Seventeenth Ramadhan is an important date in the history of humankind as it changed the course of world history. On this day, fourteen hundred years ago, a handful of Muslims (313) defeated an army of infidels. The day is remembered for a variety of reasons. On this day, the most revered Prophet (SAW) stressed need for enforcement of the rights of the prisoners. This day, therefore, is also called the day of the prisoners.
Scores of infidels were taken into custody after they suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Muslims. Soon after the Holy Prophet (SAW) sought counsel from his companions (RA). Umer (RA) the great was in favour of killing the prisoners. However, the Prophet’s friend, Abu Bakr (RA) told the Holy Prophet (SAW) to grant pardon to all of them. The prisoners were released some in lieu of a consideration and most of them without any conditions. A handful of them were told to teach Muslims to win their freedom. Ultimately all of them were released. Nobody was subjected to extra-judicial execution, nobody was killed in a fake encounter, nobody disappeared, nobody was tortured and nobody was stripped or humiliated. Why?
Before, migrating to Madinah, the most revered Prophet (SAW) had received a revelation about prisoners. “And they feed, for the love of Allah, the indigent, the orphan and the captive.” (Ad-Dahr verse 8).
In this Surah Allah the most exalted narrates the story of creation of man, how righteous shall be rewarded and the wrong doers punished. While telling the Holy Prophet (SAW) about the qualities of the righteous Allah says, And they feed, for the love of Allah………..”
So a person who loves Allah the most exalted treats the prisoners well. How could the Holy Prophet (SAW), therefore, accept the counsel of Umer (RA) the great? How could he order execution of the prisoners? The story did not end here. Since there was no jail for the prisoners, the Holy Prophet (SAW) directed his pious companions (SAW) to take the prisoners to their homes. “Treat them well. Respect them”, the companions (RA) were told. Nobody raised his brows. The order was carried out in its totality. Most of the Muslims in those days were poor. Notwithstanding this, they would first feed the prisoners and then take a few morsels to keep them going. This had an impact. Most of the prisoners later accepted Islam.
While in captivity the prisoners cannot be harassed. Measures have to be taken to make them feel good. “O Prophet ! say to those who are captive in your hands, If Allah findeth any good in your hearts , He will give you something better than what has been taken from you, and He will forgive you : for Allah is oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.” (Al Anfaal, verse 70).
There is no scope for Abu Gareeb’s, Gauntnuma Bays or Papa 1s and 2s in an Islamic set up. A prisoner is a human being and nobody can snatch from him his rights (except right to liberty).