Classical Islamic Legal Account of Modern International Law
Classical Islamic Legal Account of Modern International Law
Nehaluddin Ahmad
Mohammed Hussain bin Pehin Haji Ahmad
Abstract: International law is often considered by Western scholars as a product of European states. These scholars insist that the origin of modern international law lies in the state practice of the European nations of the 16th and 17th century. This approach fails to recognise and engage with other legal systems, including the Islamic legal traditions, in the development of modern international law. This article compares the principles governing Islamic international law (Siyar) with modern international law in order to draw conclusions that the classical Islamic law rules hold true in the modern sense of international law. Two specific areas of international law are considered: 1) the law of treaties; and 2) international humanitarian law. The article argues that Islamic law traditions on treaty making and fulfilment of promises made in treaties are similar to the contemporary doctrine of pacta sunt servanda that provided the foundation of modern international law of treaties. Likewise, classical Islamic international law has an elaborate set of rules concerning the resort to war (jus ad bellum) and the conduct of war (jus in bello), which not only run parallel to but also inform the modern international humanitarian law.

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