactics. This strategy has been employed by various groups and nations throughout history to challenge larger, more conventional military forces. In this article, we will explore the history of guerrilla warfare and examine its compatibility with Islamic teachings.
History of Guerrilla Warfare
The concept of guerrilla warfare dates back centuries and has been employed by various cultures and societies. Here is a brief historical overview:
Ancient Warfare: Even in ancient times, guerrilla tactics were used by smaller groups to resist larger forces. The tactics employed by figures like Hannibal of Carthage and the Jewish Zealots against the Roman Empire can be considered early examples of guerrilla warfare.
American Revolution: During the American Revolution, the Continental Army, led by George Washington, utilized guerrilla tactics effectively against the British Redcoats. Skirmishes, hit-and-run attacks, and the use of unconventional terrain contributed to their success.
20th Century Conflicts: Guerrilla warfare gained prominence in the 20th century, particularly during the Cold War era. Groups like the Viet Cong in Vietnam, the mujahideen in Afghanistan, and various revolutionary movements in Latin America employed guerrilla tactics against larger, better-equipped adversaries.
Contemporary Conflicts: Guerrilla warfare remains relevant in contemporary conflicts, with groups like the Taliban in Afghanistan and various insurgent groups in the Middle East utilizing these tactics to challenge established governments and foreign forces.
Is Guerrilla Warfare Allowed in Islam?
The question of whether guerrilla warfare is allowed in Islam is a complex one and open to interpretation. Islamic teachings emphasize principles such as justice, self-defense, and protecting the oppressed. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his companions faced military conflicts, and they employed various tactics to defend themselves and the nascent Muslim community.
In Islamic jurisprudence, there is a concept known as “Jihad,” which includes both defensive and offensive aspects. While Jihad is often associated with armed struggle, it is subject to strict rules and conditions. The majority of Islamic scholars agree that military actions must adhere to the principles of proportionality, discrimination, and the protection of non-combatants.
Guerrilla warfare, as a tactic, may be permissible within the context of self-defense and protecting the oppressed, provided it adheres to these Islamic principles. However, the interpretation of these principles can vary among different Islamic scholars and schools of thought. Some may view guerrilla warfare as a legitimate form of self-defense, while others may argue that it can lead to violations of Islamic ethics if not conducted properly.
Guerrilla warfare has a long history of being employed by various groups and nations throughout the world. Its compatibility with Islamic teachings is a matter of interpretation within the broader context of self-defense and protecting the oppressed. It is essential for individuals and groups to engage in such tactics to consider the ethical and legal aspects of their actions, seeking guidance from knowledgeable Islamic scholars to ensure that their actions align with Islamic principles and values.