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  • Print publication year: 2013
  • Online publication date: June 2014

4 - Islamic International Law and International Humanitarian Law



A treaty is a source of law provided that its purposes and terms comply with the sharīca. This is true irrespective of whether the treaty is concluded with a Muslim or a non-Muslim state. Agreements between the Muslim ummah and non-Muslim communities are deemed to be binding on the Muslim ummah as a formal treaty with another state. Accordingly, treaties have the same binding legal nature as contracts, because both are based on the sharīca principle of al caqd sharīcat al-mutcāqidīn (the contract is the law of parties).

Whenever questions have arisen over treaty interpretation they have been resolved by reinforcing the treaty's binding nature, even when the treaty in question contradicted some principle of Islam. The early history of Islam shows that treaties were probably the most important aspect of the fledgling ummah's international practice. As with all new states, these treaties were essential because they provided the ummah with recognition by established states, and conferred legitimacy and standing to it. The Prophet understood this and the historical record shows that he relied on treaties for these reasons. Treaties are the best evidence of the recognition of statehood because their validation presupposes that the state in question has the capacity to carry out its international obligations. Thus, the fledgling Muslim ummah honored its treaties as evidence of its credibility and reliability in international relations.

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