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DAR AL-HARB. The concept of ddr al-barb, or realm of war, comes from the dualistic worldview of the classical Islamic legal tradition. This term denotes the territories bordering the dar al Islam whose leaders are called upon, under threat of invasion, to convert to the Muslim religion. Jurists trace the concept of ddr al-barb back to the time of the Prophet and cite the messages sent by Islam’s founder to the emperors ofPersia, Abyssinia, andByzantium, and to other leaders, summoning them to choose between conversion and war.

Dar al-harb is thus an enemy territory outside the jurisdiction of Islamic law that must be converted to Islamic territory. The inhabitants of ddr al-,harb (harbis or ahl al-harb) are defined as those who have refused to convert after being enjoined to do so. This conversion can be effected by means of conquest if the leaders do not submit, but the use of force may be avoided when there is submission. From the moment the leaders of dar al-harb accept Islam, this territory is considered as fully part of dar al-Islam. Conversely, an Islamic territory taken by infidels becomes dar al-harb when the law of the non-Muslims replaces Islamic law. According to certain jurists, the intermediary regions that separate dar al-Islam from ddr al-,harb, although they really belong to neither, must be viewed by Muslims as the territory of war, given the security threat these regions pose to the community of the faithful.

The fact that the Islamic worldview includes a space considered to be a place of confrontation and war should not, however, lead to the conclusion that Islamic international law is fundamentally violent and warlike. War is rather an evil that is inevitable given the necessity to repulse aggression, to avoid division of the community, or to contribute to the triumph of divine justice on earth. Thus defensive or offensive jihad, which formed the basis for the concept of dar al-harb, is practiced according to precise norms and rules that the faithful must in theory respect. These rules provide for distinctions between combatants and noncombatants, the humane treatment of prisoners, food blockades, and indiscriminate use of arms.

The notion of ddr al-harb, like many other classical concepts of Muslim law, has been affected by historical changes. With the fragmentation of the Muslim world into a multitude of states and the progressive decline of their power, ddr al-harb has been divested of its significance. Moreover, the inclusion of Muslim countries in the modern international juridical order implies the renunciation of such a concept. However, Islamic international law is seen to be of divine origin and therefore immutable and timeless, so it will never be totally obsolete.

[See also Dar al-Islam; Dar al-Sulh; Jihad.]


Abel, A. “Dar al-Harb.” In Encyclopaedia of Islam, new ed., vol. 2, p. 129.Leiden, 1960-

Mawardi, Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali ibn Muhammad al-. Les statuts gouvernementaux, ou, Regles de droit public et administratif. Translated byEdmondFagnan.Beirut, 1982.

Parvin, Manoucher, and Maurice Sommer. “Dar Al-Islam: The Evolution of Muslim Territoriality and Its Implication for Conflict Resolution in theMiddle East.” International Journal ofMiddle EastStudies 12 (1980): 1-21.

Proctor, J. Harris, ed. Islam and International Relations.London, 1965.


Translated from French by Elizabeth Keller

Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/dar-al-harb/

  • writerPosted On: November 6, 2012
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