The classical conception of treaty, alliance and neutrality in Sunni Islam
The purpose of this thesis is to examine a major segment of Islamic international relations theory as expounded by Sunni jurists of the classical period of the Islamic Fiqh (661-1258 AD). It consists of that portion which is concerned with peaceful relations as distinct from that other major segment which is about Jihad or Islamic warfare. The thought of Muslim scholars on this topic provides a major part of an ideal model for political life under Islam, and its appeal has continued to exert a strong influence on the lives and thoughts of all Muslims throughout the centuries. Within this segment of Islamic international relations theory attention is focused on the key concepts of treaties, including alliance, and neutral status. One part of this is, however, omitted. It is what in Western political philosophy would be called private (not public) relations, and which in an Islamic classical Fiqh context - where the private/public distinction, it will be argued, is absent - can be termed social relations. The argument put forward will be that Islamic international relations are the totality of relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, and never relations between Muslims. Islamic law, it will be argued, governs this relationship, ensuring Islamic international relations theory is essentially normative. The thesis will further suggest that Muslim relations with non-Muslims are fundamentally pacific, not hostile, if the legitimate purposes of Jihad are properly assessed. The thesis will also be concerned to assess the extent to which peaceable Muslim relations with non-Muslims can be organised through the different forms of treaty which are recognised in classical Sunni Fiqh. It will be argued that the anti-Iraq coalition alliance of 1990-91 fulfilled the conditions of a genuine Islamic alliance treaty, contrary to the view of numerous contemporary Muslim scholars and publicists. Finally, it will be argued that neutrality, as well as neutralisation, were possible during the period of classical Sunni Fiqh.